In this Guide to Different Types of Bongs, we will go over the different types of Bongs that are popular today. There are a multitude of different bong types, styles, materials,, and designs, from Small Glass Bongs and Large Beaker Glass Bongs, to Acrylic and Metal Bongs.
What Defines a “Bong”?
As most of you may know, a bong is a water-filtered smoking device for smoking dry herbs or concentrates. Also known as a water pipe, the word bong is originally derived from the Thai word “bang” which is a long cylinder or tube, usually made from bamboo, and also used for smoking herbs.
Why is Smoke Using a Bong?
So why use a bong for smoking herbs? When smoking herbs, a flame is used to combust the herbs in the bowl, and the smoke is pulled into the lungs. With a normal dry pipe, the smoke is hot and contains almost all the carbons and plant resins, which could potentially irritate the smoker’s lungs or throat with repeated use. The bong offers added water filtration to the mix. The downstream of the bong goes under the water and as the herb is burned the smoke passes through the water which not only cools the smoke but also filters out some of the stickier resins and heavier carbons, which will remain in the water to be cleaned out later. This process results in a smoother, cooler smoking experience for the bong smoker.
Best Type of Bong Materials
Bongs can be made from a variety of different materials, the most common of which are Glass, Metal, Ceramic, Silicone,, and Acrylic. Glass bongs are generally the most popular, and for good reason!
Metal bongs are normally used for a quicker sneak a toke style piece, such as the popular thermos bong, which looks like a thermos until it is unpacked and a bowl inserted in the side. They usually feature a matching metal bowl, which is not the best option for repeated use. Also due to the porous nature of the brushed metal, it will be hard to get fully clean after heavy use.
Ceramic bongs are the original art bongs, before the glass scene took off, people would make ceramic shapes, like skulls, wizards, or crazy art shapes, out of ceramic clay, which is then fired and glazed. These offer a better smoking experience than Metal bongs, but won’t last as long as a good glass bong. Ceramic bongs generally feature a metal bowl as well, which is not the best for flavor or health.
Silicone bongs are made out of polysiloxane rubber, which is temperature resistant and difficult to break, but generally made in china, and can contain unsafe materials for repeated smoking. With time and repeated cleaning, the material can also become more porous, and start to trap resins, carbon, and potentially mold, making it very difficult to get fully clean.
Acrylic is the worst type of bong, being made out of acrylic plastic, it is not very good for flavor, can’t be cleaned fully, is not very heat resistant, and isn’t healthy to smoke out of. The only real benefit is the low cost. We would advise avoiding these bongs. Even a seashell off the beach will give you a better smoking experience.
This brings us to the best type of bong, the glass bong. Glass bongs are generally made from one of two types of glass, Borosilicate Glass or Hard Glass, and Soft Glass or Soda Lime Glass.
Borosilicate glass uses boric acid in its production, which results in increased strength and acid resistance, and has a coefficient of thermal expansion of 33, making it better for repeated heating and cooling applications. These are some of the best glass bongs you can buy.
Soft Glass Bongs
Soft Glass or Soda Lime Glass,, on the other hand, uses soda and lime in its production, which lowers the melting point of the glass and makes it easier to manipulate when hot. This soft glass has a coefficient of thermal expansion of 90, 96, or 104, and it is not as good with thermal shock as borosilicate. For this reason, soft glass bongs tend to be thick glass bongs with some heft to them. Moreso than their borosilicate bong counterparts. Both types of glass are great, with borosilicate having a bit of an edge due to its strength.
Types of Glass Bong Designs
Glass Bongs come in a multitude of designs and can be used for a variety of types of smoking, Small Dab Bongs are used for dabbing concentrates, or you could choose a large beaker bong for maximum water capacity for your herbs. Whichever form of glass bong you choose, they all function in basically the same manner. Smoke travels the downstream, through the water,, and out the mouthpiece. The main differences will be in size, type of percolator, and overall design and colors.
Small Dab Bongs
These bongs are generally used for smoking concentrates. The volume of the piece, both air,, and water, will generally be smaller and they usually have minimal percolation or filtration. This is because concentrates already have the plant matter and carbons removed from them, and more filtration removes more of the active ingredients than any potential contaminants. Instead of using a Glass Bong Bowl, they normally use a Quartz Banger to vaporize concentrates.
Glass Beaker Bongs
Round Bottom Bongs
Also known as bubble bottom bongs, these bongs have a large sphere at the bottom of the piece, for holding maximum water capacity, similar to beaker bongs. Round bottom bongs are fairly stable due to the large base although not as stable as beaker bongs by design. These large glass bongs are mostly for smoking herb, although you could also smoke concentrates with a banger attachment.
Pick the type of glass bong that fits your needs and your smoking preferences and you’ll be flying high in no time.