Chillums explained: How to use a chillum

There are a bunch of dope smoking devices that can get you blazed. Some are made for flower, some for hash, and some can do both. One favorite do-both device is the chillum.

Here's our guide to what you should know about the history of chillums, the different types, how to buy the right one, and so much more.

Find flower for your chillum on the Weedmaps app

What is a chillum?

A chillum is a handheld pipe that consists of a mouthpiece, tunnel, and bowl. They are one of the most simple smoking devices known to man. Chillums are most often cylindrical in shape and most commonly made of clay, glass, or ceramics. You may have seen cigarette-looking devices called one-hitters that come with flower chambers called "dugouts." Chillums are essentially the big mama version of those.

Bigger versions of chillums are called steamrollers, and technically, glass blunts are chillums too — but we won't get into all of that right now.

Chillums these days are usually just one-piece pipes, but historically, they've included a part called a chillum stopper, or chillum stone. Chillum stones go inside the chillums, a little under the bowl, to prevent your flower or hashish from shooting directly down your throat. Mesh screens have also been used for the same purpose, but again, there are so many amazing chillums out there that require neither type of stopper. The blessings of technology.

Chillums have existed for centuries and are an excellent way to smoke flower, preserve your weed stash, and expand your relationship with cannabis.

What are the benefits of using chillums?

There are so many benefits to using a chillum.

  • Portable: The best part of chillums is that you can pack them up and go very easily. They tend only to be a few inches long, thus allowing you to put them in your pocket without them being too bunchy. That said, remember that portable does not mean odorless. Post-session, your chillum will definitely add the fragrance of weed to you like cologne. Carry it in a case if you choose not to embrace the smell.
  • Helps preserve weed: The second best part of chillums is that a little bit of weed goes a long way. Just a single bowl should have you ripped for hours — especially if you're using some really good, quality weed.
  • A great way to taste terpenes: When you've got some really good weed, it'll have an amazing burst of flavor every time you inhale. Those flavors come from terpenes. Terpenes are aromatic compounds that give cannabis its aroma and flavor. They also work with the other cannabis compounds to provide the specific experiences we feel from different cannabis strains. That said, when you smoke, you want all those terps. Chillums — especially ceramic ones — can help you taste your flower.
  • Easy to clean: Chillums are incredibly easy to clean. You can use them for multiple rounds, then swish them around a sandwich bag full of alcohol to bring them right back to top health.

How to use a chillum

Time needed: 10 minutes.

To use a chillum, the steps are pretty simple:

  1. Grind your cannabis flower. 

    The first step of using most smoking devices is to grind your flower. Grinding flower helps it burn evenly so that you can get a nice cherry on it.

  2. Put flower in your chillum. 

    Once you've ground your buds, dump them onto your rolling tray. Then, take some pinches of cannabis and insert them into the chillum's bowl end. Don't pack the bowl too tight, but know that you can fit a good amount of flower into a chillum.

  3. Apply a flame to the bowl.

    Once your chillum is packed, go ahead and light that thing up. You can use a direct flame or a hemp wick. Apply the flame to the end of your flower and get that cherry going.

  4. Inhale. 

    As you apply the flame, inhale and let that delicious and flavorful smoke from your high-quality cannabis fill your mouth and lungs.

  5. Enjoy your cannabis.

    Once the chillum is lit, you can set your lighter down because that cherry is most likely going to stay lit throughout your entire session. In a generally-sized chillum bowl, you can get about 5 - 10 full puffs per session, sometimes more.

Types of chillums

Chillums can be made in many different sizes with many different types of materials. Some of the various materials used to create chillums include stone, clay, glass, wood, metal, and pretty much anything else that can be tunneled.

Stone chillums

Stone chillums, or stone pipes in general, are commonly made from onyx, soapstone, and pipestone. Technically, you can make them out of any soft stone that will allow you to carve and cut the stone.

The kicker with stone pipes is their durability, as, obviously, rocks can take a beating over time and be just fine. Still, you aren't smoking out of rocks today, so chances are that buying a stone chillum isn't on your radar. Or at least, it shouldn't be. These are simply mentioned here for historical purposes.

Clay chillums

Clay chillums exist. They are known for their resistance to chemical degradation and for not absorbing the flavors of your cannabis on the way to your mouth. They are great for cooling your smoke, too. Clay chillums can be pretty fragile, so handle them with care.

Glass chillums

Most of the chillums you'll be smoking these days are made of glass. They are great for clean hits, don't get as hot as other materials, and cool down quickly, as they are able to handle rapid variations in temperature. Obviously, they are pretty breakable, so don't drop your glass chillum.

Wood chillums

Yes, you can buy wood chillums. They are not the most practical option, but when made properly, they feature amazing craftsmanship. The issue here is that 1) wood ages over time, so the durability is much less than many of the aforementioned options, and 2) there may be a woody taste added to your flower. You probably don't want that.

Metal chillums

You aren't going to be coming across too many metal chillums. Maybe one-hitters, but the big mamas, you will not. People just don't want to smoke from metal devices too often. Though metal is the most sturdy of all the materials mentioned, it will also most likely come with a metallic taste on your hits. There are much better options.

Where can I buy a chillum?

You can buy an average chillum from most local head shops. The simple glass ones will hit you for a cool $20 - $40 bucks. However, if you want some super fly heady glass, you'll have to shop online. Marketplaces like Etsy have some beautiful pieces available for low prices and also prices of up to $200 bucks. GRAV has some pretty cool chillums too.

Between the Tasters, the Helix, and the Frit, you can really find your fix for very affordable pricing. Other online sources include Smoke Cartel and SmokeA.

The design is up to you, but ultimately, what you're looking for out of a chillum is something durable that doesn't get incredibly dirty too quickly.

How to clean a chillum

Cleaning a chillum is much like cleaning any other smoking device: you need to swish it around in isopropyl alcohol and salt for a bit, let it dry, and voila, your chillum is so fresh, so clean.

Tools you'll need to clean your chillum

  • Sandwich bag
  • A cleaning solution made for pipes (optional)
  • Isopropyl alcohol
  • Salt
  • Pipe cleaner or pokey tool

Step-by-step instructions

Step 1: Put your dirty chillum in a plastic bag. Something that will close tightly and not leak while you let your chillum soak or when you start the actual cleaning.

Step 2: Pour the cleaning solution into the bag. Again, this can just be alcohol and salt. No need to reinvent the wheel.

Step 3: Swish the bag around to send the solution through the chillum. This one's plenty self-explanatory. Once the bag is full of the solution, swish it through and around your chillum. For added cleaning, you can also let the solution soak like a casserole dish in your sink.

Step 4: Run the pipe cleaner through the chillum. It'll help you get any little resin chunks left in the tunnel.

Step 5: Swish the solution around your chillum again. Repeat steps 3 - 5 as many times as necessary.

Step 6: Rinse the chillum with water and let it dry.

And now, just like that, you're ready to smoke from a freshly cleaned pipe.

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The information contained in this site is provided for informational purposes only, and should not be construed as medical or legal advice. This page was last updated on September 20, 2022.