If you haven’t tried smoking through a water pipe yet, you are definitely in for a treat. Familiar devices for many smokers around the world, water pipes can greatly enhance the experience of enjoying your favorite herb.

There are various different types of water pipe available, and all of them share the same basic principle; the smoke passes through water before it is inhaled. Water pipes range from the simple to the complex and ornate, and some models are as decorative as they are functional.

Why use a water pipe?

There are many reasons why you would want to smoke through a water pipe. For one thing, the filtering process that the smoke undergoes makes it a more smooth and enjoyable process than using a straight pipe. Passing the smoke through water also serves to cool it considerably, allowing you to inhale more smoke than usual.

How do water pipes work?

The simplest water pipes have a bowl or a basin attached to a stem. This particular pair of components works pretty much like a regular pipe and they look like a regular pipe as well. The end of the stem opposite to the bowl is attached to a main chamber, which holds most of the smoke. This chamber is filled with water, which serves to cool the smoke before it is inhaled, and it also traps ash and other debris from the bowl before the user can accidentally inhale it.

The main chamber usually has a hole punched through the side of it. Called a “carb”, this hole is meant to be covered with a thumb or finger while the bowl is being lit. This essentially makes the chamber air-tight and allows the user to direct the flame of the lighter right into the bowl. Towards the end of the inhale, the finger is lifted from the carb, allowing a rush of air to flow into the chamber, and the rest of the smoke to be pushed into the lungs of the user. This effect pretty much functions as an “air chaser” for the initial “shot” of smoke.

The process outlined above is pretty much how all water pipes work. There are quite a few interesting and even novel variations to this, with some water pipes featuring multiple mouthpieces so that several users can inhale the smoke at the same time. Some water pipes can be amazingly complex, with the smoke passing through a winding pathway before reaching the smoker’s lips. Some pipes even feature multiple water receptacles, so that the smoke can be filtered and cooled multiple times.

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