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Glass 101: Pipe, bong, or bubbler?

Presented Byvapor.comPublished on March 25, 2020 · Last updated September 27, 2021
Courtesy vapor.com

This article is brought to you by vapor.com, an online hub for bongs, beakers, bubblers and more.

As cannabis gets mainstream acceptance, we’re using all kinds of new gadgets, but there’s nothing like that OG classic, glass.

Glass pieces—like bongs, pipes, and bubblers—ruled cannabis consumption long before we had vaporizers, crafted by skilled artisans hoping to give you both a great high and a work of art.

Above all, glassware is extremely practical. It requires zero electricity and helps you learn about your herb, in a slower, more intimate way – bowl by bowl. For those who weren’t cannabis connoisseurs until the recent wave of legalization and high-tech consumption, it’s possible you’ve never passed a pipe or hit a bong before (or if you have, it’s been a good long while).

Don’t despair. We’ve got you covered with this guide to the basic types of glassware, all available at vapor.com.

Glass pipes

The most user-friendly cannabis accessory has to be the pipe—they’re portable and extremely user-friendly. There’s a lot of variety here depending on what you’re looking for, but for the uninitiated, the basic instructions are the same:

  • Load your herb into the bowl end of your pipe
  • Put your thumb over the carb—a small hole, usually on the side—if there is one
  • Light your herb, inhale, and lift your thumb to release the smoke

The biggest downside is that you’re inhaling smoke straight from the source, so it’s easy for even the most experienced smokers to hit a little too hard and cough a few times. Here are a few other choices you can make when it comes to pipes:

Spoon pipes

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When you think of a cannabis pipe, this bowl-and-stem shape is probably what comes to mind. This shape is a classic for a reason: it’s easy to use and the stem usually keeps your face reasonably far away from your flame.

The minimalist design of spoon pipes is both chic and user-friendly, and you can often find them with large bowls and ash-catchers for smoother drags. Some come in a hammer shape that’s both durable and rests easily on a table between sessions.


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Also known as “one-hitters,” tasters are clutch when discretion is key. They’re compact little tubes designed for tamping ground herb in one end and inhaling on the other. The key is packing in the cannabis to keep it securely in place and to maintain a gentle touch with your lighter.

You can find sleek tasters made from durable borosilicate glass and built for portability, so you can take a hit anywhere.


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If you want big, smoky hits, a steamroller pipe is designed to deliver. It’s one long tube with a carb on the end for a super-efficient hit. The flower typically loads in a bowl piece at the top and are easily packed with pre-ground bud and a thumb.

Bongs and Beakers

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Often known as “water pipes” (especially in headshops in cannabis-prohibition states), you’ve definitely seen a bong if you’ve ever watched a stoner film. It’s a taller piece of glass with water at the bottom, typically with a bowl piece that can be removed and replaced to build vapor. If you’ve never hit a bong before, the steps are similar to a pipe:

  • Add water to the bottom of the device and load the bowl with flower
  • Start inhaling through the top as you light the bowl
  • Lift the bowl to clear the chamber

While there are all sorts of bongs to consider, a beaker, shaped like the piece of lab equipment, is a great place to start. The wide base holds plenty of water and helps keep it from tipping over, and you can often put ice in the stem for a smoother hit. Some even come with dry storage in the beaker, so you can pack a fresh bowl with ease.


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Bubblers are a delightful link between dry and water pipes. They’re more portable and easier to pass and store than a bong, but still use water to soften the hit. A bubbler is typically going to hit like a dry pipe, with a carb to build and release the smoke.

One fun thing about bubblers: designers tend to have a lot of fun with them, so if you’re looking for a conversation piece, bubblers are a great place to look. The drawback here is that depending on how elaborate they are, they can be a little more challenging to clean.

Dab rigs

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If you want to get a lot of high out of the least amount of product (or you just prefer vapor in general), it might be time to give dabbing a try. Unlike most of these glass options, which work with flower, dabbing is designed for concentrates, like wax or shatter.

A dab rig has a few basic elements: a hot instrument called a nail for vaporizing concentrates and a water pipe.

There are options to adapt existing glass rigs into dab rigs by getting the right accessories, including bangers and e-nails – the latest in dab technology. With an e-nail, concentrate lovers can let the blowtorch rest and take a hit of their favorite wax with the press of a button and some pre-heating patience.

Check out vapor.com to get all the gear you need to smoke smooth, silky hits from glass pieces.

Presented Byvapor.com
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