Types of Water Pipes
Water Pipe Styles:
This style of water pipe has become iconic in the smoking world. Its cylindrical, plumbing pipe-like shape creates a consistently cool hit as the smoke travels up the tube. Being some of the simplest types of water pipes available, straight tubes are also the easiest to clean.
With a sphere-shaped water chamber, round-base pipes are more stable than the classic straight-tube while providing a similar function and cooling method.
Named for its beaker-like appearance, a beaker pipe is similar to straight tubes and round-base pipes. It is the most stable of the three, making it harder to knock over accidentally. These first three types of water pipes feature similar mechanics. However, each pipe can be customized or outfitted with the special features listed below.
With at least two separate but connected chambers, this style of pipe is a variation of the straight-tube. Here the straight tube is separated into two or more chambers, divided by tubes. The chambers each hold water, allowing the smoke to be filtered more than once, creating an even smoother, cooler hit. Because of the intricate designs, multi-chamber pipes can be more expensive and harder to clean.
Bucket Gravity Bong:
This style of water pipe is one of the easiest to make from household items. That being said, it can be the preferred method of smoking for many because of the thick smoke it creates. The Gravitron is a gravity pipe that uses a bucket and bottle to slowly draw smoke into the vacuum that is created when water escapes an enclosed space.
Waterfall Gravity Bong:
A waterfall pipe is made using only a filled bottle. As water drains from the bottom of the bottle, the smoke is drawn from a bowl at the top by, again, creating a vacuum.
Water Pipe Materials:
Glass is the most popular material used to build water pipes. With a neutral flavor, glass will not affect the taste of the smoke. It is easier to monitor resin buildup in a glass pipe, and they are very easy to clean. Glass pipes can be more expensive than pipes made from alternative materials. Most pipes are made of Scientific or Borosilicate glass, a high-quality type of glass that is more resistant to thermal shock. Detailed, artistic pieces are known as Heady Glass. These unique and intricate designs are often found in high-end pieces. Electroformed glass is created when copper and glass are fused together to create detailed, beautiful glass pipes.
Calling back to the traditional Thai “baung,” bamboo water pipes are the original smoking devices. The durability of bamboo ensures that these pipes can last a lifetime if treated right. Tempered and treated with waterproofing oils, bamboo can me made into “living” glass to create the perfect pipe. Maintenance of a bamboo pipe is slightly more involved than with glass pipes, but if treated well a bamboo pipe will provide you with smooth, natural sessions for a long time.
The durability of plastic makes it a popular choice for water pipes. Also, traveling with these pieces is easy and essentially risk-free. The downside of plastic pipes is that they may slightly affect the taste of your smoke during the first few uses.
Heavier and more fragile than other materials, ceramic pipes are not as common. These pieces come in all sorts of sizes and shapes, as clay is very easy to work with. Your ceramic pipe’s novelty may mean it’s not your go-to bong, but it can be perfect for special occasions.
Though they’re among the least common styles of pipe, metal pipes are often durable and inexpensive. However, metal can affect the taste of the smoke and it may be harder to know when the piece needs to be cleaned.
Water Pipe Features:
There are three main types of downstems:
- Classic: The classic downstem or slide is a removable tube that is submerged just below the water within the main chamber. This type of downstem is most commonly used because it is easier to clean than a stemless pipe. A downside of a classic downstem is that they are prone to clogging.
- Stemless or Direct Inject: A stemless pipe is made without a downstem. These pipes are fitted with an “L” shaped stem attached to the outside of the chamber. This stem is below the water level, allowing the water to will the base of the stem, reducing the amount of resin build up.
- Diffused Downstem: Similar to a classic downstem, a diffused downstem is a removable tube that is partially submerged in water. In this case, the downstem is made with grooves or slits that allow the smoke to be diffused more widely and creating extra filtration right away.
A common feature in water pipes that cools down smoke, an ice catcher is a series of notches in the stem of a bong that holds ice in place above the water level.
More commonly known as a “carb.” Like most dry pipes and bubblers, a water pipe will feature a hole that the user must cover to fill the chamber with smoke and uncover to clear. Some smokers feel that a carburetor is not necessary to the design of a water pipe, and creates a weaker smoke.
Percolators can be added to any style of water pipe to create extra filtration. Each type of percolator filters and cools the smoke for the ultimate smooth hit. Some common styles of perc include honeycomb, showerhead, tree, and dome percs.