Sand and Fire: a fascinating history of glass pipes


The history of Glass pipes, bats and chillums have become an extremely popular topic as it is quickly becoming a staple of American society. Tobacco smokers and people that smoke herbs love glass because of its durability, stunning hues, shapes and artistic message. Glass pipes are individually hand blown by glass blowers all over the world, which makes every glass piece as individual as a snowflake no matter how big. Glass artists are able to work the glass into a deal of shapes offering a wide variety of shapes, sizes, styles, and colors.

For thousands of years people have used glass pipes. The history of glass pipes stems back to the invention of glass vessels, found in Egypt and Mesopotamia, which date back to around 1500 BC. At that time, glass objects were formed by pouring a molten mixture of sand, ashes, and lime, over a core or mold made of clay and dung. Once cooled, the core could be dug out, leaving the glass vessel.

The way glass was formed was revolutionized within the Roman Empire in 50BC, when it was discovered that the molten glass could be shaped by blowing into it causing it to expand. This was accomplished through the use of a long clay tube, called a blowpipe. Although many modern blowpipes are made of metal, the process of glass blowing essentially remains the same. For this reason, the Roman Empire contributed greatly to the history of glass pipes.

Glass blowing stayed in a relatively small communities of artisans and behind what was referred to as the “Glass Curtin” until the 1960s when glass blowing was free to spread in America. Glass blowing moved from the commercial setting, as artists teaching other artists how to blow glass in small studios. Perhaps this is the first im time the history of glass pipes when artists began to be highly acknowledged. Master glass blowers across the US created a wide variety of glass objects, and many of them created glass smoking pipes. Unlike in centuries past, when specially made glass pipes were reserved for the wealthy, today’s smoker has easy access to glass pipes in a vast assortment of styles in every price range.

Modern glass pipe makers begin their piece with a long glass tube, which varies in thickness and diameter according to the size and shape of the finished piece. The glass blower uses a torch to heat the glass tube until it is the consistency of honey. From here he can roll, pull, blow, and bend the glass into whatever shape he desires.

Color is added to the glass piece by melting colored glass sticks over the outside of the pipe, which is then worked into the main body of the piece in various designs. Color changing glass pipes are made by fusing special elements into the colored glass, allowing the color to change, with use, over time.

One of the most popular types of glass pipe is the inside out pipe. Inside out pipes are made by a method in which the decorative colors on the glass are put on the inside of the pipe. This causes a three dimensional pattern to appear when looked at from the outside. This requires considerably more skill and patience on the part of the glass blower, but the beautiful patterns magnified through the thick outside layer are well worth it. The terms inside out and double blown have become synonymous with the idea of the nearly unbreakable glass pipe.

Most glass pipes are made with Pyrex or borosilicate glass to make the pipes more unbreakable. The difference between a cheap pipes that break easily and nearly unbreakable glass pipes is usually not due to the quality of the glass, it actually depends if the glass blower went to the extra time and expense to cure the glass for at least a couple of hours in the oven after blowing. The benefits of having a glass pipe made of Pyrex should be immediately evident to anyone who has ever dropped their pipe. Pyrex is virtually unbreakable because it is the same type of glass used for cooking and baking pans.

Glass bats are great for caring around because they are stylish and compact. Glass bats are a straight pipe without a bend. Glass bats have the advantages of glass Pipes, such as flavor and its ability to not become hot, yet they can be carried easily and fit into that little pocket on your jeans. Glass bats are also easier to handle because they have no carburetor hole like a pipe does leaving one hand free if you hold the bowl in your mouth to hit it. Just like glass pipes, glass bats are crafted using Pyrex glass and they can also be single blown or Inside out glass. Despite the straightness of the bowl and the fact that the tobacco is vertical when the pipe is brought to the mouth, the tobacco does not fall out if it is packed tightly tobacco is usually sticky when packed.

In our Brooklyn smoke shop we make sure we carry quality glass pipes and glass bats. We have an assortment of quality smoking products from cheap colorful one hitters to ultra thick heavily fumed heady glass pipes. We do our best to have a wide variety of attractive glass pieces at competitive prices so you can find that piece that calls out to you.