Beginner's Guide to Choosing
Your Next Water Pipe
Whether buying your first water pipe, replacing an old piece or simply adding to your collection of smoking supplies, picking out the right item can seem daunting. You want to get the most bang for your buck but you also want something that suits you and your lifestyle. To help aid you on this quest, DHC has put together the Beginner’s Guide to Choosing Your Next Water Pipe.
Dry Herbs or Legal Concentrates?
Water pipes are ideal for both legal dry herbs and concentrates, but which one you plan on using can dictate the type of pipe you buy. Dry legal herbs or tobacco requires a bowl, which typically means a larger stem at either a 45 or 90 degree angle. Legal concentrates usually need a nail, requiring a 90 degree angle stem.
If you’re planning on dabbling in both, we recommend a small- to medium-sized glass water pipe that can be adapted with a quartz banger attachment, allowing you to easily swap between dry or concentrated material with ease.
Think diffusion. Regardless of size, a percolator function is usually helpful to diffuse smoke. Burning dry substances, like tobacco, creates a combustion that isn’t always the best for your health. To avoid inhaling a large amount of byproducts, percolators filter out unwanted toxins from the combustion process, while also cooling down the smoke created. The result is a much smoother, cleaner hit for you and your lungs.
Pipes can have built-in diffusers like a honeycomb or tree percolator or you can add accessories like an ash-catcher. For dry herbs, it’s typically your preference of what you like or dislike in regards to a percolator. For legal concentrates there is less combustion so minimal diffusion combined with a smaller pipe is considered standard for optimal flavor.
Size Does Matter
Think about how you’re going to use your pipe when perusing purchasing options. Is this a home device or is it a sidekick for your outdoor activities? Your intended use can dictate both the size and material of your future smoking device.
Smaller pipes are obviously more portable and easy to store or pack for on-the-go use. Larger pipes are going to take more from your wallet, but provide a stable home-piece and come with more room for modification and percolation. You also want to take into consideration your lung capacity. If this is your first water pipe or if you’re more prone to smaller pulls, a small or medium water pipe is for you. Smaller pipes like beakers or those with bell-shaped bases are also more durable, usually, while larger pipes have an increased chance of breaking due to sheer size and center of gravity.
Similarly, if you’re going to be taking your water pipe on the go or passing it around large groups of people, a small or medium-sized device is the way to go to reduce the chance of damage. But if you’re adding to your smoking supplies collection, an experienced smoker, or if you simply love huge rips, maybe you want a bigger statement piece. If your water pipe is going to be more of a fixture in your home, used among avid smokers, or if you just want a big-ass bong, then by all means up the ante!
These days a water pipe can be made of anything: acrylic or plastic, ceramic or bamboo, even silicone! Acrylic or plastic water pipes can be way cheaper and translucent so you can see the quality of the water in your pipe, but they lack the creativity of glass pieces and can’t typically be modified, making them a less flavorful option but good for on the go purposes. Ceramic pipes can be less expensive than glass, absolutely beautiful and more durable, but also harder to clean, causing them to have a shorter lifespan when used frequently. Bamboo is sturdy and stylish and can last ages. Silicone is super durable and flexible, and ideal for traveling or packing away in a suitcase.
Of course, glass is the most classic and the best in terms of modifications and add-ons. When figuring the durability of a potential glass water pipe, look for scientific glass which is generally thick and harder to damage. Yet, your intended use, personal aesthetic and need for durability can largely determine your choice of material.
A good rule of thumb: the more intricate and colorful, the higher the cost. If this isn’t your first water pipe, then you probably already know what price point you want to hit and what kind of pipe you want. But if you’re buying your first water pipe, know that many materials are less expensive than glass, but the simple elegance of a minimalist, yet sturdy, scientific glass piece can save you money now while allowing for future modification through artistic glass adapters and add-ons as you become more experienced with what you want or need. It’s a good idea to figure out what you want and then browse that style or type at a variety of shops or sites to find the best deals and prices.
Buying a water pipe is ultimately a matter of personal preference, and becoming well-versed in all the existing options can take years of experience and exposure.
Hopefully, this guide has at least shed some light on all the variables and given you a better idea of what kind of water pipe you’re looking for!