If you are new to smoking, you may be confused by the smoke shop terminology frequently used in head shops and by other, more experienced smokers. Smoking terminology grew from a blend of a subculture that was forced to talk in code to discreetly discuss their tools and smoking material and from a cottage industry that increasingly relied on more innovative and advanced products not found elsewhere that required naming. The result is a conversation that sounds halfway between high school chemistry lectures and a Grateful Dead concert. Here is a brief primer into some of the more common smoke shop terminology you may hear.
Adapter: Commonly found on metal pipes, adapters change the sex, angle, or size of the pipe. Most will have at least one adapter where the long stem connects to the bowl.
Atomizer: This is the heating element on a vape. An electrical charge heats it, which then heats the wick or dry herb material, which is what releases the smoke or vapor you inhale.
Beaker bong: A bong either shaped like a lab beaker or created from a lab beaker, hearkening back to the lab glass that was modified to create water pipes before smoking accessories were readily available.
Bong: Perhaps the most iconic water pipe on the market, a bong has a mouthpiece that is typically a tube with water in the base. A stem rises at an angle from the water, through the wall of the pipe and ends with a fixed or removable bowl where your smoking material is placed.
Borosilicate: A type of glass used to make glass pipes containing boric acid. Resistant to extreme temperatures, it is a great choice for the heating and cooling pipes go through during use.
Bowl: A piece of self-explanatory smoke shop terminology, this is the bowl-shaped area your smoking material is placed in to burn. Bowl is also used as an informal unit of measurement as in “I smoked a bowl.”
Bubbler: Similar to diminutive bongs, bubblers use a downstem from the bowl to draw the smoke through water, cooling it for a better experience. The resultant sound is what created this piece of smoking terminology.
Carb: A tiny hole molded or drilled into the side of a pipe that lets you control the flow of cool, clean air. Your thumb or finger covers the hole while you heat and draw the smoking material, then the carb is uncovered to allow outside air to “chase” the accumulated smoke into your lungs.
Chillum: A straight glass pipe. No carb. No complications. It allows a similar experience to smoking a rolled substance without the need for rolling materials.
Cone: Also called pre-rolls (not to be confused with pre-rolls that have already been filled), a cone is an empty roll of paper ready to be filled with the smoking material of your choice. Just fill it, twist the end, and you’re good to go.
Dab rig: Also called oil or concentrate rigs in smoke shop terminology, a rig is a bubbler style pipe designed for oils and waxes. Similar in theory to a bong, a “nail” is used to heat your concentrate, and it may require other pieces like a vapor dome depending on its design.
Dabber: a small, usually metal tool used to scoop up concentrates for dabbing. It often looks like a small spoon.
Diffused downstem: A downstem with a slit bottom end that diffuses the smoke.
Diffusion: The process of the smoke spreading out through water on water pipes by means of percs and other contraptions. This cools the smoke, making it cooler and more refined.
Dome: A glass piece that goes over the nail on a dab rig, trapping the vapor so it’s forced through your bubbler.
Downstem: A long skinny tube that directs the smoke into the water pipe. This can be a fixed downstem between the bowl and water as in most bubblers, a removable downstem as in some bongs, or a fixed downstem that allows the bowl to be removed.
Dugout: One of our personal favorite smoke shop terminology words, a dugout is an all-in-one smoking kit, like our Smokit kits. It contains several chambers, one of which holds your pipe and smoking tools while another holds your smoking material.
Dry piece: A pipe that does not use water. They come in a wide array of shapes, sizes, colors, and styles.
Filter / screen: These metal or glass inserts go into the base of your bowl and help keep ash or burning embers from escaping the bowl into your water or pipe stem. Glass filters are sometimes referred to as daisies, as they can resemble the flower in their design.
Glass blunt: A straight, hollow glass pipe with a second hollow tube used as a mouthpiece. They are a slightly more complicated version of a chillum.
Grinder: Used to grind smoking material into smaller pieces for better rolling or packing, grinders come in a variety of styles. The simplest are just a screen that material can be grated on. Others use two halves with offset blades that are twisted back and forth with your smoking material between them. Some models may have pollen screens, storage containers, and other features.
Hand pipe: A glass or metal pipe small enough to fit in your hand for a discreet smoking experience. They are generally cheap and one of the first pipes new smokers end up with due to their simple operation.
Head shop: Literal smoke shop terminology, a head shop can also be referred to as a “smoke shop”. While “smoke shop” may refer to a tobacconist, head shop is the smoking terminology usually reserved for shops specializing in cannabis-related accessories and gifts.
Hemp: Used as slang referencing cannabis plants or the fiber products made from the leaves and stalks of cannabis plants, such as clothing, rope, or paper. While this was often used synonymously with marijuana, industrial hemp is now federally recognized as a separate, legal plant.
Linework: Refers to striped colors and patterns inlaid into glass pipes as a decorative element.
Nail: Made from titanium, quartz, glass, or ceramic in most cases, a nail is used to heat the concentrate in a dab rig, usually with a small butane torch.
Oil pen: Also referred to as a vape pen, this small, electronic, pen-shaped vaporizer used for vaping oils. Some models use low power for lighter oils, while heavy oil pens will burn hotter to vaporize the thicker material.
One-hitter: A slender, smaller pipe that holds a single inhalation or “one hit”. A slightly larger bowl creates a multi-hitter, though due to its size, it can still be referred to as a one-hitter in many cases.
Percolator: A small disk positioned in a bong or water pipe that helps diffuse the smoke through the water. This also creates a bubbling effect.
Piece: General slang for a pipe of some sort. For example, a glass piece is a glass pipe.
Pyrex glass: Often used as slang smoke shop terminology for a type of borosilicate glass as the popular brand Pyrex is made from borosilicate.
Quartz: Quartz glass is more resistant to heat changes than borosilicate, decreasing the likelihood of thermal changes causing cracking or shattering. However, it is less resistant to damage from shocks.
Recycler: A water pipe that draws smoke and water from chamber to chamber before returning it to the main chamber, thus providing a continuous filtration loop to cool the smoke without allowing water to rise into the mouthpiece.
Roller: A simple machine used to roll smoking material into a rolling paper.
Rolling paper: Thin sheets of paper made from plant fibers. Smoking material is placed on it before rolling to create a cigarette-style smoke.
Scientific glass: Yet another name for borosilicate glass. This smoke shop terminology is often used by older smokers who remember the impromptu bongs and water pipes made from lab equipment before mass-produced water pipes were readily available.
Sherlock pipe: An S-shaped style of pipe reminiscent of that used by the famous detective Sherlock Holmes in popular culture. Often a bubbler, it is a popular design.
Silicone: A material increasingly used in the construction of bongs and rigs. It is flexible, shatterproof, heat resistant, and comes in a variety of colors.
Slide: A “bong slide” or “bong bowl” is a type of removable bowl used in bongs. It fits into the down stem and is commonly found on bongs without carbs. Removing the bowl after drawing smoke in the chamber turns your downstem into a carb that allows cool, clean air into the chamber.
Spoon pipe: Another intuitive bit of smoke shop terminology, this is a style of pipe named for its spoon shape.
Vaporizer: Often referred to as a vape, this product uses an electronic heating element to vaporize concentrates or dry matter for consumption rather than using direct heat to create smoke.
Water pipe: A pipe that uses water. This is a broad term that includes bongs, bubblers, and other styles that force smoke through water in order to cool and purify it.
Listen And Learn
While there are many, many other terms you may hear, these are the basics. Once you understand them, it’s easier to understand other unfamiliar smoking terminology from context. The important thing is to communicate as clearly as possible, ask questions before you buy or smoke, and always do business with people you can trust. If you have any questions about our products, policies, or just need help with some smoke shop terminology you don’t understand, call our customer service department and talk to our experts today.