How to Smoke a Pipe


Learning how to smoke a pipe is a lot easier then it seems and beneficial in multiple ways. Once you know the proper technique, it will ensure you don’t waste cannabis, while also reducing the risk of getting burned by the flame. This article will also teach you common smoking etiquette if you end up smoking with a group of friends.

Smoking weed from a pipe is one of the most prevalent methods of consuming cannabis globally. Pipes are widely available and come in all sorts of shapes and sizes. The ease of use and the compact size of pipes make them perfect to travel with and use wherever!

If you have never used a pipe before, there are a few important things you need to understand first. This article will teach you everything you need to know about smoking cannabis from a pipe. It will go over the components of a pipe, how it works, and how to properly smoke cannabis from it. After reading this article, you will be a pipe-smoking expert!

What is a Pipe? Pipe Components Explained

diagram of a weed yellow and blue weed pipe in a persons hand.

Bowl: A pipe will have a “bowl” shape at the end opposite of the mouthpiece. This is where cannabis is packed and loaded. It holds the cannabis securely so it doesn’t fall or blow out. This is also a unit of measurement as people judge the amount of cannabis consumed by the amount of “bowls” that were smoked.

Mouthpiece: This is the small hole at the end of the pipe where you place your mouth on. You press your lips around it to form a tight seal. Once sealed you then inhale the smoke once the cannabis is lit.

Carb: The carb is a small hole beside the bowl. It is used to adjust the airflow when you are using the pipe. You place your thumb over the carb while lighting the bowl and when you are ready to inhale the smoke, you lift your thumb off.

Chamber or Stem: This is the area that holds the smoke in between the bowl and your mouth. While you are inhaling, this is where the smoke collects. You release your thumb from the carb to inhale (clear) the smoke that has collected.

Screens: A screen is a small metal circular mesh that is placed inside the bowl. It is used to stop the cannabis from falling through the hole and prevents the cannabis from getting inhaled by the user. These are optional and many people choose not to use them.

What You’ll Need to Smoke a Pipe

man holding a metal pipe igniting a bowl of cannabis.

In order to be able to use and smoke a pipe, you will need some equipment and cannabis. We also recommend grabbing a water bottle or drink for after. Items needed:

How to Smoke a Pipe | Step by Step Guide

Here is a step-by-step guide on how to smoke a pipe. This comprehensive beginner guide will teach you everything you need to know about smoking and using a pipe.

Step 1: Gather the Equipment

Prepare the equipment. The first step to smoking a pipe is gathering all the necessary equipment. This includes getting the pipe, cannabis, lighter, and grinder ready. You may also want to bring a bottle of water for after.

A green metal grinder and a glass pipe sit next to each other on a glass table.

We also recommend finding an area that is protected from the wind. This will help you focus on the task at hand! You don’t need the wind blowing the lighter out or blowing the cannabis away.

Step 2: Grind the Cannabis

Grind the cannabis by using your hands, scissors, or a grinder. If you are using a grinder, grab a few small nugs of cannabis, remove any stems and seeds, then push the nugs down into the teeth. Close the lid and spin it back and forth until all the cannabis falls into the lower compartment.

If you’re using scissors, place a few small nugs of cannabis into a bowl or container. Use the tips of the scissors to cut it up into small even-sized pieces. Aim to have the ground up cannabis look like the picture below.

If you’re using your hands, you may be able to rub the cannabis buds in between your fingers if they’re dry enough. If the bud is too sticky and won’t separate properly, slowly start picking the leaves off one by one until you have enough to fill the bowl.

A green grinder that is opened is filled with ground up cannabis bud. The grinder sits on a glass table.

Step 3: Pack the Cannabis into the Bowl

Once you have the ground up cannabis, pack it into the bowl. The amount used varies from pipe to pipe, person to person, depending on tolerances and the size of the bowl. If you’re smoking alone, use a pinch or two of cannabis (roughly the size of a blueberry).

For beginner users, we recommend starting with small amounts of cannabis in each bowl. Wait at least 15 minutes between inhalations to allow the effects to come on. Slow and steady is the safest option until you are familiar with your tolerance.

Cannabis being packed into a yellow and blue glass pipe. A green weed grinder sits underneath filled with cannabis.

Press it down slightly to keep it from blowing or falling out, but not too tightly. You don’t want to restrict the airflow. If you packed it down too tightly and it won’t ignite, you can use a toothpick or your fingernail to loosen it up.

If you’re smoking with a group, pack it to the rim of the bowl so everyone can take a hit. This is a common etiquette when smoking with a group.

Step 4: Get Comfortable

Make yourself comfortable. Some people like standing while others like sitting, do whatever feels right for you. Once your settled, pick up the pipe with your non-dominant hand. Hold the chamber of the pipe from underneath (the bowl faces up). Grab the lighter with your free hand.

A man sits down with a glass pipe in his hand. He is preparing to smoke it.

Place your lips on the mouthpiece and form an airtight suction. Your lips should just be covering the opening on the mouthpiece. Then with the hand holding the pipe, use your finger or thumb to cover the choke (small hole beside the bowl). Now the pipe is ready to smoke.

Step 5: Light the Cannabis

Ignite the cannabis. Turn the lighter sideways and bring the flame to the bowl. The flame should just be touching the top of the cannabis. Almost all pipes come with a “carb” or “choke” which is a small hole beside the bowl. When you are igniting the cannabis, press your finger or thumb over the carb to allow the smoke to collect in the chamber.

Tip: we recommend using “hemp wick” for a healthier smoking alternative if possible. Hemp wick is a string of woven hemp that burns slowly. This is the healthiest method to ignite the cannabis because no harmful chemicals from the lighter enter the smoke. If you are using hemp wick, light the end of the wick and bring the flame close enough to the cannabis to ignite it.

Step 6: Inhale the Smoke

Gradually start inhaling through the mouthpiece. Bring the flame to the cannabis and slowly inhale through the mouthpiece, keep your thumb on the carb. Once you have collected enough smoke in the chamber, remove your thumb from the carb and inhale the smoke slowly. Only hold the smoke in your lungs for a maximum of 3-4 seconds.

a man wearing glasses smokes a glass pipe that has cannabis packed in the bowl. The lighter flame ignites the cannabis.

There is no “set” amount of cannabis you need to burn. You can smoke a portion of the bowl, or the whole thing. Whatever you feel comfortable with.

Exhale the smoke and take a deep breath. This will help control your coughing. If you are smoking with others, wipe the mouthpiece if there is any excess saliva. This is common smoking etiquette.

Step 7: Ash the Pipe

Remove the ash from the pipe. Once you have smoked the entire bowl and the cannabis is now ash, you can dump it out. Turn the pipe upside down and tap it a few times until the ash falls out. If it doesn’t fall out after tapping, you can use a pipe tool or toothpick to scrape it out.

A man holds his hand wide open with a glass pipe in the middle.

Now you have learned how to smoke a pipe! If you want to smoke more, pack another bowl and repeat the steps. If you are smoking with friends, pass the pipe to the next guy.

The Difference Between a Tobacco Pipe and Weed Pipe

The main difference between weed and tobacco pipes are the materials used to construct each one. Tobacco pipes are usually made of a variety of different materials like meerschaum, clay, briarwood or corncob. Weed pipes are most commonly constructed of glass but sometimes made using metal, ceramic, wood, silicone, or bamboo. The overall function of each pipe is generally the exact same. This means you can use a tobacco pipe for cannabis and vice versa.

a woman holding a pipe igniting a bowl of cannabis.

Different Types of Weed Pipes

When it comes to weed pipes, there is a variety of styles you will come across. There are a few characteristics you need to consider when looking for a pipe. Some of these characteristics include size, colour, material, and price. Take all of these into consideration when finding a pipe to fit your specific needs. Here is a list of some of the most common types of pipes:

Glass Pipes: The most common type of pipe is a glass pipe (see picture below). These are usually of higher quality and come in all shapes, sizes, and colours. We recommend glass pipes over metal pipes due to the health concerns associated with heating up the metal. They are also much smoother and easier to clean.

a mans hand holds a yellow and blue pipe that's used to smoke cannabis out of.
Glass Pipe

Metal Pipes: The next most common type is metal pipes. These can be found at most convenience stores and headshops. These are generally much cheaper and of lower quality.

One Hitters: Another type of weed pipe is called a one-hitter. The one-hitter is in the shape of a cigarette and is very discrete. You stamp cannabis into the top of it to load it. The term “one-hitter” is because usually it only takes on hit to inhale the bowl. If you want to learn more, we wrote a comprehensive article on how to use a one hitter here.

man holds a one hitter that is painted in the shape of a fake cigarette over a glass table.
One Hitter

Wooden Pipes: Another common style is handcrafted wooden pipes. These look the same as glass ones but are made out of wood. These are usually much harder to clean.

Specialty Pipes: Other specialty pipes have their own unique names depending on their style. Some of these include sherlock, gandalf, spoon, glass blunts, chillum, and steamroller pipes.

Where to Buy a Pipe

If you are need of a pipe, there is a variety of great options available. You can find them at headshops, gas stations, convenience stores, and online. The store we recommend is called NYVAPESHOP. They have a wide selection of pipes that include:

They will have a pipe that fits your unique preferences. Our favourite is called the Glass Sherlock Pipe which was blown in the USA! This pipe is more on the expensive side but it’s worth it (see image below).

a handblown glass pipe called a sherlock pipe.
Glass Sherlock Pipe

How to Make a Pipe

If you need a pipe and don’t want to purchase one, there are easy DIY methods for making them. We recommend building an apple pipe if it’s your first time! These are DIY pipes that can be made in under 5 minutes and they work just as well as the real thing! The method of making them is very straightforward and the materials are most likely already in your kitchen.

We already wrote a comprehensive article on making and smoking an apple pipe here! It will teach you how to make an apple pipe, along with tips and tricks to making them.

Common Mistakes

Don’t exhale when your mouth is on the pipe. You need to remove your mouth from the pipe after you inhale all the smoke. Proceed to exhale the smoke when the pipe is away from your face.

Hold the lighter to the bowl. A common mistake is an individual doesn’t fully ignite the cannabis. When you are using a pipe, hold the lighter on the cannabis while inhaling. You can remove the lighter once the cannabis starts to “cherry”, this is when the cannabis is a bright ember.

Packing the cannabis too tightly. If you pack the cannabis too tightly into the bowl, you will restrict the airflow. Aim to have the cannabis semi-compact so it stays inside the bowl, but also has good airflow. This will help the cannabis burn evenly and will make it easier to inhale.

Not cleaning the pipe. If you don’t clean the pipe, it will start to clog up. This will reduce airflow and make it inefficient. To clean the pipe, submerge it in rubbing alcohol and salt in a ziplock bag. Shake the ziplock back and forth. Another method is using premade cleaning solutions that are sold at headshops and some convenience stores, we recommend orange chronic.

Tips for Smoking a Pipe in Groups

When smoking a pipe in a group of people, there are some common courtesy rules that are set in stone. These apply to almost all regions of the world in most cases.

a woman holding an orange pipe to her mouth. She is wearing a grey sweater.
  1. Cleaning the mouthpiece after you use it. When you smoke cannabis everyone tends to produce saliva. When you pull your mouth away from the pipe some of your excess saliva may still be on it. Before passing it to the next person, make sure you clean off the mouthpiece.
  2. Pack ‘party bowls’ when sharing a pipe with a lot of people. This means packing the cannabis to the rim of the bowl. This allows each person to get some cannabis and not just ash. Some places prefer this method while other places prefer everyone to pack there own individual bowls and wait for their turn.
  3. Pack the bowls lightly. The last thing you want to do is clog the pipe before the next person can take a hit. Pack the cannabis down lightly so you don’t clog the pipe.

How to Clean a Pipe

Cleaning a pipe is an important task you need to frequently do! Pipes tend to clog fairly easily and quickly. If you don’t clean it frequently, it will not perform at its optimal levels or even work at all. Here are three of the best cleaning methods:

Rubbing Alcohol and Salt

This is one of the easiest and most common methods of cleaning a pipe. All you need is a large ziplock bag, rubbing alcohol, and coarse sea salt.

  1. You need to get a ziplock bag and place the pipe inside, fill it with enough rubbing alcohol to submerge the pipe completely.
  2. Then fill the bag with some coarse sea salt. Shake it back and forth until all the resin comes off (the bag will turn a dark brown/black colour). You might need to repeat this step a few times depending on how dirty the pipe was.
  3. Then rinse the pipe off with hot water and allow it to dry completely before using it again.
a yellow and blue glass pipe sitting on a glass surface.

Vinegar and Salt

Another method is substituting the rubbing alcohol with vinegar. This is a healthier and more natural alternative.

  1. You need to get a ziplock bag and place the pipe inside, fill it with enough vinegar to submerge the pipe completely.
  2. Then fill the bag with some coarse sea salt. Shake it back and forth until all the resin comes off (the bag will turn a dark brown/black colour). You might need to repeat this step a few times depending on how dirty the pipe was.
  3. Then rinse the pipe off with hot water and allow it to dry completely before using it again.

Orange Chronic

One of the easiest and most convenient ways to clean a pipe is using a premade cleaner like orange chronic. This is a premade formula you can buy that was created specifically for cleaning bongs and pipes. We can vouch that this will leave your pipe looking better than the day you bought it! This stuff seriously works wonders.

orange chronic glass cleaning solution. The plastic bottle sits on a glass surface.
  1. You need to get a ziplock bag and place the pipe inside, fill it with enough orange chronic to submerge the pipe completely.
  2. Shake it back and forth until all the resin comes off (the bag will turn a dark brown/black colour). You might need to repeat this step a few times depending on how dirty the pipe was.
  3. Remember to rinse the pipe off with hot water and allow it to dry completely before using it again.

Pipe Cleaners

Another great method of cleaning a pipe is by using pipe cleaners. These are flexible wires with bristles that can fit inside the pipe. Use these to clear out any clogs or other built-up plant matter.

wire cleaners sitting on the side of a sink. These are used to clean pipes.


Why is a pipe so harsh?

The smaller the pipe usually means the harsher the hit. This is because the smoke is travelling directly from the bowl to your mouth. Try using a larger pipe and inhaling slower.

How can i reduce my coughing?

After using the pipe for a while you will become used to the smoke. Beginners can do a few things to reduce coughing. The first would be to pack smaller bowls. This would reduce the amount of smoke inhaled during the hit. The second thing would be to take a bunch of smaller hits each time instead of one big one.

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