Smoking in the 21st Century

Humans have been smoking cannabis for millennia, but we’ve never had so many options.

Even experienced smokers have a lot to keep up with thanks to new products like terp slurpers and The Genius Pipe. The industry is exploding with new technology, which is obviously a good thing, but makes getting into cannabis all the more intimidating.

With the help of Purple East’s president, Drew “Phoria” Phillippy, we want to break down the most common ways to smoke for the green newbies and dive into hot tech for the weed whizzes.

Before we start, we asked Phillippy for his advice on a first-timer. “For a brand new smoker I would suggest a small variety pack of smoking methods: Some papers, a regular sized hand pipe, and a small bubbler. That way, they can try an affordable entry level tool for three separate methods that are all very different experiences!”

Let’s get to it.




Also known as a “bowl,” this is easily one of the most common ways to smoke. They come in all shapes and sizes, but they’re typically made out of glass. The method is simple: Stick some cannabis in one end, light it on fire, and inhale from the other end.

In fact, it’s so simple, you can make one out of an actual apple, with the addition of a few holes. Pipes also come in novelty shapes, so if you’ve ever seen someone smoking out of a taco, that’s most likely why.

Pros: Easy, affordable, nice to look at.

Cons: Almost too simple.



A blunt is essentially a huge joint made with a cigar wrap, though you can buy non-tobacco wraps now too. They’re long, thick, and great for sharing.

Pros: Social, impressive, and a slight tobacco buzz.

Cons: Even stinkier, and takes skill to roll right. 



It’s just weed wrapped in paper, and it’s great. I never feel closer to my cannabis than when I’m smoking a joint I rolled myself with my own papers — even though I’m terrible at it. If rolling scares you, you can buy empty “cones,” or better yet: pre-rolled joints from your local dispensary.

Pros: Disposable, quick, efficient.

Cons: "Loud." Best smoked outside.



If your issue with smoking is all the coughing, a bong is for you. They’re somewhat complex contraptions that filter the airflow through fresh water (and sometimes ice), making it nice and smooth to smoke.

Bongs take a bit more know-how and upkeep than other methods, but they also provide a potent hit that won’t burn your throat. For many cannabis enthusiasts, the bong is the centerpiece of the living room — you can customize with different downstems, percs, and other things we don’t have room to explain right now. 

If you want something smaller and simpler, look into bubblers, which are essentially portable bongs!

Pros: Smooth, satisfying, strong.

Cons: Conspicuous, complex, not great for newbies.



It’s safe to say concentrates (a.k.a. dabs or wax) aren’t best for amateurs. When your tolerance starts creeping up, dabs are the best way to send you to space. 

There are too many methods to count for concentrate, but the most popular include:

Dab Rig: Essentially a bong made for dabs.

Nectar Collector: A straw that you heat and lightly touch to the concentrate.

Hot Knives: Don’t do this one.

Pros: Extremely potent, many options.

Cons: Say goodbye to your tolerance.



In my mind, vape pens are the big cannabis innovation of the 21st Century. It’s just a cartridge, heated by a battery, that you take a sip out of — simple as that! No flower is involved, making this the method of choice for many first-time smokers. 

Pros: Impossibly easy, very discrete, smooth.

Cons: A bit pricey, and not as potent.



What’s your favorite way to smoke and why?

Definitely out of a nice bong with a quality percolator or two. "Percolator" is a fancy head shop term for a complex filter that creates more bubbles for the smoke to be filtered through. The extra water filtration is great for tasting your cannabis and for your lung health!

The name “Terp Slurper” caught our attention. Can you elaborate? 

Terp Slurpers are so hot right now! They are highly fashionable and functional! The dab banger is specially shaped with a trough on the bottom and a cylinder that holds a “terp bead” and two self-functioning “carb caps.” The dab goes in the trough, the terp bead spins and evenly distributes the heat, then the two carb caps hold in the heat so you can do the dab at a lower temperature. The combined effect helps the smoker to dab at a lower temperature for better taste while still getting a huge rip. And it looks really cool! 

Thoughts on “novelty” pieces?

Most of them are solid. It’s rare that we see anything come through that is truly difficult or awful to smoke out of. For a water pipe, make sure it has a choke or that the bowl piece can be removed to clear the airflow. For smaller pipes, check the width of the glass for durability and the size of the air flow holes for functionality. 

What’s an underrated way to consume cannabis that you think more people would enjoy?

Personally, it’s gotta be The Genius Pipe. It doesn’t get the love it deserves because it’s a high quality metal pipe, and this seems like a contradiction to most people, but … it’s truly a bridge between the old era and the new.

They are super slick and discrete, made out of stainless steel, have a great magnet lid, come apart easy when you want to clean them. Plus, they have a specially designed interior that creates micro air chambers on the inside, collecting the resin like a built-in metal bong filter, so your hit is super clean by the time it gets to your lungs. YouTube it! 

Anything you want our readers to know about Purple East?

Purple East is still in business! We are now located at 2221 Plainfield Ave. NE, Grand Rapids in the Cheshire district, next to Kingma’s Market and Northfield.