Smokers new and old tend to muse (and argue) about the age-old question: What’s better, dry pipes or water pipes? For many, it’s a no-brainer. For some, it’s harder to decide. For new smokers, it’s a serious question of what the heck to buy.
The most obvious difference is in the name: a water pipe contains water and dry pipes, or hand pipes, do not. Water pipes as a whole are ranked higher for filtration and notoriety, but portability and simplicity are the dry pipe’s arena. It all honestly comes down to experience and personal preference. That’s why DHC is here to give you the scoop on the pros and…um, not so pros…for both water pipes and dry pipes. Hopefully, this helps you decide which type to explore, but remember, there’s no absolute best choice. It’s all about what you like!
Water pipes, like bongs and bubblers, are defined as any pipe that consists of a bottle or a vertical tube that gets partially filled with water, with a smaller tube branching off, ending in a bowl. While typically made of glass, water pipes can also be made from wood, acrylic, clay or silicone. For the purpose of this blog, however, we’ll be using glass water pipes to base our opinions and info on.
Yes, smoke fills up the pipe and can look cool, but we mean smoke is physically cooler on your throat. When you smoke from a water pipe, smoke is drawn through the bowl and downstem before hitting the water. Then, the smoke cools, rises through bubbles and fills the long neck of the vertical section of the pipe. This lessens the harsh throat burn many smokers can get when smoking out of other water-free devices. This also enables the smoker to take larger drags – and possibly feel smoking effects quicker – which may be something you’re looking for.
Along with the above cooling effect, water also acts as a filter for your legal herbs or tobacco. Many bongs come with one to four built-in percolators (or you can add on your own), which increases the effectiveness of this filtration system and decreases the chance of inhaling toxins. The diffusing of smoke as it makes its way through various perc openings or slits filters out even more unwanted substances than the water alone, while simultaneously cooling smoke even more. This tempts many smokers to lean toward water pipes when purchasing new smoking supplies.
Water pipes have become much more popular in recent years, largely due to the opportunity for modification. Not only can you choose between bubblers, table-top pipes, slightly larger pieces or monster-size bongs, but you can shop for ones with ice-catchers or built-in tree, inline, donut, honeycomb or showerhead percs. If that’s not enough, there’s also an incredibly extensive range of attachments to buy, like ash-catchers, downstems, joint-converters, nails, etc. For smokers, this means you can really make a bong your own and turn it into the ideal smoking device, perfect for your specific smoking needs and preferences.
Even though the various percs, chambers and filters alleviate the worry of getting ash in your mouth, they can make cleaning more painful. It’s much more crucial to clean bongs regularly and thoroughly. It’s not healthy to reuse dirty water for an extended period of time, and not cleaning cancels out filtering effects – a key element for a water pipe! With both dry pipes water pipes, aesthetic can range from more basic designs to thick glass creations to a glassblower’s wet dream. However, because of their larger size, various base and chamber options, and the inclusion of percolators and attachments in different shapes and sizes, the cleaning process is more complicated and more necessary. If you’re already a responsible cleaner, or if you don’t mind a little extra hygienic care, then this isn’t a problem!
With the exception of some bubblers, the larger size causes water pipes to be much less discreet than dry pipes or one-hitters, and being partially filled with liquid and needing to stand upright makes bongs much harder to use on the go. Not to mention how much it reeks if you accidentally spill any dirty water out of the pipe. They can also be more fragile due to all the inner-workings and attachments, so they’re not ideal for traveling. Basically, water pipes are better as home base smoking devices. If that’s what you need, these are for you!
Dry pipes, or hand pipes, are a classic smoking favorite and can be made from clay, metal, ceramic, wood or glass. Simple in nature, dry pipes can be a multitude of different shapes, but typically feature a tube design with a bowl at one end and a hole to inhale smoke through on the other.
The simplicity of dry pipes makes them inherently quick and easy to use. For newbies especially, the straightforward design of dry pipes can help ease into the experience of smoking without the intimidation of large, complicated smoking devices. Some smokers argue that dry pipes are better at preserving the taste of the tobacco or legal herbs you’re smoking because of the raw, unfiltered smoke dry pipes produce and the short distance the smoke has to travel to your mouth. Added bonus: relative simplicity and smaller size combine to make dry pipes much easier to clean and maintain!
There’s a reason they’re commonly referred to as hand pipes. Dry pipes are much more compact and discreet (especially one-hitters), making them an ideal grab-n-go option that fits inconspicuously in your bag or car or pocket. Because they’re made to be one solid piece, there’s no tedious components or extras to worry about losing or breaking in transit. All you need is the one pipe, your tobacco and a lighter and you’re good to go.
Dry pipes can prove more economical in regard to price and smoking habits. You could get a thick glass steamroller, a basic spoon bowl, a carved out healing crystal or a beautifully sculpted and imaginative artisanal piece. Of course, the more intricate a pipe is, dry or water, the more expensive it’s going to be. That’s obvious. But, the amount of dry pipe options with a dope design, available for a reasonable price, makes them one of the most economical smoking devices. The chances of dry pipes breaking are less than larger, more intricate smoking devices, so they stick around longer and prevent you from having to buy replacement pieces. Even if you do have an accidental break, the initial price is low enough that the cost of a dry pipe replacement won’t even hurt!
Many smokers contend dry pipes are more economical when it comes to using and conserving tobacco or legal herbs. With devices that give smoother pulls, it’s easier to inhale larger amounts of smoke, but it’s also easier to smoke a larger amount than planned. You may think you’re feeling the effects sooner, but really you’re smoking more and more quickly. Dry pipes generally have smaller bowl compartments for tobacco and a notable throat feel, causing many people to smoke slower and less frequently, using less product in the process.
The dry pipe’s greatest attribute is also its biggest detriment. Because of its simple nature and the lack of filters, one of the biggest issues is getting ash in your mouth while smoking or sucking dry, unburned substances into the pipe where they get caught and can not be used. However, a glass or mesh screen could remedy this issue. A dry pipe’s simplicity also prevents the possibility of adapters or modifications; you get what you get. But the rips are massive!
Another notable issue with dry pipes is the hotter, and therefore harsher, smoke. This is a side effect of the smaller travel distance between the flame and mouth coupled with the lack of cooling system. The throat irritation is enough for many people to prefer a device like water pipes where you get little to no burn. Yet, for others, it’s appreciated that you can really feel you’re smoking as it can help you gauge how much your smoking and decrease your chance of taking a larger-than-anticipated pull. Again, it’s all about you!
by SHANNON GOFF