Except for some pipes such as glass that use glass screens, you will find that screens are required for many other types of pipes, and even some desktop vapes! One can usually find screens of different sizes and durability at their local head shop. The problem is that all screens need to eventually get replaced, and it can be a hassle to buy them over time.
Fortunately, pipe screens are not that hard to make and can be much cheaper in the long run. If you do not mind having an imperfect circle inserted into your piece, then making your own screens can be a piece of cake. The truth is that making your own screens is not usually worth the trouble.
It is much more convenient to simply buy them and use them. Less time building, more time smoking. Still, for those who enjoy playing MacGyver, making your own screens can be simple and enjoyable. The key is making sure you get the correct mesh and material of metal. Pick the wrong kind and you could end up with a screen that does not even last you the entire session.
Whatever you do, never ever buy screens made for windows or doors, period. This is not the right type of screen, and you will end up with particulate matter inside your lungs. Plus, they do not last at all. They are weak, thin, and flimsy. In fact, most are not even made of metal! Those that do have mesh that is so thin it resembles nylon.
Do not be surprised if some of them really are made of cloth fabric or other flammable materials. Aside from that, there is the issue of having small fibers and particulate matter that will either end up in your mouth and lungs or be completely incinerated along with the rest of the screen upon putting a flame to it. Why waste money on buying a large sheet of material when it is subpar?
Screens designed for doors and windows are terrible for using as screens for a pipe. They are not entirely cheap, and they are not suitable for smoking. Do not assume that by folding it over and making it thicker that it will make it sturdier for use in a pipe. The only suitable types of material that can be used for a pipe is metal and other harder materials that we will discuss in the next section.
The truth is that you do not need to rely on metal screens for a screen in your pipe. Did you know that people have been using stones and glass for years before metal screens were ever introduced? Tiny pebbles that are irregularly shaped and cleaned can be used as suitable screens for many smoking pipes.
Do not be put off by the fact that you found your screen on the ground outside. Just a simple cleaning will render your new screen completely suitable for use inside your pipe. While it is not advisable to use broken glass, it can technically be salvaged in a safe way and used as a screen for your pipe. The best screen will undoubtedly be metal, however.
What is more common nowadays is the use of ceramic and glass screens, often shaped like little jumping jacks and turtles. This is often preferable to metal since metal can often leave behind unwanted flavors in an aftertaste. If you choose to use a small rock as a screen, always make sure you thoroughly clean it to avoid inhaling dust and other particulates.
A trip to a hardware shop will provide you with different sizes of mesh screen that can be suitable for use in a pipe. The best way to know what type of metal and mesh sizing you will need can be done by taking a precut screen with you and comparing it to the mesh screens available. Conversely, once you have the mesh wiring, you can simply outline the sizes by placing the precut screen onto the mesh and cutting it out.
Try not to get a mesh that is too coarse or too fine. If the holes are too big, you will suck in ash and potentially burn your mouth and throat. If the mesh is too fine, you will clog your screen faster and get very weak hits. One method is to get a mesh that is coarse and to double fold it to make it suitable. The problem with this is that doing so will take up more space in your bowl and make for a shorter session overall.
Prior to using a new screen, it is highly advisable that you prime it and burn off any oils or fine particulates by carrying over a flame. This is especially true if you manually cut out your screens as they will likely carry fine metal particles on them. Simply pass them over your lighter for a bit before placing inside your bowl.
Pipe screens are one of the most overlooked items in a smoking pipe’s repertoire. In fact, some users even use their pipes with no screens at all. While this can also be an option, care must be taken not to take too hard of a hit or else risk sucking in burning material and burning your mouth. The best screens are those that are pre-made and usually made of either stone, glass, or ceramic.
No matter what you end up choosing, always make sure your screens are suitable to use when applying heat. Never use ultra-fine screens or screens that come from questionable sources. While stones may seem primitive, they are more than capable of being used as screens in a pipe.
If you have any doubts about using a certain type of material, then stick to something you know will work, such as glass or ceramic. Precut screens are always your best bet, though if you choose to make your own, always make sure you pick out the correct size and material!