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The Bong 

Bongs have existed for thousands of years and have been traced as far back as to China’s Ming Dynasty.  Over time this has resulted in a large variety of styles and functions being produced across the globe.

One of the benefits of Cannabis’ entry into the mainstream is an elevated interest in the health and safety of typical consumption methods.  When it comes to bongs the cooling effects are favoured for a smoother and less harmful smoking experience.

Bong Functionality

The science behind bongs highly sought after functionality is as simple as the smoking process itself.  As the bowl is lit and the material begins to break down from a solid to smoke, it travels via a pathway referred to as the downstem.  A typical downstem design features a single hole in the bottom of the tube that connects to the inside of the bong base/water reservoir breaking down the gas into smaller pockets.  In recent years glass blowers and manufactures have favoured a design in which multiple slits are placed in the sides of the base of the downstem in addition to the main hole. This allows for added filtration and for the smoke to be broken up into a greater number of small pockets to more effectively cool the smoke as it travels through the water.  Once the water has effectively cooled the smoke filled air pockets this allows for a break through to the surface making the smoke travel through the neck of the bong and into the users lungs. Often times bongs also have a section referred to as the ice pinch where it allows users to add ice cubes into the neck of the bong without compromising functionality or design while effectively cooling the smoke in addition to the water as it travels to the user.


Over time bongs have become more modern in design.  One of the most notable changes to the water bongs classic design is the addition of percolators.   Much like the slits in the downstem bongs can feature sections of intricate pathways to better break up the smoke allowing for more surface area of water to reach the smoke and further cool it down.  These designs come in many styles, most commonly the honeycomb, showerhead or tree perc designs and can be featured in multiple sections of one piece.

Bong styles and materials

The beaker bong:  The beaker style bong consists of a base which has a beaker or “pyramid” design that manifests into a long straight tube and mouthpiece.  Beaker bongs take a little extra time after the bowl is pulled to clear the chamber.

The straight tube bong:  Just as it sounds the bong follows a straight tube design from base to neck.  This design can either be completely flush or consist of two sections of different diameters, often with the larger of the two diameters being the base where the neck is often the smaller of the two sizes. Straight tube bongs are quick to empty when the bowl is pulled.  Straight tube bongs are for those that want big hits fast, as opposed to a sipping style bong.

Glass bongs:   Glass is the most popular material for bongs.  This is due to the variety of available designs and the added benefit of easy cleaning. Glass also allows for the flavour of your cannabis to not be compromised. The glassblowing industry mainly uses borosilicate glass in the production of glass bongs.  Borosilicate glass has the advantage of handling heat changes really well. If you’ve ever put a glass lasagna dish in the oven, it is likely borosilicate for its heat resistant qualities. Soft glass was very popular at one time but does not have the same heat resistant qualities.  When cleaning soft glass bongs make sure you don’t use hot water as the glass will shock and likely crack.

Silicone bongs:    Silicone is largely favoured by the outdoorsy adventures stoner. This is thanks to the shock resistance of the material and the availability of vibrant decals and colors.  Often made with a suction cup base this allows for a sturdy sesh from the patio table to your next hike. Silicone bongs are easy to clean as the material is flexible.  Simply freeze the bong and squeeze out the built up resins. Silicone can also handle harsh cleaners such as isopropyl alcohol or glass specific cleaners like orange chronic.  If you don’t mind the smell, throw it in the oven to cook off all the resins, all that will remain is your intact silicone bong. Not a great idea if you don’t want your house smelling like a dirty bong, but it works.

Acrylic bongs:  Acrylic bongs are made for the budget conscience or traveling stoner.
With a lower price point and fair shock resistance in the material you’ll be left with not only a fuller wallet but an elevated smoking experience with little worry of breakage on your next adventure.  Acrylic bongs are the bong of choice for those that like to do poppers, or mixing tobacco with weed and pulling through as it turns to ash. Acrylics can be thrown away without shedding too many tears as it doesn’t hurt the pocket book to grab another one of these cheap bongs.