Which Cannabis Pipe Material is Best for Me?

(Re)investing in a new smoking pipe? What an exciting time to find your next accessory that best matches the person you’ve become! There’s a ton of variables that go into selecting the right one for you. Not only do you have to consider…

  1. the bowl size which determines cannabis amount;
  2. overall pipe size;
  3. general functionality; and
  4. the aesthetic; 

… the material of your pipe can also affect your smoking experience! 

You might ask - how can these various materials impact my smoking experience, even perhaps my health? Does it really make a difference?

When it comes to smoking, it’s important to know that combustion in general, regardless of the substance smoked, is harmful. The key is to try and mitigate this by being intentional about how you consume.

There certainly can be a significant difference to your experience with each material, but regardless of which material you choose, a well-cared for pipe will always be better than a neglected one. The more you care for your device, the greater the difference you’ll notice.

So, which materials are cannabis pipes typically made of? 

To complicate matters a little, the different components of a pipe can often be made of separate materials, though it isn’t difficult to find pipes made of one solid material. 

Click here to read our blog post about the components that make up a typical cannabis pipe!

While almost anything can be made into a pipe (have you ever smoked cannabis from an apple?!), below is a list of the typical materials that constitute a cannabis smoking pipe where we’ll explore exactly what the differences are, including:

  1. Ceramic/Clay
  2. Corn Cob
  3. Glass
  4. Metal
  5. Plastic (Acrylic & Silicone)
  6. Wood

 

1. Ceramic/Clay

Ceramic pipes have been around forever. In fact they’re one of the oldest smoking device materials there are, with pipes being discovered by archaeologists all over the world, including pipes found in the garden of William Shakespeare that still contain traces of cannabis!

Clay provides a very smooth smoking experience and is also quite porous, meaning it can breathe and absorb portions of the smoke passing through the pipe. Porosity has its pros and cons, so it depends on what you value in your smoking experience.  The main benefit is that it acts as a natural filter, absorbing more of the toxins so it doesn’t reach your lungs. This will, however, eventually alter the flavour of the cannabis. Bacteria can build up over time, so it’s important that you clean your pipe as often as you can (preferably after each use). 

Though generally considered a fragile material, clay is much more resistant to sudden and extreme changes in temperature than glass. But still, try not to drop it!

Ceramic is also considered to be a much more luxurious product and often comes in hand-made designs which tends to drive up the price. However, it’s much easier to manipulate ceramic in the designing process than glass, so you’ll likely find some ceramic options that are less expensive than their intricate glass counterparts. 

Unfortunately, ceramic isn’t as recyclable as glass, though it can be down-cycled. Through this process, the ceramic piece gets ground down and mixed into a slurry which can be remade into a new ceramic piece. The disadvantage here is that these programs are much less common than glass recycling, and each ceramic piece becomes less durable with each downgrade.

In the end, ceramic/clay is a great option for those looking to use a more traditional material, and to connect oneself with generations upon generations of cannabis smokers. 

2. Corn Cob

The history of corn cob pipes dates back to the 1860s, when pioneers and farmers used dried corn cobs and pieces of wood to create a corncob pipe.  By 1925, corn cob pipes became extremely popular - and are still quite popular today! When people think of corn cob pipes, they often associate them with the likes of Mark Twain and Popeye.

Fun fact! In the 1930s and 1940s, corn cob pipes were mainly used to smoke cannabis and were often used to signal an affinity for Mary Jane during the days of the marijuana prohibition. 

There are tons of great advantages to corn cob pipes…

First, they’re one of the most affordable pipe options. The prices can start as low as $5 and go up to $50, depending on the size, shape, and quality of the materials. For this reason, corn cob pipes can be a great starting pipe.

Corn cob pipes are also one of the most available and sustainable materials for pipes. You can help save the Earth one corn cob pipe at a time!

They are extremely durable and, with proper care, can last years. Thankfully, caring for your corn cob pipe is simple as it’s so easy to clean. 

Corn cob pipes are also porous so it absorbs the harsh taste in the buds. One of the best benefits of smoking from a corn cob pipe is that, overtime, the resins in the corn will release, imparting a sweet, mellow flavour into your smoke. So the more you smoke, the sweeter and mellower the flavour will be!

On the downside, there isn’t as much flexibility with corn cob pipes, so you’ll likely come across a lot of the same design options. 

This would be a great option for the earth-minded beginner looking to connect with modern history’s everyday cannabis advocates.

3. Glass

Glass is the most common of all cannabis smoking device materials, and we can see why as it certainly has many perks!

Unsurprisingly, it provides the smoothest smoking experience with the best tasting results. Glass is flavour inert, meaning that the taste of whatever you are consuming doesn’t get altered (unlike plastic or metal). 

Depending on how thick the glass is, they can be somewhat durable. They are, however, likely to break if you drop them from a high enough distance, and are highly sensitive to temperature changes (make sure you don’t leave yours out in the cold!). Should you wish to mitigate the latter risk, look for pipes made of Borosilicate glass. This type is specifically designed to reduce sensitivity to temperature changes.

Unfortunately with glass pipes, you can easily see the resin buildup. Though they are easy to clean, they do require more frequent cleaning than other materials in order to keep it looking (and feeling) fresh and new. 

One important upside to this material is that it’s recyclable. Once we pull minerals out of the earth and transform them into glass, it remains as glass forever. This is why it’s so important to use recycled glass, and thankfully, most developed countries have a robust recycling program. Best of all, it can be recycled without ever losing its structural integrity!

Though affordable options certainly exist, some of the more complex designs take a lot of time to create and are often more expensive as a result. 

Those who have a strong focus on unaltered taste and looking for creative design would greatly enjoy a glass smoking device.

4. Metal

The first use of metal cannabis pipes dates back to the 18th Century. Not everyone enjoyed the classic wooden pipe of the era, and so the metal/aluminium pipe was born! This newly invented pipe trapped more moisture which allowed the smoke to cool before it reached your lips. 

As this malleable material became cheaper to produce over time, a wide range of design and metal options were gradually more available. While early versions were mostly made out of metal alloys and aluminium, metal pipes are now typically made of steel or brass. 

Though typically more expensive than glass or wood pipes,  the high price doesn’t necessarily reflect the quality of metals being used. Metal is also not flavour inert, meaning you’ll likely notice a metallic taste while smoking - no thank you!

Overall, metal pipes are very durable (in fact, one of the hardest materials to break!) and have a flexible design which means you can customize your pipe to your liking.

5. Plastic (Acrylic or Silicone)

Silicone pipes are becoming more and more popular, and for good reason! 

  • They are extremely durable and unbreakable
  • They are fairly affordable
  • Can come in a variety of colours and designs 

Their durability and light weight make it an ideal pipe for hikers, campers and travellers alike because you don’t have to worry about it breaking during travel, and it won’t weigh down your luggage.

However, even though they can come in a variety of designs, add-ons or other customizations are not possible due to the limited versatility of this material. There is also hardly any diffusion or smoke filtration, and you have to be careful with flames as some silicone pipes can only handle a certain amount of heat.

Not all silicone pipes are made the same - some are made of cheap or imitation silicone which are of very poor quality. The lower the quality of silicone, the more likely you are to  consume plastic particles (and taste) while smoking - not ideal!

Plastic/silicone can be recycled many times, though they usually require specialized recycling companies. As a result, they often end up being thrown in the garbage. If disposed of this way, it can sit in our landfill sites without breaking down for centuries, certainly not the most environmentally friendly material. 

If you’re a responsible recycler who’s not yet ready to invest, but want something durable that reflects your creative style, silicone may just be the right option for you!

6. Wood 

Wood was one of the original materials for pipes and still remains a popular choice today  - especially for tobacco pipes. The first wooden pipes discovered in Europe date back to 500BC and were originally used to inhale smoke from campfires. 

Wooden pipes have a more traditional, classic look and have an earthy, natural feel to them. The bowls and stems can come in a variety of shapes and sizes, but the overall look of a wooden pipe is relatively the same. If you tend to like more modern or unique designs, the wooden pipe is likely not the best choice for you, aesthetically speaking. 

This particular material can add a woody flavour to your smoking experience.  Some connoisseurs even like to experiment with different cannabis strains to see which flavour compliments the woody undertones the best. 

Unfortunately, wooden pipes can be difficult to clean since you can’t soak it - you’ll need to use your muscles to brush it clean. With cleaning being such an arduous process, it won’t last as long as other pipe materials and tends to produce a strong smell over time. 

Go experiment different materials and enjoy the process of creating your *bliss*

Picking the material of your pipe can be overwhelming, so we hope this information can help you make the best decision for you! Remember, there is no ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ material to use - it just depends on your values and preferences. 

The main factors to consider are;

  • Design 
  • Cleanability  
  • Durability
  • Impact to flavour 
  • Cost

Now that you have some background on a few of the most popular materials available for your cannabis pipe, go out and try a few to see which works best for you when creating your bliss.


Works Cited:

  1. Broussard, Kyle. “18 Different Types of Bongs - Which One Is Best for You? [Ultimate Guide].” HelpingPot, HelpingPot, 29 Nov. 2020, https://helpingpot.com/types-of-bongs/ 
  2.  Rather, Jack. “Glossary of Tobacco Pipe and Pipe Tobacco Terms.” TobaccoPipes.com, Tobacco Pipes, 9 Feb. 2021, https://www.tobaccopipes.com/blog/glossary-of-tobacco-pipe-and-pipe-tobacco-terms/#A
  3. Vandenburgh, Matthew. “Meerschaum Pipes: The Complete Overview.” TobaccoPipes.com, Tobacco Pipes, 19 Jan. 2021, https://www.tobaccopipes.com/blog/meerschaum-pipes-the-complete-overview/.  
  4. Rogers, Carl. “How to Choose a Bong - Beginner's Guide.” Daily High Club, Daily High Club, 19 Aug. 2022, https://dailyhighclub.com/blogs/news/beginners-guide-to-choosing-your-next-bong#:~:text=Although%20breakable%2C%20glass%20provides%20the,extremely%20low%20chances%20of%20breakage
  5. Berlin Packaging Specialist. “Answers to Questions about Glass Breakage.” Answers to Questions about Glass Breakage, Berlin Packaging, 26 Jan. 2020, https://www.berlinpackaging.com/insights/packaging-resources/answers-to-questions-about-glass-breakage
  6. Mills, Genevieve. “Understanding Glass - Types of Glass and Glass Fabrication Processes.” Understanding Glass - Types of Glass and Glass Fabrication Processes, Thomas a Xometry Company , https://www.thomasnet.com/articles/plant-facility-equipment/types-of-glass/#:~:text=Glass%20is%20thermal%2Dshock%20resistant,absorbs%20heat%20better%20than%20metal
  7. CannaCon. “Marijuana Pipes 101: The Basics of Style and Material.” Marijuana Pipes 101: The Basics of Style and Material, CannaCon, 30 Aug. 2020, https://cannacon.org/marijuana-pipes-101/
  8. Jenkins, Nash. “Scientists Detect Cannabis on Pipes Found in Shakespeare's Garden.” Time, Time, 10 Aug. 2015, https://time.com/3990305/william-shakespeare-cannabis-marijuana-high/
  9. Spencer, Kaye. “A Brief History of the Corncob Pipe by Kaye Spencer #Westernfictioneers #Americanhistory.” A Brief History of the Corncob Pipe by Kaye Spencer #Westernfictioneers #AmericanHistory, Western Fictioneers, 1 Jan. 1970, https://westernfictioneers.blogspot.com/2018/07/a-brief-history-of-corncob-pipe-by-kaye.html
  10. Dutch Pipe Smoker. Dutch Pipe Smoker, Https://Dutchpipesmoker.com/2013/05/07/Another-Dutch-Invention-the-Corncob-Pipe/ , 7 May 2013, https://dutchpipesmoker.com/2013/05/07/another-dutch-invention-the-corncob-pipe/ 
  11. The Green Cannabis Co. “The Corn Cob Pipe: A Sustainable, All-Natural and Eco-Friendly Starter Pipe.” The GCC, The Green Cannabis Co., 11 May 2021, https://thegccshop.com/blogs/news/corn-cob-pipe-guide
  12. JHanPixel. “Top 5 Reasons Glass Is the Best to Smoke Weed out of.” Shatter Kitchen, Shatter Kitchen, 12 July 2016, https://www.shatterkitchen.com/blog/top-5-reasons-glass-is-the-best-to-smoke-weed-out-of/
  13. Perez, Ashuni. “The Origins of the Metal Smoking Pipe - Metal Pipes - Parkdale Brass.” Parkdale Brass, Parkdale Brass, 24 May 2021, https://parkdalebrass.com/blogs/news/the-origins-of-the-metal-smoking-pipe.  
  14. Perez, Ashuni. “The Pros and Cons of Metal Smoking Pipes - Metal Pipes - Brass Pipes.” Parkdale Brass, Parkdale Brass, 7 June 2021, https://parkdalebrass.com/blogs/news/the-pros-and-cons-of-metal-smoking-pipes
  15. Expert, Big Daddy. “What Are the Pros and Cons of Silicone Pipes?” Big Daddy Smoke, Big Daddy Smoke, 15 Aug. 2019, https://bigdaddysmoke.com/blogs/handheld-pipe-posts/pros-and-cons-silicone-pipes
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  17. O, Kevin. “Glass Pipes, Wood Pipes, and Metal Pipes: What's the Difference?” TorontoVaporizer Blog, TorontoVaporizer Blog, 28 Dec. 2018, https://torontovaporizer.ca/blog/glass-wood-metal-pipes-differences/
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