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I’ve only smoked joints and blunts…(r/trees)
I would say a small chillum (at the least) is worth owning. I’m from the US, but I’m pretty sure I’ve seen them for sale in numerous shops across the pond. I’ve always found joints to be a really fun way to smoke socially, but I consider them to be a bit wasteful since the herb is always burning a little bit even when you’re not actively smoking it (it’s not a huge deal, but whatever). I think bowls are great if you just want to smoke a little bit – maybe you’re home alone and you just want to take a hit and read for a while. Sure, you could roll a joint and light it/put it out as you need, or you could just pack a little bowl, take a hit and keep going.
With that said, if your rolling skills are lacking, there are tons of tutorials around here and elsewhere online. Additionally, you could purchase a little rolling machine which takes all necessary skill out of rolling perfect joints every time.
As for using pipes, things like chillums or one-hitters can be really simple. You pack your herb into the left side (based on the bowl linked above), put your mouth on the right side, light it just like you would a joint, and inhale. Chillums are very straight forward. If you want to be a bit more incognito, you can purchase a bat online (or likely in a shop around you). You can buy them in metal or ceramic – I prefer the latter, but I’m sure you’re fine either way.
Other pipes like the spoon linked here have a carb which is used to help move air past the weed as you light it (when the carb is covered by your finger), then allows you to pull clean air through the pipe (by moving you finger and leaving the carb hole uncovered) once you’re ready to pull the smoke into your lungs. Some folks like to put their finger over the carb hole for 1-2 seconds, then take it off for 1-2 seconds, and rinse/repeat as they hold the lighter over the bowl and inhale. Other folks like to hold the carb pretty much the entire time they light/inhale. You’ll figure out your own style as you use one.
Beyond these styles of bowls there are bongs, steamrollers, sherlocks, hammers, and all styles of pipes. They basically all function the same way, although some may have more moving parts than others. Bubblers and bongs often employ the use of percolators and water chambers to help cool/filter the smoke before it makes it way into your lungs. There are tons of different styles of pipes and percolators with different numbers of water chambers and all sorts of decorations. You can go really deep down the rabbit hole if you find yourself getting into glass art as well. Check out /r/glassheads for some of that.
Edit: Added a few more example pictures. Thanks Adderall!
Edit 2: A few more clarifications.
Edit 3: I wanted to expand a little bit about carbs as they always seem to trip people up the first time they use one. Since you asked about HOW bowls work, here’s a shitty explanation I threw together in paint. You’ll typically hold a spoon like this, working the carb with your left thumb, and using the lighter with your right hand. If you’re a southpaw like me, you may choose to hold the bowl in your right hand, working the carb with your right index or middle finger, and using the lighter with your left hand. Obviously you’ll figure out what’s most comfortable for you. Each bowl is a little bit unique, so you may hold different pipes in different ways.
Thanks for the gold, kind frient!