Beginner’s Guide to Bongs

Beginner’s Guide to Bongs

The different parts of a bong

Bongs consist of four core elements: the water chamber, the neck, the downstem, and the bowl where dry herbs sit in. Bongs are designed to maximize smoke, cool down each pull, and increase the density of every hit in order to make the most out of your dry herb.

Standard bongs are usually more simple than dab rigs, with a base that holds water, a bowl that holds dry herb, a downstem that connects the two, and a flared mouthpiece to inhale from. 

The benefits of a bong over a pipe not only roots from the size (bongs being much, much bigger on average) but in its filtration ability, which is similar to a bubbler’s while also adding an element of volume for smoke to fill in. The water inside of a bong chamber works to remove some impurities in the smoke and results in a cleaner, tastier hit that what a spoon can provide. For bongs with ice catchers, adding ice can significantly cool down each pull allowing for a larger inhale, cleaner smoke, and a stronger ability to taste the differences between your different herbal strains.


How smoke travels through a bong

On a simple level, smoke begins from the bowl once the dry herb is heated. It then travels down the downstem into the cool water at the base. The low pressure in the neck caused by inhaling pulls the smoke through the water as it cools down and filters out impurities. The smoke is then pulled up and out through the neck and the mouthpiece. 

In order to release the low-pressure zone inside the neck, the bowl or downstem are removed into order to send a gust of fresh, cool air that follows the smoke build-up.

Popular bong designs

Designs of bongs often have to do with the water chamber which will come in numerous designs and shapes, but most bongs fit into three general categories: beaker bongs, which have a wide bottom base that tapers in the neck; a straight tube bong, which maintains a consistent cylindrical shape; and mini bongs, which vary widely in design but are generally ten inches or less.

Beaker bongs are the most tried and true. With their wide base, they are resistant
to tipping over because of the water in the chamber acting as a foothold.

Bong materials

Bongs have always come from a variety of materials, ranging from acrylic to silicone. We advise against plastic-based bongs due to the chemicals that can leech from the materials – especially in high heat. 

Scientific, borosilicate glass is the gold standard for bong bodies because this is the glass they make lab beakers and test tubes out of. Its heat resistance and high durability make it the best choice if you’re prone to breaking bongs. 

The glass walls of bongs are typically 5mm to 7mm depending on the manufacturer. Typically, the cheaper the bong the thinner the glass, and you may find yourself purchasing multiple as they break. The thickest you can find are 9mm thick bongs, which are often heavier but withstand the test of time thanks to the thicker walls that also add an extra layer of cooling for each pull.

Ceramic bongs are also available, although often less popular than glass ones because of the difficulty to clean from the opaque colours.

Additional bong features

Other popular options include percolators, which adds an extra layer of water filtration and come in discs, honeycombs, tree, showered, and more. These are used to break down the smoking and extend the cooling process; however, their small openings create bottlenecks of smoke that take a far greater effort to inhale through and clog frequently. If you plan to take your bong on travels, keep in mind that they’re fragile and prone to breaking.

Many new bongs come with these as built-in features, but veteran smokers prefer a straight shaft for the consistency, cleaning, durability, and additional space for ice cubes.

Ash-catchers are like percolators that you can add to any bong by sitting in the downstem, with a both opening on the ash catcher itself. These are great for keeping bongs clean by eliminating any ash from entering the water chamber. They cool down the hit, but still come with challenges like increased effort to inhale and frequency of clogging.

Lastly, ice-catchers and the new standard in modern bongs that enable towers of ice cubes to sit within the bong’s neck. This enables ice to cool down the smoke to a higher degree – but don’t forget to empty out the excess water as it melts!

Find Your Style

At the end of the day, the most rewarding benefit of bongs is the ability to customize and fit your style. Whether putting stickers on the neck, adding a bong tag (which we created!), there’s a bong out there to fit any style or home decor. We recommend going with the bong that provides the most value: durability, size, ease of maintenance, and personality.

Since the majority of joint sizes are a standard 14mm to 18mm, you can build your water pipe out to any specifications you want – that is, until it tips over because of the excess weight. Then, you may want to consider a taller bong or heavier glass. The Plain Jane is the combination of all the above and is great for novices and veterans alike in their smoking journey.