The Bong is the most iconic piece of marijuana smoking gear. Nothing says “stoner” like a big ole glass bong on the coffee table. And with good reason. No other smoking device will stuff the lungs with so much smoke in one “hit”.
I’ve been smoking weed for more than 40 years. During that time the bong has gone through some thoughtful design changes.
The first bong I had the pleasure to know was a massive 4 footer called Blue Max. To use this plastic lungbuster required 2 people: the smoker and the lighter. The “carburetor” hole was nearly an arm’s length from the mouthpiece. When you took your finger off of that hole… BOOM.
These days, the carb hole is gone and nobody smokes out of plastic anymore.
Obviously, glass, specifically: borosilicate glass, is the material of choice. Specially manufactured to be heat and shatter resistant, a good glass bong will last a lifetime. If you don’t drop it, of course. Glass is easiest to clean, adds no taste and there is no fear of plastic leaching into your bong hits.
That carburetor hole, the source of bong water leakage for decades, has been replaced by simply lifting the bowl from the stem. Genius! Oh, and that classic metal bowl found on nearly every bong of the 70s has been replaced with a glass bowl. The fittings on the glass bowl and bowl stem feature a frosted surface that keeps the glass pieces from locking together. Yup, today’s Bongs are more like chemistry lab glassware.
There are four basic Bong types: The Homemade Bong, The Art Bong, The Rube Goldberg Bong and the Laboratory Bong.
The Homemade Bong needs little description yet is the most diverse of the bongs. We have all seen and maybe even smoked from that home crafted device that could be fashioned from a hunk of PVC pipe, a beer can, a watermelon, soda bottles, bamboo… I could go on. Usually featuring duct tape, aluminum foil or some questionable adhesive, inhaling from this bong might not be the most healthy way to inhale. A true Bong needs water to work. With the Homemade Bong, there was always the chance of a bongwater spill. Anyone that has experienced a bongwater incident can back me up when I tell you NOT to spill the bongwater.
The Art Bong is just that… art. These bongs look great on the coffee table. Often sporting fantasy themes like dragons, wizards and such. Sometimes these bongs can be awkward to smoke from (“…put your mouth on the Serpent’s butt, hold your finger on it’s penis and light it’s head… “). If you put a lamp shade on the Art Bong, you can transform that scorned piece of drug paraphernalia into a tasteful source of illumination that smells rude.
The Rube Goldberg Bong references the famous cartoonist from the 40s and 50s. Rube Goldberg drawings depicted crazy, convoluted machines that did otherwise simple tasks.
Head Shops will have multiple shelves of these things for sale. A big seller, the Rube Goldberg Bong dazzles and delights the stoned shopper into an impulse buy. Usually multi-chambered with tubes and coils attached to valves and aerators… its all very complicated but also very cool. Until you try to clean it.
Finally there is the Laboratory Bong. This, in my opinion, is the only bong you’ll need. Those other bongs end up in the closet, the trash or bookshelf, never to be smoked from again. The “Lab Bong” gets the job done efficiently and without additional nonsense.
Typically this bong is a combination of a straight glass tube, a removable bowl stem and a glass bowl. A tool in its purest form, this Bong group is simple to operate, easy to clean and will usually have replaceable parts and upgrades like dab mods and ash catchers. The Laboratory Bong is usually an every day smoker that you’ll probably get very attached to.
Remember, your own Bong choice can define your personality. Just as a pet can sometimes “mirror” their owner, your Bong choice speaks volumes about who you really are.