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There’s nothing like smoking high-potency cannabis flower through a bong. Bongs have served the needs of marijuana enthusiasts for decades, and rank as one of the most classic smoking devices. A good bong should be in the collection of every true cannabis connoisseur. The typical college dormitory no doubt contains several of them.

What Are Bongs?

Bongs, also known as water pipes, come in many sizes, shapes, and colors, but all of them contain water, which effectively cools and filters cannabis smoke before it reaches the lungs. Similar to a hookah, a bong is typically smaller and designed for one user at a time, while some hookahs have multiple hoses, each with a mouthpiece. Bongs don’t employ the use of hoses. Instead, the smoker’s mouth is placed over an opening at the end of a tube through which smoke travels.

How to Smoke From a Bong

The manner of cannabis delivery with a bong differs from a pipe. When taking a “bong hit,” a match or lighter flame is held above a bowl containing ground cannabis, just like smoking a pipe—but that’s where the similarities end. When inhaling, smoke passes through the water in bubbles, then through the tube to the smoker’s mouth. Bongs have carburetors that the person smoking controls. These typically consist of a hole in the side of the bong above the water chamber or a sliding, removable bowl.

When inhaling through the bong, a finger over the carburetor allows smoke to collect within. To activate the carburetor, the smoker’s finger is removed from the hole or the sliding bowl is slid off to cause all of the smoke within to rapidly travel through the tube and into the lungs. The person smoking tends to get much more smoke into his or her lungs than when using as joint, blunt or pipe. The sudden blast of water-cooled smoke can cause coughing fits among those who inhale too much.

Smoking from a bong typically requires a hit or two for most consumers—much fewer draws than if using a pipe or joint. The euphoric rush that comes from a bong is more profound due to the cooled smoke and the large amount of smoke inhaled. Bongs are larger in size than pipes, so they have a larger chamber to hold in smoke. Most cannabis connoisseurs love their bongs and often spend quite a bit of money for good ones.

Benefits of Using a Bong

What makes a bong so appealing? Why would you choose a bong over a pipe or joint? What are its main selling points?

Some of the attraction no doubt comes from the impressive size and interesting decorations on some of them. Many bongs are well over 1½ feet long, with some being much larger. Artisan glass blowers can create functional and stylish bongs in a variety of striking designs. High quality bongs can display the artistic skill of a glass blower through inventive and original designs.

There’s also the social aspect of bong use. While many people use bongs when smoking solo, a good bong definitely lends itself to a party experience. Due to their large size, most bong use takes place indoors while friends gather together. Bongs allow users to finish a bowl by themselves or share if it's a particularly large bowl. Some bongs may be so tall that they require a second person to light the bowl and activate the carburetor while the other person inhales.

Another appealing aspect of bong use is that most bongs have one-hit bowls, ensuring that every smoker gets a fresh, terpene-rich draw when it’s their turn to smoke.

Most importantly, bongs provide filtration of the smoke with the use of water. Water filtration is helpful in producing smoother and cleaner smoke. Some research indicates that filtration can remove harmful components such as toxins without reducing the amount of THC in the smoke.

Overall, bonds are a convenient and effective tool to smoke dry herb and even concentrates.  Choosing the right quality bong affects how it functions and how long it will last. Proper maintenance can help ensure your bong looks good and remains functional for many years to come.

What Are Bongs Made Of?

Bongs are made out of a variety of materials, each with their own advantage and disadvantage.  Here are some of the most common bong materials:

  • Acrylic: Lightweight and long lasting. These are the most affordable you can find.
  • Silicone: Super durable and easy to travel with.
  • Ceramic: Superior flavor in a variety of designs.
  • Glass: The best flavor and smoke of the bunch.

What Type of Bong Is Best?

Selecting a good bong can result in a significant investment. The least-expensive bongs are the small, acrylic, single-tube varieties that can cost as little as $20, while those with loftier price tags are usually handmade out of glass by skilled artisans. Some glass bongs have more-elaborate designs, with rounded smoke and water chambers. While single-tube acrylic or silicone bongs are more utilitarian and less flashy, they perform well and achieve the desired result. Just as either a VW or Cadillac will get you to your desired destination, one is more stylish than the other.

Let’s examine more in-depth some of the most common materials used for constructing not only bongs, but pipes as well. There are pros and cons to each of these materials, and what may be an ideal bong for one person may not be for another. The size of the bong, its design, and the materials used in its construction generally dictate the price point, but a large, fancy bong may not appeal to everyone. For some smokers, the durable and utilitarian bongs suit their needs better. For these people, the “less is more” axiom holds true.

Glass Bongs

Glass bongs are typically the most expensive and coveted by cannabis smokers. They usually produce the best-quality smoke and the most impressive appearance. The smoke is smoother and less harsh than that of plastic bongs, largely because of the ability to clean them more thoroughly. Although glass bongs allow for a more thorough cleaning, the elaborate nature of some of their designs makes the process more time consuming.

Besides the prestige factor and higher quality, glass bongs do have some disadvantages. One of the most obvious drawbacks to owning this type of smoking device is its fragile nature. Glass bongs are easy to break, and there’s no disguising the fact that their tall design makes them easy to tip over and spill—if not break. For this reason, selecting a glass bong with a wide, sturdy base is a wise decision.

If you choose to travel with your glass bong, a protective case with a snug fit will be necessary for anyone but the most careful person—and even then, accidents can happen.

Pros: High-quality, smooth smoke, incredible flavor

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Cons: Vulnerable to breakage, not easy to travel with

Ceramic Bongs

Similar to glass and with similar prestige, a good ceramic bong can have unique charm and appeal. They range in design from very simple to elaborate. More than one high school or college student has created their own fantastic ceramic bong on a potter’s wheel. Creating a good one will require some skill, and a stealthy demeanor may prove necessary when placing the bong (“vase”) into the kiln for firing.

Because their construction is usually thicker than a typical glass bong, ceramic is also a bit more durable. That said, ceramic bong owners shouldn’t have a false sense of security that their smoking pieces are rough-and-tumble devices—they definitely are not. If dropped or struck, they will break nearly as easily as glass.

The glaze on these bongs allows for creative and fun decorations and adornment. The elaborate design is only limited by the skill of the maker. A nice ceramic bong stands out and garners attention in the same way a good glass bong will. You will likely see them less often in a well-stocked dispensary or head shop, but when you do encounter them, they are definitely worthy of your consideration.

Pros: Durable, artistic designs, affordable

Cons: Vulnerable to drops and breakage, not common (limited accessories)

Silicone and Acrylic Bongs

The most common bongs are the ones constructed from silicone or acrylic. These bongs usually have a simpler design than some glass bongs but can be quite attractive. They come in nearly every color of the rainbow, which makes them stand out more distinctively than some glass bongs. Although they may lack the “wow” factor of some glass bongs, there are some definite advantages to owning a silicone or acrylic bong.

The biggest advantage to owning a plastic bong is its durability. You can tip it over all you want, with the most serious consequence being smelly bong water spilled on your carpet. Acrylic bongs are ideal for road trips and local hiking excursions. Just toss them in a bag with a bottle of water, and you’re set to hit the road.

Because of their simple designs, acrylic bongs are usually easier to clean but more difficult to clean thoroughly because their surfaces tend to retain more resin and grime than glass bongs. This can sometimes result in a subtle dirty plastic flavor if the bong is not cleaned thoroughly. Regardless of the material from which it’s constructed, a bong should be emptied and cleaned after each use to ensure the smoke from it remains clean and fresh tasting. You want to taste the terpenes from the flower, not the material from which the bong is constructed. Regular cleaning guarantees a rewarding and flavorful cannabis experience with each use.

Pros:  Affordable, variety of colors, easy to clean, durable

Cons: Lack of customization,  less flavorful than other materials, inefficient diffusion and percolation, can be made with low quality plastics

Silicone Bongs

Silicone bongs are one of the newer options on the scene. This material offers an affordable and durable option for those who want a step up from acrylic designs. Silicone material is one of the most durable around. It's soft and malleable design is virtually unbreakable. Whether it's a low or high drop, your bong will be left unscathed.

Because of its unique design and material, these bongs are easier to travel with. Simply bend or fold it into your bag and you're good to go. It's not as bulky as a glass bong and much lighter. If you don't want to risk breaking your glass bong while on a trip, bring along your silicone bong.

Pros: Virtually unbreakable, affordable, easy to travel with

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Cons: Lackluster performance compared to glass, not very customizable

Pipes

Infinitely more durable than bongs, the trustworthy cannabis pipe can experience lots of knocking and dropping without showing any sign of damage. Pipes are made from a very large assortment of materials. Not only are glass pipes widely available, but pipes with wood and silicone in their design are as well.

Metal pipes and glass pipes are extremely popular and durable for obvious reasons. They also produce the cleanest smoke because of the ability to clean them thoroughly. There is little risk of breaking or wearing out a metal pipe. Usually the only need to replace them occurs after their owners lose them. Glass pipes can break, but they usually consist of thick glass that is somewhat durable. There is prestige in owning a good glass piece. As long as they’re kept reasonably clean, these pipes will consistently produce thick, clean smoke.

How to Choose the Right Bong For You?

As you can see, there are many bong materials you can choose from. Each offers a unique advantage over the other. Ultimately, it's up to you which one fits your needs and lifestyle. Is deer searching for a bong, here are a few tips to keep in mind:

  • Size Matters: Bigger isn't always better. The size of your bong affects your overall experience. For instance, a new user might get overwhelmed by smoking from a tall bong. If you're always on the go, a small bong is the perfect size to fit in your backpack and provide you with hits wherever you go. For the connoisseur or those who need a large dose of cannabis, a larger bong is the right choice for those big hits.
  • Durability: Consider your lifestyle and how vulnerable your bong will be to drops and breakage. If you're known to bump into furniture or have a clumsy streak, your best bet is to stick with silicone or acrylic bongs. Choose a bong that has a sturdy base to keep it stable on whatever surface it's on. If you're not worried about breaking your piece, consider a glass design meant to reflect your personal style.
  • Filtration: Bongs differ in the type of filtration they provide. For instance, percolators in a bong help cool and filter the smoke. Consider the different types of percolators available including honeycomb percs to showerhead percs. While some percs can provide superior filtration, it can increase the drag. That means you will have to inhale more forcefully compared to no filtration.
  • Maintenance: Maintenance and Care should be considered when choosing a bong material. Over time, resin builds up in the chamber, bowl, and elsewhere. Tall bongs with several percolators are functional but can be difficult to clean compared to a smaller and simpler piece. Consider investing in an ash catcher to contain the ash, increase filtration, and reduce cleanup time.

Final Thoughts on Bong Materials

There’s no one single material that produces a superior bong or pipe, and there are pros and cons to all of the various materials used in their construction. All smokers must evaluate the qualities that define a superior smoking device for their individual needs and purchase wisely based on that criteria.

Interested in learning more about the industry? Enroll in Cannabis Training University’s online cannabis courses. Our courses take you through every aspect from growing to cooking to extractions and more. Affordable, convenient, comprehensive, and renowned. CTU is the best place to earn your stripes.