Things to Look for When Buying a Glass Pipe
Water pipes, dab rigs, spoons, and sherlocks, all perform a simple function. However, each has unique features, and buying a glass pipe can be a daunting task for beginners. They are all made of glass, but the quality is one of those things you should never sacrifice when purchasing a piece. However, quality glass comes is available at many different price levels; you don’t have to be the guy that drops hundreds on a rig just because it’s American-made and heady. Plenty of companies who have moved production to China and Europe have made glass affordable while maintaining quality designs and functions at a more affordable price.
Spotting quality can be difficult in an industry flooded with original designs and new concepts in functional glass. However, every glass piece has key attributes to look for when determining quality. Our tips to spotting quality glass pieces and buying a glass pipe can help you determine if a pipe is going to be hard to clean, how sturdy it will be, and how long it may last.
Water Pipes and Dab Rigs
When shopping around for water pipes and dab rigs, it’s important to examine thickness. Some pipes and rigs blown thicker than average may be labeled 5mm, 7mm, or in some cases 9mm. Others may not be labeled, but can still have thicker parts that are important for durability. A thick base and mouthpiece are essential to anyone looking for a good daily driver type of piece. Nobody wants to smoke out of something incredibly fragile looking every day. Anyone who has ever worked at a glass shop can tell you, glass is almost always broken while cleaning. This is why thickness is critical. When you clean glass, you sometimes have to shake vigorously to agitate the resins and gunk that build up. When doing this with thin glass over a ceramic sink, with hot water, and slippery hands… you get the idea. Things may not always go as planned, and a thicker pipe may protect you from a couple accidental drops and slips.
Other types of water pipes, like stemless rigs, may seem less sturdy in their design but provide a function that makes it easier to take care of. Having a stemless rig means no external downstem to clean and maintain. Stemless rigs often have a protruding vertical downstem that is attached to the pipe permanently near the base. These downstems are then supported by additional glass supports that should be thick and sturdy. Aside from thickness and quality connections, it’s also important to note glass on glass connections. While older pipes have rubber grommets affixing their downstems to the base, newer and more scientific style pieces are featuring what is known as a glass on glass connection. These connections allow the user to swap bowl pieces, dropdowns, downstems, adapters, vaporizers, and other attachments in a matter of seconds while also making a piece easier to clean and maintain.
Dry Pipes and Hand Pipes
Dry pipes, such as spoons, sherlock pipes, and one hitters, should also be inspected for thickness. Since water pipes are usually made from glass tubes that come in a certain thickness from a glass making facility, it’s easy to convey the specifications to the seller and consumer. Dry pipes are typically more artistically designed, unique, and crafted by blending multiple glass rods of different colors to achieve a certain look. These pipes may come out thick or thin depending on the glass blower and the amount of glass they’re willing to put into a piece. For someone looking to purchase a sturdy dry piece, you should look for a few things. First and foremost is curvature. The more straight and less curvy a pipe is, the sturdier the design. More curves and bends mean spots that may not be as thick as others, causing instability and a more fragile pipe. Straight and narrow one-hitters feature the sturdiest design of a dry pipe, while sherlocks tend to be the least durable. However, these rules do not apply to all pipes. There are many sherlock pipes that are blown extra thick to compensate for their weaker design, so don’t be immediately turned away from a nice Sherlock if you have your eye on it. Lastly, with dry pipes, it’s always good to inspect the holes. The Carb hole and mouthpiece should always be large for easy cleaning, while the bowl hole should remain small to prevent debris from getting in your mouth. No matter which type of dry pipe fits you best, these tips should help you along in becoming a glass expert and aid you in buying a glass pipe.
Remember, if it’s made of glass, thickness is the most important factor to look for. When in doubt, certain brands are known to represent quality and affordability such as Grav Labs and PURR Glass. Sometimes glass marked at high price points can function and feel good, but also can be fragile as a fine art piece. Whatever design and type fit you best, you should now be able to pick a quality pipe after a good visual inspection of its components, without the need to see it in person.