The essential paraphernalia for opium smoking include a bamboo pipe, a long steel needle, a small lamp, and a couch or bed upon which to recline. A pill of prepared opium (which looks like tar) is roasted gradually on the end of the steel needle held over a tiny alcohol flame. The needle is alternatively dipped into the opium and exposed to the flame until a little ball of roasted opium is formed on the point of the needle, after which it is transferred to the pipe-head opening and punctured (p.122).
Source of Descriptive Information
Forman, H. (1948). Changing China. New York: Crown Publishers.