A beginner’s guide to glass
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- Why glass?
- Main types of glass pipes on the market today
- Glass made in U.S. vs glass made in China
- Scientific glass vs. artisan glass
- Choosing the glass that’s right for you
Whether you’re a seasoned stoner or newcomer to the world of cannabis, the fact remains the same: glass is an integral part of the consumption experience. It is one of the best, most commonly used materials for smoking out of, and glass pipes range from small and simple handheld pieces to huge, wildly intricate artistic creations, and everything in between.
Glass pipes range from small and simple handheld pieces to huge, wildly intricate artistic creations, and everything in between. Photo by: Gina Coleman/Weedmaps
What makes glass such a perfect medium for smoking cannabis? What are the different types of glass you’ll find on the market today, and which ones are the best for you? Here’s everything you need to know about glass, helping you to become a cannabis glass connoisseur the next time you visit your local head shop.
The primary reason glass is used for smoking cannabis is that it is a very clean material. To be more specific, when you heat a piece of clean glass, the only thing that really happens is the glass gets hotter. It doesn’t begin to smoke or vaporize, it doesn’t create toxic fumes, and it doesn’t emit odors or flavors. This makes glass perfectly suited for smoking cannabis flower and concentrates.
On the other hand, pipes made out of materials such as metal, plastic, or wood usually end up contaminating the cannabis smoke in one way or another, whether it’s changing the taste of the smoke, altering the odor of the smoke, or worst of all, emitting toxic fumes into the smoke.
Aside from maintaining the purity of the cannabis smoke, there’s an added bonus to using glass: style.
Glassblowers often mix in color pigments to create interesting patterns, adding artistic flair to the smoking experience. Photo by: Gina Coleman/Weedmaps
Glassblowers often mix in color pigments to create interesting patterns, adding artistic flair to the smoking experience. Artists who specialize in high-end glass pipes also make large, elaborate pipes in a dizzying array of shapes, sizes, and designs.
Main types of glass pipes on the market today
Glass is used to make a wide variety of smoking devices. The most common are:
Spoons are widely used and are recognizable for their simple design. One end is a spoon-shaped bowl into which you pack your cannabis. There is a small hole at the bottom of the bowl that allows smoke to travel from the spoon end down into the body of the pipe. Somewhere adjacent to the bowl is another small hole, called a “carb.” You control airflow inside the pipe by covering or uncovering the carb with your finger. Finally, the body of the pipe extends out away from the bowl and carb, ending in a third opening, which is the mouthpiece.
Spoons are widely used and are recognizable for their simple design. Photo by: Gina Coleman/Weedmaps
Bongs are defined by the inclusion of a water chamber. As smoke bubbles through the chamber, the water simultaneously cools the smoke and filters out heavy particulates, producing smoother, cooler, and all-around better-tasting smoke.
Bongs are defined by the inclusion of a water chamber. Photo by: Gina Coleman/Weedmaps
Bubblers are essentially a mash-up of a spoon pipe and a petite-sized bong. In shape and function, they are just like a spoon pipe. They also include a small water chamber that cools and cleans the smoke. For many consumers, bubblers produce more enjoyable smoke the way a bong does, but with the smaller, more convenient size that a spoon offers.
Bubblers are essentially a mash-up of a spoon pipe and a petite-sized bong. Photo by: Gina Coleman/Weedmaps
Glass chillums can essentially be described as a small cylinder of glass you can smoke out of. You pack one end of the cylinder with flower, ignite it, and pull the smoke through the other end of the cylinder.
Steamrollers are basically extra-large chillums that often include a small depression for packing cannabis, a carb for controlling airflow, and a much larger-diameter glass cylinder. The idea is to let you fill the pipe with tons of smoke before clearing it all at one time for a powerful punch of cannabis smoke.
Dab rigs typically use the same water filtration system as a bong, but they include a number of additional features and components designed specifically for vaporizing super-potent cannabis concentrates at higher temperatures than those for smoking flower. Instead of a bowl, for instance, a dab rig typically utilizes a nail or banger made from glass, quartz, or titanium. Once the heated chamber reaches the desired temperature, the concentrate is dabbed and filtered through water before being consumed.
Dab rigs include a number of features and components designed specifically for vaporizing super-potent cannabis concentrates at higher temperatures than those for smoking flower. Photo by: Gina Coleman/Weedmaps
Glass made in U.S. vs glass made in China
A common debate in the world of cannabis is whether glass pieces made in the United States are fundamentally different from or of better quality than glass pieces made in places such as China.
One camp maintains that mass-produced Chinese glass is inherently inferior to American glass. According to this perspective, because Chinese glass is mass-produced and is intended to be much more affordable, manufacturers cut corners and don’t create products with as much care or quality assurance as manufacturers in the U.S.
As seen on numerous online discussion boards and cannabis forums, common complaints about Chinese-made glass include:
- Lower-quality glass
- Thinner glass
- Glass that is not carefully hardened through a process called annealing, thereby making it more susceptible to stress fractures and breaking
- Unoriginal designs, with many claiming that Chinese glass manufacturers essentially rip off designs created by smaller glassmakers and then mass-produce them
Another camp tends to be much more open to glass pieces made in China. In general, this cohort sees the quality of Chinese glass as close enough to the quality of any other glass that it doesn’t really make a noticeable difference.
Further, this group often argues that because Chinese pieces are mass-produced for lower cost, they actually serve a valuable function within the cannabis industry, giving people access to very affordable smoking implements. For many, this affordability outweighs whatever drop in quality consumers might get with a piece made in China.
As expert glassblower Luke Wilson put it: “The only difference is [Chinese manufacturers] take everything they make from other people and make it a million times over. . There’s nothing wrong with China glass as far as I’m concerned. So if you need a high-filter piece for your money, then go buy a China piece. But if you want something that’s collectible and that you’ll appreciate, go buy a personal artist piece.”
Scientific glass vs. artisan glass
The other key distinction in the types of glass used for cannabis pipes is if it’s made from scientific glass or artisan glass.
According to The American Scientific Glassblowers Society, scientific glass is specifically designed to meet the rigorous demands and specifications of the scientific community. Per the Society’s website: “Scientific glassblowers provide highly specialized glass apparatus for all universities with graduate research programs, government, private, and industry-research laboratories, production facilities, the semiconductor industry, and many other aspects of scientific research.”
Scientific glass is primarily focused on function, precision, and consistency. And smoking devices made out of scientific glass are much the same. These pieces tend to use thicker glass, are typically more heat-resistant, and have minimal issues with stress fractures or other manufacturing defects.
Scientific glass pipes are primarily focused on function rather than style. As a result, they typically do not have a lot of color or decorations, and the designs are simple and minimal, more in line with something you’d expect to see in a research lab than a stoner’s dorm room. One big advantage of focusing on function is that many scientific glass pipes include high-performance percolators that require a high degree of precision to make well.
On the other hand, artisan glass — often called “heady glass” — is focused much more on design and style elements. Artisan pieces are often one of a kind, made by established artists with recognizable aesthetic styles and a cult following of high-end glass collectors. As such, these pieces can be very fun to smoke out of and many enjoy the sense that their pipe is more aligned with a piece of art than a smoking apparatus.
Artisan glass is focused much more on design and style elements. Photo by: Gina Coleman/Weedmaps
The process of adding colors, crafting pipes into funky shapes, and executing complex designs often requires artists to use a slightly “softer” glass than a scientific glass piece. Additionally, the exclusive nature of artisan pieces often means that they carry heftier price tags than scientific glass pieces.
Choosing the glass that’s right for you
There are three main factors to consider when buying a glass piece:
What type of smoking experience do you want?
Do you want to smoke out of a simple spoon or chillum? Are you interested in the cooler, smoother, better-tasting smoke of a bong or bubbler? Do you want the hard-hitting, massive hits of a steamroller? Answering these questions will help narrow down the types of glass smoking devices that fit your personal criteria.
Form or function?
If you want consistently high-quality, precision performance, you can’t go wrong with a scientific glass piece. If you’re all about personal style, creativity, and flair, then you’ll love exploring the world of artisan glass. And remember, function and style are not mutually exclusive. Many people who like minimalist designs find scientific glass to be very aesthetically appealing.
What’s your budget?
If you’re on a tight budget and you simply need a piece that will get the job done, you might want to experiment with an affordable piece made in China. Don’t be surprised if you run into problems or if the piece breaks — at least replacing it won’t be too expensive. But if your budget gives you more room to shop around, have fun exploring the diversity of glass pieces made in the US by more hands-on glassblowers and artisans.
A beginner’s guide to glass Copy article link to clipboard. Link copied to clipboard. Contents Why glass? Main types of glass pipes on the market today Glass made in U.S.
Choosing the Right Type of Glass Pipe To Fit Your Personality
With so many types of glass pipes, how do you choose? Read our breakdown below and choose wisely.
Remember: your pipe is a reflection of who you are.
- Chillums and one-hitters are simple.
- Bowls or Spoons are a necessity.
- Bongs, Bubblers and Sherlocks deliver massive hits.
- Metal pipes – not so much.
- Rolling Papers are fine, but you need skills.
- Every glass pipe matches a personality type.
A Little Bit of History
When it comes to delivering a surreal session and an optimum drag we know how every seasonal smoker has their very own special formula of herb and pipe combo.
Pipes have been around in one form or another or the longest time, smoking in general for even longer. And one indispensable part of every smoker’s kit is the perfect pipe. Pipes for smoking are usually manufactured using a host of materials like metal, certain kinds of wood, glass, corn cob, etc. Ask any regular smoker and they will tell you that glass smoking pipes are the only worthwhile kind.
They come in different shapes and types. Each type is best suited for specific uses and quantities of product and each has distinct advantages.
Glass pipes most likely evolved along with the art of glassblowing and glassmaking technology. They were initially attractive to smokers, purely for their intrinsic artistic value but then people came around for utilitarian reasons- realizing that smoking with a glass pipe produces a flavor that is unmatched by any other material.
In fact, it really isn’t the flavor so much as the lack of flavor that smokers are lured in by. Purveyors of the lifestyle today tend to select unique glass weed pipes that are symbolic of who they are.
Dabbing requires a specific type of “oil rig” that is capable of incredible amounts of heat, while vaping focuses on using the lowest temperatures possible for delivery. Neither of these topics will be touched on here today, but check the blog for on those items.
In the middle of the spectrum are traditional weed smoking pipes and rolling papers.
There’s a glass pipe for every smoker and while you may not have the time to experiment in order to find the right setup for that perfect smoking experience, we are here to help as we have compiled the best glass pipes of 2020.
Types of Glass Pipes
Broadly speaking, glass pipes come in different shapes and types. Here are some of the best smoking pipes that we like:
Chillums or One Hitter Pipes
They are the most basic type of smoke pipes and are shaped like tubes and can be called a chillum or a one hitter. They are small and simple. Users pack smoking material on one end and apply flame and inhale.
They are the quintessential discreet piece for all the smokers on the go. They are small but they can feature intricate, gorgeous designs.
Due to their small size, these glass weed pipes are able to take very small amounts of dry herbs. They also lack a carb, so the smoke flavor is not prevented from becoming stale. Learning how to clean a one hitter is simple and even you don’t feel like cleaning your chillum, they are economical enough to just throw it away and get a new glass pipe.
Of all the different types of smoking devices, the glass sherlock pipes, or Gandalf pipes, are now the most iconic owing to their arched stem. If you have seen Sherlock Holmes’ favorite pipe, you already know what this is.
Many artisan sherlocks are made from glass, even though most of them are made from wood. The classic sherlock pipe has a gracefully arching stem and a large bowl used to heat it, with a bottom which is often flattened, to let the pipe stand freely when not being held.
Gandalf pipes have a relatively elongated stem but are otherwise similar. They may or may not have a carb, because these pipes were never designed with a carb as a standard requirement. They tend to produce unfiltered smoke which can be pretty strong, because of the resins and tars that has accumulated with use of the pipe.
Spoon Pipes or Bowls
This is the essential piece of glass in every smoker’s collection. Being that it is an essential, we offer this free glasspipe from Me Time Box Products. Keep reading below to learn why you need one.
They are usually very similar in shape and construction to the chillums, and are the most popular types of weed pipes. However, one major point of difference being they have a “bowl” (the bowl has an indentation like a spoon, hence the name) at one end where you can deposit whatever you are smoking and they do have a carburetor which is nothing but a small hole in the tube.
The process of smoking entails covering the hole with a finger to draw in air through the bowl, then uncovering the same hole to inhale. This ensures the smoke remains fresh, and lets you control the airflow through the stem which gives you bigger and better hits. In general, the carb is why glass bowl pipes are highly preferred among smoking circles.
Glass Bubbler pipes are a hybrid of the bong and a glass pipe. It uses water like a bong, but is really small like a glass pipe which is why sometimes they are referred to as glass water pipes.
They have a chamber, a stem, carb and a bottom base. The water in the pipe acts as a filter for the smoke which diffuses the smoke before it is inhaled and creates tiny bubbles. This results in a highly filtered, smooth flavor devoid of any of the substances, harsher resinated smoke or any debris being inhaled.
The water temperature can have a huge impact on the flavor and the overall experience and as such bubblers can be used with either hot or cold water.
Some bubblers can go so far to include the use of ice. The intensely cold smoke produced is much denser compared to smoke produced from simply cold water, and when inhaled it warms and expands. Some consider bubblers to be the best pipes for smoking weed.
These are highly complex but the most efficient for a monster hit. Steamroller pipes have a bowl attached to a tube. There is an opening at each end of the pipe. The one nearest the bowl is the carburetor. Some variations may have an extra chamber that rolls the smoke to facilitate fast cooling.
The steamroller is known for delivering extremely powerful, fast and intense hits. They are most definitely not recommended for less experienced, or first time users, because they take a lot of practice to completely get used to, but are some of the best pipes for weed.
They are the most basic kind of water pipes that most people are familiar with. They can have complex, beautiful and intricate designs that include multiple percolators and they can be very simple with a straight tube chamber. They can be pricey but are definitely worth it being the most convenient and best smoking device.
Glass pipes versus metal pipes
While some people prefer the old school metal pipes others love the unadulterated taste that glass bowl pipes are known to deliver. An advantage of getting a metal pipe beside the inexpensive price tag is its resilience and durability.
Metal bowls can put off toxins that are unhealthy for human consumption. Glass, the best smoking bowls, easily eliminate these and are relatively easier to clean. All you need is a little alcohol and salt, but if you get stuck, feel free to check out our guide on how to clean a glass pipe.
Nothing can ruin the taste of good herbs like a bowl that is rarely cleaned. With all the delectable strains available today, it is understandable if you, a true lover of weed, wish to refrain from metal pipes (we do too).
Glass Pipes versus Wood Pipes
Wood pipes are making an appearance in the cannabis world with their earthy, rustic, outdoorsy feel. Most smokers tend to use them for their overall feel and character and not functionality.
More often than not, they alter the flavor of your smoke. It is also very difficult to clean since wood cannot be soaked in any cleaning solution without the potential of the wood molding or getting completely destroyed. They are the least practical and, in our opinion, are used just for novelty or aesthetics.
Glass Pipes versus Rolling Paper
The one advantage of glass smoking bowls is that they are relatively easy to smoke out of, but can be a little high maintenance in comparison to rolling one up, then smoking it down.
Although it takes a little bit of skill to roll a decent blunt or joint, you roll all the evidence up, easily take them on the go, and smoke when you feel like it until it is completely gone. However, they are far less efficient on the bud.
Bongs and pipes cool down the smoke considerably and provide a smoother, better hit of the herbs.
It doesn’t mean that you can’t roll one up every now and then, which is why we have this fancy RAW rolling bundle for the rollers out there.
In terms of unique glass smoking pipes for the healthy smoker, glass bongs and glass water pipes have been the go-to delivery system for centuries. The water in a bubbler or a bong filters out the large particles from the smoke and cools it down as well.
Then there are the creative and artistic smokers that seek out the most unique glass pipes out there. They, like animal glass pipes, or artisan chillums and often have an exhaustive selection of glass smoking pipes in their collection.
The creative types often gravitate towards sativas, while the people who need to find more time to chill seem to like indicas. One thing for sure is that no matter what you prefer for strains, most smokers will also have at least one or two hand-blown glass smoking pipes that are full of swirls, colors and glass marbles, that stimulate their visual senses.
If you take a look into a aficionado’s happy kit for smoking essentials, you might find a menagerie of creative glass pipes that they select from depending on their mood at any moment.
Next time you check out a smoker’s pipe collection, take a step back and think about the types of glass pipes they use. You may find that you are discovering a lot more about that person, compared to what you thought you knew about them when you shook their hand.
If you missed that link up there, don’t forget that we are the home for a free glass pipe, just pay shipping with no strings attached.
We hope that whatever you personality is, that you pick a glass piece that is unique to you.
Looking for the right type of glass pipe to fit your unique personality? Look no further with this handy guide to the different types of pipes for you to try.