by Cyrus Grant
Bongs are a tried and true stoner staple. Not only do they make for a great smoking experience, a lot of them are basically art pieces (seriously, blowing glass is no joke). If you’ve decided it’s time to up your bong game, you’ve come to the right place. Mama will cover everything you need to know about bongs, plus some things to look out for when deciding to buy at a head shop or online.
So, whether you’re in the market for your first bong or just a new bong, here’s Mama’s bong buying guide. Oh, and if you want to see some cool bongs make sure you scroll to the end.
So we all know what a bong is. It looks like a vase and you use it to smoke grass. A+, right? Well, that’s certainly the most important info, but let’s get a bit more into the weeds (pun absolutely intended) on what bongs actually are and how they work.
How Bongs Work
Bongs are technically a type of water pipe that uses water to filter smoke for a smoother smoking experience. The main features of a bong are a bowl (this is where you put the weed) that extends down into a chamber that holds water, which then rises into a cylinder where you place your mouth and inhale from.
To break it down for any bong noobs out there, this is how you use a bong:
- Pack your weed into the bowl (a small, almost pipe-looking device coming off the side)
- Light the weed
- Suck air until the water chamber is filled with smoke
- Remove the bowl
- Inhale the smoke
And that’s pretty much it. Some bongs work a little differently (we’ll cover some different types down below), and some even come with extra features like percolators to provide additional smoke filtration, or even ash catchers to keep the water clean.
Ignoring your homemade fruit bong for a sec, there are four typical materials you’ll find bongs are made out of — glass, ceramic, silicone, and acrylic. If you take nothing else from this, remember that the best bong materials are in that order.
- Glass – The standard bong material, and for all intents and purposes, the best. Glass performs the best, provides the cleanest and smoothest taste, and is surprisingly resilient (still, be careful not to drop it).
- Ceramic – Ceramic bongs are a close second to glass and can provide a cool and unique look. They feature many of the positives of a glass bong, but feature one distinct negative — they’re heavy.
- Silicone – A cheaper, shatter-proof alternative to the above two materials, a silicone bong can work in a pinch, but let’s be honest, the taste and quality of smoke that come out of these things are 🤮.
- Acrylic – Just don’t. They’re cheap, but you’re basically just smoking out of a hot plastic water bottle.
There are a few other materials out there, like metal (again with the gross taste) or even bamboo (great option, but kinda a pain to clean since you can ruin them if you’re not careful).
TLDR: Buy a glass bong…or ceramic if you don’t mind essentially lugging a brick around.
Standard Types of Bongs
While you’ll typically know a bong when you see one, there are a few different types you’ll often come across.
Classic Bongs (aka Round or Bubble-Base Bong)
If you’ve ever seen a cartoon bong, it was probably one of these guys. Round-base bongs feature the standard cylinder that stretches down into a round-shaped chamber. The only real difference with this bong from other standard-shaped bongs is that your high friend might set it down just a liiittle too angled, and the next thing you know it’s on the floor. Minus half a point for slightly less stability.
Pretty much the exact same as the round bong, but with a wider, more stable base that resembles a science beaker. These are probably the most popular on account of them functioning well and also being more stable than most other bong shapes. The best bong is one that’s tough to accidentally knock over, trust us.
Straight bongs are, well, straight. Rather than having a tube that goes down into a larger chamber, they just go straight down into a base. With these, you just put a bit of water in and then it’s business as usual. The plus side of a straight bong is that they’re slightly easier to store, but the downside is they tend to be the least stable of the three major bong shapes.
Cool Types of Bongs
The bongs in this section are essentially variations of the three above, but with some cooler twists and features. If you’re looking for a bong that provides a little something extra, this is the section for you.
Gravity bongs are technically more of an airflow thing than a gravity thing, but let’s leave the science to people in lab coats and focus on what really matters — gravity bongs will get you extra high.
The basic idea is that water creates a vacuum that draws in a bunch of concentrated smoke. It’s obviously a more complicated process, but it’s easy to use and the important part is that it works. In fact, Seth Rogan (notable stoner), uses a $600 gravity infuser by Stundenglass. Talk about a cool bong.
Percolator Bongs are generally one of the three standard bongs, but with an additional feature called a percolator (fancy word for “filter,” basically). The percolator is a piece of glass in the bong that not only helps filter the smoke, but can also cool the smoke for a smoother, less harsh experience. The only downside to this type of bong is the fact that it’s kinda a pain the ass to clean, since the percolator is generally a pretty small and complex glass structure inside the bong.
Multi-Chamber Bongs (aka Recycler Bongs)
A variation of the straight bong, recycler bongs are straight, but contain two water chambers connected by various smaller tubes. This results in the smoke being filtered a second time, resulting in a smoother and cooler (temperature-wise…but, they look pretty cool too) smoking experience. Again, cleaning is a bit of a hassle, but that’s the price we pay for beauty.
Ice Trap Bongs
What’s cooler than being cool? Ice cold. If you want the literal coolest smoking experience, you’ll want to look for an ice trap bong. These bongs feature something known as an ice trap or pinch, which holds ice cubes so that smoke rises past it and rapidly cools the smoke. Cool smoke = less harsh hit, and it’s as simple as that.
The only thing you’ll have to look out for is when the ice melts it will fill up the water chamber below to the point you might need to dump some out. Honestly though, the slight amount of extra effort is worth the nice and cool smoke you get.
Buying at a Head Shop vs. Online
We live in a time where you can literally order weed straight to your door (Tough Mama even offers it), but sometimes it can still be worth venturing out into the world when it comes to doing some shopping. Here are some advantages to buying a bong at a head shop versus buying one online.
Head Shop Advantages and Disadvantages
- Employees can answer questions and make recommendations
- You get to physically inspect the bongs and compare them to each other
- Get a better idea of the size
- Take it home with you that day
- Less price flexibility
- Not as convenient or available near you
- Limited selection
Online Advantages and Disadvantages
- Limitless options
- Not rushed to make a choice
- Can’t inspect what you buy
- Harder to get direct advice
- Have to wait for delivery
- Risk of damage during delivery
Bonus Section: Some Cool Bongs
We mentioned this one already (made popular by Seth Rogan), but it’s so nice we just had to show it twice. This thing is a high-tech way to get high, and pretty f-ing cool. The price is slightly less cool, but you gotta pay to play sometimes.
If you’re into a minimalist, natural look, Summerland makes some killer bongs. Honestly, these double as home decor. Might just buy a few to keep around the house…for aesthetics of course.
This one technically breaks our no-plastic rule, but it is pretty cool. If you really want water filtration on the go but don’t want to lug your glass bong along (reasonably so), then this is a solid and discrete option. Just make sure you don’t actually drink the water after.
A bong that looks like a baseball bat with a baseball bat percolator inside? Yeah, this one knocks it out of the park.
Oooo spirals. Not only does this feature a unique design, it’s also technically an ice bong. Double cool.
Gas. Mask. Bong. Enough said.
A smoking gorilla bong affixed atop a glass banana. Mama might be in love.
And that’s it on Mama’s bong buying guide. There are basically an infinite amount of cool and high-quality bongs out there, so get to searchin’ for something that matches your style. And don’t forget what you learned today, so can you make sure to buy the bong that’ll give you exactly what you’re looking for.
Oh, and for when you’re not in the bong mood, check out Tough Mama’s selection of seriously great products!