The Ultimate Guide to Buying a Bong for a Beginner
Thinking of buying your first bong? You’re in the right place! If you’d like a change from smoking joints, blunts, or pipes, but have never bought a bong before, don’t worry. Weed Republic will guide you towards the very best bong for you.
Bongs are nothing new. Water pipes of various descriptions have been used by different cultures for centuries. Water acts as a coolant for smoke. When that smoke passes through the liquid in a bong, the user receives a much smoother hit than possible with a traditional pipe.
Granted, the bong users of ancient history didn’t quite have the same range of materials or manufacturing techniques needed to really get creative with their smoking paraphernalia. With modern methods, companies can come up with all kinds of functional and stylish designs.
The sheer selection of products available these days is, of course, a blessing for the user of the herb. However, for those that have never bought a water pipe before, the various styles and designs of the bongs for sale can be daunting too!
Fortunately, Weed Republic has your back. With our tips, you’ll know exactly which style, material, and size is going to be best for you and your budget. Read on to know exactly how to buy a bong from a local or online head shop with confidence!
Before we get started explaining the different types of bongs on the market, it’s first important to clarify a bit of the terminology we’ll be using when discussing what’s on the market.
- Bowl – the bowl is the part of the bong that the user packs with their choice of smoking blend. This is the part that needs lighting.
- Downpipe/downstem – the downpipe or downstem leads from the bowl into the beaker or main body of the bong. Smoke passes through the pipe and into the water. As it travels through the liquid, the temperature of it drops making for a more pleasant hit.
- Chamber – refers to the section of a bong filled containing liquid. More complex bongs might have multiple chambers. The more times smoke passes through a liquid, the cooler it will be.
- Percolator – a percolator is another smoke cooling technique. Typically found on higher-end glass models, the percolator breaks up the smoke, allowing it to come into contact with a greater surface are of water. Different types of percolators are available but they all do the same thing.
- Diffuser – similar to a percolator. A diffuser also breaks smoke up. They are typically found at the end of a downstem and might comprise multiple slits to diffuse the smoke as it escapes through the water.
- Gauze – many bongs require the user line the bowl with a gauze. These thin wire mesh discs stop your valuable smoking mix ending up in the bong itself!
- Ice restrictor – Both glass and acrylic bongs might feature some form of ice trap. This is another method used to further cool smoke. The bong user will add ice to the bong via the mouthpiece and the ice restrictor will trap it above the water. Smoke then must travel through the water and past the ice, creating a much more pleasant smoking experience.
- Mouthpiece – the part of the product that you inhale from. Typically, around 2” wide and circular but other styles do exist.
- Base – the flat bottom of a bong and the thing that allows the piece to stand upright. The base may be a flared plastic attachment on an acrylic bong or could be part of the main body on ceramic or glass products.
- Beaker – glass bongs are typically either straight tubes or have beakers. A beaker bong will have either a conical or spherical chamber into which the downpipe of downstem enters. Beakers are typically made from the same material as the mouth piece extending off them (glass or acrylic).
- Dab Rig – dab rigs are used to smoke cannabis concentrates. Oils, waxes, shatter – that kind of thing. Some bong models can be turned into a dab rig with the right attachment.
Perhaps the most important consideration to make when buying a bong is the material you want it to be made out of. Bong manufacturers will typically use hard wearing materials for their designs. However, more brittle choices can become damaged without proper care.
Bongs are also designed to hold water. They, therefore, need to be waterproof. This also influences manufacturers’ choices of materials.
Finally, bongs are a magnet for resins and other hard-to-clean substances found in smoke. For these reasons glass and acrylic bongs are much more common than other materials. The most common complaint of ceramic or wooden bong users is that they are very difficult to clean. On that note, it’s worth also considering that the more complicated a design is, the trickier it will be to get all that gunk off it!
Some of the most impressive bongs on the market today are made out of glass. Glass bongs come in all different shapes and sizes – from small handheld bubblers right through to grandiose, multi-chamber percolator pieces.
Popular types of glass water pipe include:
- Single chamber.
- Straight tube bong.
- Beaker bong.
- Double chamber.
- Percolator (honeycomb, tree, inline).
A basic glass product might consist of a single piece of glass. More extravagant designs will be customisable with different components that users can add or swap for other attachments. For example, those wanting to enjoy oils or waxes with their piece can turn their bong into a dab rig by replacing the traditional bowl with a nail attachment.
Glass water pipe manufacturers will typically use standardised sizing for their different components. Most common are 14mm and 18mm. Standardised sizing for the male-to-female, glass-on-glass connections, means that users can switch easily components to customise their rigs.
On the most expensive pieces of glassware, things can get seriously scientific. Users wanting the very best in smoke filtration can add a huge number of these attachments. Whereas the smoke might enter the liquid at a single point on a traditional bong design, using a high-end piece equipped with many attachments, smoke could pass through water numerous times before it reaches your lungs.
Glass bongs can come in all different colours. However, the most common is colourless. Some people like the clinical scientific feel of these pieces. On the other hand, others would rather have their smoking equipment feature a splash of colour.
Right at the high-end of the market are bespoke hand-blown glass bongs. These range between a few hundred and several thousand dollars. If you’ve never seen such pieces before, we recommend you check them out. They’re as much pieces of artwork in their own right and, even if you could never afford one, you can still appreciate the skill of the artists.
Glass Bong Pros:
- Easy to clean.
- Highly functional.
Glass Bong Cons:
- Easy to break.
- Less portable than other materials.
- Relatively expensive.
- No perishable parts.
Another incredibly popular material to make bongs out of is acrylic. Like glass, these are pretty easy to clean with some appropriate solvent. However, acrylic bongs can actually take a bit of a battering without shattering into many pieces. For this reason, some smokers like to leave their fancy glass piece at home and will use an acrylic bong to enjoy their choice of herbs on the go.
Acrylic bongs are often a bit more simplistic in their design than glass products. The most common varieties are beaker bongs, straight tube bongs, and other basic single chamber designs. That’s not to say that multiple chamber acrylic pieces don’t exist. However, they will rarely feature the kind of fancy percolator filtration systems seen on glass bongs.
Like glass, acrylic products will come in a variety of different colours. Since acrylic is an easier material to work with, designs can also be a lot more extravagant than a glass bong might be. You’ll see all manner of weird and wonderful acrylic products on the market.
Whereas these products will almost always be exclusively made using glass, acrylic bongs will usually feature a steel or glass downpipe and rubber bung to form an airtight seal around its point of insertion.
Acrylic Bong Pros:
- Easy to clean.
Acrylic Bong Cons
- Less extravagant in terms of functionality.
- Less of a quality feel to products.
- Rubber bungs can perish with prolonged use.
The third most popular type of bong on the market today is the ceramic bong. Ceramics will often look less like a bong and more like an ornament. However, look closely and you will find a downpipe and mouthpiece.
Ceramic bongs will be opaque, due to the material and usually are painted with some form of design. Weed Republic has seen all kinds of ceramic bongs over the years – from terrifying grim readers to cute little mushrooms.
Like with acrylic bongs, the downpipe and bowl on a ceramic bong is usually metal and will fit into the main body of the piece with a rubber bung to form an airtight seal. Again, with repeated uses this seal will eventually need replacing.
Ceramic bongs will usually feature just a single chamber and due to their often-non-conventional designs, the inside can be full of little nooks and crannies. This can make cleaning a ceramic bong a real pain!
Ceramic Bong Pros:
- Can be very stylish and unique.
- Can be discrete.
Ceramic Bong Cons:
- Can look pretty dated these days.
These aren’t the only materials that bongs can be made from. However, they are by far the most common. We’ve detailed a few of the other bong materials we’ve seen with some of their pros and cons below.
Wooden bongs are usually quite basic in their design and will most commonly have a single chamber. The wood will be treated in some way to ensure it can hold liquids. Wooden bongs are usually a nightmare to clean but they are quite durable.
Metal bongs will also usually follow a similarly basic design to those used by wooden bong manufacturers. The material is obviously incredibly durable but this results in a very heavy piece. Although metal bongs are typically a bit of an eyesore, there are plenty of examples of attractive ones out there.
Silicone bongs are a relatively new type of smoking device that is really taking the market by storm. These are the only products on our list that are made using flexible materials. Silicone bongs will bend and probably bounce if you drop them. Seriously, they’re practically indestructible!
Silicone bongs will also usually feature a fairly typical bong design (single chamber) and will have either a glass or metal downpipe/stem. Whilst they might not have the same “wow-factor” as bespoke glass pieces but that’s not to say they aren’t stylish. Silicone is available in loads of eye-catching colours, including vibrant neon shades impossible with translucent materials.
Which Bong is Best?
The best bong for you is going to depend on a lot of different factors. These include how much you have to spend, where you plan to do your smoking, how important style is, and whether you want to keep your bong use discrete.
In terms of pure smoking performance, a fully decked out, multi-chamber piece, complete with diffusers, percolators, and other high-tech smoke-cooling methods is going to offer the best hit. However, most of these bells and whistles serve to make the product much more delicate. If you’re planning to do your smoking on the go, such an extravagant piece is probably not right for you. You might prefer an acrylic or silicone bong instead.
Similarly, if it’s your first bong, you might want to skip all that fancy stuff and just keep it basic (and cheap!). A simple downpipe into a single chamber filled with liquid is perfect to get started. You can always upgrade later on if you find bongs suitably up your smoking experience.
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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