This article was made possible thanks to my friends over at DankGeek.com
The pipe industry, in general, is constantly evolving and bongs, in particular, are certainly no exception. It was only a few decades ago when glass bongs didn’t even exist. Your primary choices were ceramic or acrylic. My how the tables have turned. Now glass bongs absolutely dominate the industry. Within the category of glass bongs, you still have an overwhelming amount of choices. In this article, I’ll break down the various options to help you make the most informed decision when purchasing your next bong.
For most people, price is certainly a factor. Glass bongs usually start in the 30-40 dollar range and go up into the hundreds. There are even some which go into the thousands, but those are a small subset of highly collectible pieces from well-known artists. One huge factor is whether the piece is imported from overseas or made in the US. You can save a lot of cash by purchasing an imported bong. Other factors include size, thickness, and percolation, which I’ll expand on below.
Typically, the bigger the bong the higher the price although there are certainly exceptions to this rule. For me, a bong between 14-16 inches is perfect, but everyone has their own preference. Maybe you’re looking for something more discrete in which case getting a small or mini bong is the way to go. On the other hand, some people want to go big and test their limits with a bong that’s 18+ inches.
In addition to price, the thickness of a bong will affect both its durability and weight. I like bongs that are super thick. They just feel right in my hands. Some people are looking for something a bit more lightweight and go for something on the thinner side. While any well-made bong is going to be reasonably durable, it’s undeniable that a thicker bong will hold up better to accidental drops.
There are many types of percolators (often referred to as percs) available on bongs. At their core, all percs do the same thing – add additional filtration for a smoother smoking experience. In exchange for the smoother hit, you are typically going to pay a few dollars more. Also, percs can make cleaning a bong slightly more difficult.
Scientific vs. Artistic
Artistic pipes and bongs were first on the scene. For this style, artists use different colored glass to create pretty much any effect your mind can conjure up. Artists are constantly pushing the limits of glass to create mind-boggling effects.
As glass bong got popular, individuals from the scientific community of glass blowers began to step in. These are artists were classically trained to make beakers, coils, and other instruments used for scientific research. It was these individuals who really began pushing the idea of percs and other features originally reserved for chemists in a lab. Scientific bongs at typically clear, but there is some crossover with scientific bongs that have beautiful artistic features.
Straight Tube vs. Beaker Bottom
In addition to changing the aesthetic of a bong, there are functional differences between straight tubes and beaker bottom bongs. My personal preference leans heavily towards straight tubes. My reasoning is it’s much easier for me to clear the smoke from a straight tube than a beaker bottom.
That doesn’t mean beaker bottom aren’t without significant advantages. The main advantage is that they hold more water. This is good for several reasons. First, cold water is going to cool the smoke giving you a smoother hit. Since the beaker bottom holds more water it takes longer for the smoke to heat the water giving you longer cold-water sessions. Secondly, the water isn’t going to get saturated with ash and residue nearly as quick meaning you won’t have to clean a beaker bottom quite as much as a straight tube.
An ice catcher is a nice feature to have even if you don’t use it all the time. An ice catcher is exactly what it sounds like – a part of the bong that allows you to hold ice, which cools down your smoke. The only downside of using an ice catcher is you will need to periodically empty water throughout your smoking session since the ice will melt altering the water level in the bong.
Typically when referencing joints in relation to weed you’re talking about papers you roll up. In this case, I’m referring to the glass joint that connects your bowl to the bong. The two most common sizes are 14mm and 18mm. There are also 10mm joints, but these are typically reserved for small dab rigs. The functional differences between 14mm and 18mm are minimal. Just be aware that whichever you choose for the bong, you’ll need to correspond it with any additional bowls you purchase.
Lastly, I want to touch on downstems and the advantage of getting one with diffusion. The bowl goes into your downstem and directs the incoming smoke into the bottom of your water reservoir. A diffused downstem will have little holes or slots in it, which creates lots of small bubbles instead of fewer large bubbles. This is going to give you a much smoother smoking experience and I highly recommend them.
Thanks for reading! If you’re in the market for a new bong don’t forget to check out my friends over at DankGeek.com, and online headshop with an amazing selection of bongs.