The Curious Cannabist: Glassware… Pipes, Water Pipes, & Dab Rigs

So much glassware, so little time to understand them all. What the heck are all these things used for?

If you’re new to cannabis, walking into a bona fide head shop is enough to make your head spin. You’re familiar with the green stuff and may have consumed with your friends, but are not quite sure what kind of setup you want for yourself.

A lot of shops tend to have the overbearing stench of patchouli or heaping racks of tie-dye t-shirts hovering ominously over you as you walk in the door, often igniting over-stimulation of your newbie senses. Or maybe you’re at the local Smoke Mart whose attendants expect you to know exactly what you want ASAP. Their searing glare equates to the sentiment, “Hurry up and you better not say the word ‘bong’ or worse, ‘marijuana’.”

For whatever reason these iconic, yet awkward shared-moments in our culture have evolved to become these trembling experiences. There are online head shops that would help you skip the in-person experience, but we understand if you may not be interested in linking your credit card number to such a place.

To crash through the the abundance of choices, we have a guide for all the glass basics that you’ll encounter along the way. Let’s get you schooled before you walk in there to get your first pipe.



Glass bat, also known as a one-hitter.


Often paired with a rectangular wooden “dugout” the vessel for your freshly ground herb, the bat is also known as a one-hitter. With its narrow bowl and stem, this piece has the approximate size, look and feel of a cigarette – some metal and ceramic bats are even painted like them. The idea is that you can crush the bowl end of this pipe into the dugout, fill it compactly and get about one-hit’s worth of cannabis. Its purpose is to be quick and discrete.



A chillum is small and discrete.


Invented in India hundreds of years ago and originally made of clay, the chillum is gaining in popularity these days in its glass form. With a similarly straight tube as the bat, the girth and bowl part are larger, but the shaft is shorter -which provides the shortest path from the smoke to your lungs while still being small and discrete.

To use it, some people use a small stone or pebble to keep the herb and ash from being sucked through and then you have to tilt it up to light and smoke it, lest the flower fall out of the bowl. Cost: $7-20



A glass spoon pipe is great for socializing.


Also known as a “spoon” pipe, you can imagine it’s called that because it is shaped much like a spoon. You put your ground cannabis into the spoon area’s bowl where some people use a metal screen or nug to loosely block the hole so no burning ash flies down the pipe into your mouth.

This bowl size offers 2-3 doses and is often the smallest go-to piece for sharing herb. It is also the smallest piece to introduce the “carb” which is the hole on the side of the bowl. How that works is that you cover the carb with your finger or thumb while you light the bowl and get the burn going, then release your finger once you’ve collected smoke into the chamber. That way you’re bringing fresh air with your inhale, which avoids “stale” smoke that some consumers feel is not as comfortable to breathe in.

You can find small spoons that fit into the palm of your hand if you’d like the discretion of a chillum, but rather not worry about the tilt or hold while lighting it. Some spoons are longer or more elaborately decorated if you want one for your home collection. Cost: $10-50


Note quite a bong, but has a water chamber that distinguishes it from a pipe, the Bubbler is a crossover that offers the water filtration while maintaining the portability of the pipe. Fans will advise that water as a filter creates a smoother and tastier hit for the consumer. Bubblers include a carb as well, it’s ergonomic and fits right in your hand. Some may even like the “Sherlock Holmes” look of it. Cost: $25-100



The bong is a favorite among avid consumers.


The infamous Bong is a stand up pipe with a larger reserve for water. It sports a removable bowl that serves as the carb and used the same way. When you pack the bowl, again you’ll want to use a small  nug or screen in the bottom to keep from losing the herb from the bottom of the bowl. You then light it as you inhale, smoke fills the larger chamber and then pull the bowl out and breathe in the rest of the chamber. It takes a ton of practice to guess how much smoke you can handle. Even old school consumer will have a coughing fit. Cost: $50-300

Dab rig

Dab rigs are for concentrates. Extracts. Wax. Shatter. Resin. These are the result of the cannabis plant being distilled down to the essence of the medicine without including the burny planty part that causes smoke. Fans insist it’s the healthiest way to use cannabis, depending on purity and extraction method.


Dab rigs and concentrate consumption in general are like the manual transmission on the car versus the automatic… Or the fancy SLR camera versus the snap and shoot. There are many considerations of a dab rig and its concentrate that allows the consumer the control to perfect their favorite dose.

For instance, notice the bowl is a different shape than you’ll see on a bong. Sometimes it will be ceramic or titanium because on dab rigs, the bowl gets heated by a torch or electrical “nail” and the concentrate is placed onto the heated element to create the vapor you inhale. Temperatures can range between x and x. Some people will swear by the preferred temperature they’ve discovered for themselves. Sometimes the temperature varies based on the strain or form of concentrate.

Do NOT pull a dab rig’s bowl out the way you do a carb on a bong. You will burn yourself severely.

If you look at the body of a dab rig, you’ll see that inside, the glass chambers are usually more elaborate with a “shower head” or “vortex” function which delegates the water differently for the perfect hit. There are larger, more expensive rigs with more detailed inner chambers that are designed to maximize the dosage.

Depending on your desired design or effect, these can run you up to tens of thousands of dollars. Avg. Cost for small modest rig: $275

One downside of glass is how hard it is to keep clean. Kizzle Kit provides a suite of products that helps with this. Pokie is designed specifically for getting into the nooks and crannies of your glassware. An additional assist comes from their Blue Cleanse power cleaner that softens and destroys that black stuff that builds up in your bowls, ashtrays and sometimes smears on your skin. It is organic, non-toxic and never needs water to use effectively.

There are other glass items that may intrigue the more experienced smoker, but well save them for another time. Enjoy your visit to the shop.