There are two basic things to know about glass cannabis pipes and bongs. The first is that each serves a specific purpose useful to those who choose to inhale their cannabis. The second is that, thanks to some of the incredible artists out there, they’re highly popular as collectibles too.
The avid consumer can find endless entertainment with bubblers, that come with double or triple chambers and ice reservoirs, designed to cool the smoke and offer a full range of inhaling experiences. Styles and colors abound, from the simple and elegant cannabis pipes, to the wild and imaginative. From a cheap glass pipe, to a unique glass pipe.
What’s so Great about a Glass Pipe?
Glass pipes, like all other pipes, are built for inhaling purposes. Some people use them to smoke standard tobacco. Others enjoy cannabis or hemp flower. It’s all about personal preference. But the great thing about glass pipes, as opposed to wood or clay ones, is that there are no competing flavors to deal with. Wood and clay influence the flavor of your smoke; something that was previously appreciated in the smoking world, but which is fast becoming unpopular.
The modern consumer is looking for a clean smoking experience; one that doesn’t alter or affect the original product in any way, which is why glass pipes are growing in popularity, particularly within the cannabis community. The purer the experience, the better. Consumers want to taste the strain they buy in their cannabis glass pipes and not the pipe they smoke it in.
How are Glass Pipes made?
Most marijuana glass pipes are crafted by hand using a process that involves blowing the glass into a large bubble, applying regular hexagonal patterns of clear glass to the bubble, and then collapsing it back down into a compact, pipe-like form.
While wood and clay pipes tend to be mass-produced, the glass pipe is a work of art; a unique artisanal composition that ensures that no two cannabis smoking pipes are ever the same. It’s for this reason that the glass pipe is the kind of accessory that cannabis fanatics go wild for.
Cool Colors in Glass Pipes
The range of colors found on a glass pot pipe are created by blowing bubbles into larger melds of clear glass. Some glass blowers choose to weave heated blades of glass together, as though weaving a tapestry. Sometimes cold, colored glass is crushed to make a powder and then rolled into hot, melted glass, layer upon layer to build up some incredible psychedlic effects.
Sandblasters are sometimes used to etch intricate patterns into a semi-finished cannabis glass pipe. A popular technique, known as fritting, is used to leave tiny flecks of crushed, colored glass within the finished piece. The fuming process is another method used to produce color-changing glass.
Gold, silver, cobalt, and a variety of other metal vapors are blown directly through the glass as the pipe is being created. The result here is a very faint metallic tint, but with age and use the trapped metal begins to show more vividly. While silver fuming tends to produce a slightly yellow tint that turns blue with age and use, cobalt fuming produces a deep blue, and gold fuming starts off pink in tone before then assuming a golden hue over time.
Glass Pipes made from Cold Cuts
But hot glass isn’t always needed to create awesome-looking glass pipes. A large variety of glass pipes can be crafted by cutting and polishing large chunks of cold glass into the shapes desired. Glass pipe artisans who use the cold-cutting method make use of a lapidary wheel when working and the artistry involved is similar to the way in which gemstones are crafted.
Cold-cut glass pipes fall into five basic shapes:
A chillums, or hand pipe, is the most basic glass pipe shape available. Small, simple, and tube-like, consumers pack their cannabis or tobacco into the end of the pipe, light, and inhale. Nice and simple. However, they never come with a carburetor, which means the smoke isn’t easily cleared, and you can only smoke small amounts of cannabis or tobacco at a time. A bit of a drawback for heavy smokers.
For a cold-cut pipe that’s a little more spohisticated than a chillum, most smokers turn to spoons, which do come with a carburetor. The carburetor on a spoon pipe is nothing more than a simple hole, but it still allows for all the smoke in the pipe to be inhaled quickly. A common opinion, shared by many smokers, is that pipes with carburetors offer a much fresher, lighter, and more enjoyable smoke.
Steamrollers are lots and lots of fun. They come equipped with bowls, better referred to as glass on glass fittings, that attach onto one side of the pipe. Both pipe ends are open, with the open end closest to the bowl functioning as a carburetor.
Super advanced steamrollers also have what’s known as chambers – small spaces between the bowl and the mouthpiece – where the smoke “rolls over” and cools down. The only thing that newbies should be aware of, is that steamrollers are big glass pipes have a tendency to eject hard, hot, rips at times. In short, practice makes perfect when it comes to the steamrollers. But they’re worth the extra effort… believe us!
Pipes built for the likes of Sherlock Holmes or Gandalf
Seasoned smokers love these beautiful cannabis pipes. The classic Sherlock pipe comes with a characteristically large bowl and a beautifully arched stem. Gandalf pipes are similar to look at, but the stems are always much longer and far more elegant. Sorry, Sherlock!
Both pipes can come with or without carburetors and both offer an unfiltered smoking experience. Essentially, this means that the smoke itself can taste harsh at times, because of the tars and resins that come along with each puff. Even so, chillums, spoons, and steamrollers, are also unfiltered smokes, so if elegance is your game, then we recommend going for a Sherlock or a Gandalf regardless.
Just the name of this cold-cut pipe is fun, but the best thing about a bubbler is that the harsh tars and resins are filtered out. Sometimes referred to as the water pipe, bubblers diffuse the smoke through water before it reaches the consumers lips ready to be inhaled. Cool, right?
The chamber of a bubbler is sometimes filled with hot water, because the heat adds more water vapor to the smoke and improves the taste experience, but cold water is usually the standard. In fact, there are some seasoned smokers out there who use ice when smoking through a bubbler, which can be a real special experience for your lungs. Give it a try!
Where do Glass Pipes come from?
The origins of manufactured glass first date back to arond 1500 BC when the Babylonians were overrun by the Kassites, when the bronze helmets were first being used in Crete, and the pharaohs of the New Kingdom were reuniting Egypt. All civilizations mentioned were in the business of making glass.
Colored glass jewelry, small glass containers, and widely considered to be highly valuable, glass was (and maybe still is) notoriously difficult to craft and manipulate, particularly with the rudimentary materials and equipment available that was available at the time.
But when the blowpipe was invented, somewhere around 30 BC, glass suddenly became easier and cheaper to produce.
Who needs a Glass Pipe?
If you love the taste of tobacco or cannabis and you want to continue exploring that taste experience, then a glass pipe is definitely for you. This is because glass is a non-porous and non-combustible material, which means it adds nothing to your smoke. However, if you’re someone who inhales cannabis for medicinal purposes, but you’re not really a fan of the smoking experience, then it’s doubtful that a glass pipe will do anything for you.
If you’re a lover of all things artistic, then maybe you’d be happy to own a glass pipe purely for aesthetic purposes. Glass can be clown into truly fantastical shapes, including ragons, unicorns, serpents, mushrooms, animals, flowers, and the list goes on. Beautiful colors, intricate patterns, curved forms, can all be attractive on the eye, and tempt you to buy even if you don’t intend to smoke with it.
In practical terms, the glass pipe eliminates the need for paper and traditionally-rolled cigarettes. Pure in flavor and free from the toxins that are inhaled from burning rollup paper, or from wood used in a traditional pipe, they could also be said to be the healthier option.
To Have a Pipe, or To Not Have a Pipe
Plain and simple, glass offers a purer, cleaner, less toxic smoke. Glass pipes are fun, creative, and beautiful. They’re easy to clean, great for sharing, and they come in all shapes and sizes. So, you’re never a bored smoker when you have a glass pipe to hand.
Glass is fragile. It breaks easily. The internal stresses developed in a curvy glass pipe, though not visible to the naked eye, can cause the pipe to shatter. While there are certain techniques employed by glassblowers to help strengthen the glass used to create the best cannabis pipes, you still have to be careful when smoking with a glass pipe.
Taking Care of your Glass Pipe
Small glass pipes need to be cleaned more offten than larger designs. The smaller surface area of a small glass pipe means that tar and resin accumulates faster and creates a thicker coating within a shorter time frame.
Bubblers are also prone to the development of scum formation on the surface of the filtration water. The tar and resin have a difficult time finding purchase on an absolutely clean glass surface. When they can’t accumulate on the glass, they accumulate on the surface of the water. Just so you know.
If you don’t clean your glass pipe regularly, the tars and resins will quickly begin to affect the taste of the smoke. They will also inhibit the airflow through the pipe and leave your pipe looking unattractive and less hygienic, which will end up being a real turn off for friends if you enjoy smoking in company.
How to Clean your Glass Pipe
When cleaning a glass pipe, there are two main methods to choose from. The first involves boiling the pipe in a large pot. The second, and arguably the easier of the two, is to soak the pipe in 91% or higher alcohol and salt. In general, two parts alcohol, one part salt, is an effective combination.
If you choose to boil, rest assured that boiling your pipe won’t damage it in any way. Resin will be immediately removed from places that simply can’t be accessed with a brush or pipe cleaner. BUT… never drop a glass pipe into boiling water. The sudden change in temperature could cause the glass to crack. The pipe needs to heat up gradually as the water heats. When done in this way, everything should go to plan.
Allow the pipe to cool down naturally in the water before removing and dump the dirty water down the drain. You can then gently scrub away at any remaining resin depots with a brush or a pipe cleaner should that be necessary.
If you choose to clean with alcohol and salt, place the mixture in a large plastic bag, add the pipe, and then shake well so that the salt crystals begin to scrub away at the tar and resin. You can then use a Q-tip to scrub the pipe with the alcohol-salt mixture, in order to work on those areas that need a little extra help. Rinse with clean alcohol, then rinse again with clean water, and you’re done.
Cautions and Tips
In general, the only thing you really need to worry about when it comes to a glass pipe is mishandling it, or cleaning it incorrectly, both of which resulting in shattered glass. However, when it comes to bubblers, bear in mind that they are fairly notorious for accidental spills, and the problem is that bubble water can leave a really nasty smell on clothes, household materials, and the like.
What’s more, be careful not to cough when inhaling from a bubbler. The insertion of air can damage the bowl. On the flip side, drawing in too strongly from a bubbler can result in filtration of water into the mouth. Bubbler water does not taste good. Trust us!
Bringing it all together
So… if you love to smoke, if you love a full-flavored experience, if you love art, and if you love to smoke with others, glass pipes are super cool and you need to get one. An, in particular, bubblers are great for the more adventurous among us. But take care of your pipe. Roll-ups are easy. Glass pipes are for life… or something like that.