Water pipes, bongs, bubblers, dab rigs, spoons, and sherlocks. Each style has features that make it unique, and they serve different purposes, different moods and different materials. This is the reason most smokers have a collection of pieces. But the one thing all these pipes share in common is that they are made of glass.
However, not all glass pipes are created the same. The market today is flooded with shoddy pieces and knockoffs. Understanding the key attributes that make for a quality piece of glass will make you a better consumer and save you some heartbreak. To that end we present this article that explores the elements of a quality bong or hand pipe.
What Are The Elements Of A Quality Bong or Pipe?
The first factor to examine when looking for a quality bong or pipe is the thickness of the glass. While it might be a simplification to say that the thicker the glass the higher the quality, there is some truth to it. Most bongs, dab rigs and bubblers that are worth considering are at least 4mm thick (glass bong are typically measured in millimeters), though they can go up to 9mm for certain brands. We recommend looking for 5mm or more (almost every water pipe we sell meets this standard). It is also important to look for a very thick, sturdy base, as this is the main support of the piece and what keeps it from tipping over too easily. A thick mouthpiece is also typically a hallmark of a quality piece. Like the base, the mouthpiece needs to be durable because it is the part of the bong that is most often grabbed and handled.
Thickness is critical because water pipes are, by their nature, fragile. They are at risk to being dropped, to being knocked over and to being shaken vigorously when they are cleaned. The last thing you want is a piece so thin that it breaks from normal wear and tear. Investing in a thick glass bong or water pipe may cost a bit more at the time of purchase but it will last much longer, and will pay off in the long run.
Type Of Glass
Another important factor is the type of glass used. While cheaper pipes, bongs and rigs are made from “regular glass” (which is made with soda lime), most high quality water pipes are crafted with borosilicate glass. If that terms sounds scientific that’s because it is. Borosilicate is made with silica and boron trioxide as the main glass-forming ingredients. And the main benefits are durability and resistance to heat and extreme temperature changes. Regular glass can actually melt, but borosilicate bongs, pipes and dab rigs can stand up to the heat of lighters and butane torches, and the temperature change that occurs when you add ice or snow to the tube.
Glass On Connections
Another factor to examine are the 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.
Glass hand pipes, such as spoons, sherlocks, and one hitters, should also be inspected for thickness. But unlike water pipes, which are typically made from the same glass tubes of uniform thickness, hand pipes are blended, which gives them a more artistic and unique appearance. As such many quality hand pipes do not provide millimeter thickness measurements in their specs.
One thing to pay attention to is curvature. The more straight a pipe the sturdier it will be. Curves and bends are spots that may not be as thick as others. Straight and narrow one-hitters feature the sturdiest designs. It’s also a good idea to inspect the holes of a hand pipe. The carb hole and mouthpiece should be large enough for easy drawing (and easy cleaning) while the bowl hole should be small, as this prevents debris and ash from getting in your mouth.