Cannabis can be enjoyed in an immense variety of ways, and the method you choose often depends on the experience you wish to have. For those who enjoy smoking cannabis rather than popping in an edible or hitting a vape, some of the most common methods involve either rolling a joint or blunt or smoking via some sort of glass smokeware. With so many varieties of glass hand pipes and bongs available, however, choosing the right one for you can depend on a combination of factors.
Many consumers prefer the use of glass smokeware because of its ability to help control the temperature of both the cannabis and the smoke produced. Glass smokeware allows consumers the ability to fully enjoy cannabis products without worrying about burning their hands. In addition, the relative ease of use, wide availability, and a broad assortment of unique shapes and sizes allow those at all levels to enjoy their favorite cannabis products using glass smokeware.
Whether you are an experienced smoker or are looking forward to enjoying cannabis for the first time, this guide will help you decide what type of glass pipe may be best for you.
Types of Glassware Available
There are many different types of glassware available on the market, but by far, the most popular are glass hand pipes and water pipes, often referred to as water bongs or bubblers, depending on their size. A traditional glass pipe is simply a design that fits into the palm of your hand and incorporates a bowl in which the cannabis is placed and smoked, similarly to a tobacco pipe. Let’s break down each of these categories.
Hand pipes come in a huge variety of shapes and sizes, even more diverse than water pipes. They all share similar characteristics, including the ability to hold the pipe in one hand, a widened bowl for cannabis, a stem and mouthpiece for drawing and delivering smoke, and a seamless, one-piece construction. Common hand pipe shapes include the classic spoon pipe, the Sherlock pipe, and the steamroller, though many fun and unique shapes exist. Keep in mind, too, that most people consider bubblers and one-hitters to be hand pipes because they fit in the hand – but these variations are unique enough that we feel they deserve their own mention.
A water bong can range in size and shape from slightly bigger than the size of your hand, commonly known as bubblers, to larger apparatuses that must be placed on the floor and smoked from a standing position. What water bongs share is their general construction: all have a chamber in which water is placed, as well as a stem and mouthpiece to draw from, plus a removable bowl to hold the burning cannabis. As you draw on the mouthpiece and hold a flame to the bowl, oxygen is pulled into the bowl, burning the cannabis and producing smoke. The smoke is filtered through the water and often produces a smoother and tastier experience.
When considering which type of water pipe might be right for you, consider the functionality they were designed for and the way you intend to smoke. Larger water pipes are typically more conducive to smoking comfortably at home, whereas bubblers may work better for travel.
Also, how gorgeous is this Blue and White Porcelain Styled Vase Bong? And, for only $20, WORTH IT! Right?
These guys actually have a ton of cool glass bongs and pipes, check them out!
One-Hitters or Chillums
The third type of glass pipe is often referred to as a one-hitter, though the chillum is the most traditional word for describing this simple glass hand pipe. These on-the-go style pipes are often sought by those who are looking for a quick cannabis experience. They often resemble a cigarette in shape, though some are cone-shaped, but most are small enough to be concealed in the palm of the hand. Like other pipes available on the market, they come in many shapes and designs.
Everyone needs a little one hitter. These guys are super cute and very affordable.
What to Consider When Choosing Cannabis Glass Smokeware
Of course, the classification of your cannabis smokeware is not the only thing that will impact the decision you make when you’re searching for a new piece. There are several other factors that could impact not only your purchase but the smoking experience you have as well. Pay close attention to the following considerations.
Pipes and bongs have many variations, and as a result, they also can vary in pricing. Many people assume that a higher dollar value equates to a higher quality because we often think that the more expensive something is, the better it must be. However, choosing to spend a large sum of money based on this thought process could mean you are simply sending your money up in smoke. Like any consumer product, consider the price range you are comfortable with and look for products on the market that fit within that range.
Because there is such a variety of glass pipes, there is certainly a product that will meet the needs of every budget type. Matching the right price with some well-made, sturdy glassware within that price category will help you ensure that you have a durable piece that will improve your cannabis experience without breaking the bank.
Shape and Size
As you may have gathered, shape and size can affect the type of cannabis experience you’ll have in multiple ways. For those who prefer a more social experience, want to make the cannabis ritual last an extended period of time, or wish to experience a bolder hit, larger pipes may be the way to go. Larger pieces are also great for those who want a conversation piece to display in their home or those who want to create a welcoming environment in which others want to gather. However, if you’re looking for a quick smoke, portability, or wish to be more discreet in your usage, a smaller pipe may be better suited to meet your needs.
Outside of the primary classification of a cannabis smokeware piece and the general method you’ll need to use to smoke from it, its shape and size will also affect your choice in other ways. Choose a shape and size that not only fit your personal aesthetics but are comfortable for you to hold and use. These factors also impact your ability to keep your pipe clean, which helps to improve the smoking experience.
Accessories for glass pipes can help to improve your smoking experience and may even add a little convenience to your smoking session. Some accessories are essential tools that help keep your pipe clean, such as a poker that is designed to help remove the ash and buildup from your pipe after you’re finished. If you are looking for accessories that help you on the go, some pipes may come with travel cases that allow you to take your pipe with you.
Screens are another common accessory that many feel is up for debate. While some feel it may not be completely necessary, others prefer its ability to prevent the inhalation of cannabis pieces. If you do wish to purchase a pipe with a screen, or alternatively, a screen as an accessory, ensure that your screen fits appropriately so that it functions as it should. One tactic is to insert the screen and use heat to create tackiness that will hold the screen in place. Some screens will come with adhesive, while others can be affixed using a small amount of saliva.
Does glass quality matter in bongs?
Many people weighing the previous factors, particularly the size and price point of their preferred glass cannabis smokeware, wonder if the glass quality matters in bongs? The answer is an unequivocal yes, even when it comes to smaller pipes like hand pipes and one-hitters. In fact, of all of the factors to consider when purchasing a glass pipe, the quality of the glass used to make the pipe is arguably the most important.
Not all glass is created equal, and knowing the difference between high-quality and mid-grade glass is important. After all, high-quality glass means a high-quality smoking experience. Even more critically, you’ll be using this particular piece to hold and heat a substance you’ll be taking into your body – quality is a key way to ensure you’re inhaling your cannabis smoke safely.
Purchasing a lower-quality glass pipe can be tempting because it may be more affordable. However, even if they don’t cause a safety hazard, lower-quality products often have an adverse impact on the cannabis experience. The quality of the pipe can impact the way it feels and how durable it is when exposed to heat.
So, how can you tell if a bong is good quality?
Knowing if your glassware is of good quality comes down to several factors:
While not all quality glass smokeware is made in the USA, it is one way to ensure the glass is not made in a factory where as many glass pieces are made as quickly and cheaply as possible. Since it can be difficult to trace the origins of imported glass smokeware, it is often difficult to ensure the piece was made by a skilled glass craftsman with quality standards and materials. Whether you choose USA-made products or those from one of the many talented imported sources, be sure you can get some clarity on whether your piece was made with high-grade glass in a clean workspace with strict quality standards.
Type of Glass
Borosilicate glass is the most recommended glass for crafting cannabis smokeware, as it is both sturdy and heat resistant. Some cheaper forms of glass will crack or break under heat. Look for scientific-grade borosilicate for the best smokeware.
Another quality to look for is the thickness of the glass. Check over any glass cannabis smokeware you buy to ensure that the glass is of a uniform thickness all the way through. This is not only indicative of quality work but helps you ensure you won’t have any hot or weak spots in your smokeware. Tap on the glass throughout the pipe with your fingernail to identify any weak, thin areas – you should be able to feel the vibrations change and hear an audible difference when you hit a weak spot.
When you’re purchasing a piece of glass smokeware, check it over for any other noticeable flaws.
These are common areas that may indicate poor quality glasswork:
- Thin or weak joints – joints and lips on seamed pieces like bongs should be thicker and sturdier than the rest of the pipe since these are the spots that experience the most force.
- Questionable welds – similarly, the spots where two pieces of glass are fused together should be uniform and strong. Avoid pipes with tons of bubbles in the welds, as they are weaker and more susceptible to breaking.
- Tiny carb holes – bowls and hand pipes with carbs should have mid-sized holes that are larger than the bottom hole so the bowl can be cleared without difficulty.
- Surface scratches and dents – lots of small scratches and dents in the surface can indicate poor or rushed glasswork.
If you’re in doubt, ask the retailer about the maker, the source, and the type of glass, as well as any other questions you might have. You can also ask them to direct you to a quality piece. If they avoid your questions or don’t seem in the know, you may want to choose another supplier.
Cleaning a Glass Pipe
One final aspect to consider about your new glass pipe is its cleanliness. Using a dirty pipe coated with tar, ash, and bits of resin can significantly impact the taste and smoothness of the smoke. When properly cleaned and stored, your glass pipe can last for years and allow you to enjoy your cannabis each and every time.
First things first: tap your pipe and scrape out any large pieces of debris. There will be some residue left behind, which you’ll attack in the next step. However, if there is a great deal of residue, you may want to try putting your pipe in the freezer and scraping out the hardened residue with a toothpick or brush.
Remember: even though your pipe is made from glass, avoid putting it in the dishwasher. You should always spend time handwashing your pipe to ensure it is completely cleaned.
The simplest way to clean a piece of glass smokeware is to use a pot of boiling water. If you’ve frozen your pipe to remove residue, run it under warm water before placing it in a pot of gently boiling water to avoid any extreme temperature changes. Turn the water to medium-low, then allow it to soak for 30 minutes. Continue to add water if needed to ensure the pot doesn’t boil dry and crack your pipe. You can add boiling time if needed to loosen any remaining residue.
If you’d rather soak your pipe in a cleaning solution, place it in a plastic zipper bag and pour in some rubbing alcohol, hydrogen peroxide, or white vinegar. Alternatively, use a commercial cleaning solution designed for glass smokeware. Add a little baking soda and kosher salt. Zip the bag up and shake to scrub away resin, then soak it for up to 12 hours for stubborn stains.
When most of the residue has loosened, rinse with warm water again and remove any remaining residue with a cotton swab or specially designed brush. If there are large pieces, use a toothpick or specially designed pipe cleaner to help remove them before brushing again. Conduct a final warm water rinse and let dry.
I recommend this Advanced Glass Cleaner by Formula 710.
Choosing the Right Glass Smokeware
From cleanliness to price and quality, there is certainly a lot to consider about glass smokeware. If you are looking for a positive cannabis smoking experience, take some time to ask questions and determine your smokeware’s quality before purchasing. Considering price may be a priority, but it’s important to also consider the investment that you are making. After all, the wrong pipe choice may leave you feeling low, but the right one will lift you to the highs you are looking for.
There may not be a single best pipe on the market, but there is a best pipe for you. Similarly, even if smoking isn’t always your chosen cannabis experience, there are plenty of other methods of consumption and types of cannabis products out there! Keep searching and you’ll find the right one for you!