Pipes come in a variety of different shapes, sizes, materials, and features. Some are small and discreet, while others are large, intricate, and can even accommodate water. The best types of pipes are the ones that can function with little to no assistance from the user in terms of keeping a bowl lit.
Some pipes have carburetors that allow for air to clear out the chamber, allowing for more smoke to be inhaled while simultaneously clearing out the pipe. In either case, one would simply load their bowl with freshly grinded dry herb material. The problem here is that without a screen, burning material, ash, and other particulates will end up scalding your tongue or landing in your mouth, making for an unpleasant experience.
Always use a screen when taking a hit off a pipe. Gently pack down the bowl prior to the initial hit. This will create an even burn and accumulate more smoke in your hit. Once you start to reach the end of your hit, take your finger off the carb to allow for air to clear out the pipe. After a smoke session, it is always a good idea to clean out your pipe from ashes and other residues.
Sherlocks, Gandalfs, chillums, spoons, bubblers… all of these are different types of smoking pipes. Each comes with their own unique features and drawbacks. Sherlock pipes are typically stout, curved, and thick, while Gandalfs are usually thinner, elongated, and have a deeper bowl. Each of these can cool down a hit by having longer chambers that allow for more airflow.
Chillums can be one-hitter pipes, while spoons are the most common. Some are color-changing and can also be double-blown, meaning they are more durable from an extra layer of glass. Of all these designs, bubblers are the only ones that could use water as part of their filtration system.
Even while using a bubbler, you will want to use a screen in order to keep your water more clean and less prone to residue accumulation within the chamber. Metal pipes are outdated and not typically used in today’s smoking scene. This is mainly due to the fact that metal traps heat, releases fumes, and leaves behind a bad aftertaste. Glass, by comparison, is inert and safe.
The two main types of pipe screens are either made of metal or glass, with the latter being the most popular. Metal screens are typically used in vaporization units where there is no chance of them encountering a flame, making them much safer to use. Glass screens are little jack or turtle shaped pieces that drop directly over the center of your bowl right on top of the hole.
Over time with repeated usage from your smoke sessions, you will find your little glass screen black and encrusted with a burnt residue that can only be removed with alcohol and a little elbow grease. Once you find that your screen is so big that it is starting to clog the hole in your bowl and make your hits harder to inhale, then that is when you will want to clean it.
Always try to get a glass screen that is not too big or too small. Get one that fits your glass piece perfectly by dropping it in your pipe and seeing if you can get a decent amount of airflow as you inhale from your empty pipe. Make sure the screen covers the hole just enough to create smaller holes that are visible.
The good thing about water in a bubbler is that it acts as a sort of screen filter for your pipe, trapping in ash and other debris from your hit. The problem is that without a screen, dry herb material can also get sucked into your chamber which will be a waste over time. Combine this with the fact that more residues will collect and accumulate in your chamber over time, and you will end up with a very dirty pipe.
The best combination is a water pipe or bubbler that can utilize water and still have a glass screen as the first layer of filtration. If you find that you have no screen now, then water is great as a temporary substitute. It is important to also remember that pipes get hot during a session, and so it would be a good idea to use cold water inside your bubbler.
Conversely, you could experiment with warm water to see how it affects the hit, as warm water tends to reintroduce moisture back into a hit which allows for a smoother smoke compared to cold water. In any case, both water and a screen enhance the experience and make for a much better smoke session.
Using a screen for your pipe is something you always want to strive for, since cleaning and maintenance can end up being a bit overwhelming if you fail to do so. Keep in mind that screens also prevent debris and hot ash from being sucked into your mouth. This is especially true with more traditional pipes that do not use water.
Even if your pipe uses water, you will still want to use a screen to maintain the integrity of your pipe and lessen cleaning time in the long run. Always opt for using a pipe that has a screen during every session. This will always set the standard for your smoke sessions and reduce the number of cleaning days and potential hazards.