Bongs – Intro
If your chosen method of intake is smoking medical marijuana you have a few options including, joints, pipes, and bongs. This blog goes in depth about the functional differences and what to look for when choosing a bong.
Bongs – Size
The first thing you want to consider is the size of the bong. Bongs come in all sizes from several inches to a couple of feet. Size is not just a matter of aesthetics or bragging rights. If the bong is too small you may not have the option for ice or it may be awkward to hold. Too big and it may be cumbersome to operate or too heavy to hold. When selecting a size make sure it’s comfortable and easy to operate.
The mouth piece of the bong will vary in diameter independent of the size of the bong itself. Make sure the diameter is large enough to get good airflow without feeling restricted and also make sure the it’s not so big that you can’t get a comfortable seal around your mouth.
To determine length it should not be so close as to make you cross eyed when watching the bowl but not so long as to make you strain to reach the bowl.
The volume of the base is also key because the larger the volume, the bigger the hit can be depending on the minimum water mark.
The volume of the base does not always coincide with the footprint of the base. Spherical bases will have a smaller footprint than a cylindrical type bases and beaker type bases will have a larger footprint. Stability is important. The taller the bong the higher the center of gravity (COG) which makes it more prone to tipping. Make sure the footprint is sufficient for the COG of that bong. Glass artists don’t always consider this when they are creating an art piece so there are more than a few beautiful but unstable and impractical bongs.
Bongs – Material
Bongs are commonly made of glass. Glass is non reactive, odorless, tasteless, and easy to clean but are obviously fragile. Glass bongs come in various thicknesses that add durability but increase cost and weight. Some novelty bongs are made from brand name glass alcohol or beverage bottles.
Acrylic bongs are the most common and are very durable but, can scratch, are not as easy to clean, and may have a slight odor or taste of plastic. Acrylic can also melt if exposed to flame which is always a possibility near open flame especially torches. Acrylic bongs usually have a metal bowl which may also present a taste or odor of metal.
Wooden/Bamboo bongs are very durable, eco friendly, and biodegradable but harder to clean, and will definitely add a woody odor and taste. Wooden bongs usually have a metal bowl as well. Ceramic bongs are more durable than glass but still fragile. They allow uniquely different shape and glaze finish options not available on other types of material. Harder to clean due to the porous nature of the interior if not finished and will impart a pottery type of odor and taste.
Bongs – The Bowl
Bong bowls can be a straight forward cone shape like most metal bowls and will pull the smoke straight into the water. Glass bowls can also be a pure cone or it can incorporate a hollow pre-cooler and allow for dilution and cooling inside an air chamber before hitting the water. This makes for a smoother and cooler draw. Some pre-coolers are modular and can fit between the bowl and the stem. Some bowls may also incorporate a water pipe design before hitting the stem for added filtration.
One step beyond that is a percolator bowl which adds even more filtration than a standard water pipe. The bigger the bowl, the less refilling you have to do per session. If you require larger doses, you’ll want a larger and deeper bowl. Pipe screens are often used in the bowl to prevent ash from entering the bong but can become clogged with resin over time and require cleaning. The good news is that you can smoke the resin right off the screen to clean it, which is best achieved with a butane torch lighter.
With the popularity of concentrates, dabbing attachments can be used in place of an herb bowl but we’ll save those options for a future post on dabbing hardware.
Bongs – The Carb
The carburetor (carb) is crucial to a bongs operation as they are generally 2 stage processes. The first stage with the carb closed creates maxiumum vacuum through the bowl for the initial burn of the herb. The second stage with the carb open, introduces fresh air by bypassing the bowl, and dilutes the smoke inside the base for a smoother draw and allows the base to evacuate during inhalation. The carb effect can be achieved through a hole in the neck of the bong that gets covered by a finger or thumb or by lifting the bowl off the stem or by lifting the stem off the base to allow fresh air to enter.
Percolator and Ice Bongs
Percolator bongs introduce small slits in the submerged portion of the bowl stem or will introduce a dedicated percolator chamber consisting of a single or multiple multi armed slit conduit submerged in water. These percolators reduce the intake to smaller bubbles of air thus increasing the surface area of the exposed smoke to water and creating better filtration. The added complexity will add to the price but is worth the cost.
Ice bongs are another option and include a pinched off section of the neck to suspend ice cubes just down stream of the mouth piece. This cools off the smoke before inhalation and creates a smoother draw. Next to a vaporizer, a decent sized percolator ice bong is about as smooth as it gets.