Getting the blessed cannabis smoke into lungs and brain requires some kind of inhalation device, and I recently evaluated three unique delivery systems that meet the rigorous standards that CC sets for selecting “ganja gear.”
I tested two portable pipe systems – the Celebration pipe and the Raydiator pipe.
Veteran pipemaker Steve Lach is the creator of the “Celebration” ceramic pipe series. His pipes are three inches long, made from specialty clays combined with Hawaiian lava powder and fired four times in ceramic ovens at 2,350 degrees Fahrenheit.
Lach describes his pipes as “lava stoneware.” Each of them is a unique, signed and numbered creation that comes in its own blue velvet pouch. They’re virtually indestructible and they’re also beautiful: the ample bowls are exterior plated with one of four mirror-finish coatings: 22 carat gold, platinum, opal, or Hanalei Blue. Lach’s engineering skills and creativity also shine inside the bowl and in the pipe stem. He says he coats the bowl interior with gold because gold does not give off toxic vapors like some wood and plastic pipes do.
“Gold is also a superb reflector and heat dispersant,” Lach said. “It concentrates burning of tobacco material at a higher, more efficient temperature, but it prevents heat from traveling down the pipe to the throat. There are special chambers under the bowl that create a Venturi effect that delivers plenty of smoke, without a carburetor, and keeps the smoke cool.”
Lach started making pipes in Hawaii in 1973, and advertised his smoking accessories in the first issue of High Times in 1974. He worked with Hawaii NORML in the mid-70’s and was excited to donate pipes and be in attendance at a NORML fundraiser held at Hugh Hefner’s mansion.
Lach has personally delivered his pipes to many entertainment industry celebrities, including Bob Marley and Woody Harrelson, and has pipe-partied with some of the world’s most famous rock stars. All of them love the Celebration, he says.
Lach’s desire to produce a portable, safe, potent smoking accessory is familiar to James Steen, who makes the “Raydiator” pipe that I also tested.
Steen says he was inspired by the tiny “Protopipe,” and began making his own small pipes in California in 1978. It took him 20 years to fine-tune his Raydiator design.
“I had several goals for this pipe,” Steen explained. “I wanted to eliminate hot gasses that burn the throat and lungs. I wanted a pipe that was easy to conceal and use, and unbreakable. I wanted smokers to be able to taste the subtle flavor of their tobacco without any pollution from plastic, wood, toxic metal screens, or built-up debris. I also wanted my pipe to be easy to clean. I settled on this titanium model.”
Steen’s pipe can be color-customized using interchangeable glass inserts. It is carbureted, has a one half gram bowl, and features an inverted titanium screen that burns very clean and provides more breathing room for “tobacco” material.
Like the Celebration pipe, Steen’s is easy to clean. It comes with an adaptable-length mouthpiece, extra titanium screens, and a cleaning tool.
Of course, the real test of a pipe is in the smoking. Both pipes lived up to their maker’s praise. They delivered unusually seductive hits, without heat and harshness, and were easy to light and keep lit. Lach’s gold-plated bowl interior must have gotten hotter than other pipes I’ve smoked: it burned my “tobacco” to a fine, dark powder that easily blew out of the pipe. Psychoactive effects appeared to be enhanced by the increased burning temperature, and by the generous amount of smoke that the Celebration delivered.
The Raydiator also provided a vaporous stream of cooled smoke. I was surprised at how long the bowl lasted. I had worried that I would only get one or two hits. Instead, I got seven hits average from each load, and by that time, who was counting?
Sweet wrapped smoke
I love pipes, and it’s been a long time since I was tempted to roll a joint, but when I got hold of the six flavors of organically-grown tobacco leaf “Sweet Wraps” joint wrappers made by a small company based in Maryland, USA, I knew it was time to roll some sticks.
Unlike the chemical-laden commercial tobacco blunt wraps that I’ve seen before, Sweet Wraps are 100% organic, made from specialized tobacco plants grown exclusively for Matt and Faye, who run the tobacco products division of Outdoor Arts Unlimited.
Matt is an organic farmer and trained artist who used to use marijuana as a medicine to help him overcome glaucoma. He’d still be using it except that the piggies swept down on him a few years ago, ransacked his home, found some medicinal plants, and hauled him to jail.
He describes his trial as “a pure farce.” The prosecutor was the niece of the judge. Matt’s defense attorney was friends with the judge. The prosecutor offered to reduce Matt’s sentence from four years to one year, but only if Matt became an informant. Matt refused, and did nearly two years in jail, “with rapists and murderers.”
He is afraid to use medical marijuana now, because the rural Maryland county he lives in is rabidly pro-drug war, but he and Faye have channeled their energies into making organic tobacco wrappers in six delicious natural flavors: amaretto, butter rum, cherry vanilla, chocolate, natural rum, and vanilla butternut.
“Our leaf and flavoring design are patented and all natural,” Faye says. “Our two-phase vacuum packaging guarantees freshness. The wraps are resilient and generously sized. If you don’t roll it right the first time, you can start over again. The wraps are made from two different types of premium organic tobacco: Tennessee Darkleaf and Connecticut Broadleaf. The Tennessee is dark and rich, with a full-bodied flavor. The Connecticut is a lighter leaf with a more subtle flavor.”
Faye says her organic tobacco wraps are medicinal, and that they work with other herbal medicines to create a symbiotic potency-enhancing effect.
“We call them sweet wraps for a reason,” Faye said. “When we were flavoring some of our butter rum wraps, a bear came out of the woods and tried to get into them just like it was a beehive full of honey. Now that’s sweet!”
? Celebration Pipes: Smart Trading, PMB 801, 810 Haiku Road, Haiku, Maui, Hawaii 96708; tel 805-438-4444; web www.celebrationpipes.com
? Raydiator: Mori Design, 4044 Auburn Way N, Suite 4, Auburn WA 98002; tel 253-850-5225; web www.raydiator.com
? Sweet Wraps: 699 Hickory Lane, Accident, Maryland 21510 USA; tel 301-245-1113