When it comes to smoking, nothing beats a nice glass pipe. Silicone, metal and other materials may get the job done but the right glass pipe will give you the cleanest, smoothest hit without chemicals and outside flavors contaminating the brew. When it comes to choosing the right one, it's important to know what details will contribute to the best quality. Not every glass pipe is created equal. In fact, some may be downright dangerous or, at best, a waste of money. Maybe you’re using it for medical purposes or perhaps purely recreationally. Either way, it’s an item you’re planning to use often that will affect your general quality of life so it’s important to really know what you're getting.
The Beauty of Borosilicate
The first and possibly the most important factor is durability. Glass breaks. A glass pipe made from flimsy, thin glass with visible flaws and thin joints is going to cause you problems. You want to know with which kind of glass your pipe is made. Borosilicate glass (“German Schott glass”) has a high silica content and quartz is just pure silica. These kinds of glass are going to be the most durable by far, being less breakable and more tolerant of higher levels of heat. Borosilicate won't interfere with the taste of the hit either. Many pipes imported from India and China may have been made in production lines that use cheaper, more breakable glass. Pipes made in the U.S. are usually made with borosilicate or quartz.
Thick Joints Won’t Disappoint
The thickness of the glass matters too. It's good to be sure that the glass around the pipe is not just thick but evenly distributed. Having sturdy thick joints is good because this can be where breaks happen. Glass that is blown (versus glass from a production line) is usually thicker. Glass that contains art may have varying levels of thickness in some places but as long as the pipe as a whole is thick and generally even in glass distribution this is fine.
The Importance of Annealing
Glass also needs to be annealed. This is the process that involves cooling down the glass slowly. Annealing ensures that the temperature evens out through the piece and relieves internal pressure on the piece rendering it harder to break. Glass that hasn't been annealed has trouble coping with far less intense changes in temperature. In fact, glass that has not been annealed can break just from being left in a cold room overnight or taking a flame to it. If glass isn't annealed it will be very unstable.
Reviewing Your Glass Pipe for Minor Flaws
Check your pipe for flaws. Make sure the holes are smooth and made with a torch as opposed to a glass cutter that could leave shards behind. Make sure there aren't any dents or troubling areas of thinness. Having checked all this, it’s time to think about design. If the look of your pipe is important, you might want to consider that some glass blowers may not use borosilicate or quartz but they still use high quality glass at a thickness level that will make your pipe durable. It's important to choose a pipe that will cater to your needs. Spending more upfront will often be cheaper in the long run so if you can get a pipe now that suits all your needs, you can look forward to frequent use over the years.