Hand pipes are, by far, the oldest devices ever used by human beings to smoke dried herbs with. From early pipes made from hollowed out bones and animal horns, to today’s hand-crafted, blown, sculpted, and ornately designed pieces of smoking art, all hand pipes are created equal here at Brothers With Glass. However, we would be lying if we said that all pipes worked equally as well. We know, as well as all of you do, that the glass market has been flooded with paper thin, bubble filled, break within a month hand pipes. However, how often do we ask ourselves why that is? You don’t see cheap, knock off versions of products that nobody enjoys, do you? That leads us to believe that while it may be the oldest way of smoking, it is still one of the most popular ways today.
As we mentioned before, early hand pipes were crude devices, usually carved from a hollowed-out piece of animal bone or horn. Many of the earliest pipes were used to ritually smoke tobacco and other dried herbs but a good deal of them were found to have at one time been used to smoke either cannabis or hashish. As time passed and smoking remained a popular activity in many cultures, different variations in style and pipe making materials came about. It was not uncommon even as recent as a few decades ago to see people smoking tobacco and other dried herbs from hand pipes carved from stone, made of ceramic clay, corn cobs, or even metal. These days, the preferred material to make hand pipes out of is borosilicate glass.
Glass hand pipes are the staple product in any head shop glass case. Sure, you won’t have a hard time finding a nice heady bong or dab rig in most shops either. However, next time you walk inside a head shop or pipe store, look around. What are the pieces you see first, and which ones are prominently displayed near where you pay for your goods? You guessed it. Hand pipes. Why is this? It’s pretty simple, really. Hand pipes are smaller than dab rigs, bongs, bubblers, etc. That means it takes less raw material to make them, and they’re less complicated in design, making them a fast, high profit margin product to sell to local shops. They can also be sold for much cheaper than other glass products, meaning a wider range of smokers can afford them. But when did glass pipes come to be, and why do we love using them so much?
To answer that question, I’ll need you to travel back in time with me to the 1970s. It’s a sunny afternoon in the parking lot of a Grateful Dead concert. The jovial tunes are blaring in the show, and people of all kinds are wandering in and out, singing, dancing, and having a beautiful time. In the corner of the parking lot, you hear a faint humming. Kind of like a low roar. You walk over to see what it’s all about, and you see a young man, hunched over a big flame, feverishly designing and blowing glass pipes. You ask him his name, and he tells you it’s Bob Snodgrass. You lift up a bag, he smiles, and hands you a beautiful hand pipe with a wrap and rake design that’s fumed with silver and gold. Your heart sinks. You smile and thank him and run to find your friends and tell them of the magical man in the trailer outside only to be met with skepticism until you show them the wand that he gave you. You are now the king of the Dead.
While this story might at first sound like it was made up, it was not. In fact, this story is one shared by hundreds if not thousands of people that happened to be following the Grateful Dead on tour that summer. One of those people was named Bob Snodgrass and he would later become famous as the man who invented the modern glass pipe making industry as we know it. Bob Snodgrass was the first person to fume his glass with Gold and Silver to produce mind-bending colors after resin started to build up inside. He was also extremely close to being the person to invent the all-in-one glass bong. In fact, one of his many apprentices over the years was the one who took Snodgrass’ early bong designs and improved upon them to create the world’s first fully fused, one piece glass bong with a fixed down stem. Bob Snodgrass, and his apprentice and glass bong inventor, Cameron Tower are still kicking and still lamp working to this day. Living legends in the truest sense of the term.
These days, it’s obvious that hand pipes have come a long way since those days in the parking lot at the Grateful Dead shows. As much as we wish we could travel back in time to see some of the first ever glass pipes, we’re also pretty excited about some of the advancements that have been made in the pipe making world since the 1970s. First off, let me start by saying that a good deal of glassblowing and pipe making techniques first developed by Snodgrass himself are still widely used today. However, what we want to focus on today are some of the technological strides that have been made in the design of pipes both in functionality and aesthetic.
First, there is the ash catcher pipe designed by Chameleon Glass in 2002. It is a pipe that has an inward pointing cone just inside the hole on the mouthpiece that comes to a point. This small design change means that when your bowl is done, if you should accidentally suck the remnants through, they won’t get into your mouth. Instead, the ash and debris will stay near the bottom because they’re heavier, while the air and smoke stay up high and make it through the reverse cone. Pretty nifty, huh? We thought so too!
Next, there is the cold sculpting work that goes into the Liberty 503 hand pipes to give them their distinctive 3D design and feel. Basically, they blow a standard hand pipe only using much thicker glass. Then, after the pipe is done and has cooled down, artists use techniques like carving, grinding, sand blasting and more to give the piece a textured, carved out feel that you simply don’t get with any other glass brand out there. Do these Liberty 503 hand pipes sound too good to be true? Well, they’re not. We have a great selection of Liberty hand pipes to choose from. Even a cold worked glass Christmas ornament. How cool!
Looking for more of a funny, novelty style hand pipe that will definitely still get the job done, but possibly bring a laugh to anyone that uses it too? Look no further. Here at Brothers With Glass online headshop, we carry a ton of hilariously heady hand pipes by both Chameleon Glass and Mathematix Glass. Between the two of them, there isn’t a food, animal, or random object you can think of that they haven’t made into a hand pipe, dab rig, or bong. If you care as much about people enjoying their smoking experience as they do their high, a rig or pipe from one of these two companies will keep people laughing while they light up! Gandalf pipes too!
As for the future of hand pipes, a lot is yet to be determined. Some companies are starting to make silicone or 3D printed ones to sell to the clumsy crowd as indestructible. Others are moving toward aluminum and other metals with new designs to help aid in cooling down hits before they reach your lungs. Other companies are even making hand pipes that use the sun for combustion or have a built-in heating element meaning no lighter, no problem. While the exact future of hand pipes and pipe making may remain unclear for the foreseeable future, one thing has remained constant since the invention of the glass hand pipe by Bob Snodgrass on that fateful day back in the 1970s. People of all shapes, sizes, colors, religions, and cultural backgrounds have a relationship with smoking that does not seem to be going anywhere any time soon.
Here at Brothers With Glass, we understand that deep, centuries-long connection people have to the act of smoking and, in turn, the devices that they use to get the job done. We do our best to offer only the best products and service to anyone looking for a new piece of any kind. Without you, there is no BWG, so we want to make sure that each and every one of our customers walks away feeling informed, happy, and with the peace of mind that they got an amazing deal on a one-of-a-kind piece of glass smoking art. Whether it’s a hand pipe, a dab rig, a bong, or whatever smoking accessories you may need, Brothers With Glass is your new one stop shop for all things smoking related!