14mm vs 18mm bowl - The Ultimate Bong Joint Size Guide
When you first start smoking, you don’t care about what piece you use, let alone know the difference between types of glass. After a while, you start to realize that some pipes and dab rigs hit better than others because of the way they’re designed. Now, it’s time to upgrade your bong to maximize your smoking experience!
First things first: let’s focus on the bong bowl! In this article, you’ll learn the following:
- The three common bong bowl and joint sizes
- Joint gender: what’s it mean?
- How to measure your bowl and joint size
- 14mm vs 18 mm: which is better?
Bong Bowl and Joint Size: The Basics
If you want to upgrade your bowl, we’re going to need to start with the basics. You’ll first need to decide which piece you want to upgrade so you can determine the size and gender of the joint. You’ll then want to measure the diameter of the female joint (whether that be on the bowl or the bong) to determine what size bowl you’ll need. For this, you’ll need either a ruler or a dime. Now that you get the gist of it, let’s get into more of the specifics.
It may sound strange to hear us refer to a piece of your bong as having a gender, but the joints that connect the bowl with the bong are referred to as “male” and “female”. You can have a bong with a male joint and a bowl with a female joint or vise versa. You need to see which type your bowl has because a male joint can only connect to a female joint and a female joint can only connect to a male joint.
Bowl and Joint Sizes
There are three sizes that you’re most likely to find in reference to bongs or dab rigs: 10mm, 14mm, and 18mm. The 10mm joints are only found on small bongs and dab rigs that are designed for portability. The 14mm and 18mm joints are the most common; 18mm joints are most often found on larger bongs to accommodate for resistance. To determine your joint size, you’ll need to find out the inner diameter of the female joint, whether that be on your current bowl or the bong or rig.
Why does it matter
Most basically and obviously, the size and gender of the joint and bowl matter because they have to match in order to fit. If you have a 14mm female joint, an 18mm male bowl is going to be too large to fit inside it. But there are a few other reasons this might matter. Larger joint sizes have increased airflow and less resistance; if this is a high priority for you, you’ll want to pay attention to that specification when purchasing your pieces.
The 10mm bowls are pretty rare. You’ll only find these on smaller bongs and rigs that are designed to be portable, like bubblers. This size bowl tends to have restricted airflow and increased resistance. For some, this isn’t noticeable, but for others, it’s a deal-breaker. It’s pretty easy to judge if you have a 10mm bowl by sight because it’s so small. These can be made out of metal or glass.
14mm dab rigs and bowls are the most common. They’re a happy medium in terms of airflow and resistance. If you don’t know whether or not your bowl or joint size is 14mm, you can measure it or use a dime if you don’t have a ruler. Here’s how:
- Take your dime and try to place it inside the female joint, be that on the bowl or the bong
- If the dime is close to the same size as the bowl, but won’t go inside it, you have a 14mm joint
- If the dime is able to drop inside the joint, you have an 18mm joint.
If you don’t have an obviously large or small bong, chances are the joint and bowl sizes are 14mm. You can get a 14mm male bowl or female bowl, depending on the gender of the joint on your bong or rig. These bowls are typically made of glass, but can sometimes be made of metal. Most frequently with bongs, people refer to glass on glass joints and glass bowls.
The most common use for 18mm bowls is in larger bongs. It allows for increased airflow and less resistance while also being more accommodating to the larger joint size with which most large bongs are fitted. To measure for this size bowl without a ruler, follow the same method we detailed above. These bowls are most frequently made of glass; I’ve never seen a metal 18mm bowl, but I’m sure they exist somewhere.
Comparing 14mm and 18mm
As we’ve said, the 14mm and 18mm bowls and joint sizes are the most common, by far. If you’ve already got your pieces, you’ll want to purchase a bowl that matches your piece’s joint size. However, if you’re in the market for a new bowl or you don’t mind to be, you can be a bit more selective. If you’re choosing between 14mm and 18mm, here’s what you need to consider:
- How important is the size of the bowl itself (loading capacity) to you?
- Do you want a glass or metal bowl? (We recommend glass; metal hits harder)
- Is resistance important to you in your smoking experience?
- How important is airflow to you?
1) How important is the size of the bowl itself (load capacity) to you?
18mm bowls often have the largest loading capacity of all the bowl sizes, because there’s a wider surface to place it on. However, some 14mm bowls can be quite large. The smoking experience with these larger bowls is much better with the 18mm bowl than the 14mm, because of the increased airflow and lessened resistance. The tighter you pack the bowl, the worse this problem will get with a 14mm bowl.
2) Do you want a glass or metal bowl?
Metal bowls are much more common in smaller pipes designed for portability, like bubblers and mini bongs. However, they can be found in a bigger size with some digging. Metal bowls tend to hit harsher than their glass counterparts, but they do have the added plus of not being breakable.
3) Is resistance important to you in your smoking experience?
Taking a hit that has some resistance to the airflow can be a tiring and frustrating experience. It limits the smoke you get, which wastes your expensive product and lessens the high you experience; it’s no fun for anyone. Some people don’t notice the resistance on a 14mm, but some can’t stand it and are insistent on the 18mm size. If this is important to you, you’ll want to consider it a high priority in your bong/bowl choice: you need the 18mm size.
4) How important is airflow to you?
Much like resistance, airflow or lack thereof can add to or detract from any smoking experience. You can increase the airflow of your smoking experience in a number of ways. First off, you can use 18mm size bowls, as they have a larger diameter, allowing more air to flow through unobstructed. You can also purchase additions and attachments for many bongs that will increase airflow as well as cool down your hits through the use of ice and additional water. These accessories can really help improve your smoking experience.
If you’re looking to improve your smoking experience by decking out the pipe you’re using most, start with the size of the bowl you’re using. While this is mostly determined by the size of the joints on your bong, you can purchase adapters for the size you’re after or just pay close attention to the bowl size the next time you go to buy a new bong.
Let’s recap! Here are the highlights for this article:
- Bowl and joint size and gender
- How to measure bowl size without a ruler
- The difference between 14mm and 18mm
- The three most common bowl/joint sizes: 10mm, 14mm, 18mm
Did we miss something? Comment below!
Written by Megan Medeiros (BA)
Megan Medeiros has a bachelor’s degree in English and is currently working on a master’s in English at James Madison University. She's the owner and operator of Medeiros Writing, and has been working as a cannabis writer for the past three years, mostly following the legal climate of marijuana, especially in areas like California, Colorado, Oregon, Canada, and other legal areas.
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