What is a Chillum?
A chillum is a straight pipe that has been getting more popular as a discreet and portable hand pipe. If you’ve ever been to a glass shop, you’ve probably seen one of these near the one-hitters. Great for group situations and personal sessions, chillums are a great no-fuss way to smoke on the go.
Although their popularity has been on the rise in recent years, the chillum actually has a pretty interesting historic pedigree. Chillums are first believed to have been used in India by holy men and Hindu monks, known as sadhus, and they've been in use for at least the last 300 years. They have been, for a long time now, associated with spirituality and meditation in Eastern Europe and Asia.
Starting in the 1960s, chillums began making their way west and started appearing in smoke shops and street corners in places like San Francisco and New York City as part of the emerging beatnik and hippie cultural movements.
Functionally, there’s a reason why they’ve grown popular. They’re almost as small as a one-hitter but their hits are more potent than other dry leaf pieces. This is because they have a conical shape and end-to-end channel that doesn’t have a carburetor, or hole on the side, like other pieces do, to regulate airflow. This means that the hits are as direct as they can get, but it will only burn for as long as it’s being lit.
Like a one-hitter, all you have to do is pile what you’re smoking onto a tray or in a container and press the end of the chillum into the pile. Then press the tobacco or leaf with a finger to make sure it sticks in the device, put your mouth on the mouthpiece, and finally, light the other end. Once you do this, inhale slowly so to make sure you avoid sucking ash into your mouth. Also, like one-hitters, chillums are typically only good for a few hits.
Often, they come with chillum stones that are placed inside of the devices, like a filter, to keep debris and dust from getting inside. Some commercially-sold chillums have matching stones that fit the design of the piece. However, before they were commercially available, it was customary to find pebbles on the ground that would fit the device or to cup your hand over the end of the piece in order to get a similar effect. Occasionally, traditional smokers still do this as a manner of convenience or habit.
Most modern variations of chillums in the west are made out of glass. However, more traditional variations come in an array of different materials, including clay or wood. Clay chillums have the advantage of withstanding higher temperatures. Some more exotic versions are made of stone or stainless steel, which are a bit heavier but much more sturdy and take a lot more to break.
Whether you’re looking for a new piece for social settings or want something nice for personal use, the chillum is a sweet little device that will discreetly get you through your day. If you like one-hitters and you want a more traditional and spiritual way of smoking, chillums are a great portable device that you can have on hand at all times.