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How to Choose a Bong That's Right For You 2024

by Angel Ferrer 8 min read

choosing the right bong

When choosing a bong, consider size, percolation, and cooling. These key features deliver smoother and cleaner smoke, which is important for handling a bong's concentrated burst of harsh smoke. Higher-priced bongs deliver a smoother and cleaner experience.

We get it, picking the right bong can be a fun but overwhelming experience. With dozens of different types of bongs and percolation systems, the potential for a fine-tuned experience is limitless. In this guide, we go over the key features of a bong that will make or break your experience when finding the best beginner bong.


What is a bong used for?


what is a bong used for


A bong is a water-filtration device used for smoking cannabis. It uses water and a percolator to clean the smoke while simultaneously cooling it. This allows for much larger concentrated hits to be cooled down for a more comfortable experience.

A bong is more powerful than a weed pipe, bubbler, or joint, but that doesn't mean bongs are better than pipes. Essentially, you would use a bong if you wanted a stronger and cleaner way to consume cannabis.


What to look for when buying a bong


what to look for when buying a bong

 When buying a bong the primary factors you want to consider that will directly impact your smoking experience are:


  • Material: glass, silicone, ceramic, steel
  • Size: mini, standard, tall
  • Filtration: downstem, percolation
  • Cooling: ice pinch, glycerin, recycling

Some other factors to consider when buying a bong that is less impactful:

  • Cleaning: easy or hard to clean?
  • Bowl: joint size and small or larger bowl?
  • Flavor: Pure taste or odors?
  • Durability: Fragile or indestructible?
  • Portability: At home or travel?
  • Price: Cost vs quality

Before choosing the right bong that fits your needs, you need to understand first how each of these components works together to deliver the end result. Below we’ll discuss each of the “bong factors” in greater detail.


Material: Glass, Silicone, Ceramic, or Steel?


different bong materials


Glass Bongs are the top choice for their pure taste and heat tolerance. However, it’s more fragile and less portable than other materials. Always go for borosilicate glass.

Silicone Bongs are much more affordable, portable, and nearly indestructible. They tint the flavor slightly but are completely safe to smoke from.

Ceramic Bongs bring an artistic touch with their unique, handcrafted designs, offering both style and utility. Avoid porous surfaces and only smoke from lead-free glazed.

Steel Bongs are extremely durable and provide a cooler surface to smoke from. They don’t provide as pure a taste as glass and can be pricier.

Acrylic Bongs are made from plastic and are the cheapest bongs. They are generally avoided due to their lack of heat resistance and potential for leeching in the bong water.


What size bong should I get?


different bong heights


The size of your bong significantly affects your smoking experience. The more distance hot smoke has to travel, the more it cools down. Larger bongs are more costly but provide smoother hits, while smaller bongs are more affordable but harsher.

Mini bongs are around 4-6 inches tall. They are affordable and save space, but deliver very hot and harsh bong rips. Regular cleaning is required due to the smaller water chamber.

Standard bongs are around 7-10 inches tall. The increased water chamber and height allow for a smoother bong rip with slight harshness.

Tall bongs are 11 inches or taller. Large bongs deliver the smoothest experience due to their height. Larger bongs usually have a premium percolation but are widely used to take much larger bong rips.


Filtration: Diffused Downstem or Percolators


different bong filters


The bong’s water chamber is where smoke is filtered. As smoke passes through the water a significant amount of tar, ash, and plant materials are caught before you inhale. The water filtration process is what makes bongs a healthier alternative when compared to smoking from dry pipes or papers.

What increases the power of the filtration is the percolator. The stronger your percolator the more filtration takes place within the water chamber. A standard bong comes with a diffused downstem (think of this as the stock filtration that comes with basic bongs).

On top of the filtration, the stronger your percolator the more it cools the smoke. There are dozens of different percs found in a bong from more basic percs such as circ, showerhead, and donut percs, and much more powerful ones like multi-chamber, UFO, and Matrix percs.

Quick-tip: If you want a smoother and gentler bong rip then choose a water pipe that has more advanced filtration systems (which simply means a more powerful percolator). 


Cooling: Ice Pinch, Glycerin, or Recycling


different bong cooling


When choosing a water pipe, cooling features are key to a smooth and gentle experience, especially if you don’t want hot smoke irritating your lungs. Below are three additional cooling features found in enhanced bongs that help to reduce or eliminate coughing:

Ice pinch bongs: Ice bongs have tiny glass notches in the neck of the bong that allows you to suspend ice cubes in the neck. This forces hot, combusted smoke to glide over the surface of the ice cubes cooling the smoke down for a smoother rip.

Frozen glycerin coils: Another innovative cooling feature is glycerin coils, which force hot smoke to travel through winding glass coils encased in frozen glycerin. The frozen chamber cools the smoke up to 300 degrees and delivers a cough-free smoking experience.

Recycling filtration: Recyclers house one of the most sophisticated filtration systems that was designed to loop smoke through the water chamber multiple times, significantly cooling the smoke before reaching your lungs.

While these cooling features can increase the price of a bong, they are well worth the investment if you struggle with coughing or want to avoid discomfort on larger bong rips. By cooling the smoke significantly it allows you to take much larger bong rips and maximize your water pipes' true potential.


Bowl Size matters


different bowl sizes


The size of the bowl in a bong plays a crucial role in your smoking experience.

Smaller bowls: are ideal if you want milder or smaller hits. The smaller capacity limits the amount of cannabis that can be loaded and burned at once.

Larger bowls: allow you to pack much more cannabis which is perfect for huge bong rips which are much more potent. A large bowl also allows you to use a technique called “cornering” which involves only lighting a portion of the cannabis’s surface at a time, allowing back-to-back hits, or is great for a shared setting.

Cornering in larger bowls is also a very economical way to smoke a bong because it reduces the amount of inhaled smoke allowing you to get the most out of each hit and your cannabis.

It’s also important to match your bowl’s male size with your bong’s female joint. Check out our visual guide on bong part names to understand where the bowl and joint are. The three bowl sizes are 10 mm, 14 mm, and 18 mm.


Flavor and Experience

The flavor of your smoke is influenced primarily by the material of your bong, with borosilicate glass being the gold standard for preserving terpene flavors (which are the natural notes your cannabis strain gives, similar to wines).

Borosilicate glass: is highly resistant to thermal shock (meaning it can handle high heat without warping or leeching) and does not react chemically with the smoke, which keeps intact the delicate terpenes and flavonoids of the cannabis.

Silicone and Metals: are great and safe smoking options, but usually give a slight tint in taste due to their different physical and chemical properties that interact with the smoke flavor. So while it doesn’t reduce the flavor of terpenes it tends to mask the flavor.

Bong design and purity: the shape of your bong plays a huge role in flavor preservation. Larger water chambers can enhance flavor because they allow for more smoke cooling and filtration without frequent water changes. Smaller water changes get dirty quicker which taints the flavor of your smoke with dirty bong water.


Bong Accessories

Ash catcher: an ash catcher works as a filtration system. Instead of all the ash, tar, and resin going directly into your bong’s ecosystem, an ash catcher catches all of the nasty particles which keeps your bong cleaner longer, saving you time and money,

Adjustable downstem: An adjustable downstem can help you control exactly where the water diffusion takes place, allowing you to work with less water or more inside of the water chamber.

Bong plugs: Whenever you are cleaning your bong, you want to use cleaning plugs, which will universally fit any bong at the mouthpiece. THis lets you shake a bong and flip it upside down so the bong cleaning solution can do it’s magic.


What the heck are bong joint sizes?

Bong joint sizes are important when choosing a bong, especially when buying separate components (buying bowl, downstem, and bong body separately).

Joint sizes are not something you have to worry about if you're buying a bong that already comes with the bowl and downstem, it’s more of a concern if you want to upgrade the downstem or bowl to your current bong.

For example, if your bong has a 14 mm female joint and you want to use a 18 mm male bowl then the bowl will not fit into the joint of the 14 mm bong. So in that case you would have to buy a bong adapter which would allow the 18 mm bowl to fit with the 14 mm joint.

Bongs feature either male or female joints, which are designed to insert into one another (male joints fit into female joints and vice versa). Common joint sizes are 10 mm, 14.5 mm, and 18.8 mm, which must match to get an air-tight seal.

This precise fit is necessary so that the rubber grommet can create an airtight seal which allows the bong to have optimal airflow to deliver a powerful bong rip. Many bongs now do not need a rubber grommet and form an airtight seal with glass-on-glass.


What’s your budget?

Your budget plays an important role in determining the type of bong you can buy because the cost of a bong depends a lot on its cooling and filtration features, materials, height, and aesthetics.

$60-120: If you're looking to balance cost and quality, bongs in this price range usually offer some excellent choices. For example, $60 can get you a 18” tall bong, with advanced features like an ice pinch for cooling and a showerhead percolator for better smoke filtration.

$20-50: On the lower end of the budget, under $60 bongs typically come with basic features such as a diffused downstem which is the standard filtration and cooling. It works well but you can expect relatively harsher hits which can result in coughing.

$120 and up: If your budget is over $120, you can invest in bongs with superior filtration systems like UFO or matrix percolators and enhanced cooling features such as frozen glycerin coils or recycler arms. These high-end upgrades drastically improve the smoothness of the bong rip. This allows you to take massive hits smoothly that would otherwise have you coughing. This price range is best if you’re going to be smoking multiple times a day with a bong.


1. How to Buy a Bong

Buying a bong online is easy. Just visit any online headshop, browse their bongs collection or best bongs section, and choose your bong! Once you add the bong to the cart, enter your shipping address, and complete the purchase to have the bong delivered directly to your doorstep.


2. How old do you have to be to buy a bong?

To buy a bong, you must be at least 18 years old in most states, though some states require you to be 21. The age requirement aligns with local laws governing the purchase of tobacco and smoking paraphernalia, so it’s important to check your current state laws.


3. What do you need for a bong?

When buying a bong, it typically comes with a bowl, downstem, and the bong itself. You’ll just need a few extras: a lighter to combust your dry cannabis herbs, a grinder to grind your weed, and water to fill the bong’s chamber for filtration.