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Tuesday May 3, 2022

By Erin Hiatt

A wall of assorted and colorful glass bongs with different sizes and shapes. Education

If you’re a cannabis consumer who prefers to smoke out of glass pipes or bongs, you already know that not all glass is created equal. There are a lot of head shops out there — both online and in-person — who will tell you that every glass pipe they sell is great. So, how do you know how to actually spot the best glass and avoid getting ripped off when you're buying your next glass piece?

We’ve got a few tips that can help you to spot a gem, and get the best deal on it too!

Buying Glass Pipes

When buying a glass pipe for cannabis, the first thing to decide is exactly what type of pipe to buy. Do you smoke flower or concentrates? Different glass styles are more suitable for each one. Then there’s the question of whether you prefer a dry pipe or a water pipe. Experience will help you know the answers.

Generally, dry pipes are easier to use but not as smooth as a water pipe. For flower smokers, there are many types of dry pipes ranging from cigarette-sized one-hitters to popular glass spoon pipes, chillums, steamrollers, or longer Sherlock-style pipes.

Water pipes, also known as bongs, are very popular and range in extremes from tiny bubblers to human-height tubes. But most bongs fall within the 6-18 inch range. Flower consumers often look to diffuse and filter their smoke as much as possible, so glass pieces with one or more percolators and plenty of holes for diffusion are best for a smoother smoke.

A woman holding a miniature glass bong that is adorned with silver cannabis leaves with a black bottom and a metal down stem and bowl that is packed with ground green pot.
When shopping for a piece of glass, consider if you will be using it for flower or oil. photo credit

Concentrate consumers have almost as many glass options as flower smokers. Smaller styles of glass for concentrates include pen-style nectar collectors, mini-recyclers, and nano-rigs.

A glass dab rig is the standard for most concentrate consumers, but almost any medium or larger bong can be adapted to work for concentrates too, though you may end up sacrificing some flavor along the way. To use a flower bong as a dab rig, simply attach a quartz, glass, ceramic, or titanium nail where the bowl would go. While huge bongs can be adapted into dab rigs, keep in mind that smaller chambers are generally better for dabbing.

Choose High Quality Glass

There are plenty of appealing deals on seemingly decent-looking glass cannabis pipes, but don’t be fooled. There are a lot of flimsy, thin, or downright dangerous products out there. Look for thick borosilicate glass, the thicker the better. If you tend to be clumsy, look for a piece that has 9mm glass, if possible.

Mass-produced glass pieces made in China (the kind you might find on Amazon or eBay) have a specific reputation for being thin and poor quality. Chinese glass often has lead decals, can be painted inside with toxic paints, or factories may use prohibited methods — like drilling glass — that leave behind dangerous dust and cause long-term health problems.

When buying a glass cannabis pipe or bong, make sure it’s actually all glass. Cheaper bongs and pipes may be made with rubber or plastic joints, and metal bowls and metal or plastic downstems are also common on cheap water pipes.

Image of a black silicone bong that has a triangular beaker bottom and a down stem popping out the side with a glass bowl piece resting with weed burning and smoking rising from the green packed bowl.
Although silicone bongs are tempting because they cannot break, they are difficult to clean. photo credit

Regardless of how appealing a low price point may be, don’t waste your money on a mixed-materials piece. Rubber, plastic, silicone, and metal are difficult to clean and not as safe as glass under high temperatures. Well-made glass-on-glass joints are important to achieve a perfect seal on the pipe, so inspect the seal on any places where glass parts connect on the glass piece before buying, if possible.

To get the safest and sturdiest product, try to buy glass from a region with a well-established cannabis culture; American glass is well-known for its high quality. Glass from the Netherlands, Canada, Australia, Mexico, and many other countries are good bets, too. Better yet, check out your local cannabis scene. You may be surprised to find a talented glass artist in your own town!

Where to Buy a Glass Pipe

Glass art has become a huge cannabis cultural trend, and many glass artists are consumers themselves, so they understand what users want out of a glass piece. Additionally, many glass pipes, bongs, and rigs are true works of art that you can proudly display in your home.

While it's true that most hand-blown glass comes with a heftier price tag than mass produced pieces, buying one is still achievable. Head shops occasionally have great deals on glass smoking pieces from local artisans. Better yet, buy directly from the artist. Many glass artists use platforms like Instagram to promote their work. Try messaging them directly to ask for pricing on a piece. Cutting out the middle man can make a huge difference in the cost of hand-blown glass.

Get the Best Deal on Your Glass Smoking Pieces

Whether you buy from a glass artist or not, online is often the easiest way to get the best deal on a high quality piece. When buying online, you can easily compare the same product on different online head shops to ensure you’re getting the best deal.

Two hands near a silver laptop computer with one hand typing on the keyboard and the other holding a silver credit card.
More and more companies are coming online to sell there pieces of glass through e-commerce. photo credit

Social media is a great place to find deals on glass pieces. Look for cannabis glass accounts on Instagram or Facebook groups. eBay is great way to find high-quality second-hand pieces - but beware of new glass being sold on the platform, as the quality may be questionable. Whether you are buying in person or negotiating with an individual online, don’t be afraid to ask for a better deal or ask them to throw in additional accessories with your purchase.

Cost markups on glass can be high in head shops, so try asking for a discount or waiting for the piece to go on sale if you’ve got your eye on a specific piece. If it’s a branded piece, you can also get the name of the brand and search for a better price online.

Wrap Up

Finding the perfect glass piece can take some trial and error, broken glass, and coughing fits before you find the perfect solution for you. But smoking from glass is one of the best ways to preserve the full flavor of your cannabis and have a smooth and enjoyable smoking experience. Keep our tips in mind to get the best quality glass at a price that’s affordable for you.

Frequently Asked Questions

What Should I Look For When Buying a Glass Pipe?

The quality of the glass is important, so make sure you look for the words “lab-quality glass,” “scientific glass,” and/or “borosilicate glass.” Some glass pieces are more suitable for different types of products and preferences, so know what you’re looking for before you start looking.

What Do You Look For in a Spoon Pipe?

As with any pipe, look for one made of quality glass and the right size for your smoking preferences. Consumers love spoon pipes because they come in all different designs and colors, making it easy to find one that suits your personality, too.

Do you have any other tips and tricks when you’re buying glass? Get in touch in the comments below and let us know about them!

Photo Credit: Shutterstock


Erin Hiatt Erin Hiatt

Erin Hiatt is a New York City-based writer who has been covering the cannabis industry for more than six years. Her work - which has appeared in Hemp Connoisseur Magazine, PotGuide, Civilized, Vice, Freedom Leaf, MERRY JANE, Alternet, and CannaInvestor - covers a broad range of topics, including cannabis policy and law, CBD, hemp law and applications, science and technology, beauty, and psychedelics.

Erin's work and industry insights have been featured on the podcasts The Let's Go Eat Show, In the Know 420, and she has appeared as a featured panelist on the topic of hemp media. Erin has interviewed top industry experts such as Dr. Carl Hart, Ethan Nadelmann, Amanda Feilding, Mark A.R. Kleiman, Dr. James Fadiman, and culture icons Governor Jesse Ventura, and author Tom Robbins. You can follow her work on LinkedInWordpress, @erinhiatt on Twitter, and @erinisred on Instagram.

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