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What is a Sherlock Pipe?

by Angel Ferrer 4 min read

What is a Sherlock Pipe?

Breaking Down The Sherlock Pipe

You’ve seen a lot of pipes, from simple and boring, to elegant and creative. But have you heard about the Sherlock Pipe? If not, you’re in for a treat.

We are talking about the curved pipe that became synonymous with Sherlock Holmes (And Gandalf in The Lord of the Rings series). The arched design, as quirky as the calculating, cold, machine-like detective himself, this pipe is an interesting take on how to enjoy your favorite herb alone or with friends.

Both Sherlock and Gandalf are known for their proclivity towards smoking out of a custom curved pipe. This pipe added to the mystique that surrounded their persona as they both released cloud after cloud of dense, white smoke while solving cases in the blink of an eye, on as with Gandalf, pondering the next quest.

Well, even if you aren’t a “Holmesian” or a fan favorite of the characters, chances are that you might have spotted one of these peculiar looking pipes in a head shop and wondered how it would fit into a tiny pocket. 

If you’re looking for a discreet smoking apparatus, the Sherlock Pipe isn’t it. This pipe is for flaunting and for those special occasions when you crave a generous dose of eccentricity with your hit. 

‘Elementary, my dear Watson.’

Aesthetics and flair apart, the Sherlock pipe delivers a slightly cooler hit as opposed to dry smoking apparatus, like the chillum or the spoon. 

The Design

Undoubtedly, it’s the design that sets the Sherlock pipe apart from the rest.   

These pipes feature a standard-sized bowl with an arched stem that curves upwards to connect to the mouthpiece. Resembling a saxophone. It may or may not have a carb to help control the airflow. The degree of curvature varies and will determine portability as well as the flavor of the smoke. The steeper the curve, the cooler the hit. 

Some pipes feature a flat base that allows users to stand it up when not on use. This can also be useful if you are looking to display your collection of Sherlock pipes. 

Much before Sherlock Holmes came along toting his arched pipe, these pipes were called Billiards and were a favorite among English Monarchy. 

Types of Sherlock Pipes

While the pipes shown in the Sherlock movies are usually made of wood, modern-day Sherlocks can be made of glass, porcelain and even metal.  

Your choice of a Sherlock pipe will depend on the intended use and the pros and cons of each material. 

Wood:These are reminiscent of the classic billiards of yore. The bowl is usually made of hardwood while the stem is made of a softer variety of wood that allows the curvature. The big draw of a wooden Sherlock pipe is that it looks stunning. Also, they are extremely durable and are available in a wide range of styles and finishes. The caveat is that wood easily absorbs the flavor of the herbs being used. So, you can’t really use it with multiple flavors or materials. 

Glass:As is the case with most glass smoking apparatus, creative glassblowers have taken the Sherlock pipe and added their own inspiring twists to it. It is possible to find glass Sherlock pipes in a mind-boggling array of styles and designs. Like the hammer pipe, which has a straight stem instead of the arched one, the bubbler Sherlock, which can be used with water to cool the smoke and the ash-catcher Sherlock, which has an in-built ash catcher. Glass Sherlock pipes can be more expensive. Also, despite the thick and durable construction, you have to handle these with care as they are prone to breaking and chipping. 

Metal:Metal Sherlock pipes are a welcome change from the norm. The designs look contemporary and rustic. However, it is often argued that metals can affect the flavor of the herb and purists prefer glass which offers a clean, unaltered taste.


At a time when most tokers prefer discreet handheld devices that can be palmed and carried along easily, what is the ongoing appeal of the Sherlock pipe?

Let’s find out. 

  • Cooler hits: Sherlock pipes deliver a cooler smoke that’s not as harsh or hot as what one gets in a chillum or a spoon. Prefer a filtered hit? Check out the Sherlock Bubbler that’s a combination of a bong and a spoon.
  • Heavier hits: There’s a misconception among newbies that Sherlock pipes don’t deliver a massive hit, like say, a spoon would. That’s not true. You can choose a Sherlock pipe that has a large bowl, a large carb and a wide mouthpiece. These are design features that can be customized, resulting in longer smoking times and more intense hits.
  • Ergonomic: Sherlock pipes are one of the most comfortable handheld smoking devices that we’ve ever used. It gives a firm grip and is better suited for the curve of the palm. 
  • Clues: There’s nothing more appealing than watching the herb combust as you take the hit. Glass Sherlocks make this possible. Apart from the novelty factor, this also informs you when it’s time for repacking the bowl or when the stem is clogged with resin. 


All said and done, the Sherlock pipe might not be the device of choice for everyone. 

  • Difficult to clean: Steeper the dip of the stem, the more likely it is to get clogged with resin that is impossible to reach. Most tokers use a straightened paper clip or a bobby pin to scrape some of the debris off. But there will always be a little extra that seems impossible to reach. The only other option is to boil it or clean it with isopropyl alcohol, which will completely remove the resin. 
  • Portability: Sherlock pipes aren’t exactly designed to fit into your trouser pockets. If you seek discretion, then chillums or spoons might be a better bet. 

Find Your Perfect Sherlock Pipe 

Hemper ( has everything a smoker could wish for, with curated collections hand-selected by actual smokers. From accessories to pipes and subscription boxes, they have it all. If you’re in the market for a Sherlock pipe or other device, give our online shop a look and let us know if you need any assistance.