You don’t see many people smoking tobacco pipes these days.
Once a popular smoking method, pipes have almost gone the way of the horse-drawn carriage. The latest statistics available from the National Adult Tobacco Survey show that in 2010, only 1.1% of Americans (and 0.4% of women) regularly smoked pipes, not including water pipes.
That means you’re extremely unlikely to see a briar or corncob pipe lying around the house if you have some weed but can’t find your usual bowl and don’t have any rolling papers.
That doesn’t mean it couldn’t happen. Perhaps your grandfather happened to be visiting recently, and he forgot his pipe when he left. Or maybe you happened to buy a tobacco pipe on a whim, just to play around with it or carry it to a costume party.
So, let’s assume you unexpectedly have no way to smoke weed and that there is a tobacco pipe lying around the house.
Can you smoke weed out of it?
Of course, you can. After all, all pipes are designed to let people smoke plant material.
But that doesn’t mean that you’d want to.
The Drawbacks of Smoking Weed Out of a Tobacco Pipe
Weed pipes work basically the same way as tobacco pipes. However, there are good reasons why they’re not designed the same way.
First of all, almost all regular pipes have large bowls, much larger than you’ll find on any weed pipe you’ve ever used or even seen at a head shop. That creates two issues.
Here’s the obvious problem. A bigger bowl must be packed with more flowers than usual. That could be a huge waste if you’re not planning to get totally wasted, or you’re not smoking with other people.
Here’s the less-obvious problem. A bigger bowl, which is more open to the air, means that your bud could constantly be burning. Smoke will be drifting into the air or just sitting in the chamber instead of flowing into your lungs. Tobacco pipes are designed to stay lit once they’ve been appropriately ignited, and smoke loss isn’t a big deal when you’re paying $10-$20 for a pound of tobacco. It’s a much bigger deal when you’re wasting weed.
Tobacco pipes are also designed differently.
The bowl is placed far away from the mouthpiece than on a weed pipe, and many regular pipes are curved, so the bowl is lower than the mouthpiece. There’s a good reason; those designs cool the smoke and make it smoother. However, it also means you won’t be able to get the same huge rip you can take from your regular piece. (On the plus side, you won’t cough as much, either.)
There’s another important design difference. A tobacco pipe doesn’t have a carb (the side hole you use to regulate the smoke on a pot pipe), so the experience may not be as satisfying as you’d expect. You can’t use the carb to help drill the smoke into your lungs when you smoke weed out of a tobacco pipe. Some of it will remain in the pipe chamber between hits, losing much of its potency and taste as it sits.
Finally, your regular screens probably won’t fit a larger tobacco pipe properly, so you run the risk of inhaling a piece of your burning flower.
Reasons to Try Smoking Weed Out of a Tobacco Pipe
We don’t want to be completely negative here. There are a couple of reasons — other than the bowl’s capacity — why you might want to try packing a tobacco pipe with some bud.
How much fun is it trying to smoke pot outdoors on a windy day? Exactly. With a tobacco pipe, though, it’s easier. Once you get your flower going, it will stay lit for a while. That eliminates the 30-second struggle to fire up your weed every time you want a hit.
The more esoteric benefit of smoking weed out of a tobacco pipe involves flavor. These pipes are usually made from wood for a very good reason: they contribute tasty undertones to pipe smoke’s flavor. It can do the same for weed smoke, combining with the flavonoids and terpenes in flower to create delicious tastes much different than you’re accustomed to.
Interested enough, or desperate enough, to give it a go? Here’s what you should know.
How to Smoke Weed In a Tobacco Pipe
Here’s the most important advice: don’t smoke tobacco and cannabis out of the same pipe unless you fall into the desperate category.
If it’s already been used for regular smoking, the pipe will have absorbed tobacco oils. They’ll combine with any leftover ashes to make your weed taste nasty, even if the pipe has been cleaned.
Similarly, if you’ve bought a cool-looking tobacco pipe to use for pot, don’t then fill it with tobacco. The smoke will just end up tasting of weed because the semi-porous pipe will absorb the skunky aroma. The smell of weed can never be completely eliminated.
When packing the tobacco pipe bowl with bud, it should be done carefully. Use weed that’s not ground too finely and spread out one layer at the bottom of the bowl, making sure air can still flow around it. Then pack the top of the bowl more densely and firmly, which will allow the flower to stay lit. With two layers of flower, you’re good to go. Just remember that once the weed is fired up, you’ll be wasting smoke unless you hit the pipe regularly. It’s best to try this with a group of friends.
There are some important issues to deal with after you’ve finished smoking, too. Your flower will leave sticky resin in the pipe, which will make it more difficult to clean than if it had been used to smoke tobacco. Pipe cleaners aren’t particularly effective at removing resin from the inside of the chamber.
You’ll also have to pay special attention to the pipe’s mouthpiece every time you use it. Mouthpieces on tobacco pipes are much smaller than the ones on weed pipes. They clog easily and have to be cleaned out constantly.
Finally, since you’ll never be able to get all of the resin out of a tobacco pipe, you shouldn’t expect it to last as long as your trusty bowl or one-hitter. Don’t spend a fortune on a tobacco pipe if you’re going to smoke weed out of it; you’ll be throwing it away much sooner than you might expect.
Can You Smoke Weed Out of a Tobacco Pipe: FAQ
Q: Does smoking from a tobacco pipe feel the same as smoking from a weed pipe?
A: Not exactly. The draw will be more regulated; it will feel sort of like you’re sipping water from a straw. If it’s difficult to get any smoke (or it feels like you’re trying to drink a milkshake from Mickey D.’s), your flower is packed too tight. If it feels (or sounds) like there’s nothing in the straw, it’s packed too loosely.
Q: Do you have to use one of those pipe tamping things if you smoke weed out of a tobacco pipe?
A: You might if you want the pipe to stay lit. When you start getting to the “empty straw” stage, it’s time to gently tamp the flower down until you feel more resistance as you take a hit.
- King, B. A., Dube, S. R., & Tynan, M. A. (2012). Current tobacco use among adults in the United States: findings from the National Adult Tobacco Survey. American journal of public health, 102(11), e93-e100.