Cannabis Pipes 101: What is a Chillum?

30 Oct 2023

If you read the title of this article and instantly became confused, don’t worry if you have no idea what a chillum is. These smoking devices are far from mainstream. Nonetheless, they have a storied history and remain relevant to the cannabis industry up to this day.

Have you ever heard of a one-hitter? Well, you have the traditional chillum pipe to thank for this convenient, portable and practical smoking device! 

If you’re confused, don’t sweat it. Throughout this article, we’ll explain how chillums and their more modern counterparts, one-hitters, are related.

If you want to discover everything you need to know about the chillum, including its history and origins in India, then keep on reading!  This article will determine how the chillum pipe differs from modern handheld pipes and what they have in common. 

Without further ado, let’s get into it! 

What is a Chillum?

Chillum Pipe

A chillum is a versatile, simple, and easy-to-use pipe one can use to smoke dry herb, tobacco or both. Put simply, a chillum is a cylindrical tube with a mouthpiece on one end and a place for bud at the other.  

The bud-end usually looks like a cone-shaped bowl. All you need to do is pack some bud inside it gently, and it’s good to go. Simply light the bud and inhale, and you’re all done.

That said, do not overpack your bud, as good airflow is essential. For those who require larger doses, you may want to explore other options. But, for the average person who only needs a quick hit, these little pipes are perfect. The only downside would be the lack of filter, so it is not uncommon to inhale a little bit of bud.

Historically, chillums have been made out of various materials, including clay, wood, and stone. Nowadays, most variations you’ll see are glass chillums. As a result, they are easy to clean and maintain. 

Nonetheless, the hit is as potent as ever, especially considering the improvements in bud potency over time. However, expect it to burn, as the lack of filter and other ways to cool the weed are lacking.

Simple Dry Herb One-Hitters

As we outlined earlier, the term one-hitter is often used synonymously with the chillum pipe. Other names include metal chillum, discreet chillum, one-hitters, bats, or cigarette chillum. 

All of these tubular chillums operate in the same way, but they may differ regarding the materials used to create them.

The benefits of chillums include their small size, easy cleaning, and rapid convenience. You can easily carry one around on the go and use it in only seconds. 

All you need to do is pack a little bit of dry herb and take a puff!

For a full breakdown of what a one-hitter is, its benefits and uses, check out our guide here.

The Origin and History Behind the Chillum Pipe

The chillum has likely been around for centuries, if not longer. Definitive records are easier to find starting in the 1900s. The end-to-end channel design made it easy to craft these pipes long before modern manufacturing.

According to research, they are believed to be first used by holy men and Hindu monks in India (including Sadhus).

Chillum History
An Indian Hindu holy man (sadhu) smokes hashish in a chillum pipe during the Shivratri Mela.

Some estimates put their use in the thousands of years, long before even tobacco was introduced. Associations exist with spiritual and meditative practices throughout Asia and Eastern Europe. 

It is thought that chillums were smoked during various prayers and rituals. Cannabis was used to enhance the spiritual connection while also being a form of offering.

The chillum has been used to smoke tobacco, opium, hashish, cannabis, and other narcotic substances. Over time, it has become less popular in urban areas, but chillums are still commonly used in rural India. Some people in India are thought to commonly mix cannabis and tobacco inside chillums, like with spliffs

The chillum has also been found in South America, suggesting that their development occurred in multiple cultures to facilitate smoking tobacco and cannabis. Due to their simple design, it is perfectly reasonable to assume that development in multiple cultures converged into the chillum.

Chillums did not reach the west until later in the 20th century. There is evidence that chillums were also found in Jamaica.  At this time, it was the Rastafari culture that used them for spiritual purposes. 

What’s The Difference Between Chillums and Other Hand Pipes?

For a start, chillums do not have a carburetor (also called a choke). 

A carburetor, or carb for short, is the small hole on the side of pipe bowls used to control airflow. Without a carb to regulate airflow, the cannabis inside a chillum will burn for as long as it can. 

Furthermore, chillums are generally smaller than most hand pipes, such as Sherlocks and spoons. That said, the bowl must be packed correctly to help you achieve the perfect dose.

When you use a pipe, you light the weed and inhale gently. Once the pipe is filled with smoke, you release your thumb or finger held on the carb to allow air to enter via the carburetor. This point is when you inhale more deeply to empty the internal pipe chamber. 

Without a choke, you are consistently inhaling smoke via the bowl.

When using a chillum, you will want to put it to your mouth and hold it at a 45-degree angle to avoid dropping any bud. Chillums can also get hot relatively easily, providing a blast of intense cannabis smoke. 

Unlike a water-bong or larger pipes, there is very little time for the smoke to cool before entering your lungs. Keep this in mind when using a straight-shot chillum. If you have used small handheld pipes before, then you know what we are talking about, so start low and go slow. 

Top 5 Benefits of the Chillum Pipe

Top 5 Benefits Of The One Hitter Scaled

Here are the top 5 reasons to use a chillum:

  • They are small, meaning you can easily store them on your person while on the go.
  • They are simple and quick to pack and use, allowing you to toke on the go whenever, wherever.
  • They are discrete, and many people may not even recognize what you’re doing while using one. 
  • They are easy to clean. Simply using a paper clip and some rubbing alcohol to remove any built-up resin can quickly get the job done. 
  • They are cheap since they are so simple and small. 

It is also worth noting that the chillum is better for personal use than for groups. That said, each person can simply pack individual bowls and then pass them around. 

There are plenty of positives around not sharing mouthpieces in our current times, so don’t be shy about not sharing!


While the chillum pipe is far from the most popular smoking method, it has many versatile functions and a crucial place in cannabis history. As we learned, this simple one-hitter can be used quickly, easily, and discretely. 

It also paved the way for more modern one-hitter pipes to come to fruition, some of which are among the most popular smoking accessories available on the market today. 

In this way, the modern glass chillum pipe takes advantage of modern manufacturing to produce the best possible versions of these cannabis accessories. That said, we shouldn’t forget their unique and extensive heritage! 

The innovation of the cannabis industry has progressed leaps and bounds from way back when. 

However, the next time you’re at a smoking sesh with your friends, take a minute to appreciate how far weed has come, not just in terms of potency but also the versatility and ease of use of the various accessories we have at our disposal today.

As always, happy toking!

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