Occasionally someone will come into our shop requesting to see our “Double” or “Triple” Blown Glass Hand Pipes. The premise behind double or triple blown glass is that it is thick layers of glass blown by the lamp worker (Glass Blower) to create a stronger and less breakable piece.
The problem is that in reality, there is no such thing. After some exhaustive research with over one hundred of the countries best smoke shops and lamp workers we discovered that many years ago some shop owners in California started referring to their thicker pipes as “Double Blown” and that eventually escalated into “Triple Blown” glass. These inaccurate descriptions were and are still being used as exaggerated selling points.
The thickness of a hand pipe or water pipe is decided by the blower before beginning the process. The thickness of the tube, how far it is stretched or shortened will determine the thickness of the piece when it is finished.
What does make a difference in durability is the type of glass used. For example; many American blowers use Schott Borosilicate for their work. Even some Chinese blown glass manufactures will import better quality glass tubes for their work like Simax or Pyrex. Most of those are American owned companies that have moved their factories to China for the same reason every other company does; cheaper labor. Another factor is American blowers will most definitely finish their glass in a kiln, heating the glass quickly and annealing the glass to make it stronger and more durable.
There are instances where glass could be referred to double blown, but that is simply multi-layering of colors and does not necessarily effect the strength of the piece. For example when working with “frit” you need to blow it out to melt it back in, then you blow a pipe out of it.. twice.. or double blown.
The Drop Test!
Some smoke shop owners will attempt to prove how strong their glass pipes are by dropping them on the floor or even tossing them across the room. This may in fact demonstrate that the glass has been well made and is durable, but EVERY time glass is impacted, it is weakened. So you should NOT buy the piece that the shop keeper dropped and instead choose a different one, although it is likely that piece has been dropped at least once at some point in a similar demonstration for a different customer.
So, the next time a smoke shop employee tries to sell you a hand pipe that is “Double” or “Triple” Blown you may want to turn around and find a more reputable shop to make your purchase from.
Here are some quotes from glass blowers and smoke shop owners that we heard during our research.
Chad – “9 out 10 times folks who refer to pipes as double or triple blown have very little experience in the glass blowing industry and may have learned the terminology from a Bodega or flea market style glass shop . As far I know , The term triple blown refers to inside color worked glass , to truly melt the colors in correctly would require the blower to melt down and blow out , melt in and blow out , melt in and blow out the tube be for shaping the pipe.”
Tom – “When I manufactured, I made a pipe for dyno-mite called the indestructible pipe. They were super thick, but doubled or triple blown, ha what a crock of shit. And dropping or throwing a pipe? Only a moron would buy a pipe after it was banged or thrown. I don’t know how many times some local blower would come in and chuck a pipe only to watch it shatter.”
Brett – “No such thing as double and triple blown. I blow glass every day and I have to educate people daily who come in the shop asking for double and triple blown. You can double and triple blow boro. There are different techniques to layering color. Such as blow Ins and encasement. Multiple layered glass is just as strong as any boro if done properly. When glass is thicker in most cases it’s because the blower condensed the proper amount of material for the piece. When it’s thin the blower took material that would normally make 1 pipe and they stretch it down to 3 pipes which then makes your glass thin. So double triple blown doesn’t exist.”
Chad – “Also any shop who has tried to sell myself or another customer a pipes thickness based on hitting it on a table or glass case , I’ve quickly educated that glass has memory, meaning every time you slam that piece of glass fractures happen, basically your selling already broken glass . I haven’t sold glass to one shop that uses this sales technique.”
Chris – “Glass is put in the kiln to anneal. That process relieves the glass of its stress so that it becomes stable. You can only anneal compatible glass though. No amount of annealing will allow 2 different coe of glass to become stable if they are too far apart.”
By Rob Fontano
Owner: Cirrus Smoke Shop
Fort Myers, Florida