What is a Chillum?

Just as cave paintings preceded fine art, cannabis smoking paraphernalia also has an origin story that begins with the chillum. While the original chillum design might look unfamiliar, it spawned standard modern equivalents like the glass one-hitter. That doesn’t mean that all chillums are one-hitters. Chillums with larger bowls can accommodate group sessions. Indeed, having a buddy to help you light it can be very helpful!

Where do Chillums Come From?

Humans have been consuming cannabis for thousands of years. And chillums are one of the earliest designs of pipes that were used to smoke it. Consequently, it is difficult to pinpoint the exact origin of the chillum. That being said, chillums are still used in all parts of the world.

From traditional clay or stone carved in rough, bold geometrics, to the minimalist glass one-hitter, chillums have a place in almost every cultural context where cannabis is relevant. You will find these chillum pipes in every country from the US to South Africa to Brazil. They are stereotypically associated with India and Jamaica, where they are commonly used.

What is the Difference Between a Glass Pipe and a Chillum?

The key feature distinguishing a glass pipe from a chillum is the ‘choke’, also known as the carb (carburetor). The choke is a hole on the side of the bowl that allows you to inhale a gust of fresh air to chase your dose. With chillum pipes, there is no choke, just a bowl and a mouthpiece with a neck in between.

What is the Difference Between a Chillum and a One-Hitter?

One-hitters are just that, sized for one hit. The bowl and the neck will usually be standard joint-sized.

Loading a one-hitter is much like loading a modern portable vaporizer like the Arizer Solo Portable Vaporizer, whose glass mouth-pieces are essentially one-hitters. You can load the small, empty bowl by tamping it into chopped weed until it is packed full, but not too tight.

Lighting a one-hitter is like lighting a heavy joint. When smoking, hold the one-hitter between two fingers, your index and middle if it is light-weight enough, or pinched between your thumb and forefinger for a better grip on heavier materials.

On the other hand, a traditional chillum requires a specific method to smoke from it. And its bowl can vary in size and depth, which will determine whether you need a helper or not to get it properly lit.

Setting up the Chillum Pipe for a Session

Loading a chillum is the same as loading a pipe. Depending on the type of chillum you are using, you may or may not require a screen to prevent herb from getting into your throat as you inhale. Some chillums have smaller openings in their bowl and don’t need a screen.

Chop up some cannabis using a grinder or a pair of scissors and pack the bowl so it is just shy of full. Ensuring that you don’t pack the chillum too tightly is important since you don’t want to have to inhale too heavily to get a good hit.

When it comes to lighting the bowl and getting that hit, the design is going to dictate the method. Pipes and bongs generally have bowls that sit face up or at a slight angle when the equipment is ‘at rest’. Not so with a chillum, whose bowl sits at 90 degrees ‘at rest’. You’ll have to set it down at an upward-facing angle to prevent the cannabis from falling out.

Smoking Cannabis With a One-Hitter Chillum Pipe

Since you may not have a screen or a choke, smoking cannabis with a chillum requires either a lot of finesse or none at all! This means, that if the chillum is a small one-hitter, it is likely that the air holes are fine and won’t let much herb fall through. In this case, you’ll want to inhale or pull on the chillum hard enough to finish the bowl. We sell a great little Chillum Glass One Hitter that’s perfect when you want a fast and discreet hit without rolling a Joint.

How to use a traditional Chillum

Like most pipes and bongs, a traditional chillum pipe needs to have its bowl facing up to properly expose the herb to flame. To achieve this, the user needs to hold the chillum at a 45-90 degree angle. This is how smoking from a chillum turns into a communal activity pretty quickly. Due to the angle, the best hits are achieved when a buddy helps you light the bowl. This allows you to cup both of your hands around the mouthpiece to ensure that the angled pipe directs the full hit into your mouth and lungs. However, with a bit of practice, chillums can be lit and used solo easily.

You can opt to wrap a cloth around the mouthpiece. This keeps pieces of herb out of your mouth and expands the surface area for the smoke to filter through slowly, allowing for a smoother inhale.

Chillums: One of Many Ways to Inhale Cannabis

The chillum provided one of the first ways to enjoy smoked cannabis. Certainly, cannabis culture has come a long way and introduced myriad inhalation options since. But the simple pleasure of quickly packing and smoking a bowl on the go will never lose its joy.

Want to read more? Here are additional articles about vaping and smoking cannabis:

How to Use a Bong
What Are Dab Rigs?
The Benefits of Vaping Weed
Vaping Cannabis: What You Need to Know

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