What's soft glass and how is it different than Boro glass?
I just want to be clear up front that I am not personally a skilled glass blower nor am I in any way educated in the chemical makeup of glass. I created this blog post with info I found researching the subject online and by asking friends and acquaintances that work in the industry for their input. The purpose of this post is to help our customers determine what kind of pipe is right for them, it is not meant to educate anyone in any definitive way about the chemical makeup of glass or glassblowing techniques etc. That said, I've done my best to provide accurate information about the differences, advantages, and disadvantages or soft glass vs Borosilicate glass bongs, dab rigs, bubblers, hand pipes, etc.
Borosilicate glass is also known as scientific glass and is crafted with a torch, working the glass in and out of the flame to sculpt it.
Notice that soft glass is referred to as "blown" while Borosilicate glass is referred to as "worked". It's not a fundamental rule, but it's a logical and common way to differentiate the two. The temperature at which each of these types of glass melt, how they are manufactured, the elements in the glass itself and the artistic process commonly used for each when creating a bong, dab rig, bubbler, or hand pipe are the most prominent differences between the two types of glass.
Is soft glass better than Boro or Is Boro better than soft glass? The answer is; it depends.
Soft glass is the traditional glass used for making water pipes going way, way back. If you are an age-challenged stoner then you probably smoked your shake and Maui Wowwie out of soft glass for many years before you ever saw or heard of a scientific glass bong..
Esthetics: The most obvious esthetic difference that you'll notice between soft glass and Boro is the vibrant colors found on soft glass pipes. The colors found in soft glass have a stunning vibrancy that is difficult to recreate in borosilicate glass pieces and that is a pretty big selling point for soft glass in a lot of peoples eyes. Most Borosilicate glass bongs, and dab rigs are made with clear glass which has a far less artistic vibe; they are much more utilitarian.
Durability: Soft glass has a reputation for being much more sensitive to temperature change and everyday mistakes such as dropping a pipe or knocking a pipe over. In other words, soft glass is widely thought of as more likely to brake. Boro glass on the other hand is well known as a more durable glass that is much more likely to survive a clumsy smoker or excessive temperature changes.
Price: While there are exceptions, soft glass as a raw material is much cheaper to purchase than Borosilicate glass is. colored Boro glass is apparently extremely expensive which is why most Boro glass pipes are made using clear glass. Prices for a finished product however fluctuate greatly because regardless of the materials, it's the time spent, the design, and the function of a pipe that are more relevant to its value. When I think of soft glass there are two distinct types of pipes that come to my mind. One is the imported, often low quality pipes imported from countries like India and China. The other is heady, American Made, "art glass" pipes of extremely high quality, artistic design, and function. It's fair to say that Boro glass pipes can vary in quality in much the same way, however, because the market is so flooded with Borosilicate glass pipes you'll find that many of your Boro glass choices offer similar quality and function meaning it's a less diverse playing field for Boro. The point is, you should not think of a soft glass bong or Borosilicate glass bong as more or less valuable based only on the material they are made from. You have to look at each piece individually to determine its worth.
Get to the point, man! What are the most important characteristics I should be examining when I am deciding between a soft glass or Boro glass bong, dab rig or glass pipe?
1. Durability: Borosilicate glass is without a doubt the more durable choice. If you are not concerned with anything other than keeping your bong in one piece then Boro is probably going to be the best option for you.
2. Esthetic and Artistic Design: You have far more stylistic options with soft glass pipes and most soft glass pipes are going to be more visually appealing and unique than Boro pipes. If you want a piece that's going to catch some eyes and start conversations then a soft glass piece is likely your best option.
3. Function: This is a toss up. Neither soft glass or Scientific glass own any claim to being more functional. That said, the massive amount of Boro glass available might result in more options for you when shopping for a new pipe. Whether you're shopping at Next Bardo online Head Shop, another online shop, or the corner brick and mortar head shop, your likely to find a lot more Boro glass options than soft glass nowadays which means a wider selection of percs and functionality purely because of the availability of scientific glass bongs and pipes. I wouldn't let that sway you from soft glass though, It just depends on what's available at the time you're shopping and where you are doing your shopping.
4. Price: Price is not important when it comes to deciding between the two. Figure out your budget and then look at the options available in that price range wherever you're doing your shopping. Find the pipe that's calling your name. However if you actually believe the pipe is calling your name then you should probably take a break for a few weeks because that's not normal...
Hopefully this post helped a bit with providing information about choosing between a soft glass pipe and a Boro glass pipe. As always, if you have any questions at all please reach out anytime. We are always happy to help in any way we can!
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