Tutorial in marijuana consumption, terminology and lingo

Rick Cookson and Lawrence Lam

Disclaimer: Under Colorado law, the use of marijuana is restricted to those aged 21 and older or those with a valid medical marijuana license. Colorado State University does not allow the possession or consumption of marijuana, recreational or medical, anywhere on campus. The Collegian does not condone underage consumption of marijuana.

When talking about marijuana consumption, the terminology can become a little hazy. Here are a few cannabis terms and some of the marijuana-paraphernalia lingo within the culture.


Piece: This can mean a pipe, chillum, bubbler, bong, vape, etc. Basically, the paraphernalia used to inhale marijuana smoke.

– I. Pipe: A pipe is just the regular bowl with a carburetor, or “carb,” (little hole on the side) and a stem to a mouth piece. The marijuana is placed in the bowl and the smoker places a finger over the carb, lights the marijuana and inhales through the mouth piece. They then take their finger off the carb and forcefully inhale in order to clear the excess smoke from inside the pipe. Depending on how big the hit is, using a pipe can make for harsher hits and leads to violent coughing episodes.

– II. Chillum: Chillums are just small, slender pipes with smaller bowls for less weed, and they generally don’t have carbs. They’re most often used for quick smoke sessions and easy clean-up. They’re relatively inexpensive, intuitive to use and take about 2 minutes to smoke a bowl and get a solid buzz going.

– III. Bubbler: A bubbler is similar to a pipe (depending on which kind of bubbler), but it has water that goes inside it for better filtration and smoother hits when smoking. Some have carbs used with a finger (like the regular pipe) and some have carbs used with the bowl itself.

A long-stem bong with a tripple-honeycomb percolator. (Photo credit: Rick Cookson)
A long-stem bong with a tripple-honeycomb percolator. (Photo credit: Rick Cookson)

– IV. Bong: The famous bong — whether it’s glass blown from Fort Collins’ Kind Creations or homemade out of a plastic bottle and tinfoil, is often considered the most popular method for smoking. A bong is basically a long tube with a bowl at the bottom and a mouth piece at the top (there are endless shapes and sizes). The bowl is filled with marijuana, lit while the user inhales and the smoke travels through the down stem into the main chamber and up towards the mouth piece. Some bongs include percolators for added filtration and ice catches for a cooler toke.

– V. Vaporizer or “Vape”: Using a vaporizer is one of the more futuristic ways to smoke weed. Weed is loaded into a tray or compartment within the vaporizing unit and is heated to a specific temperature. The marijuana isn’t necessarily burned, but the THC molecules on and in the marijuana are heated and turn into a vapor that the user inhales. The marijuana smell is basically non-existent and there is virtually no smoke.

Grinder: It’s marketed as a “spice grinder,” but we all know what that means. The name explains it all, but this little gadget allows smokers to grind up weed for better consumption. Smokers can use their fingers to break buds up, but the grinder is meant to do the job better, and it will produce finer, more broken apart marijuana to smoke.

Fire: There is nothing worse than getting ready to smoke and then realizing there’s no lighter to smoke with. Smokers make sure a lighter or at least some matches are within the vicinity.

Concentrates: Given advancements in technology, savvy stoners have created THC extraction methods — using either butane, CO2, water and ice or alcohol as a solvent — to gather large quantities of THC. These concentrates, also known as dab, come in two types: wax or shatter. They hold a THC percentage that is four to five times more potent than the traditional flower, sometimes reaching up to 80-90 percent THC.

When using a dab rig, there are several necessities: a dabber, a torch, dome, nail and the rig. (Photo credit: Lawrence Lam)
When using a dab rig, there are several necessities: a dabber, a torch, dome, nail and the rig. (Photo credit: Lawrence Lam)

– I. Dab Rig: To ingest concentrate, smokers use a dab rig, or essentially a micro bong. The main difference is the opening of the down stem, which is smaller to fit a nail, rather than a bowl.


– II. Nail: The nail, made of glass, quartz or titanium, is heated until it is red hot. The nail is then given an opportunity to cool, as to not burn the dab.

-III. Dabber: During this waiting period of 10 seconds, the user utilizes the dabber to scoop some wax or shatter on the end. A dome is then placed on top of the nail and the dabber, with the wax on the end, is set onto the nail. The user then slowly inhales the vapor produced. After the dab leaves the dabber and hits the nail, the user removes the dabber and caps the dome with their thumb or palm to create a vacuum. The user then pulls hard on the piece, and, once the smoke clears the chamber, the user releases their thumb and finishes the hit.

Collegian reporters Rick Cookson and Lawrence Lam can be reached at news@collegian.com or at @RickCookson1 and @LawrenceKLam.