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A beginner’s guide to glass

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Contents

  1. Why glass?
  2. Main types of glass pipes on the market today
  3. Glass made in U.S. vs glass made in China
  4. Scientific glass vs. artisan glass
  5. 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

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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.

Why glass?

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

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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

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

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Bongs

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

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Bubblers

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

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Chillums

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

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

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

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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

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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.

Different Types of Bongs and Their Benefits Explained

There are so many ways to get your THC or CBD fix these days—blunts, joints, thai sticks, edibles, wax, oil, the list goes on and on. Despite many of these new and novel approaches to cannabis use, one thing remains constant: the bong is the go-to choice for marijuana smoking. But just as there are many different ways to consume cannabis products, there are many different types of bongs to choose from.

Source: Anabolicmen.com

Here at Honest Marijuana, we want you to be an informed consumer. We want you to know the difference between a blunt and joint. We want you to know all the weed terms. And we want you to know the difference between a percolator bong and a gravity bong. That’s why we’ve created this guide to the types of bongs available for your smoking pleasure.

Let’s start by discussing the various materials from which bongs are made so you can see the benefits and drawbacks of each. After that, we’ll move into the numerous bong designs you have to choose from.

Bong Materials

Glass

Glass is the most popular material used to build bongs. It provides a clean, pure taste because the glass doesn’t affect the flavor of the smoke. Glass is very easy to monitor for resin buildup because it’s transparent. It’s also very easy to clean when the buildup becomes a problem. Because of these factors, glass bongs are often more expensive than bongs made from other materials.

Plastic

Plastic is probably the second-most popular material for making bongs because it is extremely durable. You can drop a plastic bong during a coughing fit and the only damage done will be the water stain on your carpet. Plastic bongs are also fairly cheap when compared with other materials. Bongs made from plastic are great for traveling because they are difficult to break and don’t shatter or crack like glass or ceramic. The only downside of plastic bongs is that they might affect the taste of your smoke slightly.

Ceramic

Ceramic bongs tend to be heavier and more robust when compared to the other materials on this list. For that reason, and their general fragility, ceramic bongs don’t usually travel well. They do, however, come in all sorts of novelty shapes, sizes, and colors thanks to the fact that clay is extremely malleable and easy to work with. Ceramic bongs are usually a bit more expensive than plastic bongs because of the work that goes into making them. Though a ceramic bong might not be your daily smoker, they are certainly great for special occasions or to display in a cabinet or on a shelf.

Bamboo

Bamboo is another popular material from which bongs are made. Bamboo bongs can range from pretty basic—just a tube of bamboo sealed at the bottom—to fancy and ornate with metal, varnish, and paint incorporated into the design. Bamboo is also very durable meaning that your bamboo bong will pretty much last forever if you treat it right.

Metal

Metal is also used to make bongs although the practice is not as common as glass or plastic. Metal is very durable and long-lasting. It’s also pretty cheap. The downside of metal bongs is that they can affect the taste of your smoke and you never really know when it’s time to clean them.

Bong Designs

Now that we’ve discussed the materials from which bongs can be made, we’ll move to the bong design. Each of the bongs below could could be built from any of the materials above, although some materials are more common than others thanks to their ease of use.

1. Carburetor Bongs

Your bong will either have a hole in the middle somewhere, or it won’t. If your bong does have a hole, it’s a carburetor bong. If there is not hole, it’s not a carburetor bong. Pretty simple, no? Carburetors are not necessary to the design of the bong, but many feel that carburetor bongs produce a much more intense hit. This is because, when you release your finger, the carburetor hole allows fresh air into the pipe. This fresh air forces the smoke into your lungs more rapidly and makes it easier to inhale all the contents of the pipe.

2. Straight-Tube Bong

Source: Grasscity.com

Straight-tube bongs are the simplest design available. They consist of a simple tube sealed at one end with a stem and a bowl poking out of the side. You pour a bit of water in the tube, place your ganja in the bowl, and go. It’s simple, straight-forward smoking at it’s best.

3. Beaker-Shaped Bong

Source: Weedlore.com

The beaker-shaped bong is similar to the straight-tube bong except that the bottom is flared into a cone shape that looks like a beaker. Hence the name. Beaker bongs are more stable than straight-tube bongs because they have a larger base. The smoking process is the same: just add water, cannabis, and fire and you’re good to go.

4. Round-Base Bongs

Source: Freshbongs.com

Round-base bongs are similar to beaker bongs in that the base is wider than the tube and the mouthpiece. Round-base bongs, as the name suggests, have a sphere-shaped water chamber with a flat base. They are more stable than straight-tube bongs, but slightly-less stable than beaker bongs because the flat surface is smaller. Regardless of the shape—straight, beaker, or round—the basic mechanics of using them are the same.

5. Multi-Chamber Bong

Source: Grasscity.com

A multi-chamber bong, sometimes called a recycler bong, is a variation of the straight-tube bong (although the chamber can come in various shapes). In a multi-chamber bong, the straight tube is separated into two chambers connected by a tube or third chamber (you can see one of them on the right in the picture above). Both upper and lower chamber hold water so the smoke is filtered twice. This produces a much cooler, much smoother smoke than the straight-tube, beaker, or round-base bong can provide. Because of the complexity, multi-chamber bongs are more difficult to build. That makes them more expensive than the simpler builds on this list. Multi-chamber bongs are also harder to clean.

6. Percolator Bong

Source: BestBongReviews.com

A percolator bong, or bubbler bong, can be straight-tube, beaker-shaped, round-base, or pretty much any other shape you can imagine. The thing that makes them unique is that they contain a percolator. The percolator (shown up close below) is a piece of glass that dissipates the smoke before it passes through the water and causes a bubbling effect in the bong. Spreading the smoke out in that way helps to filter it better and cool it faster.

Source: Percolator-Bong.com

The percolator can be at the bottom of the bong (a single-chamber percolator), in another chamber (a multi-chamber percolator), or both (a multi-chamber, multi percolator). Because of the complexity of this type of bong, they can be difficult to clean, not to mention more expensive.

7. Bucket Gravity Bong

Gravity bongs rely on the vacuum that water leaves behind when it leaves an enclosed space. Gravity bongs come in two types: bucket and waterfall (which we’ll talk about next). The simplest version of the bucket gravity bong uses a plastic bottle and a bucket full of water. This is a fun project to try now and again, but if you use this type of bong regularly, you’ll probably want to purchase a professionally-built model. Check out the link here for detailed build instructions.

Source: TheWeedBlog.com

Once built and packed, you light the weed in the cap and slowly pull the water bottle out of the water being sure to stop before the bottle comes completely out. Pulling the bottle up creates a vacuum in the enclosed space on top of the water that pulls the smoke down into the bottle. When the bottle is full of smokey goodness, remove the cap and inhale the contents.

8. Waterfall Gravity Bong

The waterfall gravity bong is similar to the bucket gravity bong but instead of pulling the bottle up to create the vacuum, you drain the water out the bottom. Again, you can get detailed build instructions here.

Source: Reddit.com

When everything is assembled, light your cannabis and let the water drain from the bottle. As the water leaves, it pulls the smoke down into the bottle. When the water has completely drained, plug the hole with your finger or tape, remove the cap from the top, and inhale to your heart’s (or lung’s) content. As with the bucket gravity bong, you can make a waterfall gravity bong from household materials. But if you want to use it regularly, purchase a professionally-built glass or plastic model.

9. Homemade Bong

The gravity bongs discussed above make a nice segue into the wonderful world of homemade bongs. If you’re without your prized multi-chamber, multi-percolator, beaker-shaped glass bong, you can construct a simple substitute from everyday materials like fruit, water bottles, candy, building blocks, and even snow. They may not look as pretty as your colored-glass bong, but they’ll get the job done in a pinch.

Try Them All And See Which One You Like Best

Cannabis consumption is all about enjoying yourself. There’s no need to make smoking marijuana any more complicated than it has to be…unless you want to. That’s why we recommend trying all the different types of bongs we’ve discussed above. You’ll have fun doing it and you’ll find the bong that fits your needs just right.

Discover nine types of bongs for your smoking pleasure and learn the benefits of each design so your next toke session goes off without a hitch.