Glass is one of the elemental properties of weed: earth, wind, glass, and fire. Or something like that.
A good glass piece is a central part of any serious stoner’s paraphernalia. Cheap metal pipes and repurposed soda bottles may get you by, but a quality “piece” completes a stoner’s collection.
But what kind of glass do you want? What can you afford? What will give you the best bang for your buck?
Right off the bat, you should know there are four types of glass, generally speaking: bongs, spoons, bubblers, and oil rigs. There are plenty of variations, but those are the basics. You can find any of them in a range of prices.
Spoons are generally the cheapest of the bunch – you can easily find one for less than $15. A spoon is just your basic pipe: a stem with a hole through it lengthwise, a bowl with a hole through the bottom, and a carb hole on the side that allows you to choke the air as it moves through the pipe.
A bubbler is basically just a twist on a bong. The principle is the same: Smoke passes through water on its way to your lungs. Bubblers can range from the very cheap to the very expensive, depending on how complicated you want to get.
The basic version, which you can find at pretty much any head shop or smoke shop, starts around $15 or $20. Air flows through a simple glass pipe; along the way, it passes through a water chamber, and then moves on to the lungs through the stem. The water purges the smoke of some nasty chemicals and makes it easier to inhale. The water bubbles as you toke, hence the name.
Bigger bubblers are similar to bongs, and can be just as big. The only real difference is that the smoke reaches the water through a vertical pipe and the bowl doesn’t move. These can cost several hundred dollars on the good end, though you may be able to find one for $100 or less.
The bong, as almost everyone on the planet knows, is the crowning piece for a stoner. It essentially works like a bubbler: Air passes from the bowl, through an angled glass pipe, into the water chamber, and straight up into the lungs.
Bongs can run from the cheap – $15 to $50 – to the badly overpriced – more than $1,000. Some are basic and functional; others are hand-blown works of art. What you need depends entirely on what you want.
The bong, or water pipe as it’s known in head shops trying to dodge police raids, may be the best way to smoke straight pot. You may lose a small amount of THC in the water, but you make up for it in efficiency: A bong rip forces the smoke deep into your lungs.
Of course, it’s possible to smoke a wood, plastic, or metal bong. But glass greatly improves the experience. The smoke is smoother and cleaner, and glass doesn’t rust, rot, or burn.
The final type of piece, the oil rig, is something of a specialty tool. If you need it, get it. If not, you’ll have no use for it.
Oil rigs are used to smoke hash oil, also known as honey oil or “dabs.” This is just a thick, gooey concentration of THC resin. It produces a powerful high, but it requires some work.
If you’re up for converting marijuana into hash oil, or if you have a way to buy it, an oil rig is essential. There really is no other way to effectively dab without wasting product. These sell for anywhere from $40 to a few hundred dollars.
An oil rig is a basic-looking pipe, with a mouthpiece, a chamber, and glass piping to carry the smoke. But once it’s time to light your weed, things get different.
Instead of using a bowl, you heat a special nail with a torch, and then drop a dab of oil on the super-hot nail. The oil vaporizes inside a small glass hood placed over the nail. You then inhale, and the resulting smoke passes though the chamber into your lungs.
Shopping for a great glass piece is a lot of fun, but it can take some time. Shop around, if you can. Two head shops in the same city can sell the same product for drastically different prices.
Once you have what you’re looking for, baby it. Clean it with isopropyl alcohol and salt, denture tablets, or vinegar. And whatever you do, don’t drop it. Glass shatters, in case you hadn’t noticed, and getting a new pipe at 3 a.m. is a lost cause.