Acrylic is commonly molded as a plastic the way silence can be, though it can be a bit more brittle over time when it comes to heat fluctuations. Acrylic is much tougher than glass, though despite this, glass will last much longer if it does not run into an accident. Acrylic is much better at handling falls.
When it comes to silicone, durability is the name of the game. Unlike glass and acrylic, silicone will never break or crack since it is made of a flexible material that is designed to withstand falls and even high temperature fluctuations. You would have to directly burn a silicone bong to destroy it.
Both silicone and acrylic are much better options for beginners as glass can break easily and be more prone to accidents from falls. Acrylic is cheaper than silicone but will not bend or flex in any way. Silicone is somewhat pliable and has a very high melting point, making it the winner in terms of durability.
Acrylic is known to be a typical plastic that does not do well with heat over time, making it more of a last resort type of apparatus. Over time, acrylic will react with heat and smoke and become brittle or even crack. Once it becomes stained and penetrated with the smell of ash and bong water, there is no getting rid of it.
Combine this with the fact that one must use alcohol to thoroughly clean a bong, and you have a potential recipe for disaster. Acrylic will become even more brittle if you apply solvent or any type of alcohol directly onto it. Silicone on the other hand is much more forgiving and will clean rather well with a mild solvent such as alcohol.
Most silicone bongs are also BPA-free and will not react to heat or solvents, nor will it give off any fumes. It is basically inert, unlike acrylic. In terms of safety, silicone is the winner as it will not shatter or react to heat or solvents over time. Acrylic might even start to warp on you after a few smoke sessions due to the heat.
To clean an acrylic bong without the threat of having a chemical solvent render it brittle over time, you will have to resort to using warm water and dish soap. If you have ever tried to clean any of your bongs or pipes with water and soap, then you know just how impossible and tedious it really is.
Unless you use alcohol or some other solvent, you will never get rid of all the residue that is caked onto the interior of your bong’s water chamber, no matter how vigorously you shake the damn thing. If the water is too hot, you will also ruin the bong from the heat. This makes maintaining an acrylic pipe impractical in the long run.
Silicone bongs are much more convenient as they can be taken apart for easy access and cleaned out any way you see fit. Since silicone is basically inert, you could use alcohol to wipe off the residues without worrying about it getting messed up over time. Chalk up another win for silicone as it is the gold standard for maintenance.
If you have not guessed by now, silicone is the clear winner over every category on this list, and rightfully so. Silicone is superior in every way as it will not break, it will not crack, melt, or go brittle on you over time. Silicone is easy to clean and is very affordable. Keep in mind that even if you do decide to go with acrylic, you will likely rub off the designs over time.
This is because as a basic plastic, you must apply either warm water or alcohol to clean it out, which will scald or peel off any designs that are painted or pressed onto the acrylic. Though acrylic is cheaper, you do get what you pay for. The truth is that glass is a much better choice than acrylic, though it does come with its own obvious weaknesses.
Silicone is the best option hands down. You will not risk having your designs rub off or fade on a silicone bong as it is molded directly onto the silicone itself. Care must be taken not to leave your silicone bong in direct sunlight or apply prolonged heat directly onto the silicone itself. This will maintain the integrity of your silicone for years to come.
Silicone is more expensive than acrylic, though is still much cheaper than an intricate glass piece. Silicone is much more practical since it is virtually indestructible and can come apart for easy cleaning. It is the better investment for the serious smoker. Glass is better suited for advanced connoisseurs who do not mind the maintenance requirements to keep a glass piece.
If you are going to go for an acrylic piece, make sure you do so with the intention of having it as a backup bong instead of your everyday bong. This will greatly increase its longevity and be great to pull you out in a pinch. Acrylic bongs can impart a plastic-like aftertaste to your hits which makes it less than ideal for your smoke sessions, however.
Compared to glass, both silicone and acrylic offer more protection for the user, with the latter being the exception for the short-term. If you are going to use glass or acrylic, make sure you do not drop them onto a hard surface, as even acrylic can break in this way. Either way, you cannot go wrong with silicone, as it is truly the best option.