We are living in the golden age of weed paraphernalia. When it comes to how we consume our cannabis, we've never had more choices than right now. Ultra-luxe designer glass? Sure. Terpene infused corn husk crutches? Yup. And what if you want to make your own bong out of McDonalds take-out? You can do that too — I'm serious. Even rolling papers have gotten a huge glow up (24K gold anyone?).
Despite the overwhelming number of products you can use to consume cannabis, sometimes there is no choice. Sometimes you're stuck between a nug and a hard place. Most cannabis lovers have been there at one point or another: when all you've got is some flower with nary a pipe or even a single rolling paper in sight.
That's when even the most organized, well-provisioned and expert of weed smokers needs a MacGyver move up their sleeve — something that can be quickly and easily thrown together from common household items. And even if you aren't reduced to sheer necessity, some of these DIY pieces are just straight-up fun to try at home or whip out at a gathering.
Below, I share my shakedown on a few of the most common DIY pipes out there. My criteria for judging one pipe versus another was simple: accessibility of components, ease of construction, and smokeability.
From worst to best, here is how the battle of the DIY pipes played out.
The worst: The pen pipe
The pen pipe ranked last in my judgment of DIY pipes, but that doesn't make it all bad. This pipe is by far the easiest to construct. It will take you literally 30 seconds to set up and only maybe a little more than that if, like me, you had to use a retractable pen that's tougher to take apart.
You will need a pen with a metal screw tip that can be removed. The biggest drawback with this pen pipe is that you need to have the right kind of pen, not just any pen will do. Not that you need an overly complicated or expensive pen, mind you. But what you do need is a metal screw-tipped pen that can be removed, since this metal tip will be inverted and used as the bowl. Plastic will not work here, folks. Major points were lost since I assume other folks will have trouble sourcing this kind of pen if they don't already have one.
How to assemble a pen pipe
Steps to assemble a pen pipe:
- Unscrew the metal tip and take apart the pen, which usually involves popping off the back end and removing the ink cartridge and other moving parts. You should be left with an empty tube and a metal tip.
- Flip the tip and wedge it back into the tube.
Now what you have is, essentially, a one-hitter. Ease of construction: pretty darn easy.
Smokeability: Just what you would expect from any one-hitter: it's a quick unfiltered hit. Not bad, but when compared to others on this list, it's only slightly better than the soda can pipe since there are potential toxicity issues with that one.
The best when you're in a pinch: The soda can pipe
The soda can pipe could prove to be a total lifesaver. If you're a deeply evolved human who has managed to rid your life of aluminum cans, I applaud you. Many of us, though, will have a soda can kicking around at any given moment, and these cans can be fashioned into a workable pipe in a jiffy and with limited supplies.
If you are looking to use a pop can as a pipe, be aware that this type of material can be toxic to smoke out of and should be approached with caution.
How to assemble a soda can pipe
You will need to start with a clean, empty soda can and a push pin or some other needle:
- Remove the tab from the mouth hole of the can.
- Make an indent in the middle of the can with your thumb to form the “bowl.” (You don't need to fuss too much with this indent, but I spent a little time with it and fashioned a pretty nice bowl.)
- Use a pushpin or other needle-like implement to prick holes in the bowl.
- Next, make a carb hole on the left side of the can (or right side, if that's your preference), and voila, a rudimentary pipe has been born.
Smokeability: Just like many other simple pipes out there. That said, I would recommend against using this pipe on the regular. There are chemical coatings on the inside and printed logos on the outside of most cans, which means use these sparingly.
The most convenient: The apple pipe
Ah, the apple pipe. What cannabis enthusiast hasn't tried their hand at this classic DIY pipe? It's easy, all-natural and chances are you have an apple kicking around somewhere. The apple pipe is just as easy to construct as the soda can pipe, but the fact that it is probably free of noxious substances — especially if you choose organic — has it edging out the soda can to take Second Place.
How to assemble an apple pipe
You will need an apple, a clean screwdriver, and a push pin or other sharp, skinny implement:
- Clean the stem out so that the natural indent can act as a bowl.
- Next, use a screwdriver (an extra long-necked Philipps is what I used) to make a carb hole from the side of the apple into the core.
- Poke some holes with a needle or other sharp skinny implement that will reach down through the bowl to the carb hole. Test the suction and add more bowl holes as needed.
- Load up the bowl and hit it.
Smokeability: Good, but getting good suction can be trickier than the soda can so keep testing and adding holes as needed before using. It's really as simple as that.
The best: The watermelon pipe
The watermelon pipe is the best pipe because, while you might not always have a watermelon on hand, you get to enjoyably smoke weed out of a watermelon and the novelty of that alone made me smile. Not only that, but at first glance, I was worried that the watermelon pipe would be tough to construct. Nope, it was pretty easy.
This one does involve a little more manual labor than the others, but all told it took less than 10 minutes to make, and provided for a whole evening of watermelon-infused fun. I followed Weedmaps' very own instructions, but I didn't have a drill. The good news is you don't need one. The extra long-necked Phillips screwdriver I mentioned using for the apple pipe was perfect.
How to assemble a watermelon pipe
You will need a watermelon (a mini is recommended), a paring knife, a drill or an extra long-necked screwdriver, and a large carrot.
- Make three holes in your melon: One on top for the mouthpiece, and two on either side for the bowl and the carb hole. Be sure to connect these three holes to the same spot in the center of the watermelon, rotating your tool in that center to create a chamber of watermelon pulp/juice. (If we're being technical, this makes it more of a bong than a pipe.)
- Use the long-necked screwdriver or drill to create a hollow tube running the length of the carrot.
- Carve a bowl into one end of the carrot, insert it into one of your side holes and you're done.
Smokeability: Smooth and, dare I say, delightful? Where this DIY bong loses points on accessibility it makes up for in novelty. Since it's summer and we are starting to gather once more, why not bust this watermelon bong out at your next gathering of fully vaccinated humans? I highly recommend it.
Featured image by Gina Coleman/Weedmaps