Glass pipes are a long-time mainstay in the cannabis community used by generations of consumers. There are several reasons why many cannabis smokers prefer to use glass pieces over pipes made from other materials:
- Glass is an inert substance, which means it won't leach any flavors or smells into the smoke — glass lets you experience only the smells and flavors of your weed.
- In general, glass withstands temperature changes well, making it perfectly suited for sparking up and smoking weed.
- When smoking out of a glass pipe, the piece won't get too hot to handle.
- Many weed smokers like the stylistic flare imbued in glass weed pipes, which designers decorate with a huge range of colors, designs, shapes, and sizes.
- Glass can be crafted into a variety of different types of pipes, including classic spoon pipes, bubblers, chillums, and more complex pieces like bongs and dab rigs.
Even as the cannabis market expands and new products are introduced, cannabis glass hand pipes remain among the most popular and frequently used weed accessories. Read on to learnere's how they're made.
The process through which cannabis glass hand pipes are made relies heavily on traditional glass blowing techniques.
The glass blower starts by adding heat to a tube of glass. Right off the bat, the glass blower can proceed one of two routes. They can either use the tube to create one weed pipe or they can heat the tube and break it in half to form two smaller weed pipes.
In the case of a single pipe a glass blower generally begins by completing what many blowers call the “neck stretch.” In this step, the glass blower applies heat to expand the glass into a fat cylinder. As it expands, the glass blower gently spins and stretches the glass to create the main neck of the pipe.
When the glass blower is happy with the length and size of the pipe neck, it's time to create the bowl. They do this by applying the torch directly to the end of the neck while simultaneously blowing into the cool end of the glass tube to create a bulb at the hot end. As they blow into the glass, the artist continually turns the glass to maintain an even shape.
Once the bowl has been shaped, the glass blower uses a rod to gently press down in the center of the bulb. This step is called the “bowl push” and it's what creates the depression in which smokers pack their herb.
The glass blower uses a tool to punch one hole in the bottom of the bowl for the mouthpiece and punches another on the side of the bowl for the carb hole. After, the artist places the bowl on a flat surface and gently presses down, giving the bowl a flat bottom so it doesn't tip over when in use.
At this point, the final step is to shape the mouthpiece and then break the entire pipe off of the initial glass tubing. The artist smooths out the mouthpiece, eliminating any irregularities or sharp edges.
If a glass blower wants to make two pipes out of their initial tube of glass, the process is basically the same. The only difference comes at the very beginning, when the blower first applies heat to expand the tube of glass. If the artist is making two pipes, they will start by forming two stretched-out bulbs in the center of their tubing. The artist carefully snaps the tubing into two pieces once both bulbs are hot.
The bulbous ends become the necks of each pipe and the glass blower proceeds through the rest of the steps: forming the bowl, completing the bowl push, punching out the necessary holes, and forming the mouth piece.
Machine-made vs. hand-made artisan glass pipes
Today's glass market is generally broken down between machine-made, mass-produced glass and hand-made artisan glass.
The process of making cannabis glass hand pipes by machine is much the same as the process for making glass weed pipes by hand, except the process is automated. Essentially, automated machines mass-produce glass weed pipes by applying heat to a tube of glass as it's spun and maneuvered by another set of machines to create the desired shape and size.
Adding color and design
Style is big in the world of glass weed pipes, both in terms of the shape of the pipe and the colors used in the glass.
To create a uniquely-shaped piece of glass, glass artists follow the main process outlined above with the added step of molding or shaping the glass. Unique shapes are created while the glass is still hot through a combination of spinning the glass to retain a smooth cylindrical shape and strategically blowing through the cool end of the tubing to create the desired shape and size.
Additionally, glass blowers employ multiple methods to add colors to their pieces. Some artists use heat to melt flecks of pigment into the initial glass tubing as they shape and complete the pipe.
Alternatively, artists perform what's called “fuming,” a process in which the artist vaporizes some sort of metal — often silver, gold, platinum, or another safe metal — into the main tube of glass. This process adds layers of metal to the inside of the glass and creates streaks and swirls inside the finished pipe.
Fuming is how glass blowers create “color-changing” pipes. As you smoke out of one of these pipes, the tars and resin from your weed smoke develop a dark-colored buildup inside the pipe, which provide dark background against which these streaks of color become increasingly visible.
Along with adding color to the glass, artists can also etch designs into the surface of the glass while it's hot or create other designs by adding molten glass to the outside of the pipe and molding them into specific shapes.
Other types of glass pipes
This guide focuses primarily on the classic spoon pipe because the techniques used to make this type of glass weed pipe are the same foundational techniques used to create many other types of glass smoking pipes.
In addition to spoon pipes, glass blowers or automated glass factories make:
- Chillums - These glass pieces are similar to spoon pipes, but they do not include a bulbous bowl on one end.
- Steamrollers - Essentially giant chillums, these are made by creating an especially fat tube capable of holding tons of smoke at once.
- Bubblers - A spoon pipe with an additional water chamber blown into the glass to hold water, giving the resulting smoke some water filtration.
- Bongs - Bongs reside in a universe of their own, with bongs of all shapes, sizes, colors, and complexity. Despite their variety, bongs are all made with the same fundamental techniques of heating tubes of glass and spinning, stretching, molding, shaping, and blowing the glass while it's hot and malleable to obtain the desired size, shape, and design.