A great glass water bong or hand pipe is crucial for any smoker out there, but not all glass pieces are created equal. Recently, there has been a surge of knock-off, imported glass making its way onto the market through websites like DHGate and other "Ebay-like" companies. These e-commerce sites, primarily based in China, thrive off of incredibly low cost for manufacturing, allowing them to sell products that look the part but don't last nearly as long as quality pipes and glass accessories.
Every day, there are more and more glass sellers appearing all over the web, trying to capitalize on the rapidly expanding legal cannabis industry. You can type in "cheap glass water pipe" to any search bar and have thousands of hits pop up, with only a fraction of those representing legitimate brands that provide quality products.
The main issue when it comes to all these cheaply manufactured glass pieces is not that they are inexpensive. There has always been a lot of cheap glass available if you knew where to look. A lot of these manufacturers tend to try and craft carbon copies of popular glass brands and pass them off as authentic. This is the real issue here. Much like with the electronic cigarette industry, glass manufacturers are producing clones that look like the real deal, but have so many issues with no real safety precautions. And consumers are not aware that what they are buying may end up being detrimental to their health.
Operation Pipe Dreams
The domestic glass scene has not always been as thinned out as it has been recently. It used to be hopping with countless manufacturers that pumped out awesome hand pipes and water bongs that did not break the bank. But, the federal government ruined any hopes of continuing that trend when they implemented "Operation Pipe Dreams."
In February 2003, on a day popularly referred to as Black Monday, the federal government in the United States raided hundreds of homes and businesses, leading to the indictment of 55 individuals tied to the glass pipe industry. Famous cannabis proponent and actor Tommy Chong was among those taken into custody, and ended up being the only individual incarcerated; Chong spent nine months in a federal prison while the majority of the others were only fined or sentenced to house arrest.
The downfall of the States-based glass industry in 2003 is the primary reason behind Chinese products garnering so much attention. Chinese glass companies avoided the hardships presented by the United States government, and allowed cannabis users a cheap alternative to the underground glass blowers still kicking after Operation Pipe Dreams. Because many glass manufacturers were driven underground, their prices skyrocketed, essentially handing the industry over to Chinese imports.
Why Some Cheap Chinese Glass Is Bad
When buying any kind of glass pipe, the old proverb that "you get what you pay for" is very much true. If you happen to find an identical piece to one that you can get from a reputable online headshop for a quarter the price through DHGate (or some other China-based distributor), then you have to question the quality of the material.
The main issue with many Chinese glass manufacturers is that they cut corners in order to get the price of the end product down as much as possible. As an example, take a look at the cross-section of the Chinese-manufactured glass hand pipe down below. A surefire way to tell that this is a bunk piece is all the acute angles between the colored glass and the outer shell of the piece itself. These small imperfections are tied to rushing through and mass-producing pieces and lead to almost instantaneous cracking as soon as something hard bumps the piece or it takes a little tumble.
American-made pieces, and those that come from legitimate companies, are not nearly as prone to cracking and shattering because they are built to withstand regular use. Chinese imports are all about capitalizing on return customers by shelling out cheaply made hunks of junk that can't stand up to the average legal cannabis user. Domestic pieces are the way to go when it comes to ensuring a quality pipe every single time.
Some Chinese Glass Is Great
Despite the overwhelming negativity surrounding China-based manufacturing, not all Chinese glass companies are out to provide low-quality products. Some of these Chines manufacturers are actually producing quality pieces at reasonable prices! The catch is, you never really know what to look for to find those needles in the proverbial haystack. Especially with websites like DHGate, it is incredibly hard to sift through all the crud to find that gem of a piece that you just can't live without.
Your best bet to find reputable Chinese glass companies is to keep a look out on respected online headshops like SmokeSmith Gear. SmokeSmith Gear is determined to provide consumers access to quality glass water bongs, hand pipes, bubblers, and everything in between from manufacturers all over. Every domestic or internationally sourced piece is put through extensive testing to ensure that they are up to snuff and ready for regular use. As long as you stick with a trusted online headshop, you won't go wrong with the piece you choose. It's only when you run across those deep discount, bargain deals that you should take a step back and question the product. Remember, you get what you pay for.