Navigate to our accessibility widget

Sunday February 28, 2021

By Erin Hiatt


Over the years that cannabis has been legal, companies and consumers have either elaborated on traditional consumption methods, think prototypical pot brownie to THC-infused gummy, or come up with ever more technologically-driven and innovative ways, like nano CBD or dabbing.

However, there is something to be said for keeping it simple with classic consumption methods and gathering with a group of friends to share a joint or a pipe. 

While that seems pretty straightforward, there are some tacit rules that make the experience better for everyone in the group. If you’re new to cannabis consumption, these insider rites can seem a little daunting, but we've got your back. Here at PotGuide, we’ve already given you the step-by-step on how to smoke a joint. Now let’s dig in on how to smoke a marijuana pipe. 

Using a Marijuana Pipe

Cannabis consumers of today have an array of pipe options to choose from, like one-hitters, chillums, bubblers, and even foldable or stealth pipes. But to keep it simple, we’ll focus on a tried and true classic, the spoon pipe. For an optimal pipe smoking experience, you will need a few tools: a grinder, a spoon pipe, and a lighter, all of which can be found in a local smoke or head shop. Some optional pieces to consider include hemp wick and a screen (more on that later). 

Break Up Your Weed

This can be done by using your fingers, but the best way to ensure an even flow of air and consistent burn is to use a grinder. Place some flower in the grinder and grind it loosely, so it’s broken down evenly but is not too fine. If you don’t have a grinder, there are some hacks out there to MacGyver one, but a grinder is a good investment regardless of consumption method.

Pack the Bowl

Place the ground-up weed in the pipe bowl, lightly at the bottom and more densely at the top to allow for an even smoke. To keep from inhaling bits of cannabis, you can utilize a screen, especially useful if the bowl is on the bigger side. 

screens for a pipe
While they are not necessary, screens can help prevent bits of weed from flying into your mouth. photo credit

Screens - which can be found at smoke and head shops - can also help keep your pipe from getting dirty. Here’s a pro-tip: don’t use a screen from your kitchen faucet or a cutting from a window screen. A genuine screen made for the purpose will last longer and is safer. 


Now that the pipe bowl is nicely packed, get your lighter ready. To make the lighting experience easier and more enjoyable, consider having some hemp wick on hand. Essentially hemp twine coated in beeswax allows you to light up only once instead of repeatedly igniting a lighter, which makes for a smoother inhale and less exposure to butane. 

If your pipe has a carb, cover it then light the bowl, keeping the flame over the bowl until it’s able to stay lit on its own, and gently inhale.

Once you’ve inhaled the right amount for you, release the carb. Remember, you only need to hold the hit for a second or two before exhaling. When exhaling, try to make sure that your mouth is not on the pipe to prevent any unlit green from flying away. If you are smoking on your own, simply repeat the process until you’ve reached your optimal state. But if you are sharing with others, here are some pro tips for a group sesh.

When Using a Pipe With Others

If there are only a couple of people partaking, a smaller pipe will do, but if the group is larger, use a pipe with a bowl that can pack a little more herb so everyone can get a green hit. Speaking of green hits, if you are “offered greens,” that means you are the first to light the bowl. To ensure that everyone in the group gets a green hit, make sure you don’t light upright in the middle. Corner the bowl by aiming the flame toward a specific area so everybody gets some of the green stuff. 

A person lighting their bowl
Make sure to start lighting the bowl from the side in order to keep the rest of the weed fresh for your next hit.

When passing the pipe, make sure you pass it with the mouthpiece facing the next person instead of the bowl. That way, nobody gets burned fingers because bowls can become very hot. If the weed is still lit when you pass it, let the person next to you know that the weed is “cherried” and may not need to be relit. And while it might be difficult, try not to leave too much saliva on the pipe, because, ewww (no one wants to get sick). Never pass a “cashed” pipe – meaning that all the consumable product is burned through – because, not cool. 

The Wrap Up

After all is said and done, ash your pipe by lightly tapping it either outdoors or on an ashtray. Some more stubborn ash may require the use of a tool to get out, often referred to as a “pokie.” This can range from a bent paperclip to a specialized accessory from a headshop. And be sure to take the time to clean the pipe, which will prolong the life of your piece and ensure a great flavor and toke experience every time. 

What are your tips for new pipe smokers? Tell us all about it in the comments below!

Photo Credit: Grav (license)


Erin Hiatt Erin Hiatt

Erin Hiatt is a New York City-based writer who has been covering the cannabis industry for more than six years. Her work - which has appeared in Hemp Connoisseur Magazine, PotGuide, Civilized, Vice, Freedom Leaf, MERRY JANE, Alternet, and CannaInvestor - covers a broad range of topics, including cannabis policy and law, CBD, hemp law and applications, science and technology, beauty, and psychedelics.

Erin's work and industry insights have been featured on the podcasts The Let's Go Eat Show, In the Know 420, and she has appeared as a featured panelist on the topic of hemp media. Erin has interviewed top industry experts such as Dr. Carl Hart, Ethan Nadelmann, Amanda Feilding, Mark A.R. Kleiman, Dr. James Fadiman, and culture icons Governor Jesse Ventura, and author Tom Robbins. You can follow her work on LinkedInWordpress, @erinhiatt on Twitter, and @erinisred on Instagram.

More From This Author

Related Articles