Buying Glass Hand Pipes: A Short Guide

Buying Glass Hand Pipes: A Short Guide

Posted by FunkyPiece on Aug 24th 2022

Glass hand pipes, water pipes, dab rigs, rolling papers - there are so many ways to enjoy your dry herbs.

Each of them offers a little something different. Rolling your own offers discretion and frees you from the need to carry a pipe. Using a water pipe allows you to take huge rips and cools and filters the smoke.

Still, for some glass hand pipes reign supreme. They are easy to use, discrete, durable, and of course, reliable. You don’t need access to rolling papers or water (mostly) or special fragile rigs and they’re easy to pack and smoke.

These are some of the reasons people buy glass hand pipes - so if they appeal to you and you’re looking at getting your first one, here’s what you need to know.

What Pipe Style Appeals to You?

The first thing to recognize is that there is a wide range of glass hand pipes. Even though each of the following styles might be referred to as a “glass hand pipe,” they’re all a little bit different.

  • Spoon pipes

Spoon pipes are the classic glass hand pipe and one of the most common styles of all. They are roughly spoon-shaped (hence the name) with a wide bowl on one end and a typically short, thick stem. Some of them have a carburetor, or “carb,” (see below) that helps control airflow.

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They are popular because they are typically compact, easy to use, and affordable. Their small size almost makes them both discrete and durable.

  • Chillums or one-hitters

Chillums are even simpler than spoon pipes and tend to be even more compact and discrete. Their design, which consists of a straight, hollow cylinder with a bowl at one end, makes them even more durable.


Simple to use, the bowl is packed with herbs and then lit. However, their small size limits the amount of CBD they can hold. Chillums are favored for their discretion and for the fact that they are easy to pack, smoke, and clean.

  • Sherlock pipes

A sherlock pipe is so named because it is similar to the calabash pipe smoked by the character “Sherlock Holmes.” These glass hand pipes are basically the same as spoon pipes, except they have longer, curved stems. Some of them also have carbs which help control the flow of air to the bowl.

The long stem does not just look cool. The longer it is, the cooler the smoke will be when it reaches your mouth. Some special types of sherlock pipes with long stems are also known as “Gandalf” pipes, named after the long-stemmed pipe Gandalf smoked in Lord of the Rings - but if you want to sound fancy, you can call it a churchwarden.

  • Bubblers

Finally, we have bubblers, which are a sort of hybrid between a spoon or a sherlock pipe and a water pipe. Bubblers have a small chamber that can be filled with water, which helps to filter and cool the smoke.

The temperature of the water can also be adjusted - for instance, using ice cold water cools off the smoke even further, which some smokers prefer.

Bubblers in some ways give you the best of both worlds. You can either smoke them with water like a water pipe or without water, like a spoon pipe, giving you the advantage of flexibility.

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Determine first which style appeals to you and then you can figure out which of the following features you should be looking for.

One thing also to note is that you should buy a glass hand pipe made with borosilicate glass, a tough type of glass that has a lower coefficient of thermal expansion and so is better suited to be subjected to high heat. They’re also physically durable and unlikely to shatter - making them perfect for glass smoking pipes.

Size of the Glass Bowl

Once you determine the style of glass hand pipe you want to buy, it’s time to take a look at the size of the bowl.

The smallest bowls generally belong to chillums, so if you smoke alone, need a really small pipe for discretion, or just don’t ever take massive hits, a glass chillum might be best for smoking dry herbs.

Generally, spoon pipes and sherlock pipes have larger bowls. If you take massive rips or enjoy group smoking sessions, you might want to buy a glass hand pipe with a larger bowl.

Does It Have a Carb Hole?

A carburetor or “carb” is a small hole in the side of a bowl that a smoker can cover with his or her thumb. Not all glass hand pipes have them, but those that do will give you a much more precise ability to control the airflow to the bowl.

With a carb, you can control the airflow which in turn controls the burn rate, allowing you to take much more potent hits without wasting any herb. Once you get familiar with how to smoke a glass hand pipe, you’ll probably want one with a carb.

Unless, again, you prefer the discretion and size of the smallest spoons and chillums.

Stem Length Matters

Another thing to keep in mind is that one of the aspects of a glass hand pipe that will have the most profound effect on the smoking experience is the length of the stem.

All else being equal, the shorter the stem, the hotter and harsher the smoke will be when it enters your mouth, throat, and lungs. Longer stems cool off the smoke more effectively.

Therefore, if you’re sensitive to hot, raspy smoke, buy a glass hand pipe like a sherlock pipe with a longer stem. You could also get a bubbler with a shorter stem which, when used with water, will cool the smoke off for you.

There are also special types of glass pipes called steamroller pipes that look a lot like chillums. Some of them have internal chambers that roll or swirl the smoke to cool it off further, so that is an option too.

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Come Visit Us in One of Our Shops

Interested in buying a glass hand pipe and pretty sure you know what you want to get? You can find a lot of smoking pipe options in our online headshop but for the full experience come and visit us at one of our retail locations.

We have two locations in Washington, D.C., in Adams Morgan and Georgetown, and one in Bethesda, Maryland, each of which has plenty of hand-blown glass smoking pipes, water pipes, and tons of smoking accessories.

Come pay us a visit and call us ahead of time at 1-877-420-2420 if you have any questions.