Pipe Screens: Are They Worth It? [Ultimate Guide]
At the end of the day, I think it is safe to say that all Stoners are looking for a smoother smoking experience, particularly one without Scoobies. You know, those terrible little bits of ash that get sucked through your hand pipe and into your mouth? Yeah, those are fun!
Furthermore, we all like to keep our hand pipes clean. Believe it or not, there is a tiny little device that you can purchase for dirt cheap that helps to accomplish both of these things – pipe screens. That’s right, pipe screens for hand pipes help you to keep resin from accumulating in your bowl, which makes for pesky clogs, and they also help protect you from Scoobies.
In this guide, we will outline everything you need to know about pipe screens, including:
Let’s get started!
What Are Pipe Screens?
Pipe screens are small screens used to prevent clogging, pull through, and resin buildup in hand pipes and glass bowls. They are typically made from stainless steel, but can also be made from brass, glass, quartz, and even titanium. There are tons of different sizes and designs of pipe screens, depending on your preferences.
Why Use a Pipe Screen?
Put simply, pipe screens make your life easier as a Stoner. They allow ash to pool on top of them, and can easily be removed to kick an entire bowl pack. On top of that, they help to prevent against Scoobies, and also help to keep your hand pipe clean for longer periods of time.
Do You Need A Pipe Screen?
No. Many Stoners get by without one every day. However, once you enjoy the convenience of smoking a hand pipe with a pip screen, it may be hard for you to go back to your more savage smoking habits.
How Do You Use Pipe Screens?
To use a pipe screen, follow these simple steps:
- Clean out your hand pipe or glass bowl – You want to make sure that before you place your pipe screen in your hand pipe that there is no ash or herb beneath it.
- Make sure you have the right size pipe screen – You also want to make sure that the screen you are using fits your bowl or pipe well. Screens that are too small will fall right through the hole, causing clogging and other problems. Screens that are too large will sit too high in your bowl, causing them to be loose, and also not allowing you to pack it completely.
- Pack your herbs on top – Gently pack your bowl the same as you normally would, just with the screen pipe on the bottom.
- Smoke it – Smoke your hand pipe or bong like you usually would, until all of the herbs are gone or turned to ash.
- Kick it – Gently remove the pipe screen once you are done smoking. Give it a shake to remove the ash from it. Then place it back in your bowl if you plan on using it again.
- Reuse or clean your pipe screen as needed – If your pipe screen seems clean, you are good to use it again. If it seems to have some resin buildup in it, you can always choose to clean it, or get a new one.
Because pipe screens are so cheap, a lot of stoners opt to purchase new ones rather than clean old ones. No need to be wasteful, cleaning your pipe screen is very easy. We will explain this process later in this article, so you can save money and save the Earth!
3 Different Types of Pipe Screens
There are a few major types of pipe screens that you will commonly come across while browsing online:
- Stainless Steel
These are generally considered to be the best types of pipe screens because they are durable, easy to clean, affordable, safe to use, and do not have any sort of noticeable effect on taste.
There are also titanium pipe screens, but they are known to have negative effects on the taste, much like titanium nails.
Let’s take a look at each of these types of pipe screens, what makes them different, what we like about them, and which one we recommend.
Glass pipe screens are often made into funky shapes such as flowers or animals. Generally speaking, they are known for being:
- Very easy to clean
- More expensive than other types of pipe screens
- Less durable than other pipe screens
- Easier to clog
- The best pipe screen for airflow
- Versatile, able to fit all sizes of hand pipes and bowls
Overall, glass pipe screens are great for certain Stoners. We like them because as long as you treat them right, you will only ever need one.
So, even though they cost more upfront (only about $3-5 more for 100), they last a lot longer, and they also add a bit of decorative flair to your piece – if that is something you are interested in.
If you are a clumsy Stoner, this may not be the best type of pipe screen for your hand pipe, considering that one drop will almost always break it.
However, where glass pipe screens really excel is in terms of taste. Unlike metal screens, they have no noticeable effect on the taste of your smoking experience, which is very important to some smokers. This change in taste from metal screens comes from the fumes they emit when heated, which are also a cause for health concerns. Overall, glass pipe screens are the safest alternative.
Brass pipe screens are generally the cheapest type of pipe screen (though they are all dirt cheap). They are known for being:
- Very affordable
- Not as long lasting as the other types of pipe screens
- More durable than glass
- Available in many different sizes
Overall, brass pipe screens are the middle of the line. At the end of the day, I can’t see an argument as to why you would choose brass over stainless steel or glass. It’s not that they are bad, but they are noticeably less durable and long lasting than stainless steel, and are barely cheaper, if at all.
Sure, they look great with their golden-brass coloration, and they definitely get the job done, but it is hard to imagine why anyone would choose them over glass or stainless steel.
One thing you need to be careful about with brass pipe screens is that over time, they become weakened by the heat of your pipe. This can lead them to have larger holes in the center over time, or in some cases, cause them to crumble altogether. You want to make sure that if you use brass pipe screens more than once that you periodically check their durability to make sure they are still safe to smoke. The last thing you want is to be inhaling brass.
Stainless steel pipe screens are by far the most popular type of screens on the market. They are known for their:
- Very affordable prices
- Large quantities
- Numerous sizes
- Durability over brass screens
Overall, stainless steel pipe screens get the job done. They noticeably more durable than brass screens in the long run, and they also seem to have a far smaller effect on taste.
Just like brass pipe screens, stainless steel can become weakened by the heat over time, causing larger holes to develop and eventually causing the screen to crumble. Be careful when using screens multiple times and make sure to check their durability to keep yourself safe while smoking.
Are Brass Screens or Steel Screens Better?
Overall, from my personal experiences, and from the experiences of dozens of other seasoned Stoners, it seems that stainless steel screens are the victor in this battle. They are more durable, more affordable, come in more sizes, and also have a smaller effect on flavor – everything that should be important when looking for a pipe screen.
What Are the Best Pipe Screens?
We always recommend glass pipe screens because they are very long lasting, easy to clean, and they have no effect on the taste of your smoking experience. On top of that, they offer the ability to customize your bowl or hand pipe a bit more, which is always nice. Lastly, as long as you are responsible, you should be able to make a single quartz screen last longer than about 100 stainless steel screens.
3 Best Pipe Screen Brands
In terms of which brands of pipe screens are the best, there are a few we prefer over the rest:
- Daisy Screens – These guys make some awesome glass pipe screens that are shaped like colored flowers. You can get a 100 count for under $10, which should be more than you will ever need.
- USA Made – These guys make some of the best stainless steel pipe screens right here in the USA. Very durable screens, lots of sizes, and also affordable prices.
- GRIMM – These guys make some of the best brass screens in the world. They offer tons of sizes, a durable design, and affordable prices.
Overall, I wouldn’t focus so much on brand, after all, they are just screens, not bongs. However, if you want something you can depend on every time, these are the best pipe screen brands for you.
Are Pipe Screens Safe to Use?
First of all, before answering this question, let’s acknowledge the fact that smoking anything is not healthy for you. Inhaling carcinogens in any amount can lead to cancer, lung disease, and hundreds of other health complications later in life. No amount of screening or filtration can completely remove the risks associated with smoking.
Now that we got that out of the way, if safety is your concern when purchasing a new pipe screen, a glass screen is definitely the best option. Any metal, no matter how strong, durable, or safe, releases fumes when it is heated, even at low temperatures. Both brass and stainless steel screens have been known to do this, which is why they tend to affect taste. This raises health concerns that have yet to be answered by regulators and corporations.
Overall, there are no warnings that explicitly tell people to not use brass or steel pipe screens, or that claim they are unsafe. However, all we can do is use the pieces of information available to us to come to a conclusion. At the end of the day, using a metal pipe screen is probably not going to make a very noticeable negative impact on your health. But over time, it could add more chemicals to the equation – whereas using a glass pipe screen eliminates this concern completely.
How Do You Clean a Pipe Screen?
If you’re anything like us, or most Stoners, you want to make the most of what you’ve got. This usually means cleaning out that old bong or hand pipe and making it good as new, or conserving every last crumb and pipe screen in order to save money over time.
No worries, there is nothing wrong with being resourceful. In fact, it seems we could use a bit more of that in our wasteful world. When we first started using pipe screens, we had no idea how to clean them, and had to try all sorts of methods before getting the process just right. So, we thought we would save you some time and share this little secret with you.
What Supplies Will I Need?
To clean your pipe screen, you should prepare the following supplies:
- Isopropyl Alcohol
- Paper Towels
Once you have all of these supplies ready, it is time to start cleaning your pipe screen!
How to Clean a Pipe Screen in 7 Steps
- Check the pipe screen for dirtiness – Take out your screen and check out how dirty it is. Sometimes, a loose layer of ash will be responsible for how dirty it is, other times a layer of resin buildup is the culprit. Depending on how dirty it is, you may have to take different steps to clean it.
- Blow on the screen – To reveal how dirty your pipe screen truly is, blow on it to remove the top layer of ashes. If it seems like that is all you needed, you may be able to skip the remaining steps of the cleaning process, but can still follow through to ensure cleanliness. If there seems to be resin built up, it is definitely time to take the next steps.
- Burn your pipe screen clean – Next, take your tweezers and lighter. Holding your pipe screen in your tweezers over your sink or toilet, use the lighter to heat it up for about 1-2 minutes. Any longer can damage the durability and integrity of your screen. This step helps to burn off some of the resin that remains on your screen after blowing it.
- Let your screen cool and blow on it again – After heating it, let your pipe screen cool about 2-3 minutes before picking it up again. Blow on it once more to assess how clean it is. If no resin remains, simply soak it in warm water for 30 seconds to remove any residue from burning it and let it dry. If resin remains, continue on to the next steps.
- Soak your pipe screen in an alcohol and salt solution – Take your Isopropyl alcohol and pour it into your container. For small pipe screens, you will not need more than about 8 ounces. Then, take about 2-4 tablespoons of salt and mix it in until you have a solution. Then, place your pipe screen in the solution and let it soak for about 30-60 minutes.
- Take your pipe screen out and rinse it – After you have let it soak for about an hour, take out your screen and check to see how clean it is. If it looks clean, then simply rinse it off with clean water, and let it dry before using it again. If it still seems dirty, you may need to let it soak once more.
- Be sure to rinse and dry your screen – This is one of the most important steps in the cleaning process. You want to make sure that you rinse all of the alcohol solution off of your pipe screen before using it, otherwise, you will expose yourself to dangerous alcohol fumes. Also, be sure to dry your screen before using it in order to keep your herbs dry.
And that’s it! Now it’s time to smoke again and get your pipe screen dirty again! Be sure to keep an eye on the durability of brass and stainless steel screens every time you clean them. If they seem to be getting weak, just throw them away instead of waiting for them to crumble while you are smoking.
3 Things to Keep in Mind When Cleaning Your Pipe Screen
When cleaning your pipe screen, it is important to remember a few key things:
- They only last so long – Look, I don’t care if you are the Greek God of cleaning, you can only use a brass or stainless steel screen so many times before it is just dangerous to smoke out of. If it gets to the point where it feels very weak, you should throw it away and not risk smoking out of a pipe screen that could fall apart, causing you to inhale dangerous fumes.
- A clean screen is more efficient – What’s the point of using a pipe screen if you can’t even get a smooth smoking experience out of it? Without cleaning your pipe screens, you are either wasting a lot of money purchasing new ones, or wasting a lot of time having to clean your hand pipe more often.
- Some screens should be cleaned before use – Believe it or not, some pipe screens come with a dangerous chemical film on the outside that needs to be burned off before using. Be sure to check your labels before using your pipe screens in order to be sure they are safe to smoke. Or ditch the safety problems altogether and opt for a glass pipe screen.
How Can I Make a Pipe Screen at Home?
Look, there are all sorts of ways you can make a pipe screen at home, from using tin foil to a paperclip. However, we do not recommend any of these methods for a few major reasons:
- They expose you to harmful chemicals and fumes
- They are hardly cheaper than purchasing real pipe screens
- They never work that well
- They don’t last more than a few smoking sessions at best
Overall, for the benefit of your own safety and time, you are better off just purchasing a glass pipe screen that fits just about any hand pipe or bowl, and keeping it nice. This will help you save a lot of money, and dramatically reduce your exposure to additional carcinogens in whatever you are smoking.
Wrapping it Up – Should I Use a Pipe Screen?
Yes. In our experience, using a pipe screen makes for a smoother smoking experience every time. They are very affordable, easy to clean, and usually last a very long time if you treat them right.
We always suggest you use glass pipe screens for safety purposes primarily, but also to get a better taste, and have a longer lasting, easier to clean pipe screen in the future.
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Pipe screens are one of the best things you can do to make your smoking experience smoother. In this guide, we break down how to use them, why you should, and where to find the best pipe screens.