More and more people are starting to partake in cannabis culture as marijuana legalization continues its impressive and long overdue march forward. However, even as new options come onto the market, most cannabis enthusiasts still prefer the old standby – a glass water pipe aka a Bong. My question is… Why?
The varieties and features available in modern-day bongs make them the go-to option for blazing. So, if you’re trying to find the best bong for your needs, here’s your guide to bongs, their types, benefits, and the materials used.
What is a Bong?
If you’re someone who’s experienced smoking cannabis, then you probably already know what it is. But for the noob blazers, a Bong is a standalone water pipe meant for a single user as it has a single open mouthpiece. As you inhale, the smoke passes through water which has the effect of filtering particles and cooling the smoke prior to inhalation which offers smoother pulls.
Bong Shapes / Types
Though bongs come in different sizes, styles, shapes, and materials to choose from, I’ll focus on the most common ones:
● Beaker Base Bongs
These models resemble a lab beaker with a test tube sticking out of the side. This design is durable and very stable while in use. Beaker Bongs are by far the most popular shape.
● Classic (Round/Bubble) Base Bongs
This version is like a beaker bong but with a rounded bottom instead of a tapered one.
● Straight Bongs
These models resemble a giant test tube since they’re straight from top to bottom. They are the simplest design available in the market. It also has a bowl poking out of the side.
There are also many Types of Bongs. Here are a few of the most popular:
● Percolator Bongs
If you want an even smoother smoking experience, you can’t go wrong with a percolator. ‘Perc’ Bongs double cool the smoke before it reaches your mouth by adding a second percolation apparatus between the base percolation chamber and the mouthpiece.
● Ice Trap Bongs
Regular use marijuana enthusiasts will appreciate the cooling effect provided by an ice trap/pinch bong. These devices are typically near the mouthpiece and appear to be cone-shaped indentations that create a ‘stop’ for ice while still allowing your smoke to pass over the ice.
● Coil Condenser Bongs
Speaking of cool smoke, Bong makers have adapted a scientific apparatus from Labware called a Coil Condenser. A Coil Condenser is a corkscrew-shaped (coiled) smoke path that is encapsulated and bathed in glycerin. The section or the whole bong is placed in your freezer until you are ready to smoke. As you inhale, the smoke passes through the path that is bathed in super-chilled glycerin. The coil exchanges the heat of your smoke with the cool of the glycerin for an amazingly chilled and re-humidified puff.
The three primary materials used are acrylic (i.e., plastic), glass, and silicone. Here’s a quick overview of each type:
Since acrylic is a form of plastic, it’s not actually very good for smoking cannabis. First, acrylic will absorb smoke, making it impossible to clean after a few sessions. Second, plastic can leach chemicals into water and the marijuana itself; making smoking out of these bongs more hazardous to your health. So why do people smoke through plastic? It is cheap and brightly colored. Is it really worth it? In my opinion, no. You are not only ruining the flavor of a good strain here but you are also compromising your health. If it’s passed around at the next party are you going to take a pull? Yeah, probably….but let someone else own that nasty phthalate-ridden pos, what you want for your own is made of…
Pretty much anywhere you go for your cannabis supplies, you can find abundant glass bongs. While the design may change, its function remains the same. Glass is most preferred for a few, but good reasons: it’s durable, does not impart any taste to your strain, and they are easy to clean. Glass Bongs can also be functional art. Ok, maybe not that machine-molded straight clear bong with a huge obnoxious logo label as it’s only decoration (China), but a handmade tube with colorful adornments is definitely a unique piece that will enhance your smoking pleasure.
While acrylic is cheap and rugged, silicone is even more affordable and virtually indestructible. When using a silicone bong, you’ll notice that it’s much softer and more malleable than a plastic water bong. It’s also highly heat resistant, so you can reuse it over and over again.
The main problem with silicone is that, though these are better than acrylic bongs, they do not have the same feel and aesthetic as glass bongs. Yes, they are somewhat heat resistant, but reusing them for the nth time may not let you enjoy the original flavors of your chosen leaf. Plus, since glass is the gold standard, there are fewer design options available in silicone.
Silicone is a relatively new material to the bong market. Machine-made and inexpensive, silicone bongs seem to be an excellent alternative, however, in my opinion, the jury is still out. I’ve seen all kinds of claims of ‘platinum cured’ and ‘phthalate free’, but, China lies. I don’t buy it. Look no further than some of the chef comments on silicone bakeware testing that found all of the claims made by China to be false.
Although glass, silicone, and acrylic are the most common varieties, they’re not the only options. Some alternatives include:
One issue with ceramic is that you can’t see what’s going on inside. More fragile than glass and much harder to clean since you can’t tell where all the gunk is hidden.
Mmmmmm mmmmm metal. Tasty! Not. Food and Beverage cans are coated on the inside with a layer of protection so that the product inside does not take on the flavor of the can. Does that metal bong have a liner in it? No. The redeeming aspect of Metal Bongs is they are for the most part indestructible and can be broken down into parts that fit inside one another for a compact travel unit. Make sure to put it in a smelly-proof bag though, or your clothes will smell of burnt cannabis.
Why do Glass bongs have an edge over other materials?
One reason why Chameleon’s water bongs are so resilient is that they’re made of borosilicate (Pyrex). This material is often used for cookware and lab experiments because it is both thermal and percussion shock resistant. Of course, a drop can still break it. Also, Pyrex has almost zero surface porosity which makes it the safest option to smoke from. Handmade, colorful ornamented Glass Bongs are a dual threat: they are functionally superior and beautiful. They let you enjoy the original flavors of your herb as they don’t impart any undesirable flavors or tastes, and they look good doing it. You can read about more benefits of glass, here.
Bottom Line: How to Choose the Right Bong
Understanding bongs is only the first step. Now you have to figure out which one will work best for your smoking needs. While percolator and multi-chamber units are very good, the price difference between high-end and a simple functional design is a decision for each consumer.
Also, keep in mind that you may need unique bongs for different situations. For example, a silicone one can work well for parties, while a glass bong is best for personal use. You can even consider a travel-sized bong like a Monsoon (The Bong you take along) for vacations.
One of the best ways to choose the best glass bong is to browse through our range here. We have almost all the varieties starting from straight designs to multiple chamber styles.