Buying a bong for the first time is like Goldilocks finding the best bed. One bed was too hard, the other too soft, but the last one was just right. Every cannabis user is different with unique needs for their bong.
For example, my primary smoking method is my 10-inch-tall glass beaker bong since I mainly smoke at home. It is heavy-duty, smooth hitting, and easy to clean.
But a large glass bong is not ideal for those who need something inconspicuous or want something to travel with.
It is difficult to find a bong without knowing what to look for. This guide breaks down the decisions to make when buying a bong for the first time.
To figure out which bong is the perfect fit, consider the size, material, design, and functions of the bong.
Small, Medium, or Large Bongs?
The size and durability of the bong are the first considerations. Small bongs are easy to stash in a shoe box. Decorated and delicate bongs look good on display. And hardy bongs always get the job done well.
Small bongs are under 8 inches tall. Of course the smaller the piece, the more stealthy the bong is and the easier it is to take on the go. However, their short stature makes them delicate and harder to clean.
Bubblers are basically miniature bongs or a cross between a pipe and a bong. Bubblers function similarly as a pipe — but the water filters the smoke to create a smoother and better tasting hit.
Small bongs are good for beginners because they require less breath to inhale than larger pieces. However the bigger the bong, the more powerful the hit is. Larger bongs have better airflow due to their longer smoke chambers, which filter the smoke and reduce lung and throat irritation. Although they are not for the weak-lunged.
An average-sized bong is around 10 to 14 inches tall. These bongs are great for the everyday. They are easier to inhale from than larger pieces and are more durable than smaller bongs. A flashy 3-foot-tall bong might be fun to pull out at a party, but a medium-sized bong is easier to handle and clean.
For everyday personal use — get an average-sized bong. For an impressive option to show off to friends, get the tallest bong in the shop. Or get a small bong to hide in a backpack and travel with.
Why Glass Bongs?
The material of the bong also determines its durability and quality. While most people think of glass water pipes, there are also bongs made of silicone, ceramic, acrylic, and other materials.
The most popular bong material is glass because of its high-quality performance. Taking a hit from a glass bong is clean and smooth because glass doesn’t contaminate the flavor of the smoke.
Glassblowers can blow glass into any shape which improves the bong’s functionality and aesthetic. Glass bongs come in countless artistic designs, from see-through hearts to giraffes.
While you might assume glass is fragile, certain glass is quite strong. Purchase bongs made of scientific glass. Also known as borosilicate glass, it is resistant to extreme temperatures and tougher than traditional glass, according to Wirecutter.
However glass bongs are not indestructible. They are also the most expensive, costing roughly around $50 to $150 on average. There are other material options if you need something cheaper or less breakable.
What About Silicone, Acrylic, and Ceramic Bongs?
Bongs are basically made of anything. There are bamboo bongs and metal bongs and many more. Besides glass, the most common bongs on the market are silicone, acrylic, and ceramic.
Silicone is much cheaper than glass, costing $20 to $80 on average. Silicone bongs are shatter-proof, dishwasher safe, and foldable, making them easy to transport and clean. Like scientific glass bongs, silicone withstands high and low temperatures.
However the taste and quality of a hit from a silicone bong is sub par compared to glass. Silicone bongs are typically smaller and have less air flow, meaning they are not as smooth or pure tasting as hits from glass bongs. For a better tasting hit, get a silicone bong with a glass bowl.
The cheapest bong is usually acrylic, a hard plastic material. While they cost as little as $5 and are almost unbreakable, smoking from an acrylic bong is not a very pleasant experience. The smoke tastes a bit like drinking water from a hot plastic bottle.
If you want a classic water pipe, ceramic has been used for over a hundred years. Ceramic bongs are smooth to smoke from and have a neutral taste. Ceramic bongs can be molded into creative designs and are often made by hand. Their only real drawback is their heaviness.
Glass and ceramic are the best bong materials for high-quality hits and functionality. For something cheaper and less destructible, however, get a silicone bong. I personally never recommend acrylic because smoking from them is harsh and foul tasting.
What Design of Bong is Best?
Bongs come in all shapes and sizes. There are many different designs of bongs and choosing just one may be daunting. However all shapes of bongs get the job done at the end of the day.
There are several different bong bases — straight, beaker, and round.
A straight-based bong requires less effort to inhale than other designs, but it is also the least sturdy because the base is not very wide. The taller this type of bong is, the easier it is to tip over.
A beaker bong looks like, well, a beaker. The cone-shaped base keeps the bong stable, allowing it to be taller and wider. Round-based bongs are very similar but with a more spherical bottom.
Consumers also have to choose between a male and female bong. One may wonder how bongs have a sex. But the terms are rudimentary ways of explaining how the bowl fits the joint.
The joint of the bong is the hole at the base which holds the downstem. The downstem carries the smoke from the bowl of packed cannabis flower to the water chamber.
If the bowl fits inside the joint, it is a female bong. If the bowl fits over the joint, it is a male bong. Most bongs are female, allowing the bowl to slide into the joint.
There is really no difference in functionality between male and female bongs. It is up to personal preference. When buying a bong, also note the size of the joint which holds the downstem. Most joints are 14 mm, but there are also 10 mm and 18 mm bowls.
If the bowl or downstem breaks, remember the gender of the bong and size of the joint to find the correct size replacements.
After deciding on the basics of a bong, now comes the fun additions. There are endless types of bongs with new amenities on the market. But there are only a few bong functions consumers should know before buying their first bong.
The first are ice catchers. It is hard to go back after inhaling cool smoke filtered through ice from a bong. Ice catchers greatly enhance the bong experience. I say they are a necessary feature of any water pipe.
As the name suggests, ice catchers prevent ice from falling through the tube and into the bong’s water chamber. So the user inhales smoke through a chamber of ice, making the hit much kinder on the lungs and throat.
Percolators greatly improve the quality of a bong as well. There are various types of percolators which all act as a smoke filter and diffuser. When users inhale, the percolator diffuses the smoke down into the water and filters it back up into the lungs.
There are also multi-chamber bongs with multiple percolators. Sometimes called recycler bongs, the smoke filters through several percolators to produce a powerful and even hit.
While percolators ensure the smoothest hit, percolator and multi-chamber bongs are also more expensive. Additionally, they are difficult to clean and easier to break so they may not be for everyone.
So What Bong Is Just Right?
Cannabis consumers might want a quick answer to which bong to buy. But the answer is that it depends! Users should choose a bong that fits their specific circumstances and preferences.
Consider when it will be used and where it will be stored. Small and silicone bongs are discreet and best for travel. Display your intricate glass or ceramic bongs on a mantle or bookshelf. Or use a simple, well-made bong for the everyday.
If you have no spending money, make your own bong with a plastic bottle, a pen, and a pair of scissors. While it is not the smoothest water pipe to use, it still gets the job done.
Whether smoking from a water bottle, a ceramic bubbler, or a multi-chamber glass bong, there is always a way to get on the smoky highway to green heaven.