A pipe, in reference to the smoking of tobacco (or as Webster says, at times, other substances) consists, in its simplest form, of four basic parts. For the most part, it's all rather self-explanatory.

  • The cup - Contains the material to be smoked. Is open at the top, so as to allow the lit material oxygen.
  • The screen - Holes or perforated separator that distinguishes the cup from the body of the pipe.
  • The body - Transfers smoke from the screen to the mouthpiece. Should be airtight with the exception of the mouthpiece and screen.
  • The mouthpiece - Allows user access to the body of the pipe. This is the source of the suction.

Thousands of varieties of pipes exist, and they're native to dozens of independent civilizations.

If one wishes to make a simple pipe, for instance, for the convenient smoking of marijuana, it's a rather simple matter. I supply below two methods, the former of which is not nearly as nice as the latter, but requires no tape.

Ingredients for makeshift pipe:
One empty soda can (dry, preferably)
One pointy object (thumbtacks work, if you want to put some muscle into it)

Create a dent in the soda can, that will serve as the cup. Poke small holes in it to create a makeshift screen. Make sure there are enough holes to allow lots of air through, but that they are not so large as to allow ashes through. Place smoking material in the dent, light, and suck through the mouth of the can.

For an adaptation of this pipe that is reusable and in all ways preferable to the original, make no dent. Instead, make holes in the bottom of the can (a little more difficult) and tape up the mouth of the can. The bottom of the can is curved such that it can operate as the perfect container for the material to be burned. Then make a pen-sized (or slightly larger) hole in the side of the can, and use that as your mouthpiece. When I did this, I also ran duct tape all the way around my can, so as to make it a little more comfortable to hold (and so that everyone didn't mock my upside-down Diet Cherry Coke can pipe).

I have heard it said that aluminum can be harmful to humans when burned. I don't know at what temperature this begins to occur. As such, the former model for a makeshift pipe may be entirely dangerous and unsuitable for use by anyone, ever. If so, may god have mercy on my soul (and ruined lungs). Just thought you might want to know, before you try something on the word of another.