What are the best bongs? From being recognized as the drug of immorality in the 1930s to being legalized in Canada just last year in 2018, cannabis has come a long way.
But despite it being a timeless piece of cannabis paraphernalia, there’s now a multitude of bongs in a variety of shapes, sizes and colors!
There’s the ever classic flask-shaped variety – clean and simple – perfect for an after-work rip. Or you’ve got the intricate, glass-blown works of bong-art if that’s more your style.
Whether you’re a weed aficionado or a budding beginner, the types of bongs you use is important – it can make or break your entire smoking experience.
On the surface, they may look completely identical but the variety and types of bongs that exist on the market today are almost staggering. Important things to consider when choosing the best bongs are taste, the harshness of exhale, the amount of smoke/clouds and portability.
If you want to figure out what the best bongs are and which types of bongs best suit your smoking needs, read on.
Blowing Smoke: The True Origins of Bongs
Many attribute the bong’s western origins to the Vietnam War. American troops stationed in Thailand during the conflict quickly acculturated themselves to the Vietnamese “baung”. This is a water pipe made for smoking cannabis made out of bamboo.
When the troops returned home, they brought back knowledge of the “baung,” which eventually became popularized as the bong. At least that’s how the story goes.
Although bongs rose to ubiquity around this time, the inception of the bong goes back much further. Recent excavations in Russia have unearthed a pair of solid gold bongs made 2,400 years ago that were used by the Scythians, a group of Eurasian nomads! Talk about a long history!
Different Types of Bongs
There’s been ceaseless innovation ever since bongs were popularized by American soldiers returning from the Vietnam war. From acrylic to the glass to even fruit and vegetables, the boundaries of bongs and water pipes are continuously pushed to their very limits. Some glassblowers even use the bong as a medium for their art!
To begin, we’re going to break down the most common types of materials used for bongs. We’re also going to explore their benefits and drawbacks before delving further into their various shapes!
The Different Bong Materials
The classic. Nothing is more versatile or enduring than the glass bong. A staple of cannabis culture, the malleability of glass allows for the production of bongs in many different shapes and sizes. Additionally, glass is resistant to the heating temperatures that a bong rip requires and does not affect the taste of your flower!
With its only drawback being its fragility, the glass bong remains as the #1 contender for the best type of bong.
Not requiring the kinetic dexterity or glass blowing mastery of the glass bong, plastic and acrylic bongs are low in cost and widely available. The durable construction material allows it to endure even if you accidentally knock it off your coffee table or shelf.
However, the durable material can lend itself to less than stellar taste but it still makes for a great travelling companion!
Similar to plastic bongs, silicone bongs are highly durable and even more malleable than their rigid counterparts. Easily flipped inside out, silicone bongs are perhaps the easiest bong to clean and maintain. Unfortunately, the nature of the silicone can negatively impact the flavor of the flower.
Given it’s low price point and poor taste, it’s best to leave silicone bongs as a novelty and consider something slightly more conventional.
Metal bongs, like their silicone cousins, are more of a novelty item than a functional piece of equipment. Its full metal construction gives the bong a sleek and minimal look, but also imparts a metallic taste on the exhale.
Although functional and highly durable – it’s best to leave this one the shelf.
The primordial bong. Used for generations by marijuana-conscientious communities in Thailand and Vietnam, the bamboo bong is easily available and at a very low cost.
the bamboo bong is the perfect union of form and function. It gives the smoke a clean and fresh taste while remaining extremely durable and aesthetically pleasing.
Made out of clay and hardened by heat, ceramic bongs are a great option for anyone looking for a cheap bong that is both easy on the eyes and the lungs.
Unlike some of the other materials we’ve discussed thus far, ceramic bongs do not affect the flavor of the smoke at all. Using a ceramic bong ensures a smooth and tasty experience!
Like glass bongs, ceramic bongs are also highly malleable and can come in many appealing and artistic forms.
Have some cannabis on you but nothing to smoke it with? Head over to your local farmer’s market!
A DIY fruit or vegetable bong is something you make out of round and dense fruits and vegetables. Think apples, watermelons, squash and potatoes. These bongs are easily craftable and like bamboo bongs, readily available.
While the taste on the exhale might resemble the fruit or vegetable the bong was constructed out of, these bongs do their job well and come in handy in a pinch.
Shapes and Styles of Bongs
Straight tube bongs
An indispensable shape known by almost everyone, the straight tube bong features a long tube with a flat bottom. They often times include a down-stem and a bowl and can be found at almost every smoke shop.
Unfortunately, their tall height and high center of gravity make this bong prone to falling over if you’re not careful.
Named after the beakers used by scientists and researchers around the world, the beaker bong is a variation of the straight tube bong. This is an improvement upon the original design.
Featuring a rounded bottom, the beaker bong has a much lower center of gravity making it more difficult for the bong to accidentally fall over and break. Your bong will look good and stay safe no matter if it’s on your shelf or on your table!
Any kind of bong with a system in place to catch ice can be classified as an ice bong. The built in ice catcher allows you to fill the bong’s tube with ice, allowing the smoke to cool down before entering your lungs.
Many tokers insist that the additional ice allows for a smoother and less harsh exhale. But some abstain due to the potential harm the cold smoke may have on their lungs.
Whatever the case may be, you’ll be in for a “cool” experience!
A variant of the straight tube bong, the multi-chamber bong features multiple stems and chambers which can also fill up with water. The inclusion of additional chambers and more water allows for a much smoother and cleaner exhale.
However, these bongs tend to be extremely intricate and expensive to obtain. The cleaning process is also much more difficult compared to a more conventional bong due to the amount of chambers and stems the bong might have.
Not to be confused with the female accessory, a choker bong is a type of bong that does not have a removable downstem and bowl. In their place is a little hole, also known as “the choke.”
To take a hit off a choker bong, simply cover the choke with your finger, light the bowl and take a hit. Then remove your finger from the choke, forcing the smoke into your lungs.
Think of a choker bong as a bigger, less mobile version of a pipe.
The gravity bong – a staple of college dorm rooms and parties everywhere. You only need a large bucket of water, a water bottle and a bowl. Yep, the gravity bong is an easy DIY project that any cannabis connoisseur should endeavour to make at least once.
Using water to forcefully push the smoke through the water bottle into your lungs, this method of consumption is widely considered to be rough on the lungs. But if you’re having guests over or throwing a party, nothing beats the novelty of a gravity bong!
Percolator bongs, much like multi-chamber bongs, aim to achieve a much smoother and cleaner exhale. Percolator bongs achieve this through “percolating” the smoke. In other words, the percolator will force the smoke to travel through water first in order to filter it.
This filtration process cools the smoke and “moistens” it by transforming some of the heated water into water vapor along with the smoke. There are many kinds of percolator shapes and styles such as honeycomb, tree and matrix styles, but they all function the same way.
Again, like the multi-chamber bongs, the intricate nature of the percolators and their small size can make the cleaning process difficult.
With the number of choices and customization available today in the world of bongs, it can be hard to make a decision. After learning about the types of bongs, their shape, and their materials, what do you think are the best bongs?
At the end of the day, there really is no “best bong.” Just like how there can be no “best weed,” or “best concentrate.” The best bongs for you may not be the best types of bongs for your friend.
Just as there are many strains and many choices for cannabis concentrates, there are also many choices for and types of bongs. Whether you’re looking to purchase your first piece or adding to an already extensive collection, there’s a bong out there that’s best for you.
All photos from Shutterstock