In the grand scheme of things, glass smoking tools are relatively new. Glass-blowing has been a thing for about 2,500 years, but glass was not used for cannabis smoking (as far as we know) until sometime during the 1970s or ’80s, when Oregon’s own Bob Snodgrass started showing up at Grateful Dead shows with his little glass pipes, flipping the weed world on its head. Since then, stoners have been obsessed with glass pieces.
Many people prefer smoking or vaping out of glass tools. Not only do they make it lovely to watch, but their smoke usually tastes better than that produced by metal, wood, or stone pipes and bongs.
While glass can be sterilized, it’s also super-fragile. It’s easy to accidentally chip a glass bowl or dab nail while cleaning it. One clumsy pass between friends can result in your favorite smoking device ending up shattered on the ground.
Your first instinct might be to just throw the pieces away. Sometimes that’s the best option. Putting the pieces in a plastic bag, tying it shut, and putting that in a paper bag creates a double layer that will protect anyone else from getting cut. If you want to be really courteous, label the bag as containing broken glass with traces of cannabis.
Next, determine if the broken part is replaceable. You might be able to just swap out the particular element if it’s as small as a chipped bowl. Many smoke shops carry replacement parts for rigs of all types. You can also find parts like rubber O rings and vinyl mouthpieces if you want to spruce up some of your older pieces.
If your piece has broken into two or three clean sections, you might be able to salvage it. As long as the break is in a place where it will not be heated (THIS PART IS IMPORTANT), it could be possible to glue it back together with 2-part glass epoxy glue. This method is safe only if the glue seam will not be exposed to heat, otherwise you will be smoking glue fumes with your weed. Not cute! Due to size, this method is pretty much ruled out for most pipes and small bubblers. For fixes on larger pieces, make sure you follow all the instructions for the epoxy and let it dry for several days before using it to smoke. If you are at all in doubt as to whether this will be a safe fix for your piece, err on the side of caution and throw it away.
Repurposing your broken tools into something altogether different is also an option. You can stick smaller pieces like glass pipe stems sharp-side down into soil next to your plants to continue enjoying the art. Turn the glass bowls of your pipes into tiny planters by pressing a small amount of soil into the bowl and adding a few bits of moss, a tiny succulent, or an air plant. You can take that idea one step further and turn your broken bongs into terrariums by tilting them on their side, filling them halfway with soil, and adding plants with some crystals.
If there is a bright side to breaking your glass pieces, it’s that now you have an excuse to buy a new piece! Lucky for you, you live in a land filled with independent glass artists. Look for Washington-based brands like Mothership Glass, Scolari Glass, and Hondo Glass to level up your smoking game.