Years ago, buying a bong was a no-brainer. Simply go to the nearest head shop and browse the modest collection of a dozen or so bongs. In a matter of minutes, you’ll be going home with your new toy.
Fast-forward to today. The classic bongs have come back with a vengeance. And alongside its ever-increasing popularity, you get never-ending options. Visit an online or a physical store, and you’ll be swamped by hundreds of models in different sizes, shapes, styles, colors, and functions.
The wide range of options can be dizzying. It doesn’t even matter if you’re a first-time user or just looking to expand your collection. But don’t worry, we’re here to help with the decision-making process.
In this article, you’ll learn about the different types of marijuana bongs, as well as how to choose the one that best matches your needs.
Different Kinds Of Marijuana Bongs
Before you can choose, you need to learn about the different types of marijuana bongs first. To be exact, you have to familiarize yourself with the various shapes and styles that bongs may assume. It can be as simple as a cylinder or as fancy as an egg-shaped pipe. Each type, needless to say, has distinct pros and cons.
Note: Bongs can be made from glass, ceramic, plastic, silicone, bamboo, and metal, among others. This article, though, will focus on glass bongs. Being inert, it will not affect the flavor and aroma of the smoke, resulting in clean, pure, and smooth hits. It is also compatible with all sorts of accessories and is easy to clean.
The straight-tube bong has the most straightforward design among the lot. As the name indicates, it looks like a narrow cylinder, consisting of a tube sealed at one end, a downstem, and a bowl jutting from the side. The no-frills shape makes it easy to use, clean, and maintain.
The beaker-shaped bong is as bare-bones as a straight-tube. The only difference is that its bottom fans out into a cone, giving it a beaker- or an Erlenmeyer flask-like appearance. The broader base also makes it more structurally sound than the straight-tube bong.
The round-based bong, like the beaker-shaped one, has a flat bottom that is wider than the tube and the mouthpiece. However, it has a rounded rather than a conical chamber. Again, the basic design makes it a breeze to use, clean, and maintain. It is also more stable than straight-tubes, but less steady than beaker bongs due to the narrower base.
The multi-chamber bong is a variant of the straight-tube. Aside from being numerous, the chambers also come in different shapes and forms. In most cases, the straight cylinder is split into two compartments, with a tube attaching it to a third one. It works by filtering the smoke twice, producing much cooler, smoother hits.
Because of its complicated structure, multi-chamber bongs take a little more time to assemble, making it more expensive than usual. It is also harder to clean.
A recycler bong is a feast for the eyes, coming in different types, each with unique designs. A trendy appearance is eye-catching. But it is highly functional and efficient, making them desirable. Some also consider recyclers a variation of multi-chamber bongs due to the similarity between the two.
A recycler bong works by filtering the smoke through the chamber and percolator multiple times. It usually takes about 5 to 10 cycles before the smoke reaches you, with the entire process happening in mere seconds. The repeated cooling and straining produce one of the smoothest hits possible.
Recyclers are easy to accessorize and are incredibly durable. On the flip side, it is also among the priciest bongs out there.
Percolator Or Bubbler
The percolator or bubbler bong can assume the shape of a straight-tube, beaker, round-base, or any other design imaginable. What makes it unique is that it has a percolator or perc, which acts as an extra water chamber.
The percolator is a piece of glass that comes in many types and styles. It is usually found in the tube. After being cooled and filtered in the water, the smoke passes through the perc where it is diffused further, resulting in a much smoother cloud.
An inline bong comes in a straight-tube shape, with a horizontal percolator built into the glass – often in elaborate and creative ways. Extra perc could be attached for even more cooling and smoother hits. Some also consider it a type of multi-chamber bong.
Inline bongs can be hard to come by. The intricate design, coupled with the use of high-quality scientific glass, also makes it expensive. Still, you will get what you are paying for – and more. It is not only aesthetically pleasing but offers velvety smooth smoke as well.
Egg Water Pipe
An egg water pipe – also called Faberge egg bongs – is inspired by the famous jeweled egg from Russia. It is shaped like an egg and has multiple percolators for cool, pleasant hits. The ornate structure makes it costly and difficult to clean.
A zong or a zigzag bong is named as such due to its zigzag or Z shape. It remains affordable despite its cool design.
While the ultramodern appearance might seem purely aesthetic, it offers some benefits as well. For one, the improved cooling and filtration process prevents water from rising to the chamber while taking a hit, resulting in a smooth smoking experience.
Zongs, though, tend to be top-heavy, making it a bit wobbly on its feet. As such, it can topple with the slightest push, so be extra careful when handling it.
Factors To Consider When Choosing A Bong
With so many types of bongs available, how on earth do you even know which one is for you?
The wide array of options, for sure, can be overwhelming. But look at the bright side – it ensures that there is at least one model that will suit your needs and preferences. You just have to know how to find it.
Begin by assessing your budget limit and smoking experience. It will already narrow down your choices significantly. Afterward, consider the bong itself, particularly the height and size, durability, and maintenance.
The budget always comes into play when buying cannabis paraphernalia. In general, the more decorative a bong is, the higher the costs. In that regard, straight-tube, beaker-shaped, and round-based bongs, with their bare-bones design, tend to be on the cheaper side.
You can already get decent units at around $50-$100. Don’t settle for anything suspiciously cheap, though. It most likely uses substandard glass and will break too soon.
If you have some extra bucks to spare, you can go for the more ornamental pieces, including multi-chambers, recyclers, and inline bongs. These typically retail at about $100-$200 – although the price can shoot up to thousands of dollars. Remember, the complex structures are more than just eye candies. They enhance the performance of the bong as well, in terms of filtration and the smoothness of the smoke.
Tip: Be on the lookout for deals and promotions. Subscribe to the websites of reputable brands and online head shops, and you might score top-quality bongs at a deeply discounted price.
The smoking experience is closely related to the budget. That is because most novice users are not willing to shell out a lot of money at first – and that is okay. Large units and more elaborate shapes, after all, are not only pricier. They are also harder to clear in one pull, requiring an excellent lung capacity that not many beginners have.
Besides, if you’re new to marijuana in general, you don’t want to inhale a large cloud in one go. Instead, you should take it slowly. Start with smaller hits until your system becomes more accustomed to THC. Otherwise, you may experience unpleasant side effects.
Glass is, without a doubt, the best material for bongs. Not all glass, however, is the same. Subpar ones are only a waste of money as they get damaged quickly. They are also structurally unsound and may even come with micro-fractures.
For the ultimate smoking experience, American-made borosilicate glass is the way to go. It contains 5% boric acid and has been annealed for extra strength. The result is a long-lasting, reliable, and functional piece. It also allows you to support local glassblowers, which is a nice bonus.
The thickness of the glass also plays a role in the durability of the bong. It can be as thin as 2mm and as thick as 7mm. To be safe, stick to an average width of 3-5mm.
Size & Height
Bongs generally come in three sizes – pocket-sized, medium-sized, and massive. There is also what you call the joint size – with 10mm, 14mm, and 18mm as the standard ones. The joint is the part of the bong where you insert the downstem and other add-ons. You can worry about that later when you’re ready to accessorize the bong.
For now, you just have to choose the overall size and height. When and how you smoke will determine which dimensions you should go for.
Opt for a compact one if you are always on the go. Know that there are also foldable bongs available, although they are made with plastic or silicone instead of glass.
If you use marijuana at home, then you can choose practically any size you want. You can buy mammoth models if that is your thing. But if you are a first-time user or have a weak lung capacity, small- to medium-sized ones are your best bet. After all, if you can’t empty the chamber in one hit, you’ll end up wasting the leftover smoke since it quickly loses flavor.
When in doubt, stick to mid-size bongs that are around 10-15 inches tall. You won’t go wrong with it. It is also ideal for both beginners and seasoned smokers alike.
Note: If you plan on installing several accessories in the future, you will need a large, stable bong that can easily accommodate the added weight.
Cleaning & Maintenance
As early as now, you should know that bongs need to be cleaned and maintained. Otherwise, they will become a breeding ground for bacteria, accumulate tar and resin, and produce stale, contaminated smoke. Regular maintenance also keeps your glass pipes up and running for years.
In general, the larger and taller the bong, the harder it is to clean. The same goes for bongs with highly intricate shapes, designs, and styles. In that regard, multi-chambers, recyclers, inline bongs, and egg water pipes can be a pain to clean.
Tip: To make your life easier, consider getting an ash catcher. It captures the ash, resin, and other debris before reaching the bowl. This attachment makes even the most ornate models reasonable to clean and maintain.