For a long time glass has been a material that has been used for a myriad purposes. It’s possible colors and forms are practically limitless. The only restraining factor is durability. This is why glass products have often been ones of indulgence.
In regards to hookah, glass products are exactly that. They are mostly a superfluous addition to the experience similar in purpose to the velvet hose covers that many seem to enjoy but far more expensive and, in my opinion, much more appealing.
Personally I own two glass mouth tips for my washable hoses and a glass mini funnel bowl. These Items are made by a glass blower and designed not only for aesthetic quality but also for maximum durability. If the glass is not treated properly with slow cooling periods then the glass can become brittle and the piece will be quite fragile. I love the pieces that I have. They add very little to the smoking experience beyond a feeling of indulgence and decadence. I bought these back when I had a regular pay check and could afford such luxuries but I don’t regret it. The bowl is the only piece that I feel adds something more to the hookah than just something shiny. I bought the bowl because it was a funnel style bowl designed to use a minuscule amount of tobacco. The design of this bowl is great. It’s draw is wonderful, the heat properties of the thick glass are great and it uses less coal and tobacco than the smallest standard Egyptian bowl I have. It only uses approximately 8-15 grams of tobacco depending on the density at which you pack and the wetness of the tobacco to begin with. Remember, grams are a measure of weight not volume. This bowl alone was worth buying for it’s function along with the visual addition to the hookah.
There is another side to this though. Some people want to produce glass bowls or other accessories because they know they sell well and have a high profit margin. They don’t care much about the artisan craft of glass blowing or the quality of the product and will get mass produced glass pieces from less than masterful hands or factories that do not take the time to make sure that the pieces heat and cool properly made from less than optimal materials. This can easily result in a fragile piece that will not be with you for very long. The best glass to use for anything other than show pieces that are nto meant to be touched is borosilicate glass. Borosilicate glass is strong, very resistant to shock/impact and highly heat resistant. You probably have some in your house right now. It’s commonly called Pyrex and it’s something you want to look for if you are in the market for anything made out of glass but especially hookah accessories.
We see poor quality glass used in hookah vases quite a bit. There are some higher quality vases out there but the majority on the market are fairly cheap and not made to the highest standard. I have had two large glass vases crack on me at this point. Both cracks were in different places and were obviously from improper heat treating. I am extremely careful with my glass and they were not fractures. They were weak spots. This is why some smaller hookahs have been moving toward acrylic. It’s not as visually appealing but it’s more durable for a hookah that is more likely to be transported on a regular basis like the mini Mya Saray. I am really hoping that an artisan glass blower will make some high quality glass vases that are durable and beautiful. While I am always reluctant to spend extra money, at this point it will be better for me to spend a little more and get something that will last longer rather than having to buy multiple cheap bases in the same length of time. Hookahs are kind of useless without a vase.
If you have the extra money to spend then I almost always suggest getting new tobacco or more coals. If you want to look classy and have a one of a kind piece that will add a great aesthetic quality to your hookah experience then I suggest looking into glass mouth pieces.
If you REALLY want to spend as much money on the hookah hobby as you possibly can there are some amazing shops that sell all glass hookahs that are top to bottom borosilicate glass. The only part that is not glass is the hose and that is tipped in glass on both ends. These are beautiful but VERY expensive. The average hookah smoker will never and should never buy one. As far as I am concerned these are for the very affluent and everyone else should save their money.
If you are interested in high quality glass pieces then I suggest checking out http://www.crownhookahs.com and taking a look at their wide assortment of styles and products. That is the shop where I got my pieces and they are great people with great products that they stand behind and are very proud of.
I have to say, the comment at the end about all-glass hookahs has certainly changed. Roi makes a wonderful entry-level all-glass hookah called the Beast. It’s about $180, hand-blown Pyrex glass base, downstem, bowl, and hose. It smokes just as well as my KM Beast, and its only 12″ tall so it’s extremely portable.
I’m personally anticipating the new all-glass German Dschinni hookah that just came out.