When it comes to cannabis, there are many different methods of taking it. You could roll a joint, use a pipe, a vaporizer, and while not recommended, a good old fashioned hot knife.
But one way that will never go out of style and highly effective is using a bong.
A water bong is a staple in the marijuana connoisseurs repertoire. Bongs are very easy to use, to clean and they’re easier on our throats thanks to their attached water chambers.
But did you know that there are many different types of bongs? To the untrained eye, they all might look the same, but that’s far from the truth.
In reality, there are several types of bongs that serve different purposes. There’s different material types, and different styles and shapes, ranging from bamboo and glass bongs to straight tube bongs and multi-chamber bongs.
A Ferrari and a Fiat may both be a car, but they are far from the same vehicle.
After reading this guide, you’ll be able to pick and choose like an expert. Before we get into the different types of bongs, we’d like to go over a brief history of it.
Believe it or not, the bong is a much older invention than you or I could ever imagine.
Brief History on Bongs and Water Pipes
It’s still a little unclear whether the first-ever bong was used for cannabis, tobacco, or another plant or substance. What is clear is that the oldest bong found to this day is over 2400 years old!
It was used by the Scythian tribe, a community that existed in modern-day Russia, during ceremonies. These water pipes were made of solid gold. Not what most would be using these days.
From there, the use of water pipes spread to Africa and other parts of Asia. They’re popularity spread to the United States. Soldiers stationed in Thailand would smoke cannabis with the locals.
Their apparatus of choice? A bamboo pipe that was known to the locals as a “baung.”
While the spelling was changed, the baung had made its way to North America. The first recording of the word ‘bong’ dates back to January 1971 when a magazine by the name of Marijuana Review covered its use.
As they like to say, the rest is history.
The Different Types of Bongs and Materials On The Market
Now that we’ve briefly covered the history of the bong, it’s time to take a look at the different types of bongs. Bongs all have basic components in common — a bowl (where the herb being smoked goes), a tube (where the smoke travels), a water chamber and a mouthpiece (the part you breathe in the steam from).
So, you have all of these fundamental parts, but the shape and size of bongs can be wildly different.
Whether you enjoy the artistic side of bongs or want everyday old efficiency and execution, there’s a bong out there for you!
On the opposite end of the “breakable scale” comes metal bongs. While metal bongs may seem great, they do come with some negatives.
First off, the type of metal that’s used is a sign of the quality of the bong. While most use relatively safe titanium, cheap ones don’t. Knockoffs are made with low-quality material and this may be hazardous to your health after long term exposure.
Not only may they not be great for your health, but the taste of your lovely cannabis will almost definitely be altered. This is a great way to waste money on the high grade, terpene loaded strain you just purchased.
Plastic and acrylic bongs
Plastic and acrylics are being used more and more often for producing bongs. Although they don’t affect the taste of cannabis as much as metal, there will still be an alteration. Mainly over time if the bong is used frequently.
Plastic and acrylic bongs do have their positives. Unlike glass, they are much harder to break which is perfect for those that were born with a bad case of the butterfingers.
As well, they come at a cheaper price point and are much lighter than the previous materials.
The glass bong is the most common and generic type available. Don’t assume this is a bad thing. It’s quite the opposite. Glass is often used to make bongs for many reasons. Glass is a very malleable material, which makes it perfect to create different shapes and sizes.
The skill of bong making has been taken up as an art of sorts. And glass allows the artist to create their vision because it’s so malleable to work with.
Not only is glass easy to play with, but it’s relatively cheap and it doesn’t break under heat change. And importantly, it doesn’t change the taste of your cannabis, unlike some other materials.
Now, is glass perfect? Not quite. While we’ve mentioned that glass bongs don’t break under changes in heat, they do tend to break when they’ve been dropped.
Yep, if you or any of your friends have ever owned a bong, they’ve also probably broken one as well.
You read correctly — bamboo bongs have been used but they’re a thing of the past. This is a shame, as bamboo is one of the best materials you can use to create bongs.
Bamboo will affect the taste of your cannabis, but only slightly and in a positive manner. The natural flavour of the wood is a pleasant surprise and enhances the overall experience. Not only that, but bamboo is highly durable, cheap and looks incredible!
A new kid on the block, ceramic bongs have been all the rage of late. And rightfully so. They aren’t indestructible, but they are much sturdier than glass.
The cannabis flavour is unaffected, and if the ceramic bong breaks, it doesn’t make a giant mess.
The only drawback is that they tend to be a bit pricier than the rest on this list. But, if you plan on using it often and don’t mind spending a few extra bucks, then a ceramic bong might be right up your alley.
Silicone bongs were left last for a reason, and they’re the least recommended of the bunch. Silicone breaks down the terpene profile of cannabis.
It’s the same reason you should never keep your terp sauce or extracts in a silicone jar. As well, the long term effects of smoking from silicone products are yet to be fully understood.
One thing we will say, though, is they are easy to clean and won’t ever break.
Different Shapes and Styles of Bongs
Now that we’ve covered the different materials in which bongs are made of, it’s time to move our attention to the shapes and styles. The styles and shapes have evolved in such a way that the Scythians would have a hard time recognizing it.
Straight tube bongs
The straight tube bong is one of the most simple iterations of all the variations. They’re essentially a straight tube with a flat bottom. That’s it, plain and simple — nothing special to write home about here.
As a word of caution, straight tube bongs that are tall are susceptible to falling over breaking. If you do choose this model, a shorter version is recommended.
Nowadays, if you do choose to purchase a round tube or beaker bong, they will often come with an ice catcher. These little nodes in the neck of the bong will catch a couple of ice cubes, cooling down the smoke and making it easier to take.
Beaker bongs and straight tube bongs share many of the same characteristics. They can be what you call the “classic” bong shape. The difference is that a beaker bong will have a round shape as it’s base, which is excellent for support.
If you’re trying to decide between a beaker or straight tube bong, a beaker bong is the safer option.
If you’re looking for a smoother smoking experience, multi-chamber bongs are a step up from the classic bong shapes. Multi-chamber bongs have, well you guessed it, multiple chambers and stems that fill with water.
These extra water chambers filter and cool down the smoke, making a more enjoyable experience.
A side note, keeping a clean bong is critical to your health. Multi-chamber bongs are some of the hardest to stay clean and become dirty quickly.
If you do choose to go with this style, be ready to clean early and often.
Percolators, or often known as “percs” are another great way to cool down and filter the smoke from your bong. Percolator bongs are one of the newest iterations and can come at a hefty price.
But, if you do decide to go with a percolator bong, you won’t be disappointed, the experience is like no other.
Percs come in many shapes, although they function precisely the same. A few forms are tree percs, turbine percs, disc percs and barrel percs.
Don’t worry too much about the shape; they all work relatively the same. What we will say, just like the multi-chamber bongs, they aren’t the most fun to clean.
While a gas mask looks really cool, they aren’t practical and hurt your eyes. After the move knocked up, everyone wanted to get their hands on a gas mask and give it a go. Most found out right away why they aren’t popular.
Gas masks are plastic tube bongs that are attached to a mask. As we said, it’s not a method that should be used often as it will hurt your eyes.
If you’re going to use a gravity bong, odds are you’ve found yourself at a college frat party. Not to say there’s anything wrong with that it’s just the facts.
Gravity bongs often need a bucket of water or a bag at the end of a bottle. Then “gravity” pushes the smoke through and into your lungs.
It’s not recommended to use a gravity bong, as they’re often made from very shady parts found around the house.
Choker bongs are just bongs that do not have removable downstem and bowl and use a “choke” instead. A choke is a little hole on the side of the bong that is covered by your finger when lighting the bowl. Once you have finished lighting the bowl, remove your finger and the airflow will help you inhale the smoke.
Not all Bongs are Made Alike
Bongs are an excellent apparatus for the casual and consummate smoker. Thanks to bongs using water as a filtration system, they are also healthier than a pipe. Not only that but they come in a wide variety of shapes and sizes.
Hopefully, you now have a better understanding of the different types of bongs out there and which bongs suit your needs.
As we’ve mentioned, not every bong is the same. But rest assured, there’s one for you.
All photos from Shutterstock