The images are all over Instagram lately: attractive, tanned, twenty-somethings smoking herb out of what appears to be a shell. Usually, there's some beautiful scenery in the background.

And, just as frequently, mermaids posing with the piece.

So what's going on? Turns out people aren't grabbing random shells off the beach and getting high. They're actually pipes by Ocean Tokes.

With the cute slogan "Sea the Love, Share the Piece," the pipes are hand-crafted from shells commonly found in the Indian Ocean, "where they are organically grown," according to founder Gavin Glatting.

"The locals of India consume the shells inner mollusks as a popular food source,"he said. "Instead of being discarded, the shells are shipped to the U.S. and upcycled where I personally cut, drill, sand, and wash each and every piece."

Some folks, however, say the pieces, while they look hippie-cool, are really, really bad for you, emitting toxic fumes when Calcium Carbonate (what shells are made of) is exposed to flame.

Glatting disputes these claims, telling Civilized that Calcium Carbonate "has a melting point of over 1,300 degrees Celsius. Herbs (like marijuana) will burn and produce toxins as temperatures increase beyond 200 degrees CelsiusThe reality is that smoking through a shell does not break down its chemical structure."

It goes to show: if you want to channel your inner Robinson Crusoe and smoke out of unconventional, natural materials, it pays to first do a little homework. 

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