With so many different types of bongs on the market, how can you know which one is best for you? Well, you can relax about it. After all, smoking weed is all about chilling out and enjoying. We’re going to take you through the different kinds of bongs , so you can make an informed purchase!
A Brief History Of The Bong
The bong is one of the oldest types of smoking devices on the planet, preceded only by the pipe (and its many derivations). Its true origin is a much-debated topic among historians. The widely-accepted story of the origin of the bong is that it came from Thailand. This belief is strongly held by the masses mainly because the word “bong” comes from the Thai word “baung,” a type of smoking device made of bamboo.
Others contend that, while the bong may have gotten its name from the Thai culture, the bong actually originated in Africa long before it emerged in Asia. This conclusion is based on archaeological evidence uncovered in Africa dated somewhere between 1100 and 1400 CE. Nevertheless, the device has also been used by several Asian cultures for many centuries. Regardless of which culture is actually responsible for its invention, it’s safe to say that the bong has been around for many, many centuries and has, in some way or another, touched every culture in the world in some way.
Types of Bongs By Material
Glass is the most popular material used to build bongs. It provides a clean, pure taste because the glass doesn’t affect the flavor of the smoke. Glass is very easy to monitor for resin buildup because it’s transparent. It’s also very easy to clean when the buildup becomes a problem. Because of these factors, glass bongs are often more expensive than bongs made from other materials.
Plastic is probably the second-most popular material for making bongs because it is extremely durable. You can drop a plastic bong during a coughing fit and the only damage done will be the water stain on your carpet. Plastic bongs are also fairly cheap when compared with other materials. Bongs made from plastic are great for traveling because they are difficult to break and don’t shatter or crack like glass or ceramic. The only downside of plastic bongs is that they might affect the taste of your smoke slightly.
Ceramic bongs tend to be heavier and more robust when compared to the other materials on this list. For that reason, and their general fragility, ceramic bongs don’t usually travel well. They do, however, come in all sorts of novelty shapes, sizes, and colors thanks to the fact that clay is extremely malleable and easy to work with. Ceramic bongs are usually a bit more expensive than plastic bongs because of the work that goes into making them. Though a ceramic bong might not be your daily smoker, they are certainly great for special occasions or to display in a cabinet or on a shelf.
Bamboo is another popular material from which bongs are made. Bamboo bongs can range from pretty basic—just a tube of bamboo sealed at the bottom—to fancy and ornate with metal, varnish, and paint incorporated into the design. Bamboo is also very durable meaning that your bamboo bong will pretty much last forever if you treat it right.
Metal is also used to make bongs although the practice is not as common as glass or plastic. Metal is very durable and long-lasting. It’s also pretty cheap. The downside of metal bongs is that they can affect the taste of your smoke and you never really know when it’s time to clean them.
Silicone bongs have started to make a serious splash in the cannabis world.
And it should come as no surprise why – these bongs are nearly unbreakable, they are easy to fold up, most of them are dishwasher safe and come with lifetime warranties. On top of that, they are extremely affordable, come in a decent variety of colors and designs, and are made of silicone that is safe to smoke out of.
Types of Bongs By Design
These different designs are available for both ceramic and glass bongs, while acrylic, metal, and silicone bongs are limited just straight tube and beaker base designs.
Your bong will either have a hole in the middle somewhere, or it won’t. If your bong does have a hole, it’s a carburetor bong. If there is not hole, it’s not a carburetor bong. Pretty simple, no? Carburetors are not necessary to the design of the bong, but many feel that carburetor bongs produce a much more intense hit. This is because, when you release your finger, the carburetor hole allows fresh air into the pipe. This fresh air forces the smoke into your lungs more rapidly and makes it easier to inhale all the contents of the pipe.
Straight-tube bongs are the simplest design available. They consist of a simple tube sealed at one end with a stem and a bowl poking out of the side. You pour a bit of water in the tube, place your ganja in the bowl, and go. It’s simple, straight-forward smoking at it’s best.
The beaker-shaped bong is similar to the straight-tube bong except that the bottom is flared into a cone shape that looks like a beaker. Hence the name. Beaker bongs are more stable than straight-tube bongs because they have a larger base. The smoking process is the same: just add water, cannabis, and fire and you’re good to go.
Round-base bongs are similar to beaker bongs in that the base is wider than the tube and the mouthpiece. Round-base bongs, as the name suggests, have a sphere-shaped water chamber with a flat base. They are more stable than straight-tube bongs, but slightly-less stable than beaker bongs because the flat surface is smaller. Regardless of the shape—straight, beaker, or round—the basic mechanics of using them are the same.
A multi-chamber bong, sometimes called a recycler bong, is a variation of the straight-tube bong (although the chamber can come in various shapes). In a multi-chamber bong, the straight tube is separated into two chambers connected by a tube or third chamber (you can see one of them on the right in the picture above). Both upper and lower chamber hold water so the smoke is filtered twice. This produces a much cooler, much smoother smoke than the straight-tube, beaker, or round-base bong can provide. Because of the complexity, multi-chamber bongs are more difficult to build. That makes them more expensive than the simpler builds on this list. Multi-chamber bongs are also harder to clean.
A percolator bong, or bubbler bong, can be straight-tube, beaker-shaped, round-base, or pretty much any other shape you can imagine. The thing that makes them unique is that they contain a percolator. The percolator (shown up close below) is a piece of glass that dissipates the smoke before it passes through the water and causes a bubbling effect in the bong. Spreading the smoke out in that way helps to filter it better and cool it faster.
The percolator can be at the bottom of the bong (a single-chamber percolator), in another chamber (a multi-chamber percolator), or both (a multi-chamber, multi percolator). Because of the complexity of this type of bong, they can be difficult to clean, not to mention more expensive.
There are lots of different styles of percolators on bongs:
- Diffused downstem (“straight”): A straight tube that has slits at its base (typically between three and six) that goes under the water.
- Dome: As its name suggests, this percolator is shaped like a dome. It has holes or slits at the bottom.
- Tree: A bong with a tree-style percolator will have “arms” coming out of it. Each further diffuses the smoke. Arms can have an open or closed bottom, and both types have slits on the sides.
- Inline: This perc style features a horizontal tube with holes or slits cut into it.
- Drum: Named for its drum-shape, this type of perc has lots of slits to help diffuse smoke.
- Sprinkler: As its name suggests, this type of percolator works like a sprinkler, the same type you would use on your lawn. It actually shoots water and generates tons of tiny bubbles, resulting in an amazingly smooth hit.
- UFO: As you might have imagined, this is another type of percolator that is named for its shape. It literally looks like a tiny space shape has landed inside your bong. It functions similarly to a showerhead perc, but has more slits for even more percolation.
- Honeycomb: This style features a disc-shaped “honeycomb” with lots of small holes. The holes break up the smoke.
- Showerhead: This style of percolator acts like… you guessed it… a showerhead. It is a vertical tube that is flared at the bottom and features slits or holes, just like the showerhead in your bathroom.
- Matrix/stereo matrix: Picture a round “puck” with matrix lines cut into it and full of little smoke-diffusing holes. Stack one matrix on top of the other and you get a stereo matrix.
- Swiss: So-called because it looks a little like Swiss cheese, this is a vertical-style percolator. Its holes pass all the way through so that smoke is diffused around them, rather than through them as with other types of percolators.
- Reti: This percolator is designed as two tubes, one with a slightly smaller circumference than the other. The smaller tube fits inside the bigger one. Both tubes have opposite diagonal slits, and smoke passes through them and gets diffused through the slits in both tubes.
- Turbine/Cyclone: This percolator might remind you of the old “tornado in a bottle” science experiment, except it’s a much cooler grown-up version. It consists of a disc with angled slits in the side. This forces the water to spin like a tornado inside the bong and is pretty hypnotizing to watch.
- Helix: This percolator style features a tube that spirals up the bong chamber. This style can also consist of two spiralling tubes, known as a “double helix.”
Bucket Gravity Bong
Gravity bongs rely on the vacuum that water leaves behind when it leaves an enclosed space. Gravity bongs come in two types: bucket and waterfall (which we’ll talk about next). The simplest version of the bucket gravity bong uses a plastic bottle and a bucket full of water. This is a fun project to try now and again, but if you use this type of bong regularly, you’ll probably want to purchase a professionally-built model. Check out the link here for detailed build instructions.
Once built and packed, you light the weed in the cap and slowly pull the water bottle out of the water being sure to stop before the bottle comes completely out. Pulling the bottle up creates a vacuum in the enclosed space on top of the water that pulls the smoke down into the bottle. When the bottle is full of smokey goodness, remove the cap and inhale the contents.
Waterfall Gravity Bong
The waterfall gravity bong is similar to the bucket gravity bong but instead of pulling the bottle up to create the vacuum, you drain the water out the bottom. Again, you can get detailed build instructions here.
When everything is assembled, light your cannabis and let the water drain from the bottle. As the water leaves, it pulls the smoke down into the bottle. When the water has completely drained, plug the hole with your finger or tape, remove the cap from the top, and inhale to your heart’s (or lung’s) content. As with the bucket gravity bong, you can make a waterfall gravity bong from household materials. But if you want to use it regularly, purchase a professionally-built glass or plastic model.
The gravity bongs discussed above make a nice segue into the wonderful world of homemade bongs. If you’re without your prized multi-chamber, multi-percolator, beaker-shaped glass bong, you can construct a simple substitute from everyday materials like fruit, water bottles, candy, building blocks, and even snow. They may not look as pretty as your colored-glass bong, but they’ll get the job done in a pinch.
Zongs are named because of their Zig Zag design, usually in the shape of a Z. While this may seem to be purely aesthetic, there are actually a few interesting performance benefits to this type of bong.
First of all, if the tube is skinny enough, the Z section functions as its own ice catch. It also provides a place to easily secure a good grip on large bongs. Lastly, this section allows smoke to cool a bit more before reaching you, making for a smoother smoking experience. There is also the fact that these things just look awesome, like a bong sent from outer space!
Bubblers are the bongs’ little brother. They are basically miniature bongs that are a mixture of water pipes and bowls in one. This allows them to provide the convenience and the ease of use of a hand pipe, with the smoothness of a bong – all at an affordable price point.
A fun fact
A lot goes into designing a bong. People take it really seriously. Did you know that in 2011, Porsche designed a bong? Yes, that’s right. The genius engineering that is behind the Porsche was responsible for the creation of a very classy smoking apparatus. So, when you’re wondering “how far does it go?” when you’re deciding to buy a bong, always remember – there’s a bong made by Porsche.