- 1 Is Your Metal Weed Pipe Killing You?
- 1.1 What to Look For
- 1.2 How Hot Does a Lighter Get?
- 1.3 Is a Metal Pipe Dangerous to Smoke Out of If a Lighter’s Listed Top Flame Temperature Exceeds the Melting Point?
- 1.4 What You Should Get from This Study
- 1.5 Dangers Associated With Metals Used In Smoking Accesories
- 1.6 Should You Be Worried
- 1.7 Exceptions To The Above
- 1.8 The DIY Smoking Device -What You Should Worry About
- 1.9 Final Thoughts
- 1.10 APPENDIX
- 1.11 What Are The Symptoms Of Metal Fume Fever?
Is Your Metal Weed Pipe Killing You?
Many marijuana smokers do not like how cannabis from a metal or metal alloy pipe tastes. However, many also don’t care or do notice, much or any difference. For those in the latter group, a metal pipe is quite tempting as it can be easier to hide (some are collapsible), and metal is just more durable than a glass water pipe. Additionally, metal screens are cheaper and more durable than a glass screen.
All the above is good and well. But the number one issue though is safety. And with safety, the number one question is “What is the safest metal to smoke out of?”
What About Cookware?
Cookware is commonly made of copper, stainless steel, brass, and other metals. Consequently, some cannabis and I’d imagine cigarette smokers might reason that if a metal is safe for cooking it must also be safe for smoking. However, this analogy is faulty as the temperature of a stovetop will not melt a genuine pot made from copper, stainless steel, etc.
Please note I am that smoking out of any metal is safe or unsafe. I am only saying that just because a certain metal is safe for cooking it does not mean that metal would be safe or unsafe for smoking cannabis.
What to Look For
The most used metals for a weed pipe, screen, and vaporizer are copper, stainless steel, and aluminum. Further, concerning safety, this article will mostly be concerned with the safety aspects of physically smoking out a certain metal. Specifically, I will examine the likelihood of a metal, melting, which might result in the smoker inhaling toxic fumes.
The Melting Point and Lighter Temperature
The toxic fumes from metal are the main reason why smoking out of X metal might be dangerous. Consequently, to determine whether a metal is safe to smoke weed, tobacco or other substances, you should know the melting point of metal and the temperature of both, disposable, butane lighters, and non-disposable lighters. i.e., Zippo lighters. With these two figures, you would then, theoretically, be able to know if your lighter could melt a metal, which in turn could cause toxic fumes to be released.
How Hot Does a Lighter Get?
Max Temperatures of a Lighter Flame vs. Melting Point
A lighter‘s top temperature depends upon the lighter fuel that is used. Butane, which is used mainly in disposable lighters like the Cricket or Bic, can get to a top temperature of 4,074 degrees Fahrenheit. A non-disposable, Zippo, like lighter uses, light petroleum distillate. AKA- naphtha and can reach a top temperature of 4,591 degrees Fahrenheit.
Common Melting Points
The following is a list of the melting point (in Fahrenheit) of common metals and alloys, gathered from Steelforge.com that are commonly used in pipe, pipe screens, and homemade pipe.
- Brass-1710 to 1832
- Stainless Steel-2750
- Aluminum Foil or Straight Aluminum-1220
*Some metal alloys may contain lead.
Is a Metal Pipe Dangerous to Smoke Out of If a Lighter’s Listed Top Flame Temperature Exceeds the Melting Point?
The answer to this question is, under almost all circumstances, no, as it takes time for a lighter to reach its highest temperature. The reasons for a lighter not being able to reach the top temperature are environmental factors like temperature and air circulation. The biggest reason, and the one that you should be concerned about, is the time for a lighter to reach its top temperature.
How Long for A Lighter to Reach Its Full Temperature?
A scientific study was done that determined the minimum time needed to get a cigarette lighter up to a temperature capable of burning someone. The information would then be used to help determine whether a burn was intentional or a mistake.
The study did not list how long it would take to reach the 4,000 plus the top temperature of a lighter. However, the study determined that it takes a disposable lighter around 50 seconds to get to 140 degrees or 60 Celsius, which is well below the melting point for all metals that are commonly used in smoking. A lighter will also stop after three minutes.
What You Should Get from This Study
are common metals that are used in both pipes and screens. Per the study above, it takes 50 seconds, to only reach 140 degrees. Please, note the time it takes to reach 140 degrees is lessened to a slight extent when the lighter was used recently. However, even when a lighter is warmed up, it will take quite a long time to get to its top temperature.
Copper, stainless steel, aluminum, and brass are safe when they are in their solid state. i.e., You will not be harmed by touching a certain metal. The fumes though, from each of these metals, when inhaled will cause certain health problems. Luckily, though, unless you keep your lighter going straight for a few minutes, it will not even begin to get close to melting the above common metals.
Dangers Associated With Metals Used In Smoking Accesories
Concerning inhalation (“breathing”) stainless steel is the safest metal. According to its MSDS inhaling stainless steel, fumes can cause metal fume fever.- Look at the Appendix for info on this illness.
Long-term inhalation and exposure to copper fumes may cause metal fume fever. Additionally, inhaling too many copper fumes might result in permanent scarring and lung inflammation.
Some of the common, long term, exposure symptoms are:
- Low Red Blood Cell Numbers (“Anemia”)
- Yellow Colored Skin
- Kidney Damage of Failure
And more . . .
In the 60s and 70s, aluminum fume inhalation was linked to Alzheimer’s disease. However, these studies have largely been disproven.
Brass is composed of aluminum, iron, manganese, which fume exposure can cause Metal Fume Fever. Brass also has silicon and years of exposure can cause silicosis. Silicosis itself will result in greatly reduced lung function. Additionally, Silicosis may lead to lung cancer, kidney disease, heart failure, and other serious health matters.
Should You Be Worried
Based upon the high melting point of the above metals and the time it takes to get a lighter temperature at its highest, no commonly used metals will be melted by the normal use of a disposable or non-disposable lighter.
Exceptions To The Above
The Aluminum Can One Hitter Pipe
When you’ve broken your glass pipe and are out of rolling papers an aluminum coke or beer can is a tempting way to smoke weed. However, it’d be best to curb that temptation as the inner and outer surface of an aluminum can may contain toxic elements. My advice is that instead of a soda can, smoke out of an apple.
The DIY Smoking Device -What You Should Worry About
You should use your common sense, concerning any DIY smoking accessory. For example, a DIY, metal hookah or gravity bong, or homemade pipe might be a perfectly safe smoking device. However, it could also be dangerous if you did thoroughly sanitize it before and after it was made. (Due to toxicity, I would however stay away from a plastic bottle bong or other marijuana paraphernalia)
The way you can though get in trouble using any metal to smoke is if you buy from an unknown source or through the black market. For example, to save money, some pipes may contain the hazardous substance lead. This could mean that your stainless steel pipe screen that you got a great deal on is part lead. Lead has a melting point of only 620. What is worse though is that led poisoning can occur even occur through merely touching the substance. Based upon the melting point and how long it takes you should likely be just fine if you purchase a metal pipe, hookah, bong, etc, from a reputable source.
Metal Fume Fever
Metal fume fever is the most likely result of long-term exposure to metal fumes.
Metal Fume Fever is an affliction that is normally associated with welders, steelworkers, or anyone who is subject to the following metallic substances.
• Zinc Oxide
• Aluminum Oxide
• Magnesium Oxide
As you might have recognized, on the above list, Aluminum is the only metal that is commonly used in weed accessories. However, many metals are alloy, which means that they are mixed with other types of metal. A prime example of this is that stainless steel contains magnesium, and copper contains high amounts of zinc.
What Are The Symptoms Of Metal Fume Fever?
You’ll first start feeling the effects of Metal Fume Fever in 48 hours and the symptoms could last for one to two days.
Metal fume fever’s symptoms mimic the common fever. Some of the most common are:
• Joint Pain
• And More
Also, those afflicted with metal fume fever may also have a dry and/or irritated throat and might notice a metallic taste.