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How to Use a Water Pipe

Water pipe Breakdown

The first time I smoked out of a water pipe, I was a bit intimidated. Now, it is my preferred method of smoking flower. A water pipe, in proper terminology, can come in many shapes, colors, sizes, and overall operational design. The material used also comes in a variety with the most common water pipe made from glass. Other materials may include acrylic, ceramic, clay and safe plastics and metals.

So why a water pipe? Using a simple and traditional water pipe brings on a completely different experience than using a pipe or rolling papers simply because of the large capacity of smoke that can be held within the chamber. This capacity increases with the size of the water pipe.

The anatomy of a water pipe is actually very simple; however, keep in mind that not all water pipes are built the same. A typical water pipe will have a chamber in which the water will go in, the stem that is partially submerged in the water (about ½ to 1 inch) and exits the chamber through the water pipe, the bowl atop the stem, and either a carb or the ability to pull the bowl out of the stem, and of course the opening or mouthpiece in which you will extract the smoke.

The process of smoking is just as simple as identifying the water pipe components:

  1. Fill the water pipe with water. Some people like to add ice or really cold water for a different inhalation experience. As mentioned above, your stem should be submerged about a half to an inch of water. Too much water will mean you are in for a splash in the face or worse, water pipe water in the mouth.
  2. Pack your bowl with your choice of tobacco/herbs. You can break it up by hand or use a grinder. You will want to avoid packing it too lightly so that you do not suck the herb through the bowl backward into the water. On the flipside, too much herb can clog it and prevent the air to get through allowing you to smoke it.
  3. Place your mouth over the opening allowing the rim to go outside of your mouth/lips creating a suction so that air does not pass through the sides of your mouth. Do not put your lips around it like drinking from a bottle.
  4. If your water pipe does not have a carb, begin to light the herb and suck and when enough smoke fills the chamber you will remove the bowl to release the smoke. Carb holes on water pipes are pretty uncommon nowadays but some water pipes from the 90’s came with a carb. If your water pipe has a carb (hole is usually on the side), put your finger on it before you begin to light the bowl and suck. When enough smoke fills the chamber, release your finger and inhale.

Tips: The action of allowing the chamber to fill with smoke is called “milking” the water pipe. Don’t milk too much smoke your first few times otherwise you will choke and this can bring an onset of painful coughing. You also don’t want to spill the water pipe water or accidentally cough into the chamber which can push water through the stem and drench your herb. You don’t have to inhale all the smoke at once. You can cap the mouthpiece with your hand after you take in the smoke and then repeat to take it in little by little if need be.
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