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Bong Buyers Guide: All You Need To Know

Shopping for a new bong can be a challenge, even for the experienced buyer.

Now that shopping options have expanded past going to your local headshop, it is easy to get overwhelmed and not know where to begin. We hope to help you narrow down your many options by giving you a better understanding of what exactly to look when purchasing a new bong. We also have some general tips to help everyone optimize their smoking experience.

What To Look For In A Bong

It’s important to start with what makes bongs so popular with smokers. Bongs, also known as water pipes, have been used for smoking since the dawn of time. When stacked up against the two other most popular smoking methods, joints and pipes, bongs win due to their ability to make the same amount of product go further than other available methods. They are also much easier on the throat, due to the cooling effect the water has on the smoke.

When looking for a new bong, the first thing to consider is what your smoking preferences are. For instance, are you looking for a simple, straight to the point experience or would you prefer to watch the smoke travel around through the bong first? Do you plan on smoking by yourself or will your bong be communal? How often do you plan to smoke out of it? How much are you looking to spend? These are all crucial questions to ask before shopping.

What Is The Cost Of Buying A Bong?

If you’ve looked around, you’ve probably noticed that bongs have a huge range of price tags. Less expensive bongs usually start around $20, but there are also bongs that can cost thousands. Is there a real difference?

In most cases, the price reflects the quality of the bong. However, with the more expensive bongs, the price is also a reflection of the difficulty level involved with making them. Those $1000 pieces are works of art, so you’re paying for the beauty as well as the functionality. 

Start by getting realistic with your budget, then narrow it down further by making a list of the features that are most important to you. Ultimately, though, a quality bong is an investment.

What Are The Different Types Of Bongs?

When it comes to type, the main choices you’ll be making are with material, shape, and size. Learning about the options available with each category, as well as their advantages and disadvantages, will help you make an educated decision when purchasing.

Types Of Bongs By Material

Although glass bongs have long been considered the standard, there is now a much more diverse range of options when it comes to bong material. The material you choose is also one of the biggest factors that can influence the quality of the bong and smoking experience.

Glass Bongs

Glass is the most popular material bongs are made out of for a reason. Glass doesn’t influence the taste of the smoke, so users prefer them for the clean, pure smoking experience. Glass also makes it much easier for smokers to monitor the bong for any resin buildup, as well as making it easier to clean when the buildup occurs. They also allow for some creative flare, as they are available in a huge range of colors and designs, and can even be customized.

There are disadvantages with glass bongs, though. Glass bongs have the potential to be expensive, especially when handblown. Handblown bongs may also have small but inconvenient imperfections that can alter how well they function. Glass bongs can also be broken more easily than other materials. When purchasing a glass bong, look for one with a wider base to help prevent it from tipping over. 

Plastic Bongs

Plastic bongs are another popular choice, mostly due to their generally inexpensive cost. They are much more difficult to damage or break than other materials on the market, which makes them perfect for people who plan on traveling with them.

It is important to be aware that the plastic is likely to at least slightly alter the taste experience, though. Users looking for a pure smoking experience should avoid plastic if this is important to them.

Silicone Bongs

Another material on the market that continues to gain popularity is silicone. Not only are silicone bongs both durable and portable like plastic bongs, they can also be purchased with more interesting designs similar to glass bongs. 

Keep in mind that silicone bongs can be more difficult to monitor for resin buildup because of the opaque color of the material, but cleaning them is much easier. To clean a silicone bong, just put it in the freezer to harden the resin then simply dump it out and rinse!

Ceramic Bongs

For those looking for a bong with a more artistic flair, ceramic is the way to go. Ceramic bongs can be made in nearly any shape, size, color, or design, which makes them great as both a display piece or a special occasion bong!

There are disadvantages to a ceramic bong, though. They can be very difficult to thoroughly clean and tend to be much heavier and more fragile than most of the other bong material options.

Bamboo Bongs

Bamboo bongs continue to be popular due to their durability and sustainability. They are also an attractive option because they are able to be designed in nearly any shape, from simple to ornate.

Metal Bongs

Metal bongs are also an option. While these bongs are great for users who are worried about durability, the metal can definitely alter the taste (much like with plastic bongs). Metal bongs can also be very difficult to both clean and maintain.

Types Of Bongs By Shape

The shape of the bong can also make a difference in the smoking experience. Before purchasing, it’s important to take a look at what your preferences are so you can make the best shape choice. Each has its own set of advantages and disadvantages.

Straight Tube Bongs

The most basic bong shape, straight tube bongs (also known as straight shooters) have four main components: a mouthpiece, base, downstem percolator, and water chamber. Essentially, they are a tube that is sealed on one end, with a bowl extending from the base. To use, just pour a small amount of water in the tube before smoking. Straight tube bongs can be anywhere from a few inches to a few feet tall and are the most straight-forward of the shape options.

Beaker Bongs

Beaker bongs look a lot like what you may remember from high school chem class. They are designed with either a round or a square base, and the downstem extends from the base at a 45-degree angle. Beaker bongs tend to be more stable than straight tube bongs because of their wider base. However, the smoking process remains the same.

Bent Neck Bongs

Bent neck bongs can be like shaped like a straight tube bong or a beaker bong. The only difference in shape from either one is that these bongs have a bent neck. Bent neck bongs are designed so that there is a larger distance between the user’s face and the flame, as well as discouraging water from traveling up the neck and into the mouth. This means they tend to be safer than other bong shapes.

Recyclers/Multi-Chamber Bongs

These bongs are usually very elaborately designed, allowing the smoke to pass through multiple chambers before it gets to you. Many people like multi-chamber bongs because they are said to provide smoother hits, and some recyclers are designed so that the smoke passes through the water more than once.

Gravity Bongs

Gravity bongs are usually made in DIY circles instead of purchased, but that doesn’t mean that there aren’t some available on the market. These bongs use the vacuum that is left behind as the water leaves the bong to push the smoke up the neck to the user. They generally are made in two styles - bucket and waterfall. However, there is some controversy on whether they can be classified as a bong, as the smoke does not actually pass through the water at any point.

What’s The Perfect Bong Size?

Ultimately, the perfect bong size comes down to your personal preference. Here are the advantages and disadvantages of both small and big bongs.

Big Bong Versus Small Bong

Bigger doesn’t always mean better, especially for the less experienced smoker. 

Bigger bongs have bigger chambers, which may be harder for new users to clear due to the volume of smoke created. On the other hand, smaller bongs provide smoother hits because of their small smoke volume. 

For those looking for more room to customize, bigger bongs allow for additional filtration options, like percolators. 

When choosing a size, look for one under two feet if you plan to use it daily. Smaller bongs are also easier to travel with.

Best Bongs For Beginners

For those just starting out, smaller bongs are usually the best way to go (anything under two feet). Straight tube bongs are also recommended because of their ease of use for inexperienced users. 

However, the best bong for a beginner is the one you can maintain and use easily. It should also be one that fits your lifestyle.

Where To Buy A Bong

Buying a bong doesn’t mean you have to go to a physical location.

If there is no local head shop in your area, your other choice is to look online. Purchasing online gives you efficient access to the features you’re looking for as well as online reviews. Check online smoker communities for additional suggestions.

Additional Tips For Buying A Bong

Watch Out For Glass Bong Thickness

Bongs come in a variety of thicknesses, which can affect their longevity. In general, the thicker the glass is, the longer you can expect your bong to last. 3mm and under is considered to be thin, while 5 - 7mm can be too thick for efficient use. 

When purchasing, look for a glass thickness between 3 and 5.5mm.

Watch Out For Bong Joint Size

Joint size is frequently overlooked when it comes to purchasing a new bong. Joints may need to be replaced, and the size of the joint also determines the type of accessories that you can add. If you’re adding a bong to your collection, consider buying one with the same joint size, so that you can swap out pieces if there is ever a problem.

Acquaint Yourself With Percolators

Percolators, or bubblers, are actually somewhere between a pipe and a bong. They are popular because they provide a smoother hit and make for a better tasting smoking experience. Percolators are usually considered a medium-level option, but set-up can get complicated very quickly, so they may be too overwhelming for beginner users. 

They generally come in one of two styles - “Sherlock” style (like a traditional pipe) or similar to a small, glass bong. In either case, bubblers are definitely worth the extra money.

Choose A Bong You Can Maintain

One last tip for choosing the right bong is to make sure to be realistic about what you will be able to maintain. Anyone who has smoked out of a bong that has been poorly maintained will tell you just how much resin buildup can affect the taste of the smoke. Resin buildup can also make it much more difficult to get a good pull, leading to a less than fulfilling smoking experience. Ultimately, smoking should be fun, and choosing a bong you will be able to maintain will help to make sure it doesn’t turn into a frustrating experience.