What is a Chillum? Origins and Use of the Original Weed Pipe


The world of cannabis has progressed exponentially over its centuries of use, with more primitive smoking devices, such as the chillum, inspiring and facilitating the innovation for more modern variations, such as the one-hitter pipe. 

While chillums aren’t mainstream in parts of North American regions, like Canada and the United States, they are popular in other parts of the world, namely Eastern Europe and parts of Asia, particularly India and Nepal. 

So, what is a chillum, where do they come from and what sets them apart from other smoking apparatuses? Stick with us as we answer all these questions and more!

What is a Chillum Pipe?

chillum pipe

A chillum or chillum pipe is a glass or clay pipe used for smoking tobacco or marijuana. However, most frequently, it’s both.

Sometimes called a ‘bat’ or ‘one-hitter,’ chillums are among the easiest pipes for beginners to use since they have a simple, straightforward and intuitive design. All you have to do is add the dry herb in one end, light it, and inhale through the opposite end – aka the mouthpiece.

Chillum vs One-Hitter

A one-hitter is a small pipe that is good for taking one or two hits alone. Tokers love them for their convenient and discreet nature. 

Chillums may be considered as a type of one-hitter. However, there are some distinctions worth mentioning. 

Chillums are wider and hold more weed. Another difference is that more than one person can use a chillum at once, and they are usually of better quality than most one-hitters.

Curious about what other weed pipes you can find on the market? Check out our comprehensive guide to the different types of weed pipes used to smoke cannabis and figure out which ones will work best for you.

Tips for Using a Chillum for the First Time

The most important thing to remember when using a chillum pipe for the first time is to watch your fingers! 

When the weed is lit, the glass becomes heated as well, and you could burn your fingers. Here are some other tips for using your smoking device:

  • Most people prefer using a glass chillum since it’s easier to clean than clay. Plus, it’s fun to watch the smoke in the pipe.
  • While you can pack a piece of bud in your chillum, it’s better to grind your weed for an even burn and prevent wastage.
  • Do not pack it too tightly or too loosely. A tight bowl will not burn well, and a loosely packed bowl can cause lit material to fly down your throat!
  • Allow your chillum to cool between hits. Touch the mouthpiece with your fingers before putting it on your mouth in case it is still hot. If possible, get it with a grip to avoid burning yourself.
  • Clean your smoking apparatus often. The smoke will be less harsh, and you will get a smooth pull every time.

How do You Clean a Chillum?

Chillums are relatively easy to clean. All you will need is a Ziploc bag (or any sealable bag), isopropyl alcohol, and sea salt. 

  1. Combine the alcohol and sea salt in the Ziploc bag, then place your chillum inside. 
  2. Leave it to soak for 10-15 minutes. 
  3. Shake vigorously until the particles begin to dislodge, then rinse the chillum with warm water. 
  4. Use a nylon tube brush, Q-tip, or toothpick to scrape any stubborn debris from the sides. 
  5. Leave it to dry.

If you don’t have isopropyl alcohol or sea salt, all you have to do is heat it to free up the hard resin and ash sticking on the inside of the pipe. Next, use the cleaning brush or a toothpick to scrape the sides. 

However, be careful not to scratch the inside of your chillum!

Where do Chillums Come From?

chillum india

There has been an ongoing debate about where chillums first originated. That said, the most popular consensus is that they originated in India before the introduction of tobacco. 

However, chillums or smoking pipes similar to them have been discovered in Africa made of cow and bulls horns dating back to the same period.

What we know for certain is that hippies in the West were introduced to chillum by Indian holy men who used smoking to connect with Supreme Beings, such as Lord Shiva, a powerful Hindu God who is well known for appreciating the many benefits of cannabis. 

This belief is also shared by Rastafarians of Jamaica who use chillums to connect with their ancestors.

Today, chillums are used in Northern America, but not to the same extent as vapes, glass pipes, or glass bongs.

What’s the Difference Between Chillums vs Pipes?

Chillums and pipes are similar in many ways, but their unique differences make either more attractive than the other to smokers. So, if you’re struggling to choose between buying a chillum or a pipe, allow us to explain some of their key differences below.  


Chillums are typically smaller than pipes and have a tubular design, though they can come in a variety of sizes. They are usually about 4.5 inches long. However, they can come in sizes as long as 7 inches for novices who cannot handle the hot smoke. 

This smaller size makes them easy to store and carry around. Pipes also come in various sizes, and while you may be able to find a small one to suit your needs, they are irregular-shaped, making storage a bit more complicated.


Most people will see a chillum and not know what it is. This ignorance is because they don’t have the same type of bowls as pipes and are usually smaller in comparison. 

A chillum can easily be slipped into a pocket or put into a purse and pulled out for quick use. Some chillums even come with an external aluminum case which makes them even more discreet.


A hand pipe with a carb.

A carburetor (carb) is the little hole on the side of a pipe that helps to control airflow. When covered with a finger, the airflow is directed to the bowl to help heat the cannabis. When the finger is removed from the carb, the airflow is redirected to the mouth as you inhale. 

Arguably, one of the biggest distinctions between pipes and chillums is that chillums don’t come with carburetors. As such, once lit, the cannabis will continue to burn, and you have to continue taking hits until it goes out. 

This expedited smoking experience may be advantageous for novice smokers who have trouble using a glass pipe.


Chillums do not come with the same bowl as pipes. Therefore, you’ll have to tilt it at a 45-degree angle to prevent the dry herb from falling out of the bowl. 

Traditionally, chillum users use their fist as a filter or a piece of cloth to avoid inhaling ash or bits of dry herb.


A large chillum pipe is perfect for group smoking sessions since the dry herb will continue to burn unless put out naturally or by force. On the other hand, a pipe may have to be relit occasionally if one smoker takes too long to pass it along.

Chilling with a Chillum

Everyone should try using a chillum at least once. These smoking devices are already used in India by holy men and Rastafarians in Jamaica for religious purposes. 

While they aren’t as widely used out west, chillums are becoming more popular in the USA and Canada for smoking tobacco and cannabis.

The benefits of using a chillum range from being portable and discreet to how easy they are to clean and relatively simple to use, making them ideal for tokers who want to toke on the go without drawing any unwanted attention to themselves. 

Chillums are an excellent example of how the modern cannabis industry has expanded and built upon more primitive technologies to develop devices such as one-hitters.

If you’d like to puff on a piece of pot history, we’d highly recommend giving them a try!

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