Picture this: you’re in the mood for a little weed, but you don’t want to break out a bong, nor do you want to roll up a joint. A pipe, additionally, is not the vibe. “Just one-to-two hits, that’s all I want,” you scream to no one, fists in the air. Suddenly, you hear a small plink behind you: A chillum pipe has dropped from the sky! You dip your chillum into your grinder to pack it and light up, with your weird weed fairytale-fever dream-mission to have simply two puffs complete.
But what exactly is a chillum? Sit back, relax and let us explain (and give you a few recommendations).
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What the Hell Is a Chillum?
A chillum is a small, hollow tube with a bowl on one end and a mouthpiece on another. Unlike their friends, pipes and bowls, chillums lack a carb (a hole in a pipe or bowl that controls airflow).
Chillum vs. One-Hitter
You might be wondering: isn't a chillum just another name for one-hitter? Well, the answer is yes, but also no. While they serve a similar purpose, there are some subtle differences. Chillums, for instance, are usually cone-shaped and tend to have a larger bowl diameter that tapers to the mouthpiece, which is typically designed to accommodate usage in a water pipe. By contrast, one-hitters are often slimmer and more uniform tubes, often made to look like cigarettes (and take up the same amount of room).
Furthermore, one-hitters are often sold with a "dugout" — a rectangular case roughly the same size and shape as a cigarette pack that has compartments to store both the one-hitter and a stash of herb. And, last but not least, while one-hitters are usually tiny for easy stashing, some chillums can sometimes be quite long and large and not as pocketable. Like we said: similar in purpose, but with slight differences in form and function.
How to Smoke a Chillum
Bear with us here — the traditional way to smoke a chillum (which is most often associated with smoking charas, a kind of cannabis resin) is a little odd when compared to other pipes and might remind you more of large bongs than, say, one-hitters. If you want to make the most of it, you'll need a friend, as it requires more than two hands. First, you'll want to pack the bowl tightly but with enough room for decent airflow (pretty basic, right?). Then, with the chillum held vertically, you'll take one hand and slide the mouthpiece between your pinkie and ring finger. Then, with your other hand, cup around the first hand and create a kind of airtight cave or cavern (like you might to warm your hands up in the freezing cold). If you've done this correctly, the chillum should look like a chimney sticking straight up from your cupped hands. Then, you'll have your friend light the herb, resin or whatever else it is you're smoking and you'll pull through the chillum, into your hands and, finally, into your lungs. If that seems a little difficult to picture, check this video out from Green Flower.
Of course, there's also a slightly more advanced, one-person method, as well. For all intents and purposes, this method is very similar to the two-person method. However, rather than using both hands to create an airtight chamber, you'd use only one, squeezing that hand into a tiny cavern, albeit a slightly smaller one than with two hands and then using your free hand to light the chillum. For smaller chillums — ones more similar in size to one-hitters — you can also simply light the bowl and smoke like you might out of any other pipe. Just be aware that this method could result in you having to deal with a bit of ash and embers on your lips or in your mouth. Furthermore, because chillums (like one-hitters) don't come with a carb, you'll want to be careful not to pack it too tight, so the air can actually flow through.
History of Chillums
The history of the chillum is unclear. Ancient chillums have been spotted in India, Nepal, South America, Jamaica, Asia, the Middle East and South Africa, among other places.
The first chillums were made from clay, stone, animal horns or wood. Now, chillums are typically made out of glass, aluminum or stainless steel. It’s also not clear why the chillum came to the United States — some say it’s American visitors bringing them back as souvenirs, some say it’s the hippie movement — but it’s generally agreed upon that they came to the U.S. in the 60s.
Although some argue that chillum pipes are not the same as one-hitters or bats, we’re including one-hitters and bats in this round-up since their function and composition is similar.
On-The Go Chilling
If you’re looking for something discreet and portable, look no further than a chillum. They don’t need a lot of prep — all you need is a chillum, a lighter and some bud. They fit in your pocket and you can find some that look like cigarettes if you really want to be sneaky or just look like a cool person who enjoys a ciggie from time to time.
Chillum pipes are perfect for a solo sesh, thanks to its bowl size. And, if you’re new to ingesting cannabis, chillums are a great starting point: all you have to do is load, light and slowly inhale.A
Little Dose Will Do Ya
Chillum pipes are perfect for microdosing — no more accidentally being too high because you decided that just one more hit would be fine.
Chillum pipes can be harsher on your lungs and throat thanks to the lack of a carb: the smoke goes directly from the bowl to the mouthpiece. And depending on the chillum’s design, and how strongly you inhale, you might be at risk of inhaling ash, embers or rogue pieces of unlit cannabis. Mesh screens prevent this, and some chillums have built-in mouthpieces to solve this problem.
Not Good in Groups
You can use your chillum in a group setting, but it’s going to be a lot of re-packing. Not to say you can’t use a chillum with the homies — just a disclaimer. It might be worth using a bong instead if you’re seshing with the crew.
Caution: Contents Hot
Chillums can get very hot despite the cooling capabilities of the pipe. Be careful if you’re new to using one — you can easily burn your lips and mouth if you’re not careful.
Getting smoked out doesn’t mean you have to spark up.