Glass Pipes – The Complete Guide To Glass Pipes and How to Use Them

glass pipes

What Is A Glass Pipe?

Pipes used for smoking are manufactured using a variety of materials, including glass, metal, corn cob and certain types of wood. However, ask any regular smoker and they will likely tell you that pipes made of glass are the only worthwhile kind.

glass pipe

Glass pipes come in different types and shapes. Each type is best suited for use with specific types and quantities of product. Each has distinctive advantages and benefits.

A Brief History of Glass Pipes

Pipes have been around in one form or another for thousands of years, smoking in general for even longer. Various ancient cultures have inhaled smoke in some form or another for a variety of reasons, often religious/spiritual, but sometimes also for social reasons and even for the promotion of health.

The smoking of various substances using the device we know today as a pipe is most closely associated with early North American indigenous cultures. Today’s pipes were originally modeled on these, although they have evolved a great deal over the centuries. Native American pipes were usually made of wood, clay, corn cob or animal antlers (elk, deer).

When pipe smoking began to take hold in European society as a form of recreation, the materials used to make them became more varied, but were, however, still mainly made from wood. As technology improved and new resources emerged over the centuries, pipe makers began using other materials to craft smoking pipes. Corn cob pops were popular in the 1800s because corn was cheap and relatively plentiful and corn cobs were otherwise waste material.

corn pipe

Although corn cob pipes are still around, they fell out of favor in the mainstream for pipes made with more modern materials, such as metal, which could withstand higher temperatures. The problem with metal pipes, though, is that although they can take the heat without getting damaged, they often get too hot to the touch. This limits their usefulness, particularly when it comes to any substance more exotic than ordinary tobacco.

metal pipe

Enter the glass pipe. It is difficult to nail down the exact origin of the glass pipe. Rather than being attributed to a particular person or company, it is more likely that the glass pipe merely evolved along with glassmaking technology and the art of glass blowing. Early glass pipes were as much works of art as they were devices for smoking (perhaps even more). They began to be produced during the era when glass blowing techniques were honed and perfected, largely over the last 50 years. Glass blowing artisans crafted glass pipes as another form of their art.

sherlock glass pipes

It didn’t take long for glass pipes to catch the attention of smokers. They were initially attractive to smokers for their artistic value, but smokers soon realized that smoking with a glass pipe produced flavor that was unmatched by any other material. In fact, it wasn’t really the flavor so much as the lack of flavor that smokers were lured in by. Pipes made of other materials contribute some type of subtle flavor to the product or substance being smoked, while glass pipes produced a pure, clean flavor void of any added taste from the pipe itself.

To illustrate this, think about drinking unoaked wine versus the more common oak barrel-aged wine. Oak-aged wine has a characteristic taste that is not present in unoaked wine. An even more accurate illustration is the difference between bottled beer and canned beer. Beer bottled in glass tastes different than beer that has been sealed inside an aluminum can.

Contemporary glass pipes are still hand blown and are as much works of art as they are functional pieces. They range in design from simple to complex, abstract to concrete, or made to resemble animals or other objects. They are beautiful to look at and amazing to use.

Types of Glass Pipes

Generally speaking, you can find approximately five different types of glass pipes: chillums (hand pipes), spoon pipes (so-named for their spoon-like shape), Sherlock pipes (you guessed it…. the stylized one with the curving, hook-shaped stem associated with Sherlock Holmes), bubblers and steamrollers. Each type has different advantages and contributes something unique to the smoking experience.

Chillums

Chillum glass pipe

This type of basic pipe is shaped like a simple tube. Smoking with a chillum might be considered an updated but still somewhat primitive method of smoking as some early indigenous cultures did using hollow reeds. To use a chillum pipe, you simply pack dry herb into one end, light it and inhale from the other end. The experience is different from using other types of pipes, and the size of the chillum also makes a difference when it comes to temperature and the size of the hit. Due to their small size and simplicity of design, they are only able to take small amounts of dry herb. They also lack carburetors, a feature (as you’ll soon learn) that keeps the flavor of the smoke from going stale.

Spoon pipes

spoon glass pipe

A spoon pipe is generally considered the next step up from the chillum. It is similar in shape and construction, except for having a “bowl” at one end, where you deposit whatever product you are using. Unlike chillums, spoon pipes have a carburetor, which is really just a small hole in the tube. Smoking a spoon pipe is slightly more complicated than smoking with a chillum. It involves covering the hole with your finger to draw air in through the bowl, and then uncovering the hole to inhale. The smoke remains fresh this way.

Sherlock pipes

sherlock glass pipe

The iconic arched stem of this glass pipe style is highly recognizable by just about everyone as the type that fictional literary character Sherlock Holmes smoked. Hence its name. At the end of the stem is a bowl, which holds the product to to which heat is applied. The smoke then travels up the stem. Sometimes this type of pipe has a longer-than-typical stem and may be referred to as a Gandalf pipe, named for the fictional character created by J.R.R. Tolkien in the Lord of the Rings series. These cool glass pipes are sometimes designed with carburetors, but this is not a hard-and-fast rule.

Bubblers

bubbler glass pipes

Yes, there is a reason why this glass pipe style has been so-named, and it has to do with bubbles. This type of pipe is a hybrid of the glass pipe and the bong. It’s small like a pipe but uses water like a bong and is therefore these pipes sometimes referred to as glass water pipes. The water acts as a filter for the smoke, diffusing it and creating tiny bubbles. The result is a smoother flavor devoid of any of the substance’s harsher elements and tones. Bubblers can be used with cold (even icy) or hot water, and the water temperature has an effect on the flavor and the overall experience.

Steamrollers

steamroller

Of the five basic glass pipe styles, the steamroller is the most complex and complicated to use. Steamrollers consist of a tube with a bowl on one end. There is an opening at each end of the pipe, with the one nearest the bowl serving as a carburetor. Some styles have an extra chamber that “rolls” the smoke to cool it further. Either way, the steamroller delivers a powerful, fast hit that will “steamroll” the user if he’s unprepared for it. Because of this, steamrollers are not recommended for first-time or less-experienced users, and they definitely take some practice to use.

What to Look for in Good Glass Pipes

With so much to choose from in the glass pipe world, it helps to know what kinds of things to look for when choosing one. There are a number of different factors to consider, but these are the most important:

Glass type

Glass pipes are not made from the same kind of glass that drinking glasses or even windows are made of. They are typically made from some type of scientific, lab-quality glass, often borosilicate. This type has been specifically engineered to withstand high temperatures and stand up to a variety of substances and chemicals without affecting the quality of the glass or its surface.

When you are shopping for a glass pipe, check what kind of glass it’s made of. The keywords to watch for are “borosilicate glass,” “lab-quality glass” or “scientific glass.” If you don’t see these phrases in the product description, it may be safe to assume that the pipe is made from some other type of glass (especially if the price seems to be lower-than-average). Just because it’s not made from a high-quality glass doesn’t mean it’s a bad purchase. It just means that, likely, your pipe won’t last as long, will be more breakable and may be more prone to overheating.

Additionally, it’s not necessarily a bad thing to purchase a cheap glass pipe, particularly if you are just starting out with smoking. Trying out a less expensive model will help give you a good feel for pipe style without sinking a lot of money into it. Later, when you better know your own preferences, you can upgrade to one with better quality glass.

Pipe style

As we’ve already noted, different types of glass smoking pipes are more suitable for certain types of product and for certain personal preferences (i.e. hot smoke VS cool smoke). Bowl type is also a big deal with a lot of smokers, so get to know the various bowl types. Always choose your style based on the product(s) you like best and other personal preferences.

Brand

Not all brands are created equal. Brand matters, even more than price in some cases (just because a device has a high price tag doesn’t necessarily mean it is better in quality). We’ll talk more about glass pipe brands in the next section.

How To Choose A Pipe (VIDEO)

Brands Of Glass Pipes

Smoking in general, and pipe smoking smoking specifically, has increased exponentially in the last five to ten years. Because of this, new manufacturers and artisans are popping up all the time. Some haven’t been in the market long enough to have proved their quality. Others may have been around for awhile but are duds nonetheless.

To help you choose, we’ve compiled a list of some of our favorite brands, ones that we consider reliable and offer excellent value per dollar. Some are flashy, some are understated, but all of them can be trusted to provide a trustworthy product and dedicated customer service:

American Glass Company, Black Leaf, Chameleon Glass, Dankstop, EHLE, Empire Glassworks, G-Spot, Grace Glass, Grasscity, Grav Labs, Highly Educated, Hive, HVY Glass, Illadelph, Incredibowl, King’s Pipe, Liberty Glass, Mathematix Glass, Mountain Jam Glass Company, Nebula Glass, Nexus, Ohana Glass, Phern Glass, Pyptek Labs, Silika Glass, Smashglass, Tweezers Glass

The Cost Of Glass Pipes

One advantage of smoking glass pipes is that they are often the least expensive devices for smoking (when compared to bongs, dab rigs, etc) simply because they contain less glass than bigger devices. That being said, there are some pricey glass hand pipes out there, especially those that are hand-blown and/or very artistic in nature. In fact, hand-blown artisan pipes can sometimes be more expensive than the average bong or oil rig because the blowing and design process is so intricate and delicate.

However, artsy and unique glass pipes aside, if all you want to do is get a device for smoking, you can expect to pay anywhere from $9.99 to $24.99 for a pipe that is basic and functional. In fact, a $25 device should last you awhile as long as you take care of it properly.

If you like the idea of something artistic and unique, you can expect to shell out a little bit more money, $25 and up. For elite pipes that are as much art as smoking device, you may very well pay more than $100 and even up to $300 or more. Want something that is totally one-of-a-kind and not mass produced? You may be able to get custom glass pipes between $100 and $200, but more likely you’ll be paying more than that. However, you’ll end up with something that’s gallery-quality and will make a super cool conversation piece.

The Top 12 Glass Pipes ON THE MARKET

To make selecting your new pipe easier, we’ve picked out twelve recommendations. Our picks are based on overall quality, performance, style/design and value per dollar spent.

1

Glass Sherlock Hand Pipe - Double Layer Cobalt Blue Glass with Color Work

sherlock glass pipes

Smokers who also have a taste for and appreciation of fine art in general or glass-blowing in particular will have to add this striking pipe to their collection. Made by hand by the artists at Mountain Jam Glass in Oregon, this pipe starts out as cobalt blue glass, which is glass that has cobalt compounds added to it to produce its distinctive blue color. Then more colors are added during the blowing process and fine details like the “marbles” studding its stem as well as magnifiers.

The high-quality borosilicate glass this pipe is made with will withstand high temperatures and is sturdier than other types of glass. Each pipe manufactured, although made with the same colors and using the same techniques, will show slightly different patterns and details, like its own unique fingerprint. No two will ever be exactly the same.

GREAT FOR

Experienced smokers and fine art lovers.

PRICE RANGE

High to elite.

SPECS

Made from high-quality borosilicate cobalt glass.

Sherlock-style pipe with carburetor.

Length: 17.8 cm / 7 inch.

Hand-blown artisan-quality piece.

Fine detail work.

No two are exactly alike.

OVERALL RATING

2

Cosmic Pipe

cosmic glass pipe

You'll really get spaced out with this out-of-this-world Cosmic Pipe. You can choose from three different designs: Earth, The Moon and Pluto. You'll develop a whole new appreciation for the galaxies when you pack this pipe with your herb of choice and watch it shimmer and sparkle like the starry night sky. We added this piece to our list because of its smokin’ good looks, but it has more than looks going for it. It's a high-performance piece that gets the job done and will last for years with diligent care.

GREAT FOR

All smokers.

PRICE RANGE

Low to mid-range.

SPECS

Made of heavy, thick colored glass.

Spoon style pipe.

Deep bowl.

Length: 5.5 inches.

Hand blown.

Available in three cosmic styles.

OVERALL RATING

3

Glass Steamroller Pipe

glass steamroller pipe

This will undoubtedly be the classiest footlong you’ve ever encountered. At 12 inches, this steamroller pipe draws immediate attention. However, its beauty is more than skin-deep. The intricate detail work on this piece is breathtaking, layered with colors and textures and clear magnifiers that give it depth and remarkable character. Colors will change with time and use due to resin buildup, or return it to its original state with a good cleaning. The marble on the bottom of the bowl keeps the device stable when placed on a flat surface. Because this piece is hand-blown and made-to-order, every pipe will be slightly different and one-of-a-kind, like having it’s own unique fingerprint.

GREAT FOR

Highly experienced smokers and and fine art lovers.

PRICE RANGE

High.

SPECS

Made of high-quality borosilicate glass.

Length: 30.5 cm / 12 inches.

Features clear marble roll stopper and clear magnifiers.

Steamroller style pipe with carburetor.

No two are exactly alike.

OVERALL RATING

4

Firefly Glow in the Dark Spoon

Firefly Glow in the Dark Spoon glass pipes

Chameleon Glass has a strong reputation for its glass artisanal craftsmanship, but they've outdone themselves with the Firefly Glow-in-the-Dark Spoon. This bad-ass pipe looks boss in daylight, but it really reveals its party animal side in the dark. It twinkles and glows like something ethereal. Even better: fill it with water and watch it bubble and percolate for a total head-tripping experience. This spoon pipe is available in blue, green, teal, white, pink and clear. It's durable, fits perfectly in a pocket and will last for years with the right care.

GREAT FOR

All users.

PRICE RANGE

Low to mid-range.

SPECS

Made from heavy, thick, clear glass.

Spoon-style pipe.

Length: 4 inches.

Hand blown.

Glows in the dark.

Available in six colors.

OVERALL RATING

5

Fumed Spoon

fumed glass pipes

The process of fuming glass is fascinating because it requires melting quantities of silver and gold. The fumes that result from the molten metals turn the glass from clear to opaque and result in colorful patterns like those of the Fumed Spoon. The nub on the side of the bowl keeps the pipe from rolling when placed on a flat surface like a tabletop. This pipe may be little but it packs a big punch with smooth, clean hits, and it fits just perfectly in your pocket.

GREAT FOR

All smokers.

PRICE RANGE

Mid-range to high.

SPECS

Made of fumed glass.

Length: 11.5 cm / 4.5 inch.

Spoon style pipe with carburetor.

Roll stopper on bowl.

Glass magnifiers.

OVERALL RATING

6

Glass Sherlock Handpipe - Cobalt Glass

glass pipes sherlock

This impressive-looking stylized pipe started with a base of cobalt blue glass. Next, the pipe is worked with white, giving it a fish scale-like effect. The detail work on the appendages and the ringed roll stopper with cobalt blue faceted center produces an artisan piece resembling a fish. The mouth opening of this Sherlock style pipe is flared for comfort and the bigger-than-average opening results in larger hits. Because this pipe is made-to-order, each one that’s manufactured is one-of-a-kind, no two will ever be precisely the same, which is one of the things we love most about this funky piece.

GREAT FOR

All users.

PRICE RANGE

Mid-range to high.

SPECS

Made of high-quality borosilicate cobalt glass.

Length: 12.7 cm / 5 inches.

Sherlock style pipe with carburetor.

Flared mouthpiece.

Hand-blown.

No two are exactly alike.

OVERALL RATING

7

Jet-Flash Smoke System

Jet-Flash Smoke System

There are just so many things to love about the Jet-Flash Smoke System, starting with its versatility. Although it costs $90.00 when purchased from Grasscity.com, you get extreme value since you’re really getting three different pipes. The 7-piece set with interchangeable parts allows you to mix it up a little, depending on your mood or what product you’re using. The Jet Flash system uses a funnel to aerate your smoke. Not only does this unique system cool your smoke, it creates an eye-catching “cyclone” that’s just cool to watch. Not only that, but the Jet Flash chamber with comfortable molded hand grip can actually be attached to a regular bong, too. This makes a great gift for the smokers in your life and even comes with its own gift box.

GREAT FOR

Experienced smokers.

PRICE RANGE

Mid to high.

SPECS

Unique three-in-one design.

7-piece kit.

Length: 19 cm / 7.5 inch.

Joint Size: 18.8 mm > 14.5 mm.

11 cm downstem.

“Jet-Flash” swirling action.

Comes with gift box.

OVERALL RATING

8

Glass Spoon Pipe - Double Layer Fume

Glass Spoon Pipe - Double Layer Fume

One of the reasons we added this pipe to our list (aside from its quality borosilicate glass) is for its incredible, vibrant colors. The process used to achieve those colors was painstaking. First, the artist started with cobalt glass. Next, the glass was fumed with metal to create the gorgeous blue and violet hues. Finally, it was hand-worked with extreme heat to produce more color and aesthetic details like the pipe’s glass marble magnifiers.

One of the things that makes fumed glass so alluring is the fact that it reacts with certain chemicals in the product that is smoked. The reaction produces subtle color changes with every use, deepening its appearance the way aging produces a finer, more complex wine. Because this spoon pipe is made-to-order, every piece has subtle differences that give each piece its own “fingerprint.”

GREAT FOR

All smokers and art lovers.

PRICE RANGE

Mid to high.

SPECS

Made from high-quality borosilicate cobalt glass.

Spoon style pipe with carburetor.

Length: 11.5 cm / 4.5 inch.

Hand blown.

Clear glass marble magnifiers.

No two are exactly alike.

OVERALL RATING

9

Colored and Fumed Spoon

Colored and Fumed Spoon

Like our previous pick, the Colored and Fumed Spoon undergoes a heavy-metal fuming to really bring out its blue hues, and is then worked to add more color. This hand-working also produces all of the pipe’s little details like nubs and clear glass magnifiers that add sparkle and depth. This particular model costs about 25 percent less than the previous one, so if your budget is a little bit tighter, you can still get a high-performance pipe that looks uber-cool and changes color with every smoke.

GREAT FOR

All smokers.

PRICE RANGE

Mid-range.

SPECS

Made from high-quality borosilicate cobalt glass.

Spoon style pipe with carburetor.

Length: 14 cm / 5.5 inches.

Clear miniature magnifiers.

No two are exactly alike.

OVERALL RATING

10

Glass Sherlock Handpipe - White on Cobalt Glass with Appendage

Glass Sherlock Handpipe - White on Cobalt Glass with Appendage

This glass pipe is made by Mountain Jam Glass Company, the same artist that created our number 4 pick. In fact, this pipe is similar in terms of design, style and workmanship, but features just a single appendage. For this reason, this model is about 25 percent less price-wise than number 4, but is made with the same lab-quality glass and skilled craftsmanship and still looks wicked-cool.

GREAT FOR

All smokers, anyone who wants an artsy yet bad-ass pipe.

PRICE RANGE

Mid-range.

SPECS

Made from high-quality borosilicate cobalt glass.

Sherlock style pipe with carburetor.

Length: 11.5 cm / 4.5 inches.

Features marble magnifiers.

Flared mouthpiece.

No two are exactly alike.

OVERALL RATING

11

Glass Spoon Pipe - Heavy Inside Out Fume

Glass Spoon Pipe - Heavy Inside Out Fume

This simple yet beautiful pipe features gentle curves and clean lines that create no distraction from the gorgeous color patterns. The hues are produced by fuming, and you’ll find that after you’ve smoked this pipe several times it will take on a deep, rich tone from the resins in your product as they react with the color. This piece is “inside-out,” which means that the color is actually on the inside of the pipe. This technique allows the clear outside to absorb light and color which gives the illusion of facets , depth and multiple dimensions to the overall piece. This pipe is made to order, so yours will be unlike anyone else’s.

GREAT FOR

All smokers.

PRICE RANGE

Mid-range.

SPECS

Made from high-quality borosilicate glass.

Spoon style pipe with carburetor.

Length: 10.2 cm / 4 inches.

Available in two color palettes: gold and silver.

Inside-out design.

No two are exactly alike.

OVERALL RATING

12

Glass Spoon Pipe - White Swirls on Cobalt Glass with Clear Marbles

Glass Spoon Pipe swirls

The design of this pipe starts with a base of cobalt blue lab-quality glass. Next, it’s worked with a layer of white color, producing swirls and curves Giving the whole piece a feeling that’s reminiscent of ocean waves. Clear glass marbles stud the bowl and provide added stability, and the carb hole is ringed with a deep royal blue. This piece is handmade to order, so yours will never be exactly the same as the one before it, or the ones made after it. We like the reasonable price of this simple and elegant pipe which offers great value per dollar spent and, with proper care, should last you for years.

GREAT FOR

All smokers.

PRICE RANGE

Mid-range.

SPECS

Made from high-quality borosilicate cobalt glass.

Spoon style pipe with carburetor.

Length: 10.1 cm / 4 inches.

Clear marbles and roll stopper.

No two are exactly alike.

OVERALL RATING

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