Walking into a smoke shop or visiting an online smoke shop can be quite a fun experience due to the nature and variety of products. But at the same time it can also be a bit daunting if you don’t have the proper knowledge or understand key terminology. It can create confusion and overwhelm those who are not familiar with the vocabulary and phrases, or terminology used in a smoke shop.
You might hear things like oversized, standard sized, downstem, ash catcher, add on perc, double perc, quad perc, ice catcher, splash-guard, stem-less arm or reinforced arm. These phrases or lingo is just a glimpse of many things you might hear and see, and if you have a better understanding of this vocabulary, you will have a better user experience while visiting any smoke shop, whether it be a physical or online smoke shop.
Not only understanding this will make your user experience better while browsing a smoke shop, it will also make you more informed about the products you are using and the products available for you to utilize correctly if you find you need or want them.
A Terminology Guide
Adapter/Adaptor - Glass attachments, usually with ground glass joints, meant to be used to alternate or change the angles, size, or change your piece from 'male to female' or vice versa. It is possible for one adapter to be used to achieve multiple variations, and it is also possible to use multiple adapters in a series to achieve a desired change.
Adventurine - Colors used in a pipe or a spoon that sparkle.
Ashcacther/Add-On Percolator - An ashcacther or add-on-percolator is an additional piece, often purchased separately that can be attached or put between the bowl and the downstem of a water pipe. It can be simple enough that is just catches the ash instead of it falling into the water pipe itself, or it can have built in percolators that not only catches the ash but also filters, diffuses and cools the smoke before it travels into the water pipe.
Basket Weave - Is a design pattern or scheme that mimics the natural patterns you find on a hand woven basket, often done on a colored tubing piece from the outside with a contrasting color.
Bat - This is a generic name for ‘straight-shooter’ dry pipe, these can be made from metal, glass, or ceramic. These have only two openings, a bowl and mouthpiece, and do not have a ‘carb’ hole. They are often small and quite portable, and care called ‘bats’ because of their similarity in shape to a baseball bat. These pipes are one-hitters, because of their small bowl size, a popular style in bats are metal and are painted to look like a cigarette.
Beaker Base - This refers to a beaker shaped triangular bottom on a water pipe, this style is one variation of the shape on a water pipe, and other shapes include round shape or a straight shape. Beaker shaped water pipes are more stable than other shapes due to how they are shaped.
Bent Neck - This refers to the angle or the arch of the bowl, or downstem or the mouthpiece of a water pipe. For example a water pipe is sent to have a bent neck at the mouthpiece if the tip or the mouthpiece area arches back so you don’t have to lean over while smoking.
Bistabil - This refers to joints that are 52% thicker than a regular standard joint, so it has 52% more glass around the joint, right where the downstem slides into the water pipe. A normal standard joint is 1.8mm thick, while the Bistabil is 2.8mm thick. Another styles, which is even thicker called Uber at 4mm thick.
Blown Glass - This refers to the art of shaping glass by blowing air through a hollow rod, air travels through a hollow rod with molten glass on the end blowing it larger.
Bore - Is the diameter of the tube used to make a water pipe, this is normally measured in millimeters ‘mm’ and is used to describe how thick the glass is.
Boro Head - This term is used to describe someone in general who loves water pipes, and who loves to gain knowledge of water pipes. It is a broad term, used to describe a hobbyist who has a knack or habit of staying up to date in current trends and changing culture of water pipes and glass. They may also be well versed in popular glass artists and cultural and artistic movements within the smoking industry.
Borosilicate - Borosilicate is a type of glass that has a composition of at least 5% boric oxide. It is a type of glass with silica and boron trioxide, which make up its main glass forming constituents. They have a low coefficient of thermal expansion, so they resist expanding or contracting when heated or cooled. Having a low thermal expansion means having a greater resistance to change in size with changing temperature, which makes it more resistant and more durable than other glass.
Bowl - An area or a part of the pipe with a concave surface, that curves inward, and has a hole in the center leading to the center compartment of the pipe. This is the area where the dry herbs intended to be smoked will be placed for combustion.
Bowl Slide - This is the attachment on the water pipe with a concave surface, which curves inward, and has a hole in the center leading to the center compartment of the pipe. This is the area where the dry herbs intended to be smoked will be placed for combustion. This part also acts as the ‘carb,’ so you remove it from the water pipe to allow air that had has build up in the chamber to flow freely and clear itself. This part is an attachment on the water pipe, and can be replaced or upgraded as need requires.
Bubbler - This is basically a smaller version of a water pipe, or a cross between a glass hand pipe ‘spoon’ and a water pipe. It can be said that it is indeed more similar to a glass hand pipe or spoon rather than a water pipe. It has a bowl, and a mouthpiece. It may have a carb or it may have a removable bowl piece or slide. It allows people who want to have some filtration through water but don’t want to get something bulky as a water pipe to achieve their desired results without having to step up to bulkier pieces.
Bulge - This refers to some water pipes, which have a thicker and larger diameter where the percolator is positioned versus the rest of the water pipe. This larger area or diameter of glass where the percolator is located is called the ‘bulge.’
Bushing Diffuser - This is basically a glass on glass downstem, which will work to reduce the normal joint size to a smaller joint size. It is normally 18mm to 14mm; 18mm would be the male size, which would slide into the water pipe, and the 14mm would be the female size, allowing a bowl or bowl slide with a 14mm male joint to slide into place. This eliminates the bubble or the space between the male and female joints of a downstem as long as the joints are the same size meant for the water pipe.
Button Bowl - A bowl slide or a bowl piece that has 4 holes in the center rather than just one like most glass on glass or regular slider bowls. It allows for an increased airflow because there are a larger number of holes rather than just one, it acts almost like a built in glass screen.
Carb - A dry spoon, glass hand pipes, or a bubbler usually have a hole on the side of the bowl, where the herbs are placed to be combusted. This hole on the side is called the carb, and controls airflow. When you start lighting your herbs and inhale, you close the hole. Once the pipe fills up with smoke as you inhale, you release the hole to bring in additional air to push the smoke through and clear the chamber. On water pipes, this can be done by pulling the bowl or bowl slide out after the chamber has filled with smoke, so the bowl functions as the carb when you remove it from the pipe.
Carb Cap - Carb cap is relatively a new invention; it came out mid-year of 2013. It is actually a cap, made of glass, quartz, titanium, or other material that is placed on your vapor dome ‘oil dome’ or 'banger' to regulate the air flow and help the nail maintain its temperature and not cool to quickly. This allows the concentrates to burn more evenly, helping get a smoother, and better taste.
Chillum - These were originally thought up and used in India, it is a straight glass pipe, very similar to a ‘one-hitter, ‘bat,’ or a ‘straight shooter,’ or a ‘pinch hitter.’ It does not have a carb, and the internal chamber is usually small with a direct path to the mouthpiece. These are very portable, and have a larger bowl area than a bat, or a one hitter or a straight shooter. It has to be held at an angle as to keep the bowl slightly elevated in order to make sure herbs do not fall out.
Collaboration/Collab - This term is used in reference to two or more artists coming together to make a piece or a series of pieces. This term can also be used when a company partners with an artist to produce a certain product or a certain series of products.
Color(ed) Tube/Color(ed) Tubing - Refers to glass hollow tubing in any color, similar to a straw. There is also clear glass tubing, but colored tubing refers specifically to long or short straws of glass that can be any color, and can vary in inside diameter, outside diameter, and width or thickness of glass.
Concentrate/Dab Rig - This refers to water pipes that made or set up with intention of being used with concentrates, such as oils and waxes. They traditionally have a male direct inject joint, but can also have a female joint as well. They usually come with a nail or vapor dome, or a banger, a honey bucket, or another attachment that would allow the use and loading of concentrate. Any water pipe can be made into a concentrate or a dab rig by using proper attachments, converters or adaptors to allow the use of vapor dome, banger or a honey bucket.
Cone/Rolling Cone - These are pre-rolled rolling papers or blunt wraps in the shape of a cone. These usually have a filter made of a thicker paper or other substance. When using these, no rolling is necessary. You can just grind your herbs and stuff the cone and light up. They offer convenience, especially to people with no prior rolling experience.
Crowned - A style or a pattern on a bowl or a mouthpiece that has marbles or little dots from color rods being fused in a continuing pattern around the perimeter or the circumference. This pattern can be done on anything, such as bowls, glass hang pipes, bubblers, dab rigs, and much more.
Dabber - Is a tool that can be made of glass, quartz, titanium, ceramic, or stainless steel. It usually has a long shape similar to a dentist tool. The end of this tool can be used to scoop up your concentrates and move them around and also place your concentrates onto a heated nail as you smoke.
Diffuser 'D-Cut/Diamond Cut' - This terminology is referred to a diffuser that has a specific pattern of cuts where small slits are made at the very end of a downstem in either a bong or a bubbler.
Diffuser 'Disc' - This type of diffuser is usually used in stemless water pipes or ‘tubes,’ and is becoming increasingly popular and commonplace. This disc once covered with water, as you inhale, forces the smoke thorough the small holes and slits crafted in the disks, causing the smoke to diffuse.
Diffused Downstem - A downstem with any style of diffused pattern along the bottom, it can have either slits or holes in any shape, size or pattern. Diffused downstems helps diffuse the smoke and act like a percolator to filter the smoke.
Diffuser 'Pierced' - This refers to a diffuser which has small little holes and circle at the end of a downstem instead of small slits like in a ‘diamond cut.’
Diffuser 'Showerhead' - This refers to a diffuser that has a round ball or flanged cylinder with slits or cuts around the perimeter to diffuse the smoke. It is called showerhead because it looks like similar to a ‘shower head.’
Downstem - A downstem is the piece that connects the bowl to the water pipe or the tube itself, it is usually a long skinny glass tube that your bowl will slide into. The downstem directs the smoke from the area where the herbs are located into the water pipe where the water is so it can get filtered. It is important that the water in the chamber or the tube covers the exit of the downstem so the smoke can pass through the water and get filtered. Some styles have a downstem that is fixed or sits firmly with a grommet inside and is not removable. Some have a downstem where the bowl and the actual stem are removable but only one piece and not separable. Additionally there are many variations on the downstem itself, such as type of style and diffuser pattern it has, and what size it is, and whether it allows a 14.5mm bowl to fit in it or a 18.8mm bowl. The downstem may also have a single tube, 6-arms or 8-arms.
Domeless Nail - A type of nail, made from glass, quartz, ceramic, titanium or stainless steel that does not require or need the use of a vapor dome. Domeless nails have a hole right in the center that directs the airflow down into the tube or water pipe. When being used, concentrates are placed around that center hole and not necessarily in the center of domeless nail itself. This is unlike a normal nail and vapor dome set up, which requires the concentrates be placed right in the center of the nail.
Dry Piece - This refers to any smoking utensil or device that does not use any kind of water filtration. These can come in any shape or size, such as chillums, steam rollers, spoons, and more.
Dugout - An all-in-one device that has multiple chambers that allow storing a variety of things, such as dry herbs, a metal bat, a poker, and also a lighter. A dugout may not necessarily have enough chambers to allow the storage of all the things listed above, but even minimally it will have two chambers to allow storing dry herbs and a metal bat. As the price and quality increase, so may the number of chambers that allow storage of greater number of things.
Drop Down - Is a water pipe accessory that helps lower the slide, bowl, or dome than the original level, and it also helps get the bowl or dome area away from the face. This accessory also helps to keep heat away from the piece or the tube itself, and helps keep the water pipe cleaner as well. Additionally drop downs may also be used to achieve the above results and also change the current size and style of joint on the water pipe.
Enail - An electronic nail is used for dabbing with concentrates and eliminates the need for a torch or butane. It heat ups with a metal or a ceramic heating element, and requires an electrical connection. You can plug it in and select your desired temperature either with a digital control or an analog control.
Fumed/Fuming - Fumed glass is a result of either real silver or gold pieces, which are heated and torched to release fumes that result in giving transparent glass a semi-opaque color. With fumed glass, the more you smoke, the more the colors change. Pieces that have had silver fuming create hues that range from blue to purple, whereas gold fuming creates hues that range from green, orange, and pink.
Filter/Screen - These are going to be made of brass mesh, stainless steel mesh, or glass. If made from brass or stainless steel mesh, they will usually be round piece, and be anywhere from very small to a little larger than a size of a quarter in size. Appropriate size can be selected based on the size of your bowl. If made from glass, they will usually look like a little flower or a glass jack, and also will vary in size. Glass screens typically last longer than brass or stainless screens. Screens are placed in the bowl and the herbs are placed on top, the screens help block the ash as well as the herbs from falling through the hole in bowl into the pipe itself.
Ground Joint - These joints are on ‘glass on glass’ water pipes, and look frosted and can vary in sizes, typically used sizes are micro 10mm, standard 14 or 14.5mm, and oversized 18mm, 19mm, or 18.8mm. There can be additional sizes as well, but these three styles, micro, standard, and oversized are the most common. All ground joints are tapered and have a cone or a funnel shape, which helps allow for easy insertion and removal, and a superior seal.
Glass Blunt - This is a dry piece, and made of two hollow glass tubes, one tube slightly larger than the other, so the smaller one can be inserted into it and slides in and out. Both tubes are held together usually by a fitted or slightly loose rubber grommet which provides a grip for both tubes, and allows the smaller tube to be pushed in or slid out. To use, you pull back the inner tube to create space in the larger tube and pack it with herbs, and use the end of the inner tube as a mouthpiece. You light the end of the larger tube, and as you smoke and the herbs on the end turn into ash, you push in the smaller tube to get the ashes to move forward and out of the pipe. Unlike a dry spoon, where it is harder to get ashes out and they stay in the bowl, this piece allows the user to get any ashes out of the pipe easily at any moment.
Hand Pipe - This verbiage refers to any pipe, usually but not always glass, that can fit into the hand easily and does not make use of water filtration.
Heady Glass - This term refers to custom, one-of-a-kind, artistic glass pieces made by local artists by hand, and not produced in large quantities. These are not production pieces and not produced in mass quantities to satisfy large consumer needs. Each piece has different characteristics, color schemes, patterns based on the artist and their experience. Many of these may also be collaborations with more than one artist coming together to make something truly unique.
Handspun - This is glass made without using a lathe, but instead all by the artist themselves by the spinning of their hands and guiding the glass, and forming and shaping it by their hands.
Healthstone - Refers to a piece of lava rock/carbon filter that you can use to smoke concentrates in a way that is very similar to how you would smoke dry herbs, and avoid using nails and vapor domes, or domeless nails. This is especially helpful for people new to using concentrates and not familiar to using nail setups. To use, you put the ‘healthstone’ into your bowl and put your concentrate on top, and torch to heat the area slightly above your concentrates and the stone itself. The stone absorbs the concentrate and produces vapor as you inhale from the mouthpiece.
Hammer - This term is in reference to the shape of the exterior of the pipe and in some case the type and style of percolator inside the water pipe. But usually it is mainly used in reference to the overall shape of the pipe itself, which somewhat resembles a hammer. Hammer shape usually means having a bowl with a large reservoir underneath, and a horizontal straight arm from one side of the bowl extending to the mouthpiece. Usually when laid to rest, the mouthpiece will touch the surface along with the base of the bowl in a stationary position, and the bowl will be the highest point on the piece.
Ice-Catcher/Ice-Notches/Ice-Pinch - Refers to inward points in a water pipe, crafted so ice can be held in the piece without it falling into the water. The shape and style of ice-catchers may vary, but the main purpose is to be able to drop ice into the tube to cool the smoke without it falling into the bottom of the water pipe. The ice cools the smoke as it travels up the tube providing a cooler and smoother smoking experience.
Incyler/Internal Recycler - More popularly used for smoking concentrates, but may also be used for dry herbs as well, an incycler has the chamber for funneling water back into the chamber also suspended in the first chamber itself. These are popular because the water keeps constantly cycling throughout the piece itself. As water drains out the internal section into the main chamber and re-propelled again by the percolators into the internal section, and this takes place over and over again.
Inline - This refers to a horizontal stem in the piece, this is in ash-catchers and water pipes, and the stem usually has d-cuts, or holes, or piercings throughout the length of the stem.
Implosion - A glass blowing design achieved by pushing color inside the clear glass. This design makes the effect of multi-colored fingers of glass within another piece of clear glass. This design almost seems like a star of colored glass burst open within a piece of clear glass, and the clear glass just captured the entire burst and froze it.
Keck Clip - A plastic or a metal clip, meant to hold ‘glass on glass’ pieces, or ground joints together so they don’t come apart or break. Is very useful, especially so you can connect the downstem to the water pipe, so when you pull the bowl, the slide does not come out.
Lathe Made - The process of crafting glass pipes by using a lathe and blowing through the lathe or the tube itself to create the shape of the piece.
Millefiori/Milli - This is an Italian term, which means a ‘thousand flowers,’ and is used to describe mosaic glass objects. These are first crafted in long skinny slabs of glass and will have varying images crafted inside of them at sequential intervals, then they are cut at each interval and applied to glass pieces. The intervals, and how wide apart they are what determine the size of the ‘milli’ and also what can be crafted inside. Popular things that are crafted in ‘millis’ are flowers, figurines, symbols, and animals. They will usually look like ‘half a marble’ stuck on a piece and will have some image crafted inside.
Nail - These are attachments for dabbing, and come in many different varieties, sizes, style, and material. Basically they are the attachment that you will heat and then place your concentrates on to smoke. They can be made from glass, titanium, ceramic, stainless steel, or quartz. Styles include nail and vapor dome setups, domeless nails, daisy nails, honey buckets, bangers, and more. They also come in various sizes depending on what you plan on attaching them to.
Necar Collectors/Honey Straws - A device for use with concentrates, and fits comfortably in your hand. It comes in various styles and designs, and may or may not need water depending on the style you purchase. This style of pipe provides a faster to use and easier alternative to dab rigs or dab water pipes, and is easier to use, clean and maintain as well. It may be composed of multiple parts or just be one piece; in order to use, you torch the tip of the ‘nectar collector’ until it is glowing hot, and drag the tip right over your concentrates as you inhale.
Nano Rig - These styles of water pipes, usually meant for use with concentrates are very small in size and portable. They will usually have a 10mm glass joint, which is also referred to as ‘micro’ joint or ‘nano’ joint as well.
Percolator - These are chambers that filter the smoke inside of water pipes, bubblers, ash-catchers, and even some spoons. The purpose of percolators is to cool the smoke and filter it to deliver a smoother smoking experience. Percolators come in many different styles, and with each style the smoking experience is a little different, each style having its strengths and weaknesses. Some pieces may have multiple percolators, and different designs as well causing the smoke to be filtered and cooled multiple times prior to reaching the user.
Polished Joint - This refers to joints that are polished and finished to have the same feel and texture as the entire water pipe instead of ground joints, which have a sanded-frosted finish, which is a bit rougher and creates a tighter seal. These types of polished joints are a better option for water pipes designed to be used with concentrates because they don’t create such a tight seal and allow attachments to come off easily. Because of the nature of concentrates, they tend to make regular ground joints a bit tougher to come off compared to polished joints.
Pollen Press - These are presses ranging in size from small enough to fit in your hand to large enough to be placed on a table. These are used to make compressed discs of your herbs. Once your collected pollen is placed inside, the press is tightened creating a mechanical pressure until it can no longer be tightened, and is left to sit for a period of time, allowing the pollen to ferment and form a hard mass.
Pollen Boxes/Pollen Catch - This is in reference to how pollen can be collected in storage boxes and grinders. Pollen boxes will have a large storage area and a screen on the bottom, so the pollen can be sifted through, and a compartment will exist on the bottom to allow you access to the separated pollen. In some grinders, their will be a screen on the bottom compartment, which will similarly allow you to collect sifted pollen, and their will be a bottom compartment allowing you easy access to the pollen that has accumulated.
Piece - A generic term, used to describe any smoking device, usually not used for electronic smoking devices, but for smoking pipes made from glass, metal, natural material or any other raw material.
Punch - This refers to the hole in the bottom of a bowl or a slide. This can cause a big difference in smoking experience, as to small of a hole may clog, not allow enough air through. Where as too big of a hole might allow too much air through, and may make the draw feel a bit airy and burn your herbs faster. So the correct ‘punch’ size is a major factor in contributing to a pleasurable smoking experience.
Recycler - Is a style of water pipe that has second chamber meant to recycle the smoke, and recycle the water through its internal chambers. Both water and smoke will travel from the main chamber into the second, then the smoke will be inhaled and the remainder smoke and water will go back down which results in a continuous cycle of filtration.
Reclaimer/Reclaim Bucket - A reclaimer is an attachment that you can use when smoking concentrates out of your water pipe. A reclaimer attachment is usually made of multiple parts, but the main idea is to provide a reservoir right underneath where your nail would be positioned to catch or ‘reclaim’ any concentrates that would have gone to waste by falling into the water pipe and into the water. The reclaimer catches the concentrate in a little glass jar on the bottom of the attachment that is held on by keck clips. The size and style of reclaimers may vary based on the size and angle of the joint on the water pipe you are looking to attach the reclaimer on to.
Roller - This is a relatively inexpensive device that can be used to roll your herbs into a paper. The size or more specifically the length of the device needs to the same size as the length of the paper that is going to be used or a little longer. A roller that is shorter in length than the length of your paper will not work. This device is extremely helpful for those inexperienced at rolling by hand.
Scientific Glass - Any smoking device made form borosilicate glass that uses water filtrations and has some sort of percolator. This is a generic term that can apply to a large range of water pipes and covers a broad genre.
Splash Guard - This is crafted into a water pipe, and sometimes bubblers and spoons. A splash guard is a dome shape chamber with slits, usually on the top of the water pipe, right before the mouthpiece, that allows the smoke to pass through but not the water, so you don’t end up get a mouth full of water upon inhaling.
Straight Tube - Refers to a water pipe or a dab rig that has a completely straight cylinder shape, with a flanged base, different from a beaker base or round base water pipe.
Stemless - Refers to water pipes and in some cases bubblers, which have no removable downstem. But instead it has an attached glass stem that goes down vertically and then connects to the water pipe leading to the water chamber. Usually stemless arms are reinforced with one glass connection to the water pipe in addition to where the stemless arms connects to the water pipe to add some stability and make it less prone to breaking.
Sherlock - This is a ‘hand pipe,’ usually with a bend between the bowl and the mouthpiece. The shape resembles an elongated or stretched ‘S,’ and is called ‘sherlock’ because it resembles a pipe Sherlock Homes would use.
Steamroller - A dry piece that can vary in length, is in the shape of a long straight cylinder tube, and has holes on both ends. One hole will act as the carb and the other as the mouthpiece. The bowl is crafted right around the middle of the tube, or if not necessarily middle then a little closer to the carb. The shape resembles a long roller, which is why they are referred to as ‘steamroller.’
Sandblasting - Is a process which involves using high-pressure air in combination with sand. The sand is sprayed to the glass to give it a frosted look, sometimes stencils are applied and then the sand is sprayed to carve a logo or a certain texture.
Tips - These can be either glass, or a made from a thick paper. If made from thick paper, the paper is rolled into a little tip, tips made from thick paper are also called ‘crutch(es).’ Then the tips are inserted as the tip when rolling with the rolling paper. The tips act as a filter, helps herbs from falling out from the rolled paper, prevents the mouthpiece from getting crushed when the majority of the rolled paper is smoked, and also allows for easier smoking experience ensuring you are able to smoke the last bit of herb that is rolled.
Tube - Is a generic term used to describe water pipes or dab/concentrate rigs. The term can technically apply to any water pipe or concentrate rig, but is more widely used for ones that are bit longer in length and not as much for small and easily portable water pipes.
Vapor Dome - This is used in conjunction with a traditional nail, and is a little cover that goes over the nail and fits snugly over whatever size joint you have on the water pipe. The size and joint of vapor dome comes in many styles, and will be dependent on what size and style of joint you have on your water pipe or dab rig. The vapor dome, or ‘dome’ helps direct the airflow down and into the pipe as you inhale. The vapor dome only needs to be used with ‘traditional nails,’ and not ‘domeless nails.’
Vaporizer - Is a device, usually electronic, powered by butane, gas, electricity or batteries, that vaporizes instead of combusting the herbs or material being consumed. They can be used with herbs, concentrates, and liquids. Vaporizing provides a healthier alternative to smoking because you are not combusting the materials being consumed, and no smoke is involved, only vapor.
Whip/Wand - This is a part of a vaporizer, which is the hose or the wand that functions as the mouthpiece and acts as the channel which the vapor will need to flow as it comes out of the vaporizer and moves toward the mouthpiece to be inhaled by the consumer.
Worked - A generic term used to describe an area of work on a piece that stands out, has unique designs or patterns, and/or interesting combination of colors.
Wig Wag - A color scheme, or a line pattern that consists of reversed images on or along the pipe.