Introduction to Water Pipes

Introduction to Water Pipes

Published by S. Wyatt Price on Dec 6th 2021

The consumption of green smoke has become more and more commonplace as the legislation around the United States relaxes and it becomes more legally accessible. In turn, this has promoted the popularity of the water pipe, a classic smoking apparatus. The water pipe has been around far before your hippy parents were blowing brown in the 60’s and 70’s, but we’ve definitely been able to adjust and perfect some of the different set ups and methods used in water pipes. Below are a few categories that we deem as solid metrics for comparing water pipes, their function, and their look. Something to remember regarding water pipes is that the aesthetic of the piece could actually be its function. So even if a pipe seems basic in terms of function, that could be sought after depending on the piece and the collector.

  • Aesthetic: As I previously mentioned, aesthetic can perform a function all its own. The look or technique of characteristics like wigs wigs and other intricate water pipe designs can add value to the piece, especially in cases of heady water pipes.
  • Material Quality & Durability: The material quality and durability is larger dependent on the needs of the shopper paired with the limitations of their budget. Water pipes comprise a wide range of possibilities, but briefly the materials that you’ll mostly see water pipes crafted from are glass, silicone, ceramic, wood, and lastly the metal pipe, which has fallen from favor in recent years. Glass is of the highest quality and it’s the material that real collectors and enthusiasts prefer, but we’ll delve into this a bit later on.
  • Filtration: Filtration is arguably the most important/impactful of the functional characteristics present in water pipes. This is what allows the smoke to cool and become silky smooth on your throat. The mechanisms at work here are called percolators and diffusers. Percolators are a collection of diffusers and diffusers are simply slits that sit beneath the water in the basin of a water pipe.
  • Dry herb or Concentrate: This is the difference between a water pipe and a dab rig. Some other differences are usually found in the size of the different pieces. A dab rig, usually, will be a bit smaller and compact with less filtration, as to better taste the concentrates. Dry herb denotes a water pipe, which are usually larger and feature more percolators in order to cool and filter the smoke.

Durability & Material Quality

Glass: Ah, glass. The cream of the crop if it’s blown by a reputable company. This is what enthusiasts and water pipe collectors seek above anything else and for good reason. Glass has the cleanest flavor compared to all of the other materials water pipes can be crafted from and it’s relatively easily cleaned, especially when compared to wood or ceramic. As well, other pipes usually don’t feature percolators or diffusers often and when they do they’re not incredibly effective when compared to their glass counterparts.


  • Highest taste quality
  • Almost always hand-fashioned
  • Filtration systems like percolators
  • Heavy
  • Durable but still breakable (c’mon, it’s glass)

Silicone: The silicone water pipe is either one of your favorite materials or one of your most hated, and the line seems to be pretty evenly drawn dividing stoners down the middle. Personally, I think that silicone pipes are great, cheap, and useful in the right circumstances, but if I don’t have to or I have another option I’ll usually pass on silicone. The time and place that I’m referring to is specifically nature related or outside of the home events in which you’re afraid you’ll break your hand or water pipe on an excursion. This is because they’re damn near invincible and the resin can’t cake to the silicone the same way it can for glass, which makes cleaning is a total breeze. As well, even though these are made out of a rubberish material they don’t require extra attention near a flame because they’re actually flame retardant because they’re constructed from the same food grade materials as cooking utensils.


  • Neutral taste
  • Almost invincible
  • The best water pipe to take on the road
  • Super easy to clean


  • The smell can build in this piece relatively easily
  • Opaque
  • Percolator and diffuser systems usually crafted from acrylic

Acrylic: Otherwise known as plexiglass, acrylic water pipes operate along the same lines as silicone water pipes. They have great travel and durability ratings, though the taste and overall material quality is lacking to certain extent. As well, with these acrylic pipes you have to be careful with the heat exposure simply due to the possibility of inhaling heated plastic. They also carry some of the worst taste qualities simply due to the porous nature of the material.


  • Great value
  • Lightweight
  • Lots of shapes and colors to choose from


  • Relatively unpleasant taste when compared to glass
  • Cheap look
  • Low quality acrylic may also contain harmful substances

Ceramic: This material often makes up the collector’s item or novelty water pipe category. The function is nearly the same as with a glass water pipe, though a slight step down. Ceramic pieces are about the same durability rating as glass, though some, depending on millimeter density, may be stronger or weaker. These water pipes are best left to appreciate from a shelf instead of trying to run sticky herbs through something that might not have been meant to be cleaned.


  • Fair price to value ratio
  • Solid flavor profile
  • Great for steam and disguised smoking
  • Collectible-aesthitcally pleasing


  • Easily broken
  • Clunky, not recommended for travel
  • Usually not as functional as their glass counterparts

Maintenance & Upkeep

The first thing that I recommend to people is that they should know their needs. Don’t pick up a five percolator glass rig if you don’t know the cleaning that comes with it. Often times that octo-perc is a major pain in the ass to clean. So make are you know what you’re getting yourself into and if you have questions feel freee to ask our online customer service rep or if you’re in person take advantage of your smoke shop workers.

The best way to clean a water pipe of the glass variety is with a few q-tips and our favorite cleaning solution Resinate. This is the quickest and cleanest way to get your water pipe sparkling before your next sesh!

Filtration & Smoke Purity

As you light your greenery in the bowl piece of a water pipe, your suction creates a vacuum and pulls smoke through the water basin, percolating it, and ultimately drawing the smoke down your throat and into your lungs. In this process, the smoke being pulled through the water removes some of the tar that comes with smoking any heated plant matter. The various filters, percolators, and diffusers that come equipped with many water pipes help you to achieve more or less filtration as you’re enjoying your smoke.

Another feature in this realm is the ice catcher. An ice catcher or an ice pinch prevents ice from going into the basin of a water pipe and allows it to cool the smoke as you rip your water pipe. These are relatively common on mob straight tube water pipes.

Another amazing feature that percolators and water pipes offer is a protection from the dreaded “Scooby-Snack”, which is a term used to describe the ash that can get in your mouth or into the basin of a water pipe and dirty the water. An ash catcher is an amazing attachment that can prevent this ash from building in the basin of your water pipe. Next time you’re smoking from a water pipe take a look at the color of the water as the sesh goes on… WOW, that’s a lot of toxins that could be lining your lungs.

Percolators: Often times for those of y’all that prefer a water pipe over every other smoking apparatus the goal is to experience a smoother toke. The inverse of dabbing, which is to taste the oil and and smoke to its maximum potential. The various types of percolators will allow you to do this. A few of the types of those percolators are honey comb, showerhead, ball, in line, and the simple diffuser, which is found mostly on set ups for dab rigs rather than concentrates, though purists often lack percolators on their water pipes.

Something to note about this, though, is that the smoke will lose SOME of its potency as it passes through the water. The trade off of toxins, in my opinion, is a stellar deal.

Dry Herb or Concentrate

As we’ve previously discussed, the goal of smoking dry herb and concentrate isn’t the same. For dry herb filtration is king and a smooth toke wins the sesh, but with concentrates the goal is more along the lines of preserving flavor instead of making for a heavily filtered toke. Again, this is why we stress education around your wants and needs as s smoker, knowing your goals will allow us to better help you and get you paired with the right water pipe or dab rig for your price range.

Another thing to point out: male and female joints. Though in the modern day a female piece is most commonly fitted around water pipes and dab rigs, occasionally a male piece will also be required to smoke from certain water pipes. This is important to remember if you break your bowl or banger so you can replace it as quickly as possible when it does break. 

For more questions regarding big oasis or any water-pipe related inquiry, contact me at 

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