Glass bongs are probably one of the most easily recognizable pieces of smoker paraphernalia in the history of smoker culture. Where would we be in pop culture without a glass bong sitting in the background, or on the coffee table, of a college dorm or party house? Not to mention with the growing acceptance of both medicinal and recreational cannabis throughout the United States, bongs have popped up in more mainstream representation. But being popular and widely showcased doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t delve into some of the benefits of using glass bongs over other bongs, pipes, and vapes or that we shouldn’t dive into a little more background about the different types of glass available. With popularity, sometimes there are rumors or inaccuracies that manage to muddle the right answers and truth. Not to mention, better to have conducted as much of your research as possible. Purchasing a glass bong can be an investment into a smoking device that can last several decades both as a smoking tool and as a decoration, why not make it count?
First things first, we should make sure we are clear about what a bong is exactly. Number one, a bong is a type of water pipe that diffuses the smoke through the water in order to produce a smoother, clearer hit. This, for the most part, allows users to take bigger hits or enjoy a smoother hit when they are ready to smoke. While bongs come in all sorts of different shapes, sizes, colors, and upgrades they always include four important elements: a bowl (for your herb), a stem (for the smoke to travel through into the water), a chamber (to hold the water), and a mouthpiece (to be able to inhale the smoke). Beyond that, there are all sorts of percolators, ice catchers, and other devices to customize your bong and smoking experience.
Bongs can be made out of a myriad of different materials. Wood, plastic, acrylic, bamboo, glass, silicone the list seems to go on and on. With so many different types of bongs it’s important to make sure that we understand what glass bongs can do that others cannot and what the distinct advantages of glass bongs are. Glass bongs are the most popular material that bongs are made out of. By and large, you have probably seen significantly more glass bongs than others although there are niche camps of smokers out there with their preferences for one reason or another.
Namely, glass bongs do a wonderful job of giving a consistent hit without the worry that they will ever splinter, crack, bend, warp or any other physical degradation. Glass will never lose performance over time (as long as you keep the bong clean, of course). Remember, because we are smoking through water, there is a tremendous amount of heat and moisture that manages to remain in the bong on a near-constant basis. This can cause trouble with other materials. Glass, regardless of coloring, is often easier to see inside as well and this can be of use maintaining a clean bong.
Due to the danger of breakage of bongs, many manufacturers and artisan crafters tend to prefer to use thicker, lab quality glass that can be found in beakers and other lab materials. This tends to be somewhere in the range of 3-5mm thick and confers a number of safety advantages. Be advised, however, the thicker the glass and better protected from breaking the heavier the bong. This should be taken into account depending on how you plan to use and store your glass bong.
Different colored glass bongs can provide a lot of nice variety as well as add to the sense of ownership. Functionally, while the colors do not tend to change much, you can modify your bong or purchase bongs with attachments and additions that include percolators and ice catchers to further smoothen or cool your smoking experience to your liking.
Below, we discuss in greater detail the intricacies of glass bongs and what the advantages of each type are.
Bongs do not have to be too complicated – especially without all the extra bells and whistles we will discuss in greater detail below. Essentially, you just need to have your smoking material handy as well as some water. Carefully, fill the bong with water through the mouthpiece. Too little water and the bong won’t work properly, however, too much water will cause you to swallow water (this becomes increasingly unpleasant if the bong water has not been exchanged regularly).
Once you have a sufficient amount of water, simply place whatever your preferred smoking material into the bowl at the end of the stem. Pack tightly, however, ensure that it is not too tightly packed so as to suffocate the flame. As you place your mouth at the end of the bong, make sure to keep a consistent pull. Too hard and you could end up with water or material in the bong/your mouth. Too lightly and you will not be pulling a sufficient amount of smoke for a pleasurable experience. Once the inner chamber has filled with some smoke you can remove the stem and bowl (careful not to drop either) and allow the smoke to exit the chamber and into your lungs. Presto!
Bongs use water mainly to increase the pleasure of smoking. You minimize the burn of using other types of pipes, rigs, or smoking apparatus that doesn’t include water. The water diffuses the smoke and makes for a smoother, often cooler experience. This, in turn, lets you take bigger hits without having to worry about a coughing fit (at least, in comparison to a normal pipe or rig). While this can add an extra step to smoking as well as additional maintenance requirements the popularity of glass bongs is clear – using water for a smoother hit is well worth whatever small additional steps you must take to get there. Just make sure to replace the water regularly to avoid allowing any buildup of undesirable materials.
Ice catchers are neat additions to glass bongs that make it so that you can place ice into the main chamber of the bong and allow the diffused smoke to then be additionally run over the ice. This makes for an even cooler, smoother hit than an ordinary glass bong would provide. For those who value being as comfortable and cough-free when they are smoking an ice catcher is certainly an excellent addition and well worth the cost difference. As with all other glass products, you should remain cautious when using an ice catcher glass bong.
Percolator glass bongs are like other glass bongs but they have the added benefit of even more diffusion. This is remarkable as the diffusion simply through the water is often revolutionary to most smokers used to pipes or rigs. With a percolator bong, there are dozens of different percolator designs to better customize the different ways you want to smoothen out your smoke. Honeycomb, tree, and more types of percolators all have different specialties and fit better in certain bong arrangements than others. Depending on the number of holes to allow smoke to percolate in the water will determine how much additional smoothness the percolator bong will give you. Remember, however, that the more intricate the percolator is the more careful and deliberate you will need to be with your maintenance routine. This doesn’t mean you need to resort to harsher chemicals or anything, but remain aware of the additional places where resin and other types of buildup can occur and affect your smoking experience and taste.
One of the more creative ways to smoke, color changing glass bongs are just as fun as their pipe and rig cousins. Now, because many people don’t know, color changing glass bongs are actually called ‘fumed glass’ bongs. That’s right, that’s the technical word for it. The ‘fuming’ process was discovered completely by accident. When an artist, Bog Snodgrass, accidentally let a little silver in front of his torch melt the fumes from the silver were infused into the regular glass he was working with. Depending on the background, light is filtered and reflected differently. This is why, as the bong or pipe will fill with dark resin, the color changes become significantly more noticeable.
Color changing glass bongs works similarly. Now, no need to worry, the metallic fumes are often encased into the glass between two separate layers of glass and so will never harm you as long as your glass remains unchipped or unbroken (in which case, you likely would refrain from using that piece anyways). Color changing bongs are very vibrant and provide a high degree of customization to your bong choices and even allow you to feel as if your glass bong is becoming something new with each individual hit you take!
Nobody wants to find themselves dropping a fortune on glass they haven’t tried before and that’s fully understandable. Besides, some of us are simply done smoking out of an apple. If you’re looking for cheaper glass bongs just know that there are a few things you will want to pay attention to. Most importantly, make sure you check the quality of the glass and thickness. You can avoid paying for bongs with all the bells and whistles and still end up with a great deal and sturdy bong. Next, research reliable brands. Brands such as Black Leaf are known to have bongs with stable bases, good glass, and even a few neat additions like percolators for the $50-60 range. That’s going to be hard to beat.
Essentially, the biggest thing to avoid is super thin glass or that doesn’t have a sturdy base to rest it on. It doesn’t matter how much money you’re saving if you simply manage to break your new bong within a week because it was cheaply made – not just cheaply priced.
There are a ton of excellent, more expensive bong brands. First and foremost, just make sure you understand that spending more money is not inherently going to mean a better bong (this is true of cheaper bongs, some are great quality for a more reasonable price). With spending more money on a bong that is more likely to become a centerpiece or talking piece, you need to figure out what sort of additions and percs you want. Need an ice catcher? What kind? Need a percolator? How many? These sorts of questions will guide you to different brands that have better/worse reputations about different aspects of bongs.
Most importantly, again, is that you make sure your materials are quality and that there is enough thickness to your glass. You do not want to let yourself get carried away only to have purchased a ticking time bomb. If you’re willing to spend the extra money anyway, it’s never a bad idea to ensure that you are buying American. While there are excellent European brands (stay away from thinner, cheaply made Chinese knockoffs) there is something to be said about supporting a domestic artist.
The best glass bongs are ultimately going to be up to you, the consumer. If you’re not in the neighborhood for an ice catcher bong, then even the best ROOR or even Black Leaf is going to be useless to you or a waste of money. With so much customization and so many types of bongs, it is really hard to gauge what the best bong is. Without hesitation, however, it should be noted that the best bongs are the safest, have the best quality materials, and are most likely to satisfy their owner time and time again. At the end of the day you need to weigh your needs and wants and determine if a certain glass bong is for you. Below, we compare a few different types of bongs to help make that consideration easier.
Silicone bongs and acrylic bongs are rather similar, however, the materials are certainly different. In comparison to a glass bong, a silicone bong is certainly less breakable and carries with it less weight as a result. However, a silicone bong is not nearly as simple to determine it’s dirty and clean nor is it quite as smooth as a glass bong. Glass as a bong material is without comparison in smoothness and that is why so many smokers choose to run the risk of breakage.
As with silicone bongs, acrylic bongs are significantly less likely to break in comparison to glass bongs. There can also be a favorable cost comparison in relation to glass bongs. Importantly, however, is the fact that acrylic bongs, if not careful, can warp when applying a flame. While you MUST have a metal bowl, not paying enough attention one too many times can lead to abuse of the materials. Acrylic are also a little harder to keep clean.
Plastic bongs carry a lot of the advantages of acrylic bongs – lightweight, cheaper, almost indestructible – but they also carry the same downsides – taste, cleanliness, and damage to the overall material from wear and tear. This means that, although initially cheaper, you may have to replace your plastic bong often. They can retain the tastes of residues, cleaners, and even give off a taste of themselves. Be careful when choosing plastic bongs.
A dab rig made of glass and a glass bong are similar in make and material but rather different experiences for smoking. A dab rig is significantly more likely to have a rougher smoke given the nature of the fuel and materials smoked (oil vs herb). Not to mention, lighting a dab rig is certainly trickier and even less mobile than using a glass bong. Glass bong, while not delivering quite as much kick, lend themselves to better mobility and ease of use. Dab rigs are not recommended for beginners or highly inexperienced smokers given the general nature of the smoking process.
Making a glass bong out of a glass bottle isn’t as tiring or ridiculous as it sounds (and, in fact, can be a lot of fun if you are into crafts and that sort of stuff). Naturally, you will need to find a glass bottle that you would want to use. The most important thing to think about is of course your glass bottle’s neck, base, and curvature. Some are certainly easier than others and you should take all that into account. Generally, a sturdier base and long enough neck make it easier to use.
Next, you need a 3/4” diamond drill bit. This you can find in hardware stores or online. After that, you’ll need to find a properly sized rubber stopper. This will generally be requiring an outer diameter of 31/32”, an inner diameter of ½”, and a ¾” groove. Different online or brick-and-mortar retailors will carry these. Don’t worry about the ‘diamond’ part, they’re not going to cost you an exceptional amount of money.
Once you do all that make sure to purchase a downstem that will go from where you want the whole to be all the way to the base at the opposite end. No longer.
Next, you take your bottle and clean it free of any sort of glue or plastics. Just glass. Clean the glass under warm water and then make sure to mark your location. Once you have done that, cool the glass off and make sure to keep the water running enough to see what you are doing. Once that has been completed, you can start slowly drilling into the glass. Be careful and patient – rushing will simply shatter the bottle. When you’re done making the hole scrub it down to make it smoother and then begin to clean the bong VERY carefully. Glass powder residue is not your friend. Voila! You have a new bong.
There are a number of different bowl attachments you can purchase. There are ‘male’ and ‘female’ types that describe whether or not there is a ‘penetrative’ end. For example, the male part would go into the downstem. A female bowl piece would be able to fit within a wider male bowl piece that is lodged into the stem. Beyond that, you can customize the depth, width, and even material of your bowl attachment. They can be made of silicone, plastic, metal, or another type of glass. This is handy to know because if your bowl ever breaks you can replace it.
In addition, attachments like ash catchers can be used to even further percolate, cool, or smoothen the smoking process for yourself. These act like percolators inside the bong itself but further percolate prior to actually entering the chamber themselves. Be careful when pulling the bowl from them, the ash catcher may slide out as well.
Cleaning a bong is rather simple. Obtain a good no-residue glass cleaner online or at a local head shop. You can also use rubbing alcohol and manually clean your bong if you can reach. Essentially just make sure to drain the water, remove the moisture, and properly douse the areas with the most resin with enough cleaner to properly remove the residue. As always, make sure you are not using toxic chemicals that could affect the taste or feel of your smoke after cleaning. Because glass bongs are both translucent as well as made of glass, they are by far the cleanest option.
Looking for a bong? Can’t seem to get a good grasp on what it is you need? Check your local head shop or right here at nyvapeshop.com where shipping in the US is always FREE!