Updated: 23 February 2023 & medically reviewed by Dr. Kimberly Langdon
Like most forms of drug abuse, taking crack requires various bits of equipment. Crack is most commonly smoked through pipes, bongs, and homemade devices.
Crack paraphernalia can include common household items that may go unnoticed to the untrained eye, as well as pipes and bongs that are more obviously a sign of drug abuse.
Crack pipes resemble small glass tubes with a round bowl at one end and a hole at the other. Crack rocks are usually packed into a hole in the top of the bowl and heated underneath with a lighter.
There are many other objects that can be used in the process of abusing crack, including tyre air gauge, soda cans, and glass tubes such as science equipment.
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What is crack paraphernalia?
Crack paraphernalia includes anything used to smoke or abuse the substance in any way shape or form. This can include common household items that may go unnoticed to the untrained eye, as well as pipes and bongs that are more obviously a sign of drug abuse. Some of the most widely used items to smoke crack include:
Crack pipes (normally small and glass)
Packing tools (such as coat hangers)
Wraps or baggies used to contain drugs
Read here to learn more about other drug paraphernalia
What do crack pipes look like?
Crack pipes are the most widely recognized implement associated with crack abuse.
They resemble small glass tubes with a round bowl at one end and a hole at the other. Crack rocks are usually packed into a hole in the top of the bowl and heated underneath with a lighter.
When the crack cooks (the cracking sound it makes when ready is where the name comes from) the user will inhale the smoke through a filter at the other end to get the intended hit. Glass pipes that have seen heavy use will often be black on the outside of the bowl and stained brown from the smoke throughout the glass.
Crack pipes are technically not illegal to sell in the US, though buying one may be difficult for most users. This can lead to people creating their own versions, with potentially dangerous results.
Read here to learn about what crack looks, smells, and tastes like.
Homemade crack pipes
Homemade crack pipes can be made from just about any cylindrical glass or tin container. This means that crack users can turn many household objects into tools in which to smoke crack. Common items used to smoke crack include:
- Car antennas
- Eye drop containers (glass)
- Tyre air gauge
- Soda cans
- Glass tubes such as science equipment
- Stronger plastic bottles
Other crack paraphernalia
There are many other objects that can be used in the process of abusing crack. Any one of these may be an indicator that someone is using crack and may act as a warning sign if you’re concerned about a loved one.
Crack pipes, whether makeshift or purpose-made, require filters to stop the crack rocks from traveling through the pipe when the smoke is inhaled.
Common materials for filters include copper wool scrubbers, steel wool such as Brillo pads, and rolled-up electrical wire. These materials will often be stained black from the crack smoke after heavy use.
Burnt aluminum foil
While crack is predominantly smoked through pipes, it can also be heated up by placing rocks on aluminum foil, heating from underneath with a lighter, and inhaling the smoke through any narrow tube. The remnants of smoking crack this way will often include burnt pieces of aluminum as well as smoke-marked tubes such as biro casings or rolled-up notes.
baking soda is an ingredient added to powdered cocaine before it is cooked and transformed into crack. While baking soda alone may not be an indicator of crack abuse, it may be a warning sign if someone is buying excessive amounts.
Read here to learn more about how crack is made.
What to do if you find crack paraphernalia
Possession of drug paraphernalia is not technically illegal but it is a warning sign of drug abuse.
Approaching someone you suspect of having a substance use disorder is never easy, even if the warning signs such as paraphernalia are obvious. People abusing crack will often avoid conflict and will hide their activities from the ones they love.
That is why it is important to always speak to someone you are concerned about and let them know it is possible to get help. If left unchallenged, crack abuse can lead to devastating addiction and dependence, impacting their own lives and those around them in negative ways.
If you find crack paraphernalia in the possession of someone you care about, help them to find help.
Crack addiction treatment
Like all forms of addiction and dependence, crack abuse can be devastating if left untreated. Help is available and there are plenty of treatment centers that can aid people in overcoming their addiction and regaining control over their lives. If you or someone you know is suffering from a crack cocaine use disorder, contact a treatment center today to learn more about your options.