Marijuana Pipes 101: The Basics of Style and Material
As marijuana becomes legalized across the United States, we want to help you understand the options, styles, durability and materials available in marijuana pipes.
Marijuana Pipes 101: The Basics of Style and Material
There are so many types and styles of cannabis pipes on the market today. One thing is for certain, some pipes are simple in structure and others are complex, ornate and beautiful. They all have the same purpose yet produce different experiences. Today we will focus on some of the most common marijuana pipes.
One Hitters – Light Flavor, All Users, Very Small in Size
These pipes are great if you are looking for just one hit – pretty simple. However, they are also great for being discrete … if that is what you are going for.
Unfortunately, due to the simplicity of this style, it’s challenging for the smoke to clear the pipe/tube, which results in a faster build-up of residue. Frequent cleaning is required.
These One-Hitters look and feel like a cigarette.
A simple basic tube.
Spoons Pipe – Medium Flavor, Beginners, Range in Sizes
Considered to be one of the most common pipes – the spoon pipe is one piece of material. Lighting and inhaling are done in tandem. Spoons can be basic to very ornate in style. They are also easy to clean and easy to transport.
There are two main types of water pipes – the Bong (also recognized as Hookah) and the Bubbler. Water pipes can be very beautiful in design – ornate, simplistic or complex. The premise behind the water pipe is that the water is used to ‘cool’ the smoke, thus creating a better and smoother (buttery) experience.
Bong – Intense Flavor, Advance Users, Large in Size
Bongs work to cool the smoke with up to two water chambers, which reduces resins and nicotine. The percolator (second water source) helps to further cool the smoke and support a creamy and delish flavor. Bongs have increased flexibility due to their removable parts – and bonus this makes them easier to clean! Removable parts also open up opportunities to modify your bong to your specifications.
Bubbler – Light/Medium Flavor, Average User, Small in Size
While smaller in size, a Bubbler is similar in that it works to cool the smoke with the use of water, but most only have one water chamber. One of the leading benefits of the bubbler is its portability – it is only one piece! Smaller does mean more of a challenge to clean though, so that’s something to take into consideration.
Vaporizer — Light/Medium Flavor, All Users, Small/Medium in Size
Vaporizers use electricity to heat up your product and produce a significantly less amount of smoke. The tool itself heats up and cools down quickly, which makes it easy to store and transport. A vaporizer is convenient as it contains all the material, so there is no risk of spillage or damage during transportation.
Vaporizers have become very popular. The tool is very easy to use, can be discreet, and appears to have a more ‘professional’ appearance.
One drawback is that vaporizers can be expensive, however you can consider it an investment and shop around for the right product to fit your needs.
Cannabis Pipe Materials
Once you have determined your style of cannabis pipe, next you will need to determine the material you want. The choice of material can impact the flavor, durability, cost and its cleanability. Whether you enjoy marijuana for recreational or medicinal purposes, the pipe you choose should be based on what works for you and your needs.
Even though glass may be the most delicate or breakable of all the materials, the benefits of glass outweigh the extra bubble wrap you may need.
Glass is non-porous, which means that all of the smoke will stay inside the pipe, ensuring you are not compromising the flavor. Glass also reduces build up within the pipe so you won’t have to worry as much about bacteria.
The color options for glass pot pipes are endless. Some glass pipes are so beautiful that they can be considered an art piece. Just keep in mind: the more ornate the pipe – the higher the cost.
Cleaning your glass pipe is fairly simple. One option is to boil your pipe in water for up to 10 minutes. We suggest using a colander or a smaller vessel to reduce movement. Another option is alcohol – we recommend a minimum of 91% concentration. Soak your pipe in the alcohol for up to 10 minutes. Rinse and let dry.
Please remember that glass is very fragile and with extreme changes in temp lower quality glass may crack. Wash and transport with care.
If you are going for durability there is no argument that a metal pipe is the way to go. Unfortunately, the downside to metal is the risk of adding metallic undertones to the flavor of your cannabis.
The cost of metal pipes range significantly based on the type of pipe you choose. One-hitters will be less costly compared to Vaporizers that have more complex parts.
Much like a glass pipe, you can boil your metal pipe in water or soak it in alcohol. It’s important to recognize that metal needs more time to soak, so aim for a minimum of 15 minutes. We do not recommend putting metal pipes in the dishwasher. Dishwasher soaps may tarnish your pipe. For Vaporizers, it is wise to refer to cleaning requirements in your user guide.
Wood pipes have a completely different feel and look than more modern glass and metal pipes. As one of the original materials used for smoking, it still remains a durable and popular pipe today. Additionally, a wood pipe will add its own signature to the flavor of your cannabis.
Reminder: Before using a wooden pipe for the first time you will need to evenly burn the inside of the bowl to create a layer of charcoal.
The best way to clean a wood pipe is to take it apart and use a ‘pipe cleaner’ tool to remove any debris. Run water through the pipe until it is clear.
Learn more at a CannaCon Expo near you!
Whether you are new to the cannabis scene or working to grow your business, CannaCon is the place to meet and network with industry leaders, and learn about new and upcoming products. Register now for CannaCon South, Sept. 27-28, 2019.
The options might seem endless when it comes to choosing marijuana pipes, but use these tips to make the best choice for you and your needs.
Is There a Safer Way to Smoke Cannabis? How the Methods Stack Up
If you’re looking for the healthiest way to smoke cannabis, keep in mind that there’s no totally safe way to do so — even with the purest, most pesticide-free bud. Cannabis smoke contains most of the same toxins and carcinogens that make tobacco smoke harmful to your health.
There are, however, methods that may be slightly less harmful than others. Here’s a look at how different methods compare, plus some smoke-free alternatives to consider.
The dangers of smoke inhalation are well known, so it’s not surprising that a lot of folks assume vaping is the healthier alternative to smoking. Unfortunately, it’s not that simple.
There’s mounting evidence that vaping can have serious health effects. Much of the concern comes from inhaling vitamin E acetate, a chemical additive found in many vaping products containing tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC.
However, this risk seems to apply only to vaping concentrates, not flower. A 2006 study suggests that vaping actual cannabis, not concentrate, is less harmful to your respiratory system than smoking. Still, research on vaping cannabis is pretty limited.
Lung health aside, there’s also a matter of potency. People who vape cannabis report experiencing stronger effects — regardless of the amount of THC in the product — than they do when smoking. This means a higher chance of overdoing it, or greening out, when vaping.
Maybe a teeny, tiny bit, but nowhere near enough to make a difference.
Bongs offer a smoother toke because you don’t get the dry heat from smoking cannabis rolled in paper. Though it feels less harsh when you inhale, your lungs don’t know the difference.
Well, both still involve inhaling smoke, so there’s that. But if you had to choose the lesser of two evils, joints are probably the better option. This is because blunts are made with hollowed-out cigars, and cigars and their wrappers are highly toxic.
Even after removing all the tobacco from a cigar, cancer-causing toxins, such as nitrosamines, can remain. Plus, cigar wrappers are more porous than rolling papers, so the burning is less complete. This results in smoke with high concentrations of toxins.
Then there’s the matter of size. Blunts are a lot bigger than joints, and they hold way more pot. Smoking an entire blunt is like smoking roughly six joints.
Dabbing is supposed to give you a “cleaner” high, but what does that actually mean? Not much.
Budder — another name for dabs or marijuana concentrate — delivers a lot more THC than other weed products, often as much as 80 percent more.
Dabbing is still pretty new, so experts still don’t know the full impact.
There’s evidence that exposure to high THC may lead to long-term mental health effects, like psychosis. The risk of misuse and addiction is also higher when using high-THC products, especially for young people.
Plus, unless you have high-tech lab equipment and are trained in extraction, your dabs may be far from pure. Research shows that dabs can contain contaminants and residual solvents that can to neurotoxicity and cardiotoxicity.
Dabbing also has respiratory effects, even though you’re not technically “smoking.” There have been cases of people developing lung damage from dabbing.
The bad news? There’s no safe way to smoke cannabis. The good news? There are plenty of other ways to consume it.
Here are your main options:
- Edibles. Unlike smoking and vaping, ingesting cannabis won’t harm your lung health. The downside for some is that edibles take longer to kick in because they need to clear your digestive system before getting into your bloodstream. The upside is that the effects also hang around longer. You also have an endless variety to choose from, with everything from gummies to baked goods to cannabutter.
- Sublinguals. These are usually lumped together with edibles, but they’re not quite the same. Unlike edibles, you don’t actually swallow sublingual forms of cannabis, which include things like tinctures, films, and dissolvable tablets. Sublingual cannabis is placed under the tongue for absorption, and is absorbed through your mouth’s mucus membranes, so the effects are felt faster.
- Tinctures. Tinctures are made of alcohol-based cannabis extracts that come in bottles with droppers. You can add tinctures to drinks, but you can also get the effects faster by placing a few drops — depending on your desired dose — under your tongue.
- Topicals. Cannabis topicals are for people looking for the therapeutic benefits of cannabis without the cerebral effects. Creams, balms, and patches can be applied to the skin to relieve inflammation and pain. There’s also cannabis lubricant made for, well, sexy time.
- Suppositories. The idea of shoving cannabis up your butt (or vagina, depending on the product) may make you clench, but it’s definitely a thing. Most of the suppositories on the market are CBD-infused and used for therapeutic reasons, like pain or nausea relief, but some brands have upped their THC content for added effects.
If you’d still rather smoke your weed despite the risks, consider these harm-reduction tips to help make it a little safer:
- Don’t hold the inhale. Inhaling deeply and holding it in exposes your lungs to more tar per breath. Don’t be greedy; exhaling faster is better for you.
- Use rolling papers approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Rolling papers may seem like NBD, but some contain chemicals and flavorings that can be toxic.
- Stick to glass bongs and pipes. Plastic bongs can contain chemicals like BPA and phthalates, which have been linked to serious health effects, including cancer.
- Keep your stuff clean. Keep your bongs and pipes clean, and don’t roll your weed on dirty surfaces.
- Don’t share mouthpieces or pass joints. Sharing your stash is fine, but not your pipes, bongs, or joints. When you share these, you’re basically swapping spit with that person and putting yourself at risk for infections.
No matter how you dice it, there’s really no safe way to smoke cannabis, whether you prefer to roll one up or are partial to bongs. As cannabis becomes more popular, so do products that allow you to indulge without the smoke.
That said, if you’re partial to puffing and passing, a vaporizer that allows you to use flower, not concentrates, may be a less harmful option.
Adrienne Santos-Longhurst is a freelance writer and author who has written extensively on all things health and lifestyle for more than a decade. When she’s not holed-up in her writing shed researching an article or off interviewing health professionals, she can be found frolicking around her beach town with husband and dogs in tow or splashing about the lake trying to master the stand-up paddleboard.
You can smoke cannabis in a variety of ways, but is one safer or healthier than others?