The Beginner's Guide to Hand Pipes

The Beginner's Guide to Hand Pipes

The Beginner's Guide to Hand Pipes


Hand pipes — or “dry pipes”, because the smoke isn’t filtered through water — are unquestionably the most user-friendly option for beginning smokers. Hand pipes are intuitive to use, very portable, easy to clean, and discrete. Choosing your first hand pipe is exciting, especially once you lay eyes on the stunning hand-blown glass pieces of art that fill the market today. It can also, however, be a little daunting. You don’t just want a beautiful hand pipe, after all, but also one that offers an enjoyable and straightforward experience.

What should you be aware of when you’re picking out a new hand pipe, either as someone brand new to dry pipes or someone who doesn’t have much experience with the different types and options? This beginner’s guide will leave you feeling like a bit less of a novice, so you can choose the right hand pipe with confidence.

Why Choose a Hand Pipe?

Hand pipes offer strong advantages. They are highly portable, allowing you to carry your pipe with you wherever you go — and discrete enough to go unnoticed when you want it to. Hand pipes are one of the simplest ways to smoke, and if you choose a higher-end model, they are incredibly sturdy. Finally, hand pipes are fun! Buying your first hand pipe is tricky, above all, because you’re so spoiled for choice that it’s nearly impossible to choose just one. Before you know it, you might find yourself becoming an avid collector of artisanally-created hand pipes.

A Look at the Basic Components of a Hand Pipe

Strip away the amazing variety of different designs, and nearly all hand pipes consist of the same four functional components. Here’s a look at the parts of a hand pipe:

  • The bowl serves as the receptacle for your legal herbs. Although bowls come in significantly varying sizes, beginners will typically prefer smaller bowls.
  • The carb is the hole that enables smooth airflow and creates a more enjoyable experience, by placing your finger on the carb hole as you inhale and releasing it when you’re nearly done. While you’ll find the carb hole right next to the bowl on most hand pipes, it may also be located at the front.
  • The pipe’s chamber shaft delivers the smoke, cooling it on its journey to your mouth. Shorter chamber shafts create hotter smoke, while longer ones will give you a cooler experience.
  • The mouth piece, through which you inhale your smoke.

Types of Hand Pipes

Although entirely unique designs are entering the market, most hand pipes fall into established categories that each have their own pros and cons — the best option for you comes down to personal preference.

Chillums are elegant but simple tubes with a small bowl-like crevice to pack your legal herbs. These pipes generally don’t feature carb holes, and are perfect for smokers who are always on the move and those who prefer a stronger experience. Chillums are also frequently inexpensive.

Spoon pipes are slightly larger hand pipes that are shaped, as the name suggests, like spoons. These pipes have carb holes on the side or front to allow for a higher-quality smoking experience as the stale smoke is liberated from the pipe.

Steamrollers are larger hand pipes that, owing to their increased complexity, are typically best suited for more experienced smokers. Steamrollers’ bowls are usually situated atop the pipe, with the carb hole being on the front.

Sherlock pipes have a characteristic arched design; the bowl is connected to a stem that allows your smoke to travel upward. Many, but not all, Sherlock pipes feature carb holes.

Bubblers fall into a category of their own — also called water pipes, they are essentially very portable bongs that provide a clean and smooth ride after a small learning curve.

No matter which type of hand pipe you choose, artistically-inclined smokers will go crazy when they see the sheer range of absolutely gorgeous hand-crafted designs, while novelty hand pipes that will make you smile also grace the market. If, meanwhile, you value practicality over looks, simpler models can certainly be found, too.


What Else Should You Be Aware of When You Choose a Hand Pipe?

The size of the bowl is one of your key considerations as you shop for a hand pipe; despite the fact that your hand pipe’s overall size and length matters a great deal if you plan on carrying it with you, the bowl size determines how much product you are able to pack.

Most hand pipes are made of glass, which can be cleaned very effectively and easily, but you will also be able to find hand pipes crafted from other materials — including:

  • Silicone hand pipes, which are nearly unbreakable and resistant to both heat and cold.
  • Ceramic hand pipes, which are able to cool the smoke effectively before it reaches you.
  • Metal pipes are harder to clean and tend to get hot fast.

Hand pipes made with a larger hole leading away from the bowl should be fitted with a dedicated pipe screen for a clean experience.

Figuring out what type of hand pipe you prefer is ultimately a question of exploration and experimentation, and fortunately, there is no rule that says you have to limit yourself to just the one!

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