As more tokers are coming out in the mainstream, from TV shows to TED talks, you might be considering getting your very own water pipe. Maybe you’ve mastered the art of vaping, maybe you’re pretty confident in rolling a good one, but have you purchased your own water pipe yet? While you may have used friends’ pipes before, buying your own is a journey to say the least, and no two people will prefer the same pipe. There are multiple factors to consider when buying a bong, whether it’s your first water pipe or an upgrade. Like any major purchase, the more research you’ve done, the better. For expert guidance to buying a bong, check out our tips below to see which pipe is best for you.
Is it your very first time buying a water pipe? You might want to check out these guides for the in-depth details:
Which factors are most important when deciding to buy a bong?
#1 Quality and durability: consider if your bong will be passed around with friends or more for personal use, and choose accordingly.
#2 Maintenance and upkeep: some bongs are easier to clean than others. Think about how high maintenance you want to be with your pipe.
#3 Filtration and percolation: Good filtration makes all the difference when choosing a great water pipe. This is where you want to spend the big bucks.
#4 Dry Herb or Concentrate: Aside from different attachments, the very size and shape of bongs determines whether they’re better for dry herb or concentrates, although there are excellent crossovers for dual use called "dual function water pipes."
The Best-Selling Water Pipes:
New Jersey's Ronin Glass transforms concentrates with power and precision. The skinny neck paired with a wide flared mouthpiece has quickly become a top-selling dab rig design.
Quality + Durability
You know that good things aren’t cheap, but don’t conflate price with quality. There’s many markers to find quality bongs, and we’ll share them with you. The biggest indicator of quality is 100% the thickness of the water pipe’s glass. This is not the time to be buying something with fine, intricate detail; you want something that can really take a hit (like you) and stand to be knocked over a few times. Try to find bongs that are marked with extra thick glass, or American made glass. These will last you much longer.
Since you’re looking for glass, you also want to find bongs made of borosilicate glass. This is a type of glass that is the absolute best for smoking: it’s high-quality, completely non-toxic, and extra durable (i.e. the perfect thing to smoke from). Snoop Dogg’s POUNDS collection is a fantastic example of excellent, thick glass. Other brands with great, thick glass include GRAV Labs and Nucleus. Worried that these beautiful pipes might break the bank? That’s why we carry a full line of our own Boo Glass: super thick and super affordable. Find Boo Glass in a variety of pipes so that you can afford any style, from water pipes to hand pipes and accessories.
Now, you might have seen some fancier bongs with intricate details, especially those from Empire Glassworks (check out their story, it’s pretty cool). Are these bad pipes? Not at all! We love the high-quality, American-made glass bongs from Empire Glassworks, but they’re much more of a special occasion piece that you need to be extra careful with. With their high price tags and delicate glasswork, you’ll want to make sure you also have something that’s more heavy duty for everyday use.
If you’re somebody who’s constantly on the go or happens to go backpacking frequently, you might even want to try out a silicone water pipe. These silicone pipes are easy to roll up, and all you have to do is carry around a glass nail with you. Add some water and herb and you’re good to go!
Lastly for quality, we want to emphasize that size doesn’t count. While you might have heard of those 6 foot tall bongs, we would love to see somebody actually use and clean those every day. Size doesn’t mean better hits; rather, size is more of a choice depending on your need for portability and length of inhale. You’ll find quality bongs at any size, so it’s up to you to decide what can fit in your apartment or house.
Maintenance + Upkeep
Whenever you first purchase your bong, make sure to take a nice photo of it, because it won’t last. Overtime, bongs naturally collect ash and other stains from the smoke. While getting an ashcatcher can certainly help keep a bong clean, water pipes will naturally gather dirt and grime on their insides, making cleaning a must. You don’t want to be inhaling this stuff! Because cleanliness is a factor and you will need to clean your bong regularly, you’ll need to realize that some bongs are much easier to clean than others. For example, straight tube bongs are a breeze to clean, and a simple rinse and wipe down with a sponge should get rid of any gunk. Check out our bong cleaning guide to make sure you’re saving as much herb as possible and make your pipe last longer.
Something with a bunch of percolators? Not so much. You can also look for removable downstems (instead of fixed) that will make cleaning simpler. Even better, any products from Marley Naturals (made of high-quality glass and sustainable wood) unscrew into a bunch of tiny pieces, so you only need to clean the glass pipe, making cleaning go by quickly. Think about how high maintenance you want to get with your bong, and make your purchase accordingly.
Filtration + Percolation
For our more experienced smokers out there, this is the first place your eyes go when getting a new bong: percolators can take a bong from good to great. Forget size or thick glass--percs are what truly transform ordinary smoke into delicious smooth hits. There’s so many kinds of percs, and some bongs actually feature several combinations to give you extra flavor. While you can choose from Honeycomb, Inline, UFO, Tree and Showerhead percs (just to name a few), there’s other features that help to filter smoke: you can get what’s called a recycler bong to give you great smoke. These work by pushing and pulling smoke through multiple chambers, increasing the distance smoke must travel before hitting your mouth. This helps to cool down hot smoke and trap toxins behind so they don’t reach your lungs.
In addition to recyclers, you might have seen these cool new Fab egg bongs. If you’ve seen a Faberge egg, you can’t forget the intricate design and patterns--it’s the same with these Fab designs. The many chambers help to again cool and cleanse your smoke. What’s great about Fabs and recyclers is that they’re easy to clean--great filtration without having to remove all the and wash all the percolators.
Remember, even if you have a bong with very few or no percolators, you can always spruce it up with some last-minute accessories: lastly, an ice pick is a great addition to help cool your smoke. Find built-in ice catchers in the bong’s neck, or you can buy one and add it to your bong: simply toss in a few ice cubes right before smoking, and you’ll have nice chilly hits. Lastly, remember those ashcatchers we recommended? Not only do they help keep ash out of your pipe, they’ll help filter your smoke as well.
Dry Herb or Concentrate?
As you might know from choosing a vape, some are designed for dry herb; others for concentrates. It’s sort of the same thing for bongs: while you can certainly put a bowl or nail attachment on any bong, the effect won’t be quite the same. Most bongs are designed for dry herb use and will come with a standard glass bowl. These bongs are not great for concentrate and here’s why: bongs for dry herb tend to be larger, and feature more percs and filtration systems. Why? Burning dry herb combusts the flower, creating smoke. As you’re probably familiar with, smoke isn’t the greatest thing on your lungs, and needs some cooling and filtering for you to enjoy.
Concentrates are a whole different story: they’re so fine that you’ll lose most of the flavor in a larger bong. Plus, because there’s no actual combustion going on and therefore no smoke, you don’t need much filtration when enjoying concentrates via bong. In fact, you’ll notice that dab rigs, designed specifically for waxes and concentrates, are often tiny, yet deliver the same high you can get with a large beaker bong.
All that being said, we are excited to share a fantastic dual-use water pipe. While dual-use vapes are now becoming an industry leader, we think this will only continue with bongs. This Pulsar Dual Function water pipe is perfect for both concentrate and herb--and you’ll get a great effect from both.
One last thing? It’s all about price. Once you know what other factors are best for your lifestyle and smoking style, you can pick whatever fits it best in your pricepoint.
Julia, a flower child hailing from Spain, discovered her love of fresh herbs years ago when she accidentally became head of product at a farm in Oregon.
She loves long walks on the beach, accordion music and of course spending time with her favorite Yocan Evolve D (only in blue though). She promises to not bias her blog posts towards vaporizers too much, but no guarantees.