If you've never heard of the term "Soft Glass" or "Borosilicate Glass", you should know that there are definitely some differences that can save you from breakage, save you money and we will also provide you with some new insight into a possible new favorite style of glass for you! First and most importantly, soft glass is accurately named by how much longer it stays malleable when hot and how much easier it can break compared to borosilicate when cold. Second, is that it is made with using large poles for blow tubes, glass is gathered from a large furnace and then sculpted or blown out, as opposed to Borosilicate which is worked on a countertop torch and constantly worked in and out of the flame. Soft Glass, in its final state, can also be more fragile than borosilicate glass and we will explain just how, below. We will also go over how to maintain your soft glass whether you have a soft glass piece or are thinking of purchasing one. When it comes to the purchasing part, you can take comfort in knowing that the price difference is very much noticeable, and the colors are completely different than the borosilicate color palette! We're not saying that soft glass is better or worse at all by any means, but it just may the perfect type of glass for you if you're looking for a very unique and artistic budget pipe or bong. Take a look at our Special K Soft Glass
artist's selection if you're ready to buy now!
The first type of Glassblowing has been around since the 100 BC, making it over 2,000 years old! It actually wasn't until the early 1960's that Glassblowing was taken to an artistic movement that we now know as the "Studio Glass Movement
" and is what brought us the smaller style studio work such as intricate functional sculptures, scientific bongs, and the ideas from a single or small group of artists that is fueling the modern counter-culture glass industry today. Soft Glass is widely known for its beautiful sculptures, layered fusing, artistic vases, and stylish stemware, but has lately tapped into... bongs and pipes! With soft glass holding heat and being malleable for so long when working with it, you can continuously sculpt and reheat the glass until your work is finished. The result of this is that the high expansion of soft glass can even cause your properly annealed glass to break easily when quickly shocking it with high temperatures such as hot water or even harsh weather changes like being next to a heater, which brings us to durability and maintenance!
Some very helpful and important info for consumers to know about soft glass
is that it has a different COE than Borosilicate and it will break under different circumstances, especially during cleaning. The COE of glass is the Coefficient of Expansion, which is the measurement of the rate that glass will expand and contract when it is heated and cooled. The COE of soft glass is between 90 and 104, while the COE for Borosilicate Glass( what most bongs are made of) is only between 30 and 33. Soft Glass's higher COE essentially means that after properly annealed, it is weaker than Borosilicates low COE due to the quicker rate of cooling and inability to catch up to a shockingly high temperature like hot water, therefore causing "thermal shock" by cracking/breaking. When you clean your soft glass bong or pipe
, you want to use a soaking type of cleaner or soak it with 91% Isopropyl Alcohol and Coarse-Grained Salt and rinse out with slightly warm water only. We also have a how-to blog for cleaning here
! When storing your soft glass pipe or bong, be careful not to put them by a heater or in an area where they can get kicked, or hit any hard corners. Soft glass can be temperamental but it is definitely the most widely used in mainstream art, even though that is slowly changing today!
Special K is an artist that we carry and a great example of the affordability and innovation that is in soft glass bongs and hand pipes. The method, molds, and choreography that are involved with soft glass brings a totally different shape and color palette to the functional glass that is created in the process. This artist, in particular, is an environmentally conscious Oregonian and even goes as far as to use recycled glass to make all of his glass! Since soft glass has been around for so many years, the color palette is very expanded and slowly continues to grow today. While borosilicates color palette is small, it is very carefully selected and has some very unique and expensive colors of its own that are rapidly growing and being experimented with by numerous individual artists that are trying to bring glass to the next level.
After all of that info, you're probably wondering what kind of bong or pipe that you have. Well, most functional glass for smoking is made of Borosilicate Glass due to its, durability, resistance to thermal shock, and it being easier to clean quicker. Even the glass that we sell is 99% Borosilicate between American Made and Imports. If you do have a Soft Glass piece then hopefully the shop that you purchased it from did its due diligence in informing you on it being soft glass so you don't have any broken surprises when you're cleaning it. For first time buyers and returning buyers, we got you covered with all of our listings, of course, we are 100% honest with you and love to provide all of the information that we can to better our growing glass industry!