The SmokeSmith Gear Guide To Glass Hand Pipes

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Glass hand pipes are one of the more popular pieces of smoking gear.  Their small size and compact design makes them portable, discreet and easy to use. For this reason they are very popular among smokers.  They are also dead simple to use: Just load the bowl with legal dry herb, put your finger over the carb, light the bowl and inhale. 

Consumers in the market for a new glass pipe may find themselves slightly overwhelmed with choices, however.  There are a variety of shapes, style, colors and glassblowing techniques available. So we've prepared this guide to help you figure out which glass pipe is best for your needs and your collection.

Why Invest In A Glass Pipe?

Glass hand pipes come in every shape, style and color you can imagine. Some even change color as you use them. Others are made to glow in the dark. Because of the artistry put into their creation (and because there are countless styles to choose from), many smokers purchase multiple glass pipes, creating a large collection. Glass is a perfect material because it’s easy to clean and allows for the most eye-catching designs. Glass is a better conductor of heat and smoke than metal or stone, though there are very nice pipes made of these other materials as well.

The Five Main Glass Pipe Styles

Spoon Pipes
Spoon pipes are the quintessential, classic hand pipes, and they are likely the style that most people have smoked.  Quite likely a spoon pipe was your very first piece of smoking gear.  They are so named because their shape resembles a spoon. They traditionally have a bowl, a carb, and a mouthpiece. Because they’re small, they’re perfect for smoking on the go. They’re simple to use and are designed to  fit in your pocket or purse easily.

Sherlock Pipes
Named for and styled after the iconic, horn shaped that was used by the famous fictional 19th century English detective Sherlock Holmes, Sherlock pipes feature an extended tube that usually curves down and away from the smoker, putting the bowl lower and farther away from the mouthpiece. This keeps the flame away from your face and can help prevent you from accidentally singeing your skin or hair. Since they are typically larger and less portable than spoon pipes they’re harder to travel with and more suitable for home use.

For those who wish to smoke on the go and with discretion the best choice is a chillum (also known as a "one hitter" or a "bat").  Chillums
are fairly straightforward and usually consist of a tube and a bowl.  They do not have a carb, and thus they hit a bit heavier.  This simplicity of design is what makes them so attractive to smokers.  First used by Hindu monks and holy men in India, chillums are now considered a trendy and portable hand pipe style.

A steamroller is special type of hand pipe designed to offer big hits with little effort. Steamrollers feature a streamlined cylindrical design. The carb is positioned on the end of the pipe rather than the side of the bowl (as it with most other traditional glass hand pipes). When released, the position of this carb allows air to travel more easily through the pipe, guiding smoke into your lungs with very little resistance. A bonus feature on some steamrollers are the glass “feet” on the bottom of the pipe. These the help keep a steamroller from roller when placed  on a flat surface. This is handy when trying to pack the bowl or heat the nail (if you using a steamroller to consume legal concentrates).

Bubblers are unique among the glass hand pipe category because they offer water filtration (every other type of hand pipe offers are smoked dry). Bubblers offer the portability and discretion of a hand pipe with the filtered, clean hits of a water pipe. Of course, if you want to turn a bubber into a hand pipe just use it without adding the water (such as if you're traveling or at a concert). The flexibility of bubblers makes them an essential tool in every smoker's collection. Bubblers are perfect smoking on the go but they also and look (and work) great on a living room table!. Because bubblers are usually a bit more expensive than standard hand pipes, they tend to look more unique as they require a chamber to hold water. 

How To Clean Your Glass Pipe

To ensure the best and healthiest smoking experience possible you need to keep your glass pipes cleaning. If you don’t clean them periodically, tar and resin build up and this can effect the taste of the smoke. If gunk builds up a lot, it can even inhibit airflow through the pipe. There are two main methods for keeping a glass pipe clean.  They are:

    The Boiling Method
    With this method you rely on hot water to clean the glass.  The steps are as follows:

    1. Submerge your pipe in a large pot of water and bring to a boil.
    2. Let it boil till most of the resin is removed.
    3. Once this is complete, turn off the heat and let the pipe sit in the water until it’s cool enough to handle.
    4. Use a soft bristled brush to clean the bowl, carb and mouthpiece

    Note: Never place a glass pipe into boiling water as the extreme temperature change may crack or break the glass.

    Isopropyl Alcohol & Salt Method
    The second way to clean a pipe is to soak it in mixture of isopropyl alcohol and salt. The alcohol loosens the resin and the salt acts an abrasive.

    1. Mix two parts alcohol with one part salt and pour into a plastic bag
    2. Place the pipe into the bag
    3. Shake the bag vigorously. 
    4. Use Q-tips to clean the mouthpiece, bowl and carb.

    The benefits offered by glass hand pipes are numerous: portability, convenience, discretion, and artistic design. Spoon pipes are the classic choice if you’re looking for the best all-around smoking experience. The most portable are chillums. Perhaps the coolest looking, Sherlock pipes come in first for style.  And finally for the smoothest hit, bubblers offer the benefit of water filtration.

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