How do I make sense of all these joint types?

As of late, we’ve seen a lot of questions and confusion about ground joint sizing. Unfortunately, our industry isn’t very descriptive or informative about these issues. Most people learn through experience or from friends. Thankfully, it isn’t too complicated. A few minutes of study will save hours of grief down the road. So let’s learn about ground joints.

Although ground joints come in a variety of sizes, every joint comes in either male or female. What determines whether a joint should be male or female? Well, that all depends on the use of the particular product. Conventional waterpipes used for flower will be constructed with a female joint. All of the various products designed to work with a conventional waterpipe will have a male joint for connecting to the waterpipe.

Waterpipes designed exclusively for use with BHO products will generally be built with male joints. There are however, many ways to use BHO with a female jointed waterpipe, though the experience may not be optimal.
The benefits of purchasing a waterpipe specifically designed for herbal essences or BHO are manyfold. A pipe designed for flower is designed to filter out the harmful materials present in smoke and will provide the best possible smoking experience. A male joint waterpipe is generally designed to concentrate the vapor in a smaller space, and will provide a better hit. Also, male joint pipes can be built smaller and with fewer or no percolators, since generally BHO has fewer harmful byproducts than smoke from flower.

Well, that’s great, but what size joint is my waterpipe? I’m glad you asked. The most common joint sizes are 14MM and 18MM, 10MM less so, and 29MM mainly in specialty waterpipes. Why these sizes? Well, scientific glass in the smoking industry is called that for a reason. Ground joint technology actually originated in science labs. The pioneers of glass on glass waterpipes adopted those sizes because they were already available.

Determining whether an item is 14MM or 18MM is actually very easy. The best way is to use a pair of calipers, but if those aren’t available you can use other tools. If a dime fits into the female joint on an item, it is 18MM. If the dime doesn’t fit, the joint is 14MM. If you don’t have a dime handy, you can also just use the head of a standard Bic lighter. If it goes all the way in, it’s 18MM. If you look at the following pictures, the top 2 are 18MM. The bottom is 14MM.

If you have a known 14MM female joint, you can easily test to see if an item is 10MM. The 14MM female joint will be much bigger than the 10MM male and not fit. Most people know if they have a 29MM joint, but testing is simple. If your pointer and index fingers fit into the joint, it’s 29MM.

So why should you choose one joint over another? 18MM joints offer superior airflow to 14MM joints, but 14MM product can be built more compact than 18MM. 10MM joints aren’t very useful for female joint waterpipes designed for flower, but they work extremely well for vapor. The advantage of 10MM joints is that it allows a very compact item to be constructed. 10MM pieces are the most portable of all waterpipes.

Well, that’s enough talking, who wants to get smoking? I know I do! 


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