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The Ultimate Guide to Steamroller Pipes

The Ultimate Guide to Steamroller Pipes

Pipes are perhaps the oldest and most universal of all smoking accessories.

Found in many different shapes and constructed of various materials, pipe designs range from highly complex to very simple.

And one of the simplest of these is the steamroller pipe.

What Is A Steamroller Pipe?

Like many of the traditional hand pipes on the market today, a steamroller pipe is most frequently made of glass and is equipped with a carb hole.

Some of the most noticeable differences between a steamroller pipe and other types include its straightforward design, as well as the location of the carburetor.

Steamroller Pipe

While a classic type of pipe is often spoon-shaped with a carburetor hole positioned on the side of the bowl, a steamroller pipe is a straight tube that is open on both ends.

One end serves as the mouthpiece, with the other end functioning as the carb.

Steamroller design is thought to date back to Native American ceremonial smoke circles, where similarly-shaped wooden pipes were passed around.

There’s also evidence of comparable smoking devices made of clay in 18th-century India.

While you’re most likely familiar with the workings of a traditional hand pipe, you might be asking yourself how a steamroller works. Let’s take a closer look.

How Does A Steamroller Pipe Work?

The design of the typical steamroller is perhaps the most basic of any smoking pipe. It’s as simple as a straight tube that’s open on both ends.

The bowl, often nothing more than a one-hit indentation, is located near one end of the tube.

As with any carb-equipped pipe, when the user inhales while simultaneously blocking the carburetor and lighting the bowl, a vacuum develops in the tube as it fills with smoke from the burning herb.

When the carb is released, the smoke rushes out of the pipe all at once, providing the user with a massive hit.

Because the steamroller design and carb location typically deliver a much larger hit than a standard pipe, first-time users can sometimes be caught off guard by the sheer speed and size of the toke.

To paraphrase an old song, it’s a steamroller, baby; it might just roll all over you!

What Is The Purpose Of A Steamroller Pipe?

Purpose of a Steamroller Pipe

So, why would someone choose a steamroller pipe over other more-familiar smoking accessories?

For starters, there’s not a heavier-hitting hand pipe around. Steamrollers are ideal for those quick “one and done” sessions.

Newbies may initially find the super-sized tokes reminiscent of a dry bong rip, so taking it easy the first time might be a good idea.

Many steamroller models feature small, one-hitter size bowls that hold the perfect amount for medical patients practicing microdosing.

Smaller bowls can also be effective for conserving herb, while steamroller designs with bigger bowls are suitable for taking multiple hits or passing around in a group sesh.

Finally, the straightforward design and relatively small size of most steamroller pipes make them convenient to carry, quick to hide, and a great stoner gift idea.

How To Use A Steamroller

Part of the steamroller pipe’s attraction is its overall simplicity.  Figuring out how to use one couldn’t be more intuitive. 

First, pack the bowl with your favorite ground flower. Depending on the size of your bowl, you’ll be loading for a single hit or multiple rips.

Take care not to pack the herb too tightly to avoid restricting the airflow.

Next, cover the opening on the end of the pipe nearest the bowl with your finger, and place your mouth on the other end.

Light your flower and inhale, pulling a vacuum and filling the tube with smoke.

When you’re ready to let ‘er rip, lift your finger to release the carb and clear the pipe.

Be prepared, though. A monster hit is headed your way.

Pros And Cons Of A Steamroller Pipe

As we’ve seen, steamroller pipes are among the least complicated smoking devices around.

Despite their significant ease-of-use factor, though, those massive harsh rips may not be everyone’s cup of tea.

So, let's take a quick look at steamroller pipes' pros and cons.


  • Straightforward, easy-to-clean design
  • Requires less herb (potentially)
  • Simple and easy to clean
  • Delivers big, intense rips
  • Portable and easy to hide


  • Straight tube design results in hot, harsh hits
  • Glass steamrollers can be easy to break
  • Smaller bowls require more frequent refills

What’s The Difference Between A Steamroller And A Pipe?

As we’ve seen, there are a few differences between steamrollers and more traditional hand pipe designs.

Difference between Steamroller and Pipe

The location of the carburetor hole is a major distinction between a steamroller and other carb-equipped pipes.

Classic and beginner hand pipes typically have a carb hole on the side of the bowl, while the open end of the straight pipe design of a steamroller functions as the carburetor.

The steamroller's design can often produce more intense hits than traditional pipes, as the open-ended construction makes it something of a “straight-shooter.”

Once the carb is released, the steamroller clears almost instantly, sending a massive rush of smoke directly to the lungs. More classic pipe designs are usually easier to control with respect to the size of the hit. Steamrollers might require a bit more practice.

Despite their differences, steamrollers and traditional hand pipes are typically available in about the same price range.

Basic model pipes and smaller steamrollers are commonly for sale in the $10 to $30 price range, with larger models rarely exceeding $50.

Steamrollers, like other hand pipes, are constructed of a variety of materials. Most are made of lab-quality glass, with bamboo, wood, and silicone models also available.


Why Is It Called a Steamroller Pipe?

Some folks find the steamroller design to be reminiscent of an old-time locomotive’s shape, while first-time ‘rollers often liken the big hit they get from these straight pipes to being run over by a steam train.

Does A Steamroller Get You Higher?

Because they deliver some serious-sized hits, steamroller enthusiasts swear by the massive rip and instant buzz. However, the quantity and quality of the herb play significant roles in the perceived effects.

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