“Want to smoke a bowl?” is up there on the list of best things to ask a stoner friend, family member or significant other. Sure, you can roll up a jay or rip a bong—but there’s something ceremonial about passing around a pipe. Plus, it’s convenient.
Pipes are easy to pack and carry, and they always get the job done. As a very common smoking accessory, they’re pretty easy to come by. You can browse online or at your local head shop for different styles made from different materials like wood, ceramic, and even more creative mediums like lava and bone. But, the most common are glass and metal.
Type of hand pipes
Standard styles of dry pipes (meaning no water is used) made from glass or metal include:
- Chillums: straight tubes with a bowl big enough for personal use
- Spoons: a traditional dry pipe with a spoon-esque shape and a carburetor, such as Zong hand pipes
- Sherlocks: resembling a traditional tobacco pipe with a twist
- One hitters: a small tube-shaped device with a design function that speaks for itself. (Learn more about one hitters here, or get recommendations on the best one hitter weed pipes to buy)
Regardless of style, each pipe will come equipped with a bowl where you pack the cannabis that will be burned and a stem that connects the bowl to the mouthpiece. It’s always best to remove stalks and seeds (if there are any) and break up the weed with your hands or use a grinder before loading it into the bowl for an equal burn and smooth hit.
Glass vs Metal Pipes: Detailed Comparison
If you’re ready to invest in a new pipe or your first one, you’ve got lots of choices. While shopping online head shops or browsing your local shop’s selection, you’ll find that most options are either glass or metal. But, which one is best? In this glass vs metal comparison, we’ll outline the key considerations to make when deciding which is best for you.
1. Affordability: Is a glass pipe or metal pipe more affordable?
Metal pipes are typically cheaper than glass pipes. Sure, you can get a $10 glass chillum, but if you’re comparing size, you’ll likely get more bang for your buck with a metal piece.
Glass typically costs more because the manufacturing process and materials are higher quality. This medium also opens up room for artistry, where metal does not. So, you can find some really beautiful, colorful and creative glass pipes hand-blown by well-known artists who produce one-of-a-kind pieces. The headier the piece, the heavier the price tag. It makes sense.
2. Durability: Which is more durable, a glass or metal pipe?
This is hopefully a no-brainer. Metal is definitely more durable than glass. But, you can drop a solid glass spoon on the ground without it shattering into a million pieces. Some glass pieces are super thick and durable and can handle a few tumbles, but at the end of the day…it’s still glass. So, don’t push your luck, especially if you invested in a heady pipe. In that case, it’d be smart to protect your investment with a case, bag or pouch that will pad your pipe and keep it safe at home and on the go.
3. Cleanability: Is glass or metal easier to clean?
A clean pipe makes for a better smoke sesh. If you want to get the best hits, flavor and aroma, it’s a necessity. Plus, there’s nothing worse than packing a bowl only to find it’s unhittable because it’s clogged up with resin. Not cool.
This category is a total tie. Both glass pipes and metal pipes can be cleaned the same way. For daily maintenance, you can use a poker to loosen up anything clogging the stem or opening in the bowl before or after smoking. Some smokers like to keep the bowl resin-free at all times and wipe it out with a rag or alcohol wipe after each smoke. Or, you can skip daily maintenance and just give your pipe a nice deep clean every month or so.
For deep cleanings, you can boil the pipe in water (beware it will ruin whatever pot you’re using), soak it in a pipe cleaner solution, or drop it in a baggie filled with a mixture of isopropyl alcohol and salt. Both materials will look basically brand new after a good cleaning. Make it a habit to deep clean your pipe every few weeks if you’re a regular smoker. It’ll make for a better experience.
4. Health considerations: What’s the healthier option?
Glass is a much healthier option, all around. In fact, smoking out of a glass piece is considered THE ‘safest’ and most natural way to smoke weed. When you use a glass pipe there are no additional chemicals combusting like when you smoke a joint wrapped in a rolling paper. And it’s a similar situation with a metal pipe (if not worse).
If you’ve ever made a pipe out of an aluminum soda can or aluminum foil, chances are someone (hopefully) warned you that you could end up with a lockjaw if you kept that shit up. Be cautious with whatever you smoke and what you smoke it out of, because inhalation is serious stuff. When you inhale, you’re pulling whatever is being combusted and releasing it into the body and through your blood-brain barrier.
Depending on what type of metal your pipe is made from and the process used to make the pipe, you could be inhaling various chemicals with every hit. Stick with commercially pure and medical grade metal pipes including grade 2 titanium, annealed stainless steel and pure brass.
5. Function: What smokes better, glass or metal?
To be frank, smoking out of a metal pipe usually tastes like shit. It’s a challenge to find a metal pipe that doesn’t leave an overpowering metallic taste in your mouth after every hit. Your best bet is a medical grade titanium pipe, but even then…. It can be metal-y. Plus, metal pipes get hot as hell, to the point where you may even burn yourself if you’re passing it around or taking multiple hits solo.
Glass pipes celebrate your weed. They let the flavor and aroma shine. This material can also stand multiple smoke sessions in a row without becoming hot in your hand. And, because it’s non-porous by nature, glass is impervious to liquids and residue, stain resistant, and antimicrobial.
Glass: 3 points
Metal: 3 points
With a tied-score, we didn’t exactly make your mind up for you. But, you get the point. Different tokes for different folks. If you’re looking for something super cheap and easy that you won’t worry about breaking or losing — you could try a metal pipe. If you’re a stoner who loves to smoke regularly, do yourself a favor and get a glass pipe.
What are the best glass weed pipes?
There are many brands that make high-quality glass weed pipes, but we love the ones made by Zong. Known best for the trademark kink style of water pipes, Zong is an Arizona-based company that handcrafts unique pipes with a focus on quality. Check out some of their intricate glasswork below.