There are smokers with pieces straight from Pimp My Ride, rocking more accessories than a Claire's Boutique. This story probably isn't for them. This story is for the person who's heard of dabs but still thinks a nail is that thing in Richard Kiel's head, or for someone who lost their smoke-ginity in the wake of Amendment 64 and is looking for another toy.
This story, a head's-up on three new products available at Colorado stores, is for middling beginners — midginners, is what I'm trying to say, basically.
$69.99 at Pipe's Peak, 1204 W. Colorado Ave.
Soft glass is different from the average borosilicate stuff that most pipes are made from. The name's a little misleading, as it doesn't feel different, but it's molded in a molten honey form instead of blown from a tube shape, and doesn't contain strengthening additives. Our piece was made by Violet Alrod, a 40-year-old glassblower who works out of a 10-person co-op in Berkeley, California. Alrod, who says she does about $50,000 in annual sales, loves the stuff, which she compares to Venetian glass or Chihuly.
"They clean really good: You just pour hot water in from the faucet, and it spills right out," she says. Incredibly, this proved to be true in testing. I smoked maybe 20 bowls on that pipe, building up a good, scummy black surface, and I shit you not: Hot sink water run over the bowl for maybe 30 seconds cleaned it as well as if I'd attacked it with rubbing alcohol and a scrubby. Magical. I wiped the slight remainder off with a paper towel.
Our piece is purple, twisted like taffy, and ultimately looks like a cross between Dr. Seuss and Sherlock Holmes. I hated it at first because I couldn't set it down without spilling the bowl, but figuring out places to rest it was easy. "And then, when smoking them, they're a really clean smoke as well ... and the flavor of the smoke is really good," says Alrod. "It's not like you're getting ashy flavor that you need to carve out of your mouth."
Lesson: Next time it's pipe-shopping season, check the material.
$59.99 at Pipe's Peak, 1204 W. Colorado Ave.; $30 at Southern Colorado Medical Marijuana, 3410 N. Prospect St.
The real Nectar Collector is a $900 glass wand tipped with titanium that functions as a bubbler for dabbing concentrates without using a full-blown rig. Made in Boulder, it still requires the high temperatures of a butane or propane torch — $49.99 at Pipe's Peak — to heat the tip, but then you run it through a small dish of earwax hash, or what have you, and vaporize the THC.
Fortunately, you can reproduce a similar shape, if not similar quality, for a lot less money, leading to a generic category of products called nectar collectors or honey straws. Our first, bought from Pipe's Peak, either looks like a one-tentacled squid with two red eyes or a glass sex toy. (I know what you're thinking, and I agree: Why not both?)
The second was a bent glass straw that looked like a lightning bolt (unlike the first pipe, it comes with the necessary small glass dish), from SoCo MMJ. Ultimately, it held up best against the more expensive piece, which erratically flared up in black smoke and defied a good pull from some New York City Diesel shatter. The straw was more intuitive to use, had no problem facilitating milky white clouds.
$110 to $235 at Illuzion Glass Galleries, 238 Broadway, Denver
We would love to have said we tried Health Stone Glass' baby, but the company never responded to inquiries and the only store in Colorado that still had any in stock when we called, Illuzion Glass in Denver, said it had a regular hand pipe for $110 and a curvy Sherlock Holmes-style for $235, a bit out of our price range. You could also buy the stone itself for $80, but there's no guarantee it will fit your pipe.
Basically, there's a porous stone in the bowl portion on which you place the concentrate. Some pipes have chambers that cool the vapor on the way to your lungs. You apply the tip of a torch, melting the concentrate into the stone while simultaneously heating the stone to vaporize it. It's just another way to take in the increasingly popular strong stuff. We called around for sales, but only found responses like that of an employee at Indispensary, who told us he wished they carried it.
"I'm going to give you guys my take on Health Stone Glass, period," says a vlogger with the popular YouTube channel DabLabTV. "I really like their product. It works really good. It's functional. It's easy, is my biggest thing. ... Just like a regular green hit, but you don't need to take three, four bong rips — one and done."