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.
Whether you’re looking for a heady gift or want to treat yourself to an elevated smoke break, here are the best cannabis accessories to pick up right now
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It’s almost 4/20, in April of 2020, which is more than enough reason to sit back, light up and celebrate.
The official pot smoking holiday — whose origins have been (incorrectly) linked to rock star death anniversaries, the police penal code, and the number of chemical compounds in the THC-rich plant — has grown from a small event on society’s fringes, to a nationally-recognized event.
Roughly 12% of adults smoke pot according to a recent poll conducted by Gallup, and 11 states have legalized it for recreational use. Many others have legalized it for medical use, and weed is currently totally prohibited in only three states. Reefer madness, it seems, is alive and well.
If you’re over the age of 21, and live in a state where weed is legal, you’ve probably got rolling papers, labeled jars, and a pocket-friendly herb grinder ready to go. There’s nothing wrong with the classics, but technology has evolved, and you can toke up more discretely and efficiently as ever. We’ve found 13 tools and accessories that can help you get high without turning your place into the set of Pineapple Express 2 (Seth, are you listening?)
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It goes without saying, but be sure to understand the potential health risks that come with smoking and vaping, and enjoy responsibly if you’re of age and in a place where it’s legal. Whether you’re looking for a heady gift or just want to treat yourself to an elevated smoke break, here’s what makes our cannabis list this year.
1. LEVO II Herbal Oil Infuser
Step away from the stove, LEVO’s second-generation oil and butter infuser takes all of the guesswork out of brownies (and more).
Place your herbs in its mesh, metal pod, and prepare them with the LEVO II’s dry and activation cycles. Once they’re ready, fill the machine’s reservoir with the oil or butter of your choice, and put the pod inside. Set the cook time and temperature with buttons on the front of the LEVO II, and let the machine take over the rest. When it’s ready, the LEVO II will dispense your infused liquids, which you can use in your favorite recipes.
If you’d like to monitor its progress from outside of the kitchen, you can connect the LEVO II to your WiFi network, and download the LEVO app (available on IOS and Android). Once you’re done cooking, remove the herb pod, silicone stirrer, and reservoir to clean. All three pieces are dishwasher-safe.
If you’ve been afraid to make your own edibles because you’re afraid of screwing up main ingredient, this is a set-it-and-forget-it solution.
LEVO II Herbal Oil Infuser, $199.99, available at Amazon and $249 on Levooil.com
2. HEIR Water Pipe
Made out of thick glass and a glazed ceramic material, Heir’s water pipe is a classier way to get high. What you get: a precision-made smoking accessory with a modern design.
The pipe passes smoke through a downward stem via an eight-slotted percolator, which diffuses smoke more evenly through the water and enhances filtration. A splash guard built into the bottom of the pipe keeps water from interrupting your hit.
The pipe has a tapered design that makes it easy to hold and tilt, and it was designed for easy cleanup. You can pour water directly through the grinder, and unscrew the top piece to reveal a storage space large enough for your lighter. The HEIR gives a much-needed makeover to one of the most popular smoking devices — no more makeshift hits here.
HEIR Water Pipe, $260, available at HEIR
3. Summerland Terracotta Bong
Summerland’s Pleasure Point Terracotta Bong is handmade in California. It’s made out of lead-free, food-safe glazed ceramic, and a silicon grommet, which the company says ensures clean hits every time. Prefer something a little more luxe? The company makes the same bong in a glossy white or “marble” finish too.
Pleasure Point Terracotta Bong, $224, available at Summerland
4. Ardent Nova FX
Described by Ardent as the “easy bake oven for cannabis,” the Nova FX is a portable, all-in-one solution for making edibles.
The Nova FX’s core function is decarboxylation, a process that heats cannabis up to a set temperature to “activate” the THC. As you can see in the picture above, you’re able to pour dry herb directly into the stainless steel cavity, and decarboxylate it in under two hours. Multiple sensors inside the Nova FX keep its temperature consistent to avoid scorching your pot.
Once that process is done, you can use the activated cannabis directly in your baked goods without infusing it into butter or oil. If you prefer using “enhanced” versions of those ingredients, you can also use the Nova FX as an infuser — add your activated cannabis into a bottle filled with butter or oil, place it into its stainless steel cavity, and hit the “infuse” button.
Finally, the Nova FX can also be used as an oven to actually bake single-serving edibles by combining the ingredients in a cupcake liner, and baking them. Having all three of these functions in a single device allows you to make high-potency edibles without taking up a lot of counter or shelf space. It’s an efficient way to maximize your pleasure without sacrificing any quality.
Nova FX, $350, available at Ardent
5. A Vegan, Gluten-Free Chocolate Edibles Kit
The best part of baking with pot (besides the end result), is getting to spend time in the kitchen. If you’re not an active home cook, Marijuana Group’s Chocolate Box is a fool-proof way to make tasty, good looking treats.
The kit comes with directions, dosing recommendations, enough ingredients for eight chocolates, THC extraction supplies, and a silicon cannabis leaf mold. All of the ingredients in this kit are vegan, gluten-free, and have low sugar content, so they’re a good choice for people with many common dietary restrictions.
You can only use the ingredients in this kit once, but the recipe and tools will allow you to make additional batches if you like the way they turned out.Music, Film, TV and Political News Coverage ]]>