Most smoking pipes are portable pieces, meaning they are relatively small in length. The smaller pipes deliver large, hot hits, and are more prone to debris directly in your mouth upon inhalation, especially without a screen. Glass pipes tend to go nicely with glass screens as they sit nicely on top of the bowl.
What makes glass and glass screens so ideal is their nature to be inert when it comes to heat. Putting a flame directly onto most materials will melt and destroy them, whereas glass simply expands and contracts according to temperature fluctuations. This also makes them quite fragile, though they are best left to cool down without any assistance.
Glass screens will not give off any noxious fumes or melt from the high heat of a cherry burning through the bowl’s contents. Glass screens tend to be more functional the more you use them as they tend to stick to the inside of the bowl over time. Once your glass bowl gets caked with residue, it is time to clean it, along with the screen.
Over time a metal screen will have to be replaced. That or soaking them in alcohol to remove residue that has been burned into the metal mesh. Some people are known to take a threading needle and manually scrape off the burnt pieces on a metal screen, though this is highly tedious and not worth it in the long run.
Metal screens are usually replaced more often and are prone to getting clogged. Some cheap metal screens are worse than others. Metal screens are also appropriate with low heat devices such as a dry herb vaporizers.
In any case, they can be legitimately used in a smoking pipe as well, though this may not the best type of screen to use. Metal screens are more thorough at filtering debris from bowls, however. Metal screens cover the entire bottom of the bowl and have smaller holes for filtering.
Glass screens are great for glass bowls and are better at taking more heat for longer periods of time. Metal screens are simply better at filtering because the holes on their mesh are smaller. Glass screens tend to sit at the top of the bowl’s hole slightly lifted by smaller pieces of glass. This allows for airflow to go through the pipe.
The biggest con to anything made of glass is its inherent fragility. Oddly enough, glass screens tend to be quite small and can surprisingly withstand some falls on a hard surface. This is mainly due to glass screens being so lightweight without not enough momentum to cause it to break from a fall.
You are more likely to crush your glass screens than you are to crack it from an impact. Metal screens can bend very easily and lose their shape. They are more brittle and have to be replaced more often. Cleaning them is a pain and they are cheap enough to be constantly replaced when needed.
Truthfully, glass is often said to be the winner. A pro that metal has over glass is its ability to filter more thoroughly. This may or may not be a deal breaker to some, though choosing one or the other will be a matter of personal preference. Glass screens do better in glass pipes, whereas metal screens do better in pipes made from anything other than glass.
In terms of functionality, both types can get the job done. Having the right tool for the job is essential to having the best possible outcome, and so using a metal screen in a glass pipe is not unheard of but defeats the purpose of using glass to begin with. Most users who prefer glass tend to be connoisseurs who favor flavor over anything else.
Most glass screens are shaped like little stars, turtles, or jacks. They are small and can be multicolored. Metal screens on the other hand are quite dull and standard, coming in either the typical gray or bronze color. If choosing a metal screen, opt for the gray ones as they tend to be much more durable.
Screens are the type of smoking accessory that will eventually need to be replaced indefinitely. They are small enough to break, get lost, wear out, and be all but useless over time. Whether you have glass or metal, any screen that you use will need to be considered for replacement eventually. Glass screens tend to last considerably longer than metal which makes them the clear winner in terms of durability.
Metal screens have the upper hand for short-term filtration capabilities. Through their pros and cons, users can decide which type of screens suit them best and go for the ones they think they can get the most out of. Some users are just fine with using either metal or glass, though it should be noted that if you plan to use a glass bowl, you should probably opt for a glass screen as well.