A beginner’s guide to glass
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- Why glass?
- Main types of glass pipes on the market today
- Glass made in U.S. vs glass made in China
- Scientific glass vs. artisan glass
- 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
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.
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
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 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
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
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
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 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 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
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
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.
Eye Protection for Indoor Growers: Love Your Eyes!
Do you grow cannabis indoors? If so, chances are you’re using grow lights to give your plants the light they need to thrive. One of the best parts of indoor growing is you get to produce the highest quality cannabis possible, and in the privacy of your own home. However, there is something to consider that most indoor growers never think about, and it’s really important…
Protect your eyes when growing marijuana indoors!
Indoor grow lights, especially high powered lamps like MH / HPS, LEC and LED grow lights, can be dangerous to the eyes of humans and pets if you are exposed to direct light.
Let’s go through a couple of simple steps you can follow to make sure you’re keeping your precious eyeballs safe while you’re under a high-powered grow light.
Tending to the garden exposes you to a lot of time under grow lights. It’s important to protect your eyes from high-powered lamps like MH, HPS, LEC and LED grow lights!
1.) Turn off grow light and hang a smaller light when working for extended periods
If you plan on spending more than a few minutes at a time with your plants (for example when training or watering your plants), then it can be a good idea to turn off the grow light for a little while. Another reason might be to protect your pet’s eyes while allowing them to be in the room with you. I know I enjoy letting my cat watch me work in the grow room (though if I look away too long she’ll nibble on the leaves!).
This is the small, battery-powered light I use when tending the garden. It comes with a strong magnet at the base so you can attach it to anything that’s metal, like a hood (keep away from your ballast if you have one built in) or the bars of your grow tent. As you can see from the picture below, it does a pretty good job of spreading light over a relatively large area.
Turn off the grow light when you plan on spending time in the garden and use a smaller light that will let you still see your plants clearly without causing strain on your eyes.
Any light will do as long it won’t easily fall onto your plants 🙂
Unplugging your grow lights should be all it takes to turn them off. If growing photoperiod plants, make sure not to accidentally alter your light schedule, and be careful not to unplug your timer if you’re using one! Note: It’s a good idea to wait at least 5 minutes between turning grow lights on and off to prevent unnecessary wear and tear on the bulbs and/or ballasts.
2.) Use Polarized Protective Glasses
If you’re going to be spending time near the grow lights while they’re running, the most important tool to safeguard your eyes is a pair of protective glasses. It’s a good idea to put them on even if you’re just going to peak in the tent. High-quality polarized sunglasses work great if you have a pair laying around.
If you’re looking for something more growing-specific, then you might consider getting sunglasses that are both protective and color correcting. Color corrective glasses not only protect your eyes, they allow you to see your plants in full color even under unnatural colored light from HPS or LED grow lights.
Protective glasses are especially important for…
MH or CMH / LEC grow lights – Metal Halide and Ceramic Metal Halide / Light Emitting Ceramic lights produce a beautiful, relatively natural colored light which allows you to easily see your plants in full color, but they also make UV rays. The extra UV light is good in that it may increase THC or trichome production on your buds, but it’s really bad for your eyes. Don’t skip getting protective eyewear if you’re using any of these types of grow lights with your plants!
- Get Apollo Horticulture Grow Room Glasses (super cheap generic version, works great) or Method 7 Metal Halide Plus glasses (much more expensive, but very high quality).
I own glasses from both companies. I do like the Method 7 ones better, as they’re sturdier and seem overall higher quality, but honestly, the Apollo ones work great and you just can’t beat the price! If you’re not sure which to get, I recommend going with the Apollo ones unless you really are looking for something that will stand up to a lot of wear and tear.
HPS Grow Lights – HPS grow lights are very electrically efficient and produce a LOT of light. The harsh yellow light can help promote flowering but makes it very difficult to see your plants in full color. This means that sometimes you might not notice problems like discoloration or yellow leaves for a few days. The great thing about protective eyeglasses for HPS is you can purchase glasses that actually correct the color of the light for you, so you see the plants in their full glory!
- Get Apollo Horticulture Grow Room Glasses (super cheap generic version, works great, though not as good at correcting yellow light) or Method 7 HPS Plus glasses (much more expensive, but very high quality and will make plants appear to be in full color).
This is what an HPS garden looks like through Method 7’s HPS Glasses . The cheaper Apollo Horticulture Grow Room Glasses aren’t quite as good at correcting color, but will definitely help a lot.
You can see all the leaves in full color while protecting your eyes. You can even take pictures through the lenses.
LED Grow Lights – LED grow lights typically produce a purple-ish light that can cause eye strain for some people and can make it difficult to see when your plant leaves are unhealthy. For example, if they’re yellow or discolored they may not appear any different under the LED lights. Some of the best LED grow models use lenses to help focus the light down onto the plants, which is great for yields, but can also cause the light to be focused in your eyes if you look at the LED the wrong way. Luckily there are glasses that are made to prevent eye strain, protect your eyes, and let you see your plants in full color even under LEDs.
- Get Apollo Horticulture LED Grow Room Glasses (super cheap generic version, works pretty well) or Method 7 LED Plus glasses (much more expensive, but very high quality). The cheaper Apollo LED glasses get the job done and the price is right!
This is what a cannabis plant looks like through Method 7’s LED Glasses. The Apollo Horticulture LED Grow Room Glasses are at least 80% as good and far cheaper.
3.) Wear a Wide-Brimmed Hat or Visor
Even when you’re wearing protective glasses, the grow lights can still beam down on your forehead and face while you’re tending your plants. This not only makes you hot, it’s not good for your skin and some light still gets to your eyes!
I always wear a hat in the grow room when the grow lights are on, especially if working directly under the lights. It not only makes you feel more cool and comfortable while you’re working, it also protects your skin and gives your eyes further shade. Even a baseball cap will help!
Make a habit of wearing a wide-brimmed hat or visor in the grow room when tending your plants under the grow lights
Spending time in the grow room is rewarding, and your plants love the attention, but when it comes to growing cannabis indoors, make sure you also consider your eyes!
High power indoor grow lights can be dangerous to the eyes of humans and pets. Let's go through a few simple steps to keep your precious eyeballs safe!