How to Choose a Bong – A Beginner’s Guide
If you’re new to the world of bongs and water pipes, choosing your own can be daunting, as there seem to be so many on the market. You might have tried a friend’s bongs in the past, but looking for your own has been a tad difficult.
You’re hardly to blame. It’s almost as though the number of “best bongs” available for sale is endless, and trying to choose one can tire you out. Bongs tend to come in different shapes, sizes, and materials. Quite a few of them have features you might not fully understand, like splash guards.
So, let’s delve into how to choose a bong in order to enhance your smoking experience. To do that, we first need to understand what a bong does.
What is a bong, and what does it do?
Bongs, which can also be called water pipes or water bongs, are vase-like pipes that have a chamber, neck, downstem, and bowl. They’ve been around for many centuries, and they’ve started to look rather complicated over the years.
The entire purpose of the bong is to filter and cool the smoke which emanates from the marijuana you’re burning. The bowl holds the weed, which is dry and can be lit up. When you inhale, the water at the bottom percolates (or bubbles), and the smoke rises through it and into the chamber and your lungs.
Filtering the smoke helps remove the dry heat often gotten with smoking a joint. With a bong, the smoke can feel much smoother, cooler, and even creamier.
Bongs aren’t glass pipes, as glass pipes do not use water to filter the smoke from the burning weed. Bongs are notably water pipes, and water is a major part of how they work to cool and filter smoke.
Does choosing the right bong matter?
If you’re always traveling, you would likely prefer a more portable bong that can handle the rigors of consistent movement. If you live with others, you might want a bong that reduces the clouds. Or if your lungs are sensitive, you would be happier with a bong that offers maximum smoothness.
Essentially, the right bong will suit your needs, fit your interests, and stay within your budget. It will also feel just right when you use it. Knowing how to choose the right bong will ensure you don’t spend money on bongs and water pipes that will frustrate your experience.
So, how do you choose the right first bong? The first step is recognizing what your preferences are.
What are your bong preferences?
You might be going into the market for your first bong. It could also be the umpteenth time. However, if you don’t go with an idea of a fitting bong in your niche, you’ll only get overwhelmed again. So let’s take a look at a number of key preference points to start with.
What’s your budget?
In the bong market, there really isn’t a fixed price, especially because there are so many bongs. You need to decide on what your possible maximum spending margin is, and you can also set a minimum. Setting both will give you a lot of room to pick from while controlling how much you spend.
Most bongs are priced in three ranges: high, medium, and low. It’s possible to purchase a small, simple bong for less than $30. Most medium-priced bongs range between $30 to $100, while expensive bongs and water pipes usually don’t go above $300. So what’s your budget?
Do you travel much?
If you tend to be out of the house more often than not, you will need a durable but portable bong. So, this preference is very dependent on your lifestyle. Getting a bigger bong might be a better option if you don’t move around much or you’re always home.
Moving around a lot or getting lots of work done each day means you might have to carry your bong around with you. If it’s too bulky or breaks easily, you’ll only be frustrated about it. So what’s your lifestyle like?
How much experience do you have?
Bongs require maintenance, and different types of bongs offer different levels of hits. Smaller bongs take less time to brew and may not allow for strong sessions in the way larger bongs would. If you’re inexperienced, starting with a smaller bong and graduating to bigger ones as you adapt might benefit you.
Maintenance also requires some level of experience. Complex bongs can have percolators, oddly-shaped necks, and many other eccentricities that might confuse a beginner. If you’re inexperienced, a simple bong with very few complexities can provide you with a more comfortable occasion, as setting up and cleaning after would be easy.
Finally, bongs need to be properly taken care of. If you’re prone to dropping things or can be careless at times, a simple silicon bong would suffice. If you don’t want to struggle with the process of cleaning your bongs, then getting simple transparent bongs would suit your needs.
Do you value aesthetics?
You might be a collector or an artistic person who will find the appearance of a bong a necessary factor for purchase. There are rare and unique bongs that are limited in number and hard to find, most of which will easily cross $300.
Unique water pipes, some made with expensive glass designs, will cost a good amount of money. If the aesthetic value is important to you, then you’ll need to keep the financial drawbacks. These bongs can also be quite complex, as a lot of work is likely to go into the innate designs too. They might not be the best bong for first-timers.
Choosing the Right Bong
Now that you have a general set of preferences in mind when it comes to bongs, the next step is to look at what types are available in the market and how they would suit you. Let’s take a look at bong sizes.
The right bong size is entirely dependent on you. Everyone’s preference for bong size is going to be different based on how their bongs would fit their lifestyles. Keep in mind that price isn’t solely based on bong sizes, as the materials also matter. There’s certainly something on the market for you, so let’s take a look at the different bong sizes and what their benefits are:
Mini bongs – 4 inches to 7 inches
These are some of the most portable bongs on the market. They are fun pieces, thanks to their small size, which also makes them the best bong when you go on trips. Due to their size, they are rather lightweight and can offer a more discreet experience than larger bongs. These bongs are also easier to clean compared to their bigger counterparts.
There are downsides to using mini bongs, however. Due to the small size, there’s a higher chance of having harsher hits. The harshness is mostly due to the lack of space for the smoke to get filtered as optimally as you might prefer. With a mini bong, you’re also bound to much less airflow than bigger bongs would offer.
Essentially, these mini bongs are a great option for starters or those who travel often. They are easier to carry around and clean. However, their poor water filtration can make the small bongs an unlikely option for more experienced users.
Medium bongs – 8 inches to 14 inches
These are the most commonly available bongs on the market, and they tend to have great filtration quality compared to their smaller counterparts. They’re often enjoyed by both experienced and new users, who can enjoy the strong filtration and bigger airflow that it offers.
It does have some of the benefits of the smaller bong, as it isn’t too big in comparison and is capable of some level of portability. However, making it travel-friendly or even discreet might be a rather difficult task. The smaller it is, the easier it would be to move around, so a medium-sized bong on the lower rung, like an 8-inch bong, may not be too bulky compared to a 14-inch option.
Medium bongs also offer bigger hits, making it a more enjoyable experience. Experienced smokers looking for a practical bong and newbies looking for an improved experience can both go for a medium-sized bong.
Large bongs – over 14 inches
These advanced bongs can be mammoth in size, with some bongs like Freeze Pipe’s Bong Dual reaching 23 inches in length. These can be rather daunting for inexperienced smokers, who would be better off handling a smaller bong. While these bit hitter bongs may look like you need two people to help you light one, they are actually great to work with, once you’re fairly experienced, that is.
These large bongs offer notable benefits, like the certainty that there will be no splashback from bong water hitting you in the mouth. They also offer the most filtration and the best experiences, which are both a necessity for veteran smokers who enjoy large puffs. They can also be shared with close friends sitting around the table since they’re often a table piece that doesn’t move around much.
If medium bongs are rather difficult in the sense of portability, these are simply impossible. They are not an ideal size to lug around from place to place but would rather be kept in one place at home. They are also often more difficult to clean, which means that some experience is required to handle them.
Knowing your preferred bong size is great, but it certainly isn’t everything. What your bong is made from can easily determine the price, the durability, and other factors you need to put into consideration. Here, the price will matter, too, as some materials tend to be much pricier than others. Let’s take a look at the options available on the market:
Glass bongs – highly recommended
These are some of the most popular bongs on the market, as they tend to provide the best experiences. The hits from these bongs are notably clean and taste as pure as possible, as glass does not give any flavor to smoke. They’re also durable, thanks to the borosilicate glass that’s often used to create them, and they’re also resistant to the burning weed’s heat.
Glass bongs also have a lot of versatility, which many bong makers take advantage of in adding different accessories. You’re very likely to find glass bongs that come with options like ash catchers, multi-water chambers, percolators, and splash guards. Another great benefit is how spectacular glass water pipes can look, especially when handled by bong makers who immerse beautiful colors and designs into the glass.
Due to the transparency of the glass, it is very easy to monitor resin build-up, bong water quality, and more. This also makes them easy enough to clean, but they also have a downside: breakability. If you’re a clumsy person, there’s a good chance your glass bong will hit the floor and shatter into a thousand pieces. Care needs to be taken when cleaning and using the glass bong to ensure it remains in great condition.
Glass bongs are highly recommended, especially because they are high-quality bongs but very common, and you’re likely to see one in your price range. They offer clean hits, which you will come to love, but you’ll have to be very careful with them, so they don’t break.
Acrylic bongs – cheap bongs
This is the cheapest bong on the market. These are great news if you’re very clumsy, as they’re nearly indestructible. The chances of them smashing to pieces are minimal at best, and even if that did happen, they’re cheap enough to get another in no time.
However, the low bong cost does come with a price. An acrylic bong is essentially a plastic bong, and for more experienced stoners, these water pipes will offer a very low-quality experience. They are the least versatile option for add-ons, which means you might not be able to include a percolator, which most bong users enjoy using.
Regarding smoking, don’t expect anything in terms of quality. There tends to be minimal smoke filtration, and because the bowl and downstem are made from metal, it can leave an odd taste in the mouth.
Essentially, if you don’t care much for the quality, or you’re starting your stoner journey on a string budget, this might be your best bong. However, there are much better options in the market.
Silicone bongs – great for outdoors
If you’re the outdoorsy type or you travel often, a silicone bong might be your best option. Throw it in your bags and hit the road without worry or fear of your bong breaking, and when you use it, throw it in the dishwasher too. They’re that durable and easy to clean.
A silicone water pipe can also withstand lots of heat, but the real selling point is durability.
No need to get special cleaners or scrubs to delicately clean your bong when you can just throw it in the dishwasher, after all.
However, amidst all these pros, there are some downsides too. You’re unlikely to find percolation within this water pipe material, and intricate designs are also unlikely. Once the material is made with intricate designs, it tends to equate to weak joints, which removes the entire ‘durability’ strong point.
Accessorizing these bongs can also be difficult as they aren’t so common. You’re also unlikely to find large silicone bongs, as these are capable of collapsing on their weight.
Finally, due to the lack of transparency that comes with glass bongs, it can be difficult to measure resin build and water quality. So, if you’re looking for an affordable and indestructible bong for travels, a silicone bong is your go-to.
Ceramic bongs – for collectors
These extremely durable bongs are reliable and can be a great choice for more experienced stoners. While silicone bongs are just as reliable, these ceramic water pipes dramatically improve the quality of smoke, leaving your smoke without flavor or taste. However, enthusiasts will argue that glass bongs still offer better hits than a ceramic water pipe.
Due to their potential longevity, it is possible to find ceramic bongs in antique shops and auctions. They look (and feel) timeless, which can elevate your smoking experience. They can make a great collector’s item, as it’s very possible to find bongs that are intricately designed in numerous shapes, like snakes, dragons, and even Buddha.
However, there are some downsides to these bongs as well. While they are notably cheaper than glass bongs, their opaque nature means you cannot monitor the quality of water or resin build-up on the inside. They are also very breakable, even more so than the borosilicate glass water pipes, which is likely why the ceramic bong isn’t as popular as it once was.
Because of their intricacies and their lack of popularity, you will be hard-pressed to find ceramic bongs widely available or easily accessorized. They are also quite difficult to clean, which can be frustrating even for enthusiasts. Ceramic water pipes are not recommended for you unless you’re a collector of such items, of course. Due to the difficulty in cleaning them, maintaining them, and even replacing parts, you’re better off with more readily available options.
Metal bongs – an unlikely option
These are unlikely to be your go-to because they are hardly one of the common bong materials on the market. Metal is difficult to break, which means such a water pipe is also bound to be near indestructible.
The main downside with a metal bong would be the way it can affect the taste of your smoke. While glass is notable for giving you pure smoke, metal does the exact opposite, contaminating the smoke with a taste that can be off-putting for many bong users.
Because these bongs are very opaque, there’s no way to know when it’s time for them to be cleaned. While they might be cheap bongs, the ability of a metal water pipe to change the taste of your smoke makes them unrecommended, even as a beginner bong.
Accessories (or attachments) provide improved filtration, smoother smoke, cooler smoke, or even added power to your hits. Other accessories are available to help you use your bong easier and clean it better. Essentially, these modifications are a great way to improve your smoking experience, so let’s look at some common ones.
This is a very vital part of any bong. The bowl is where you put your weed and light it, but this means that bong bowls can come in numerous shapes and sizes. Essentially, the larger and wider bowls are great for smokers who use a large amount of weed each session. Some more expensive bowls are made from materials that withstand high heat and make it easier for you to light the weed. Most bongs come with bowls, but getting an improved bong bowl can extend your experience or even look cooler.
A banger, also known as a dab nail, is similar to a bong bowl. However, it is deeper and has a part that sticks out of the bong, turning it into a dab rig. Because it is made from quartz, a dab rig can withstand heat without cracking, even more than glass. You can heat up your quartz banger with a blowtorch and use it to dab on cannabis concentrate if you’re interested in very powerful hits. Dab rigs are mainly used for concentrates, while bongs are for legal dry herb and tobacco use.
This device simply stops ash from getting into the bong, which can affect your smoking experience. While these ash catchers are available independently, they can often come attached with percolators for enhanced hits.
Gender in Bongs
Every smoking accessory with your bong has a gender attached to it. Male bongs and female bongs have little to do with who buys them and more to do with the size of smoking accessories attached. If you have a bong with a wide mouth that has its accessories inserted, it’s a female bong, while the accessories are male.
If your bong has a smaller mouth and accessories are put over it, it’s a male bong, while the accessories are female.
How a bong is styled often depends on the smoking accessories it can contain. For most inexperienced bong users, the wide variety of options available in this regard can make the entire experience of buying a bong rather daunting, even if they understand the sizes and materials they want.
So let’s take a look at the different bong types that are commonly available in the market.
A beaker bong is usually more affordable than other types, offering cooler smoke but a more average experience. A beaker bong is the most basic bong possible, and its thick base stores more water, which increases filtration.
Straight tube bongs
These are also affordable, but they offer an easier drag than beaker bongs due to their lower volume. Straight tube bongs are often slim bongs, which can make them easier to transport as well.
These water pipes have different chambers, which increase how long the smoke takes to get to you. The designs are often complex, which can increase the price notably. They’re more difficult to set up too, but the water tends to last much longer.
These bongs are engineered to circulate smoke around the same chamber for a while,, diverting it into the water several times before inhaling it. These offer some of the smoothest experiences but can be very pricey due to their complex nature.
Rather than focus on aesthetic design, which covers the bong’s general appearance, we’ll look at functional designs that can turn a smoke sesh from good to exhilarating:
A percolator bong cools the hot smoke down. If you want even cooler, smoother hits from your bong, buying a percolator bong will certainly hit the nail on the head. The percolator, or perc as it’s often called, can be built in different ways, with chambers or holes that allow the smoke to cool before you inhale it.
Glycerin Chamber Bongs
Glycerin chamber bongs have a removable mouthpiece that you place in the freezer. These chambers are filled with non-toxic fatty gel called glycerin. Glycerin is commonly found in food and sweeteners and is more effective than ice cubes when it comes to chilling smoke. Inside the chamber is a coil that smoke travels through. As the smoke goes through the coil the frozen chamber which surrounds it cools the coil. Ice cubes can melt which drips down into the base and can deteriorate the bong’s function. With a glycerin chamber you avoid melting ice cubes and get a colder, smoother hit.
Fixed stem or stemless bongs
A stemless bong usually has a downstem that isn’t removable or replaceable, which means lesser hassle with removing any parts. A fixed stem bong has a replaceable downstem, which you can remove when spoilt.
Available Bongs for sale
If you’re looking to purchase great starter bongs for your enjoyment, Freeze Pipe is one of the top bong brands to consider. Here are some of the best bongs from Freeze Pipe:
- 16 inches tall
- Includes Inline + Sprinkler percolator
- Includes honeycomb glass bowl
- Glycerin chambers for cooling smoke
- 16 inches tall
- Upgraded showerhead percolator
- Includes honeycomb glass bowl
- Largest glycerin coil for cooling smoke further
- 23 inches tall
- Includes UFO percolator and showerhead base
- Offers the coldest smoke
It can seem daunting, but you’ve armed yourself with the information you need to buy a new bong online or even two. It’s not uncommon to have a smaller one to head out with while keeping your main one at home.
A mini bong made from silicone with a small base would certainly be easy to carry around and wash. A much bigger glass option with your choice’s smoking accessories can stay on your coffee table at home whenever you settle down for a smoke sesh.
Can I use bamboo bongs?
If you can purchase them, then certainly. Glass has become the go-to option for many avid stoners, but you can still smoke with bamboo water pipes. Accessories might be a little hard to come by, though.
Are dab rigs the same as bongs?
No, they aren’t. You can technically use dab rigs for cannabis concentrates, while you can use bongs for dry weed. However, you can turn your bong into a dab rig.