Smoking from a pipe is a very effective way to use marijuana. Unfortunately, they can be confusing to first-time users and even experienced users are sometimes caught off guard by the immense variety of available pipes. This article introduces the concept of the pipe and begins to explore some of the variations on the traditional pipe.

History

scythia pipeSurprisingly (or not), the first recorded use of the pipe was for the purpose of smoking marijuana. Herodotus, a Greek historian wrote of the Scythians using pipes to inhale the smoke of leaves which caused intoxication.

Native Americans used large “peace pipes” to smoke tobacco. The smoking of tobacco spread to Europe and other parts of the world during the 16th century and pipe-smoking was the norm before cigarettes were introduced. During the 19th century, in Asia, a mixture of opium and tobacco (madak) was placed into pipes to be smoked and proved to be far more addictive than the orally ingested form.

During the 20th century, pipes became a preferred method for smoking marijuana and other psychoactive drugs.

Construction

The construction of pipes ranges significantly from the most simple corncob pipes, to ornate highly decorated hand-blown glass pipes. Materials used in pipes include ceramic, corncob, glass, metal, porcelain, stone or wood. Most pipes used for smoking marijuana are either made of glass and metal, but generally any pipe will work for this purpose.

In general, pipes contain two constituent parts, the bowl for placing the material to be smoked and the stem through which to inhale the smoke. Some pipes also have a choke or a carb in order to control the flow of smoke as a marijuana-saving mechanism. A choke is essentially just a small hole on the left or right of the bowl.

Use

The use of pipes can vary depending on construction, but in general, the only variation is in whether or not there is a choke.

For a pipe with no choke, simply hold the pipe with one hand and the lighter horizontally with the other. Attempt to place your thumb out of the way of the flame to avoid getting burned. The technique takes some getting used to and a number of novice smokers have another light the bowl for them. As with most things, practice makes perfect. Spark the lighter and place the flame near the marijuana and simultaneously inhale through the mouthpiece. Inhaling will pull the flame downward and into the bowl, and will pull the smoke into your lungs.

The technique for smoking a pipe with a choke is similar with only minor differences. To begin, place your thumb over the choke with the hand holding the pipe and proceed to light the bowl in the manner described above. Before you have inhaled your entire hit, release your thumb from the choke and remove the flame, but continue inhaling. This will clear the chamber of the pipe and is a technique to conserve marijuana.

girl smoking pipeIt is not always necessary to light the marijuana for your entire hit. Most times, the marijuana will cherry at some point during the hit. It may take some practice to figure out exactly when the marijuana is cherrying, but it is common to remove the lighter in the middle of a hit.

Often times it is not necessary to light the marijuana at all. If the bowl is still cherrying from a previous hit, one need only cover the choke and inhale to get a hit. Cherrying is evidenced by a reddish glow emanating from the marijuana.

Etiquette

When taking the green hit (the first hit of a freshly packed bowl) it is common to corner hit. Corner hitting involves placing the lighter off towards one side of the bowl and inhaling so as to not burn all of the surface green.

In general, in a circle, pipes should be passed such that the mouthpiece of the pipe faces the person receiving the bowl.

If you are aware that the bowl is cherrying, it is polite to inform the next person of this fact so that they do not go through the hassle of lighting the weed needlessly.

If you are suspicious that the marijuana has been nearly burned away, it is polite to inform the next person of the bowl’s potential kickedness.

Packing a Bowl

Packing a bowl is often a moment of stress for novice smokers, but it need not be. It is a quite simple skill that is useful to learn with practice.

Ideally, marijuana should be ground using a grinder, but in lieu of a grinder, simply breaking the marijuana apart into small bits can be just as effective. Breaking up the marijuana increases its surface area to encourage smooth burning and cherrying. It also reveals seeds and stems, which should be removed before packing the marijuana into the bowl.

Once the marijuana has been ground, simply place it into the bowl of the pipe and pack it lightly into place. If the bowl is packed too loosely, it will burn quickly, but if it is packed too tightly, it will not pull air and will be completely useless.

Variations

A number of various types and styles of pipes exist. If your state allows the sale of glass pipes, visit your local head shop and check out the immense selection! Purchasing an interesting bowl allows you to stand out from the crowd. It is a proud status to own a pipe that all of your friends want to smoke from. Below is a list of some of the main types of pipes, along with a description of the advantages and disadvantages.

Glass Pipes – These are by-far the most prevalent types of pipes used to smoke marijuana. Glass pipes provide a number of advantages over other types. They do not heat up as quickly as metal pipes. It is fun to watch the smoke fill the chamber and just like beer tastes best through a glass bottle, so too does marijuana taste best through a glass pipe. Glass pipes also allow the most variety in style, shape and design so they tend to be the most interesting. They also usually have chokes, so they conserve marijuana better. On the other side, however, they are far more breakable and much harder to clean than other types of pipes.

Metal Pipes – Metal pipes are slightly less common than glass pipes, but do exist and are sometimes used. They are generally smaller and more sturdy. They also often have removable parts which can be cleaned more easily than a fully constructed pipe. They do, however, heat up more quickly and can result in minor burns and do not look as cool as colorful glass pipes.

Tobacco Pipes – Wooden pipes used to smoke tobacco can be used to smoke marijuana, but much care must be taken in breaking apart the weed to encourage cherrying. If a lighter is used to often on a wooden pipe, the pipe itself may catch fire and be damaged.

Incognito Pipes – Since smoking is illegal in most places, hiding marijuana and smoking devices from authorities is often a concern of smokers. For this reason, a number of incognito smoking devices have been developed which resemble other objects. Common incognito pipes include pipes that look like cigarettes, markets, or lighters. In addition to purchasing incognito pipes, smokers often create them on their own from household objects.

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