Tuesday July 26, 2016
Many people are unaware of where their glass smoking devices - waterpipes, pipes, rigs, etc,- are coming from and ultimately whose pocket they are putting money into when they are making their purchases. The truth is, there are substantial differences between glass which is made in America and glass which is mass-produced overseas and imported.
Now, it’s important to have an understanding of what American made glass is versus imported glass. American made glass is blown in the United States and is typically made with higher quality materials, including thicker glass. A lot of the time, glass artists blow these pieces individually by hand. On the other hand, glass which is imported is usually mass produced in another country, frequently out of thin and fragile glass, and is sometimes coated with paint, which may be dangerous or unhealthy to ingest, to mimic the look of colored glass.
The Popularity of Imported Glass
So, it’s understandable if you’re wondering to yourself why anyone would buy imported glass knowing the differences, and there are a few reasons. Generally speaking, imported glass is much more affordable than American made glass. Because it is mass produced, retailers can buy pieces in bulk and spend a fraction of the cost that it would be to buy similar products from an American company or glass artist. Additionally, because the glass is typically thinner on imported pieces, the cost of production for these pieces is significantly lower than American made pieces. This is most likely the number one reason why individuals choose to purchase imported glass.
Imported glass is more readily available in some areas than American made glass. In certain parts of the United States, head shops and places which sell smoking apparatuses are few and far between, and the ones that do exist make their profit by buying imported glass in mass quantities and selling those pieces individually. This leaves buyers who are located in these areas with two options: to either purchase the imported glass that is available to them or try and find a different piece on the Internet, which isn’t always an option.
Why People Choose American Glass
Typically, people who choose american made glass over imported glass are very vocal about and proud of their choice- they want to directly support the american economy, including the companies and individual artists who are selling the pieces. american made glass is also a popular choice due to the quality of the glass- many individuals who have had imported glass crack or shatter easily on them in the past don’t mind spending the extra money to invest in a quality piece made of thicker glass that will last them in the long run. it’s also important to keep in mind that many people view their collection of glass as a collection of art- and choose to buy american made glass which is blown by individual artists and contains a level of creativity, craftsmanship and attention to detail that is severely lacking in the imported glass.
While it won’t always be labeled outright if a piece was imported or blown in America, there are definitely indications: the thickness of the glass, the shape of the piece (often times imported glass may not have a completely flat bottom, making the piece lean or tilt slightly, which offers less stability and a greater risk of tipping and ultimately breaking the piece) and sometimes the price. If the price of a piece of glass seems incredibly low for the size of the piece, or just low in general, there’s a good chance that the piece is imported. While these are not foolproof methods to identify imported glass, they are good guidelines to stick to when trying to distinguish between American made and imported glass.
Which is Right for Me?
Whatever your individual situation is, and whatever your budget allows for, it’s important to be informed, educated and ultimately understand who you’re supporting when making purchases. When you buy American made glass, you are not only paying for a more quality piece, you are supporting the American economy-- either through an individual glass artist or an American-based company. However, when you purchase an imported piece, even if that piece was purchased at a headshop or glass gallery in America or through an American company, you are supporting the economy of whatever country the piece was imported from. While you may not be directly supporting their economy, your sale is supporting the supply-and-demand which keeps companies purchasing imported glass and takes those sales away from American glass artists and companies, and ultimately the American economy.
There are many really important and valid arguments for why American made glass is ultimately superior to imported glass. While the decision is yours to make, it’s important to keep in mind the quality of the glass you’re looking to purchase as well as the individuals or economy you want to be supporting, directly or indirectly, through your purchase. The first step to making your decision is to get informed- and you’re already there. The next step is to make your purchase- happy shopping!
Photo credit: Rafael Castillo