In 2022, the cannabis peripherals industry has surpassed the classic chillum, one-hitter pipes, or dugouts used by your parents or grandparents. Not to say that they don’t still have a solid footing and relevance in the plethora of options to smoke from, but with the progression of the cannabis industry came many more options to consume your flower.
Enter the now classic bong. The bong is an excellent way to consume cannabis flowers. However, the number of bongs available stylistically can make the options seem overwhelming and cause difficulties for the newbie or casual smoker when deciding what would work best for their smoking habits.
Trial and error can be an inefficient, ineffective, and expensive method of dialing in the perfect features you want from your bong. By going over some of the different types and features found across the board, the idea is that we can make that decision-making process easier for you when it comes time to buy your first, second, or even third bong!
What is a Bong?
A bong is a smoking apparatus, most commonly and ideally constructed of borosilicate glass, featuring water percolation that helps smooth out larger rips of cannabis flower. Bongs are typically larger than your average pipe or bubbler. They come in a variety of percolation options, from being solely in the downstem or stemless joint feature to consisting of chambers designed to percolate individual sections of water usually located in the neck of the bong. Additionally, they are offered in a variety of thicknesses and colors and more durable and less expensive material options besides glass.
Bong vs. Bubbler
Bongs and bubblers are similar in that they both use water to add percolation to your rips to smooth them out. However, bongs vary from bubblers in several ways. The first and most obvious difference is that bongs are typically larger. They also don’t feature a carb as most bubblers do; instead, the bowl is pulled to clear a bong and take the full hit.
Furthermore, unless they’re stemless, bongs have removable downstems while most bubblers do not. The removable bowl and downstem options, whether stemless or removable, make for an easier cleaning process than a bubbler. Bongs are also much easier to fill with water than bubblers, and their larger chambers and heavier percolation make for the ability to take larger and smoother rips.
Types of Bongs
With the sheer number of options available, it can be hard to tell what’s what, and these descriptions should help clear up any confusion you may be having about what to look for online or in your local head shop.
Beaker Bongs / Scientific Bongs
Beakers and scientific bongs are most commonly made of borosilicate glass. These “scientific” pieces are called such because they closely resemble parts of a chemistry set. Scientific glass is typically clear; however, you can find color in higher-end pieces of the same style from companies like Roor, Mobius, and Toro. This type of bong is typically larger in stature, with more volume available for smoke to fill.
Round Base Bongs
Round base bongs are the same thing as a beaker; the only difference is that the base is round instead of tapered. These are commonly made of soft glass.
Also known as straight shots or tubes, they typically use a stemless joint to hold the bowl. This means no removable downstem, and all the percolation happens from features inside the bong. These are nice because it removes the worry about accidentally pulling the downstem with your bowl due to resin, and breaking either or both.
Almost every bong is a percolator bong to some degree. However, some bongs have extra chambers designed to hold water and percolate separately from the main chamber, allowing for an even smoother hit.
Ice Trap Bongs
Ice trap bongs have indents in their necks to hold ice cubes that produce a cooling effect on your throat when you inhale your rip. Coupled with solid percolation, this feature can equal a delightful experience with a bong. The ice effectively cools the smoke after the percolation softens the initial blow.
Common Bong Materials Used
More than three materials can be used to make a bong; however, these three are the most recommended.
Glass is the most desirable material for your bong. You will not only taste your cannabis better smoking through a glass piece, but you will also come to appreciate its features over a silicon or acrylic bong. More often than not, a glass bong and specifically a borosilicate glass, no matter the style, will function better and offer a more pleasant smoking experience than any other material.
Silicon is another material used for bongs due to its high-temperature resistance. Usually, these bongs have glass components exposed to direct flame or heat, and the rest of the piece is constructed of silicon to improve durability. This material is good for someone paranoid about breaking a glass bong or taking on outdoor activities.
Acrylic bongs are last on the list for a reason. With glass and silicon options coming so cheaply in today’s market, acrylic is more a thing of the past. However, these are a cheap, borderline disposable way to smoke your cannabis from a bong if you desire.
Which Bong is Best for Me?
Firstly, we recommend that you choose borosilicate glass over any other material. Boro glass is simply the best option for flavor preservation and quality. From there, it comes down to budget and what features are most important to you.
We recommend straight shot stemless or beaker bongs with a downstem that offers percolation for a basic and straightforward glass setup. These are great for people looking for fewer components to worry about breaking. If someone is particularly sensitive to the harshness of smoking cannabis, a percolator bong with an ice catch would be a great option.
It boils down to where you’re personally with your consumption preferences and needs. Once you understand yourself and what you want from a bong it’s much easier to understand how the variety of options will either fit your needs or not.