The old fashioned way to smoke herbal or concentrated substances is to light them on fire and let them burn, often in a pipe much like that you would use to smoke tobacco. Vapers use tobacco in vaporizer pipes too, not just alternative substances, and they are still lit with a flame; yet these substances produce no ash. They turn into vapor owing to clever methods devised by modern vaping experts.
There is another way to use a vaporizer pipe: with a battery-operated e pipe. Examples include the Steam Pipe and Smoke in Style e pipe, but these produce vapor from e liquid and many varieties of liquid are developed to simulate the unique flavor and aroma of pipe tobacco. Even if you do not smoke and dislike the smell of cigarettes, pipe tobacco aroma is often sweeter; associated with fond memories.
Whether they adopt traditional or modern shapes, the makers of vaporizer pipes usually set out to combine the two main features: a bowl and a stem. There are cheap versions more like long, flat incense holders carved from wood, but usually the stem/bowl system is there. The bowl might be square (like Mjolnar, Thor’s hammer), a corn cob, Sherlock, Middle Earth, or other traditional style. It could be made from wood or glass. E pipes are frequently shaped from metal.
Models and Makers
Some of the brands you will come across include Vapor Genie, a company with years of experience offering hand-carved and borosilicate glass pipes. Their “how to” section gives a fairly good explanation of how they work. This company also makes lighters with different flame heights. Butane is not included. Prices for their walnut, cherry, ash, and glass pipes range from around $55 to $100.
The Black Leaf Glass Pipe is a borosilicate globe attached to a glass stem. Concentrates are dabbed onto a titanium nail and you can watch them vaporize. You pay about $50.
A variety of very small wooden pipes without bowls can be disposed of once they become singed. They are the only thing close to a disposable vaporizer at roughly $2 to $3 each, but these items are so pretty you might wish to hold onto them. A long, slender wooden pipe without a label featuring a lathed dowel-style handle costs around $10.
The Eclipse costs $80 and can be used with herbs, waxes, or oils. They vaporize at low temperatures and are very low tech, easy to operate. Just get the hang of your inhalation rhythm. Glass vials are shock-proof and two are provided. Keep them separate, using just one sort of material for each. Several vivid colors are available, so an Eclipse does not appear traditional.
Why Don’t Herbs Burn?
How is it that a pipe burns tobacco but a vaporizer pipe does not? It has to do with the mix of a hot flame with cold air, a filter system, and using materials that retain heat. Glass, for instance, is excellent, especially borosilicate glass. Heat remains soaked into high-quality glass for longer than wood. Wood pipes are lined with silicon carbide or other inert ceramics for the same reason.
The other way to vaporize, as mentioned above, is to use a battery-operated e liquid system. Shapes are lovely and can be very close to the real thing. Jazz pipes from Steam Pipes use a lot of shiny metal and the stem recreates a saxophone handle for a sexy, modern appeal.
Your battery sits in the bowl. An atomizer/tank attaches to this with a mouthpiece, curved or straight and long. Together they do exactly what an electronic cigarette does, only with a different shape and diverse appeal.