What is a Hand Pipe

Hand Pipes

Hand pipes are the original, simple way to smoke dry herb and tobacco. If you are not familiar, hand pipes are exactly what they sound like; small pipes made out of a variety of materials that are generally small enough to be easily handled with one hand. 

Unlike the latest and greatest vapes, e nails, or other vaping setups, hand pipes have an ancient history, with some variation of hand pipes clocking in at thousands of years old. However, since the olden times, hand pipes have grown into a huge variety to choose from, varying not only in the material from which they are made but also in the style and design in which they can be found. Not only can traditional dry hand pipes be purchased, but water pipes can be as well.

A dry hand pipe is just about the simplest hand pipe you can use. All you do is pack your dry herb, light it, and inhale. There is no medium between you and the smoke, so brace your mouth for strong, harsh flavors. A water pipe, on the other hand, is more complicated in design. It forces the smoke to pass through a barrier of water before hitting your mouth. This helps filter the smoke as well as cool the smoke down, resulting in a smoother, tamer flavor. They can be a bit tricky to clean since their parts are more intricate.

Nowadays the most common material of hand pipe you will find are glass hand pipes. They resist heat well and clean easily. Glass pipes have been around in the smoking scene for decades. Most early glass pipes were spoon pipes (just class pipes that had an open bowl at the end, resembling a spoon) and were simple glass. Color changing glass pipes are said to have been accidentally discovered by Bob Snodgrass, a pioneer in glass pipe making. 

Glass pipes have come a long way since the simple spoon pipes of yesteryear. You can still easily find spoon pipes, but sherlock style pipes, steamrollers, and many more are also readily accessible. Of course, it is also to find pipes that change color while being smoked, too. 

The world of hand is a huge one! Continue reading below to learn more about hand pipes.


Types of Hand Pipes

There are so many different kinds of hand pipes it can be overwhelming trying to pick out the perfect one for you or even learn more about them. If this describes you, you have come to the right place! Though there are a variety of different hand pipes, they generally can be sorted into three different categories: the material from which the hand pipe is made (like glass or wood), by the style of the hand pipe (like a spoon pipe or sherlock pipe), and by whether or not it is a dry or water pipe. Understanding the differences between these three categories can help narrow down your search for the perfect hand pipe. Below, we will further break these categories down so you can see examples of all kinds of hand pipes.

Glass Hand Pipes, Silicone, Wood, and Other Pipe Materials

You can find a hand pipe made out of just about anything. Ancient hand pipes were most commonly made from wood or clay. Though you can still find wood or clay hand pipes today, the most common material you will see is glass. They are gorgeous in design and their durability and ability to clean easily will continue to make them a popular choice.

However, another material is quickly becoming a popular choice as well: silicone! It also handles heat well, but is very inexpensive and, unlike a glass pipe, will not break if you happen to drop it. You can already find silicone pipes in a variety of colors and designs readily available on the market today.


Chillums, Spoons, Bongs, and Other Hand Pipe Styles

Aside from their material, hand pipes can also be categorized into the style or model they are made into. There are all kinds of cool and useful styles to choose from. Spoon pipes, as we have mentioned, are the simplest design. They look like a spoon, where the bowl is located at the end of the pipe. 

Chillums are another popular model (and an old model, to boot). They are essentially a straight, tube with a bowl head at the end that allows dry herb to be packed in a compact space. Being a straight tube, each hit is a direct inhale, allowing for potent and flavorful draws each time.

Bongs, often lumped in with water pipes, are one of the most popular ways to smoke dry herb. Since the smoke has to pass through water before getting to you, a smooth, cool hit is inhaled with every draw.

Sherlock pipes are another classic design named after the famous detective Sherlock Holmes, and these hand pipes offer great benefits. They have a large bowl, able to hold a lot of dry herb at once, and the draw is still direct to you each time you inhale. A nice perk of sherlock pipes is that you do not have to worry about dropping any dry herb!

Steamrollers are a kind of pipe that looks like chillums but are just a bit different. Their design allows smoke to build inside the pipe, which then allows the user to inhale it all at once. This is how steamrollers got their name (because it feels like you were “steamrolled” if you are not careful using these pipes). 

Aside from these common designs, there are all kinds of specialty, one-of-a-kind pipes that you may see pop up on the marketplace from time to time, as well as small variations within these kinds of pipes as well.

Water Pipes vs Water-less Hand Pipes

The final way to categorize hand pipes is by those that use water and those that do not. Water-less pipes (or dry hand pipes) require only the dry herb packed into the pipe to be smoked. Water pipes, on the other hand, use water to filter out the smoke. There are very clear pros and cons for each of these designs.

Water pipes like bongs provide a much more mild, smooth flavor. It will not be nearly as harsh as with a chillum or steamroller pipe. It also allows the flavor of what is being smoked to come through, which is an important characteristic for many that use the pipes. However, that water will become dirty over time, and the entire pipe will need thorough cleaning. Depending on the style of water pipe being used, this can be a difficult, time-intensive chore. 

Water-less pipes allow for potent draws to be inhaled instantaneously with little to nothing be filtered from the dry herb. Likewise, water-less pipes will also need cleaning at some point, but not nearly as often as the water in a water pipe. The harsh, potent smoke from a waterless pipe can be a turn off to many, especially for beginners. If you are not careful with water-less pipes, it is easy to draw painful, harsh smoke that would not be found in a water pipe.

Interested in both? You will be happy to know that, aside from these differences, the practical function of these pipes is largely the same. Namely, dry herb is packed into a bowl, lit, and then inhaled. Of course, they are also still hand pipes, so you are still going to end up with a product that can be held in one hand (bongs being an exception to this, and we will touch on that later). 

Both kinds of pipes can provide excellent smoking experiences, it just depends on what you are looking for!


Bubblers vs Bongs

These are the two most popular kind of water pipes you will find but are very different. Bubblers stay true to the “hand” in hand pipes. They are small enough to fit in your hand, but still run the smoke through the water before being inhaled. Bongs, on the other hand, are large setups of multiple pieces. 

Bongs, because of their size, can accommodate not only a large bowl but you can pack more than enough herb for several draws for long smoking sessions with several people. Bubblers may or may not have smaller bowls, but they can also be used for smoking with friends.  Bongs are also far easier to clean. Since they have multiple parts, they can be disassembled when the time comes to change the water and clean the inside. Bubblers are generally one piece (for example, one piece of blown glass) which can make them tricky to get thoroughly clean. However, because they are smaller and much simpler, bubblers are generally less expensive than complete bong setups.

Chillum vs Bowl

These are two models of hand pipes for dry herbs that are among the most popular. Chillum pipes are simple pipes. They are more or less a hollow tube with a bowl head and mouthpiece at opposite ends.. On one end is where dry herb can be packed. The other end is where you inhale. Bowls are more like spoons or sherlock pipes. They have a concave space to easily packed dry herb. Smoke travels along the stem to the mouthpiece where it is inhaled.

Chillum pipes are great if you do not mind a harsh flavor and are looking for a potent draw. Each time you inhale, the smoke has a direct path to your mouth. Chillum pipes are also great if you want to pack a few hits quickly versus a bowl which will last a few more puffs. 

Bowl pipes are a little easier to use. They hold dry herb easier without risk of dropping any, and some have long, curved smoke paths, allowing the smoke to cool just a little before being inhaled. Bowls generally hold more dry herb than chillums, but also offer a less harsh draw than what a chillum pipe would provide.

However, both bowl and chillum pipes are very easy to use and very easy to come by. You can expect both of these designs of hand pipes to continue being some of the most popular for years to come.


Glass Hand Pipes vs Silicone Pipes

Silicone is somewhat new to the scene of hand pipes, certainly newer than glass. However, it is experiencing growing popularity. How does silicone compare to glass?

Silicone smoking pipes can come in a variety of designs just like glass, including water pipe designs like bubblers. They offer a unique advantage of being far more durable than glass pipes which, even with thick glass pipes, they can chip and break. 

Glass pipes, on the other hand, are easier to clean than silicone, and flavor enthusiasts will say that glass provides a higher quality of flavor longer than a silicone pipe will. To help ensure flavor quality, many silicone pipes have glass parts, helping maintain quality of flavor.

If you have never tried silicone, give it a shot! They are available in a number of styles and unique designs.

Hand Pipe vs Vape Pen

Now a hand pipe and a vape pen are very different animals, but both can offer great smoking or vaping experiences. Hand pipes are definitely simpler. You pack your dry herb, light it, and inhale. That is, it. Vape pens tend to be a bit more complex, especially those customized towards dry herb vaping. You will have to consider battery supply and voltage output, heating chamber materials, and even whether the vape pen is combusting the dry herb or actually vaporizing it.

However, with that complexity comes more options to customize the flavor of your dry herbs. Precision heat control makes a huge difference, especially if you are new to vaping or smoking. Vape pens can also have built-in grinders and can actually vaporize the dry herb, a different experience than smoking it.

Vape pens can also do more than just combust or vaporize dry herb. Many vape pens are 2-1 or even 3-1 devices, allowing for the use of waxes and oils in addition to dry herbs. Vape pens are a fantastic option if you are interested in the gamut of smoking or vaping options, vape pens offer an easy way to accommodate those choices.


How to Clean Your Hand Pipe

Cleaning a hand pipe is usually straightforward. You can find specialty chemical bowl cleaners that market directly to hand pipes. Rubbing alcohol is also an easy option to clean hand pipes as well – you can even add salt to the mix as a scrubber. You can even use paper clips to pick out the ash or residue in places that might be hard to clean with a Q-tip. Be sure to let your hand pipe cool down before handling it for cleaning, and be sure to clean your hand pipe at least every once in a while to maintain a safe smoking piece.

What is the Best Hand Pipe?

Going through all the options for hand pipes, you may have already realized that there is not one, single best pipe. The hand pipe that ends up being the best is the hand pipe that fits itself into what you want out of a smoking experience. Do you want a strong, potent draw, or would you prefer a cool, smooth hit? Are you interested in investing in a setup like a bong, or would you prefer something simpler like a traditional spoon pipe or chillum?

Of course, with all the options, it could be easy to get overwhelmed with choice. If you need help sorting through the possible options, let us know! Our customer service would be happy to help catalog your wants and find you a great hand pipe!


Where Can I Buy a Hand Pipe?

You can find hand pipes in all kinds of places. Headshops, CBD retail shops that offer hemp, and sometimes in vape shops. You can also find options through online retailers as well. If you do not want to look too far, you can find a ton of choices for hand pipes here at nyvapeshop.com! Any hand pipe you buy from us will always come with free U.S. shipping and a quality guarantee. Let us know how we can help you find your perfect smoking pipe here!