Best type of pipe for smoking
Smoking herbal substances can be quite relaxing and enjoyable when smoked out of the correct pipe, but more often than not we tend to choose a smoking pipe for the wrong reasons and end up paying the price for it.
If you are a novice smoker you are probably rolling your eyes right about now and probably considering not reading any more of this article, after all a pipe is a pipe is a pipe – right?… Well Not Exactly!
Smoking pipes can be made out of many materials; some more hazardous than others. And while non smokers will question whether or not a smoker truly cares about their own health, I know for a fact that most smokers do. Not everyone is a chronic smoker! Some of us like to smoke recreationally and see no harm in the occasional toke or two. I know cigarette smokers that also seem to care a great deal about their health – they just can’t kick the habit. The point is, someones smoking habit does not dictate that they should inflict further damage on their lungs by using smoking pipes that are toxic when other options available.
To be clear not many pipes are carcinogenic, and this post is more about selecting the correct pipe for your need, but it is in my opinion that certain types of pipes should not be sold or used for smoking. These pipe are: Clay(ceramic) pipes, Silicone pipes, and Resin pipes. We will dive into why in a minute, but first let me suggest the two types of pipes I recommend in case you are in a hurry.
The Two Best Types Of Pipes for Smoking out of are:
- Pipes made from “Glass” – recommended for all substances
- Pipes made from “Wood” – recommended for serious tobacco smokers only
The reason glass is the recommended material for pipes is due to it’s chemical composition. Glass is both a liquid and solid at the same time which gives it some great overall properties. The structure of glass makes impermeable and smooth with no crevasses for bacteria to live in. But perhaps the most beneficial property is it’s resistance to heat . A lighter will never be able to get glass hot enough to melt. We will touch base on this more later on in this article.
The recommendation for “Wood Smoking Pipes” is only for tobacco. Most tobacco smokers who enjoy the pipe tobacco seem to enjoy the flavor that the pipe has built up over time, as well as the smokiness from the burning wood. While a glass pipe would also build up with residue if not cleaned, the build up would not include the smokey wood flavor. Wood is also a natural substance that is consider harmless to humans, but burning wood is not harmless at all. In fact the only reason a wood pipe is included along side a glass pipe is because wood pipes are like a religion to tobacco pipe smokers, but ultimately I would never recommend anyone use a wood pipe for smoking if they were open to using a glass pipe.
Now that the synopsis is out of the way let move on to the pros and cons of different type pipes.
Ceramic Pipes: These kind of pipes may seem harmless at fist glance, after all they are made out clay and generally covered in glaze(glass). But the problem with ceramic smoking pipes is that they are fragile and if they chip, crack, or any of the glaze comes off they will start emitting silica dust into the air you are sucking in. This silica does not break down, and your lungs can’t excrete it. This can eventually lead to lungs disease and cancer. The same is true with glass if it break, but glass will generally not keep flaking and producing dust.
If the ceramic pipe has a thick coat of glaze it will be safer to use, however as smokers we like to clean our pipes and sometimes jam pokers into the which is likely to damage the glaze coat at some point exposing the clay/ceramic material. This is the most serious concern as you you won’t know it is damaged and might keep smoking out of it for years and for that reason I don’t recommend ceramic smoking pipes be used.
|– Can be made thick which makes the pipe strong|
and also helps cool down the smoke before it hits the
lungs creating a smooth toke.
– Can be made molded and shaped by artist to look like anything they want.
|– Fairly fragile, easy to break.|
– If Glaze comes off, or pipe cracks/ fractures on inside without user knowing it will produce silica which can cause lungs disease and/or cancer.
Silicone Pipes: Silicone pipes have really take off over the past several years due to China’s manufacturing capabilities and interest in the Cannabis market place. The appeal of these kinds of pipes are two fold: first they are nearly indestructible unless you put a flame to them, and second, they are made into all kinds of interesting designs but the really reason they got so big is because manufactures started knock off trademarked products like star wars and Pokemon characters, and also started marketing them as safe!
The truth is that silicone is safe to humans, but just like wood pipes if it is heated to it’s burning point it will release very harmful toxins. Even though most silicone smoking pipes will have a piece of glass inside, the glass is general thin and only located inside the bowl portion of the pipe and does not extend down the shaft or stem of the pipe. The cherry(burning portion of plant matter) gets up to and sometimes over 1000 degrees Fahrenheit, and a standard Bic lighter can reach just about 1000 degrees Fahrenheit too. The heat resistant silicone used to make most of the silicone pipes is around 480 Fahrenheit and will start off gassing and burning somewhere above 480 F. So if you smoke out of a silicone pipe you are most likely going to be getting lungs full of chemically and toxins. Not to mention the demand has drawn more manufactures into the market, and to under cut the competition they use cheaper silicone which may have a lower temperature rating.
|– Hard to Break|
– Cool designs and colors
– Cost is Cheap
|– Easy to burn and release toxins|
– Many types of silicone used so it’s hard to know the quality.
– Pretty much all coming from China
Metal Smoking Pipes: If you are not looking to only smoke tobacco, then the runner up after glass pipes is a metal pipe.
Metal pipes can obviously be made out of any kind of metal which is something to look out for. Many metal have a toxic element to them either from the manufacturing process or just naturally. While most people would know to stay away from lead, there are plenty of other metal that they would know they should stay away from and unfortunately many businesses just want the quick profit and don’t care about the customers health twenty years down the line.
There aren’t too many benefits to using a metal pipe other than durability. The tend to get too hot to hold and retain the heat for quite a while; they generally have a metallic taste no mater what you smoke out of it; you might have to be careful when cleaning them as the can react with certain types of solvents and cleaners . If you are gonna use a metal pipe it’s best to use one that has glass inside and is only metal on the out side.
– Better than silicone,ceramic,resin, and wood pipes
|– Metallic taste|
– Potentially Toxic
– Gets hot to touch really fast
Glass Smoking Pipes: Glass is definitely the ideal medium for smoking. It can withstand high temperatures and does not produces and toxins if it does get too hot. It also can be cleaned easily and doesn’t harbor bacteria due to porosity, although it is important to mention that bacteria can reside and harbor on the resin that builds up over time, so keep the pipe clean. Keeping the pipe clean not only keeps the bacteria from growing it also makes for a smooth and clean taste of the product you are consuming.
The down sides to glass pipes are that they can get pretty hot to hold and break easily when dropped if they are thick enough. Most of the time the glass artist does make a thick enough pipe that can withstand a lot of abuse so this isn’t really even a problem unless you like buying $2 pipes. With that said there is one other thing to be aware of when it come to glass smoking pipes – if they are not annealed correctly they can crack and even shatter sometimes due to extreme changes in temperature or pressure. This is again something that doesn’t happen too often, but something to be aware of. So if you keep a pipe in your unheated garage that gets to zero degrees you might want to hold the pipe in your hands to warm it up for a few seconds before putting a lighter to it.
– Huge selection
– Very very high heat tolerance with no off gassing even if temp gets too high
|– Can be poorly made and break easily|
– Can crack due to temperature if not annealed correctly by artist
– Can produces small silica particles like ceramic pipes if cracked, but no where as bad as ceramic.(throw cracked pipe away!)
Wood Smoking Pipe: Wood pipes should really never be smoke out of, but if you are a piped tobacco smoker then you undoubtedly disagree. Sure, they might give one of the best flavor profile when it comes to tobacco, but at what cost? Burning wood may not be as bad as inhaling silica or plastic particles, they again it can be just as bad or worse. There are a lot of studies that show how harmful burning wood smoke is, so maybe do a bit of research if you are considering smoking pipe tobacco and see if the flavor of the wood is really that important for you. Now a days you can get some e-juice that might give you a similar flavor in glass pipe. E-juice is probably better, but I am in no way condoning it as it comes with it’s own risks.
|– Flavor profile for tobacco|
– Natural Material
– Possibly better than ceramic
|– Burning wood being inhaled; toxic|
– Never thoroughly cleaned: possible bacteria and virus harbor
Glass pipes are the gold standard of smoking pipes when it comes to smoking herbal plants. Metal pipes with glass inserts come in second, and metal pipes made of safe metals such stainless steel or titanium are third.
Wood pipes if you are strictly a hardcore tobacco smoker and aren’t into the modern era – otherwise stay away!
Also stay away from ceramic pipes, clay pipes, porcelain pipe, silicone pipes, plastic/resin pipes, and probably pipes made form rocks, gems, and crystals.
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