Now and then, local companies show us medical marijuana-related products. Enough, actually, that we decided to showcase our Colorado Stoner MacGyvers in quasi-regular product reviews. The latest is below.
Heady Glass in-house production bubbler with oil-curve Retail price: $250 for bubbler, titanium dish and curve set with bowl and bowl stand.
Heady Glass Galleries 324 W. Hampden Ave. Englewood, CO www.headyglass.com
I've had the same glass pieces for a while now. Not to say I didn't care about my glass: My trusty blue-dot bong, hand pipes, chillums and assorted bubblers were always kept clean. But I wasn't ever the type of guy who had pipes for every occasion. That and I wanted versatility and durability out my pipes -- because I am clumsy. So after Colorado-based Heady Glass got me one of their new in-house production bubblers with a 14mm swappable glass-on-glass bowl and oil-curve attachment, I was somewhat anxious.
When I put the strangely balanced glass piece with a one-inch square piece of titanium that was meant to be heated until glowing red in my hands, my first thoughts were of shattered glass, followed by worries about third-degree burns. In short, this was the complete opposite of what I owned and likely should own. But I've been intrigued by paddle swings for smoking concentrates and only dealt with them a few times. So I figured that any reasonable thirty-year-old man should be able to operate simple hot machinery without burning down his house or melting off his skin.
Heady Glass has been around for a few years now, bouncing from its original location on Broadway to new digs in Englewood last May. The shop now features glass work from around the country as well as acting as the home base for a handful of Colorado-local glass artists. Owner Chris Keller said that he has seen more and more demand for oil-specific pipes as people become more discerning with their medicine. "Oil is expensive and most people are still saturating their medication with the oil," he said. "While it's not the worst vehicle to use to get your medication, it's so much better to just be sitting there using pure extract and releasing just the pure medication. It's the key."
Artist Ben "Spice" Crowley has been responsible for shaping and piecing together the pipes and glass-on-glass fittings at his post in the Heady Glass gallery, in full view of customers. While each one is slightly different, he says they all generally require the same hour-or-so to complete, unlike heavily worked pieces with matching colors blown throughout, which can take hours and days to complete. "We have so many people coming in looking for an affordable oil rig," he said. "Not everyone wants to spend $400 to $600 on a piece. We wanted people to have something versatile and still nice without spending a lot."
This piece is very basic, without any color or fancy design work. But its utilitarian approach is also what makes it so appealing. By swapping out the bowl (and the water), you could go from having a water pipe for smoking herb to an oil-specific rig. The pipe setup I was given to test out included one percolated downstem with large holes to provide minimal drag. I also was given another downstem that sells for an additional $15; it has small slices in the glass to create a shower-head effect that gives more drag to the pull. I found it was nice to swap the shower head in and out with the oil rig to produce more even hits.
At eleven inches tall with a long stem, the lean on the pipe also meant it was strangely balanced and the slightest bump on a table or tip of a dog's tail would send this thing down on some weird angles. Some of the other production pieces are lower to the ground, feature a more traditional conical shape to them and likely don't have this issue. The pipe was durable, but given the overall shape and cost, this isn't something I would suggest for a college house or for people who are prone to elbowing glass off tables (you know who you are). But for medicating alone or with close friends or family, the bubbler is perfect for the price. It was ergonomically comfortable and I found myself holding it for hours watching a movie on the couch, slowly ripping bowls as needed. It also looks beautiful cleaned and on the shelf -- and it's satisfying to know it was made just a few miles away. The hand-blown shapes and tiny imperfections add to the strangely organic shape, which includes a teardrop water-catching bowl beneath the stem to the mouthpiece. A month with the pipe and the only thing I broke was one of the teeth at the bottom of the shower-cap downstem during cleaning.
As for my other fear: The paddle swing quickly became my favorite part of this piece. Heating up the titanium paddle swing does seem a bit crazy the first few times you do it, and I had plenty of people equate this to freebasing. But after a few days, it became as natural as lighting a bowl. The paddle is heated and concentrates are dabbed onto the surface using a quartz rod, causing them to smoke up. The smoke is drawn through the snorkel, or curve, and down into the bubbler. I also had my fears about smoking using metal, but Keller calmed me down by explaining that the medical-grade titanium is much safer than the old way of mashing two hot stainless steel knives together. I used this for everything from oils to bubble hash and even pressed kief once or twice just for coughs and giggles. Water cools down the hot smoke and one or two hits is really all that you need from strong concentrates.
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The downside? You have a once-inch square disc of red-hot titanium hanging off the end of your pipe. Now, I'm a big advocate of personal responsibility -- so while this is clearly something to use at your own risk, you should still be careful with it. Switching from oil to flowers midway through a session meant finding a place and angle to set the swing down safely. I found that people not experienced with smoking out of anything fancier than a joint were intimidated by this piece until they saw a few people using it. Again, just because this is a basic piece doesn't mean it's for beginners.
Overall, this piece exceeded my expectations and showed me new ways of medicating. It may be top heavy and slightly dangerous, but once I got the hang of the bubbler, it never was far from my hands. Glass-on-glass meant easy cleaning with some rubbing alcohol and salt, and since all of the pieces are interchangeable, stepping up my game with a worked bowl or curve set is an easy way of customizing the production piece down the line. My only suggestion for improvement would be to drop the center of gravity by widening the base of the pieces in the future
I've seen similar oil-specific bubblers sell for $200 to $600 online, which is great if you have the coin. But getting an affordable piece and getting to know your local glass blowers is something online orders can't offer. Add the torch and you've got a dual-purpose piece for around $300. The shop doesn't always have the bubblers in stock, so call ahead to put in your order.
More from our Marijuana archive: "Marijuana product review: The Purple Haze Vaporizer not an argument for future of plastics."