~ Why American Pipes Are Superior ~
Ask any glass blower why American glass pipes reign supreme over all others. The answer is not only quality, but it is also for human rights and ethical reasons. Buying American glass pipes is just better quality in general, from to making the raw glass material in the cleanest way possible with less impurities, all the way down to the fine time-consuming details of making the pieces with less imperfections.
We wanted to write an article and raise awareness to why it is better to buy American glass pipes over the dirt-cheap glass import pipes. While we do carry some import pipes for price competitive reasons, the majority of our glass is made by American companies and individual glass artists. The most important reason is because not all import glass pipes are made in an ethical manner. In some countries, there are glass pipe sweatshops filled with people making hundreds of identical pipes a day and getting paid next to nothing to do so. If you don’t know exactly what a sweatshop is, a sweatshop or sweat factory is a crowded workplace with very poor, socially unacceptable or illegal working conditions. Some illegal working conditions include poor ventilation, little to no breaks, inadequate working space, insufficient lighting, or uncomfortably high temperatures. The work may be difficult, tiresome, dangerous, climatically challenging or underpaid. Workers in sweatshops may work long hours with unfair wages, regardless of laws mandating overtime pay or a minimum wage; child labor laws may also be violated.
These production style pipes are shipped via cargo with only two holes blown. This gives the illusion that the bowl is really an artistic glass bead for a necklace and not a pipe. The bowl hole is later drilled out, which compromises the structure of the already weak glass pipe. When glass is heated, it causes expansion and contraction. The dust and glass chips from the drilling process are left for the un-suspecting buyer to inhale when taking their first hit. (PSA: Always clean your pipe before using it for the first time!)
Not only that, but certain hand pipes and waterpipes get their color from paint rather than colored glass. Lead based paint, anyone? Also, as soon as you use a cleaner or alcohol and salt of your painted pipe, the color will just wash away.
Domestic glass pipes are hand-made products by local glass blowers whose passion drives them to add exciting new developments to the flourishing counterculture, whereas competitors overseas are simply cloning popular techniques in order to supply the ever-expanding demand. Don’t get us wrong. Production style pipes do exist in America, but they are done with techniques acquired by skill and proper materials, and not run in a sweatshop type of mannerism. I mean, the flames are hot, but you know what we mean. At least our glassblowers can drink, eat or use the restroom whenever they need to, and they aren’t forcing children to work.
The local standard for an American made pipe almost always consists of borosilicate or “boro” glass. With local artists venturing into the world of glass and using the worthy canvas to expand creativity and innovation, you end up with more of a unique, distinctive product. Domestic glass is usually cleaned after being made, so there is no kiln debris on or inside of the pipe, the holes are always blown versus drilled, and they are usually thicker and more durable, so they last much longer. Certain shops create a nice profit margin for purchasing imported glass. The mark-up on locally made art can be high too, but it really all depends on the shop. We here at Dragon’s Breath Smoke Shop have a steady x2 mark-up rather than a 2.5x or 3x, like some other shops do. Not only do we NOT want to make more money than the artist, but we believe in fair market value. In other words, we don’t rip off our customers. When you walk into a smoke shop and all of their glass is import, run away. Trust us, they are buying those glass hand-pipes for $1-5 a piece and selling them for $20 and up. The quality of the glass is trash, you’re getting ripped off, and that shop is only supporting the sweatshop industry.
If you need any other reason to support our fellow Americans’ glass art, patriotism is always a great reason as well. Putting the majority of our money into our own economy rather than another country’s economy is always the better option. We always strive to bring in and push out as much glass as possible from American glassblowers. We know that import glass is cheaper, but American glass is 100% better in every way possible. We hope to have given people a little more insight as to why the majority of our glass is a little more expensive than all of the import smoke shops that are popping up everywhere in our area, as well as why it is always better to by American over import.
We here at Dragon’s Breath will always be 100% honest about what our products are, and we strive to make sure that our prices are of fair value and that everything in the transaction is clairvoyant.