Why Use a Steamroller Pipe?
Plenty of pipe smokers are certain that they’ve settled on the exact smoking configuration of their dreams, puffing away at a mini spoon pipe or some long-handled wizard bubbler. But that’s just because they haven’t tried the ultimate smoking piece for a heavy hitter: a steamroller pipe. It’s all of the magic of a simple, compact smoking piece with the hit capacity of a full-size bong. They come in whatever size piece you’re hoping to add to your collection, whether it’s a two-hander or versatile and pocket-sized. Plus, because they don’t look like much, these pipes aren’t generally the troublesome, attention-attracting type.
How do Steamroller Pipes Work?
Steamroller pipes don’t look like much, but they function somewhere between a regular pipe and a water pipe—like a dry bong, basically. Because steamroller pipes are long and narrow, they work the way that a straight tube bong does and cool down the smoke before it hits your lungs, a big bonus when it comes to the pipe category. Even though they’re certainly no glycerin coils, steamroller pipes still get the smoke cooled down enough so that your throat isn’t burning like it would be from, say, a poorly designed chillum.
Using a steamroller pipe is easy: put your hand over the carb at the end of the pipe, your mouth on the end opposite the bowl, and then light the dry herb, pulling until the chamber is full and then removing your hand from the carb. Not too complicated! There are reasons that the steamroller pipe design has been ubiquitous for thousands of years, and ease has a lot to do with it.
That said, keep in mind that steamrollers can deliver big fat hits and aren’t necessarily the best choice for beginners. They’re ideal for intermediate-to-experienced smokers looking to transition up from spoon pipes or away from water pipes. A bong-sized hit without water can be a little harsher than one that has been allowed to filter through a rig and some ice; look to bubblers and small bongs instead if you’re concerned about the harshness of the hit.
What Features do Steamroller Pipes Have?
While steamroller designs are generally rather simple (a straight tube with a bowl on top, a carb at one end, and a mouthpiece at the other) some of these pieces can get surprisingly complicated for a dry pipe. On the basic end of features, it’s worth looking for a steamroller that either has a flat bottom or features glass feet that will keep the pipe from rolling around on (and off) your tabletop. There are plenty of novelty steamroller designs that also let you stand the pipe up on its end.
Because they can get much bigger than spoon pipes, steamrollers can incorporate elements like percolators into their body designs. Steamrollers with internal percs are absolute wonders when it comes to breaking down and cooling smoke, creating a bong-level experience without having to bother with a water-filled piece. Some even have built-in ashcatchers which can be useful with such a high powered piece.
Some steamrollers, like the Nucleus 10” Clear Glass Steamroller, have the added option of a removable, keck clip-attached bowl. Not only does this make cleaning the piece easier and faster, it also gives you the option to customize your setup to the exact specifications you’re looking to fill. It’s a great option for smokers who are particular about their bowl type or have a favorite one. A keck clip keeps the joint and bowl in place so that the steamroller stays together if the pipe does somehow manage to topple despite its glass feet.
Composition of a Steamroller
Most often, steamroller pipes are made of glass. Borosilicate glass, also known as scientific glass, is a particularly popular material because of its thickens and ability to resist high levels of heat stress. It’s much less likely to break when dropped or bumped into than typical glass, which is why it’s used in science labs and to make Pyrex dishes.
Steamrollers Don’t Have to be Huge
For those who are looking for the most discreet steamroller experience possible, pieces like DankStop’s Fumed Ice Cube Steamroller are small enough to fit in the palm of your hand while still functioning the same as a standard, tabletop steamroller. This piece provides a helpful way to avoid taking in too much of a hard pull at once while also changing up the experience you’d get from a little spoon pipe. It’s a great compromise between a standard steamroller and a typical glass pipe and also manages to provide a great show with its clear, fumed glass body.
If you need a refresher on hand pipes, check out our comprehensive beginner’s guide.