We look at e-pipes, an offshoot of e-cigarettes that incorporates the body of tobacco pipes.

E-Pipe Concept by Designer Cyrille Durand
E-Pipe Concept by Designer Cyrille Durand

What is an e-pipe?

Traditional tobacco pipes have provided the oldest method for smoking tobacco. An e-pipe retains the same form factor as a traditional tobacco pipe but is used to vape e-juice. It consists of a bowl, stem and mouthpiece just like the original. Unlike a tobacco pipe the user does not compact tobacco nor light it with a match or lighter, nor does the user fill up the bowl with e-juice. An e-pipe is an electronic device that runs off a lithium-ion battery. The user simply turns it on to use it.

All e-pipes consist of a battery which heats a coil in a cartridge or atomizer to vaporize e-juice. The vapor then flows up the stem to the mouthpiece to be inhaled or puffed by the user.

E-pipes do not create actual smoke (it’s vapor!), nor ash. The largest advantage in using an e-pipe compared to one for tobacco is that it is significantly safer for one’s health. No ash makes e-pipes environmentally friendly. Also, e-pipes create little or no smell, which may be appreciated by family and friends. Some businesses such as casinos may be vape friendly and allow for their use indoors.

E-pipes: style and design


E-pipes come in a wide array of styles. All of them retain the general look and form factor of traditional tobacco pipes, with some being nearly indistinguishable from the genuine article. And in keeping with the general look of a traditional tobacco pipe, most e-pipes have a bowl made from wood, and many varieties of wood are available. Species range from traditional hardwoods to exotics and even stabilized woods, and E-pipes are also available with bowls made from other materials like marble or metal.

Some e-pipes strongly resemble traditional pipes and use replaceable cartridges just like cigalikes. The cartridges last for about 600-800 puffs, and are available in a variety of flavors. Classic pipe tobacco flavors with cherry, apple and vanilla tobacco are common. However, other flavors are available for some brands such as fruit or dessert flavors.

Puffing on an e-pipe


There are two methods for using an e-pipe. The first method is to puff on it just like a traditional tobacco pipe. The user inhales vapor into his/her mouth, holds it in for a moment to absorb nicotine, and then exhales through the mouth/nose.

Some users may wish to inhale the vapor fully or partially into the lungs. Cartridge style e-pipes as well as those with some types of atomizers allow for mouth to lung (MTL) vaping. The user inhales vapor into the mouth and then inhales into the lungs. Some users may wish to pair their e-pipe with a clearomizer or RTA made for direct to lung (DTL) inhales. This style of vaping has the user inhaling straight to the lungs as one does when taking a deep breath.

E-pipes may be automatic or use a manual switch. Automatic e-pipes require no input from the user other than to inhale or puff when needed, and they will then begin to vaporize e-juice. Some users may find this a more natural experience that closely mimics smoking a traditional tobacco pipe. A manual switch must be pressed by the user to allow the battery to heat the coil that vaporizes the e-liquid. Many users prefer a manual switch to have more control over their vaping experience.

E-pipes for clouds


Another style of e-pipe allows for use of an atomizer, just like the usual vaping setup of a mod with an atomizer. The e-pipe acts as the mod in this type of setup. Because the atomizer is generally visible this type of e-pipe does look a bit different from the traditional pipe, but allows the user more freedom in choosing components. Some users pair their e-pipe with a clearomizer, and others may choose a rebuildable tank atomizer (RTA) to vaporize their e-juice. Clearomizers and atomizers allow e-pipe users to choose any flavor of e-juice that entertains their palates!

Thanks to ePipeMods for letting us use their images.

Choosing your fist e-pipe


E-pipes may be simple, mechanical devices, they may contain some safety features and/or be variable wattage (VW). Users of mechanical or semi-mechanical devices should have knowledge of Ohm’s Law, battery safety, and be able to check the resistance of their atomizers (via ohm readers or multi-meter). If any of that seems unappealing, you can opt for kits geared more towards beginners (that can be just as high of quality in terms of the actual manufacturing of the pipe itself) or e-pipes that have regulated power.

Such a variety of electronic pipes are available, shopping for one can be quite entertaining! Models range from inexpensive, high production Chinese models, to mid priced items to unique, one of a kind, hand carved e-pipes. Prices range from about $30 to more than $400.

In the end, what you buy is only really limited by your wallet. There are artisan e-pipe makers as well as mass-produced e-pipes, so if the idea of an e-pipe piques your interest, do not be swayed one way or another by what you initially see: to is just the tip of the iceberg. Keep researching until you find one that appeals to you, either in its form factor or in its power capabilities.