Different Types of Water Pipes – Ultimate Guide
So, you’re looking to get a new bong, or perhaps even your first bong. Exciting!
But, with so many different types of bongs on the market, how can you know which one is best for you?
At HelpingPot, we pride ourselves on being one of the best educational resources for Stoners. We created this guide to help you understand the many different types of water pipes, and find the right one for your needs.
In this guide, you will learn about:
- 6 Types of Bongs By Material
- 12 Types of Bongs By Design
- Which Type of Bong is the Best?
- Where to Find Great Deals on the Best Bongs
- How to Learn More About Bongs
We have a lot to cover in this in-depth guide, so let’s get started.
6 Different Types of Bongs By Material
The first thing you need to understand about the different types of bongs and pipes is that they can be made out of just about anything. As you may already know, Stoners are quite a creative bunch, and over the years we have found hundreds of ways to smoke, and make homemade smoking devices.
With that being said, most of the bongs you will find on the market are made of 5 basic materials:
While there are also wooden, bamboo, and even plastic bongs, these are the main materials we will outline in this guide to keep things simple. We also wanted to cover these because they are the most common on the market, and usually the highest performing as well.
1. Metal Bongs – Not Recommended
Metal bongs are not very popular, and there is a good reason for it. While they are extremely durable and usually quite affordable, the metal in them has a very profound impact on the taste and smoothness of your smoking experience.
On top of that, they are usually not see-through, which can make it hard for Stoners to know when they are about to take way too fat of a rip. Also, they are kind of hard to come by, and really have no advantage over some of the more durable types of bongs like silicone or acrylic.
Lastly, one major downside of metal water pipes is that you can’t easily add accessories such as quartz bangers or ashcatchers to them, which limits their use and makes them hard to improve.
Pros & Cons of Metal Bongs
Overall: We don’t recommend metal bongs for anyone. They have poor taste, are hard to find, are hard to add accessories too, and overall are no more durable than silicone bongs, which have much higher performance.
2. Glass Bongs – Most Common, Highly Recommended
Since the 1970’s, glass bongs have been the pinnacle of water pipes in the cannabis industry. They are by far the most popular type of bong, and for good reasons.
First of all, glass can be blown into hundreds of intricate designs that add beauty and functionality. Over time, percolators, ice catches, diffused downstems, and dozens of other bong accessories have been adapted to improve the performance of glass bongs to make them smoother and cooler to smoke. This variety allows you to find the perfect water pipe for your needs based on design and function.
On top of having the most variety, glass bongs also tend to have the best performance by far. Sure, if you go with a cheap one, a high-quality ceramic or silicone bong may be able to outperform it in terms of smoothness and hit quality. But, there are tons of bongs for under $100 that come with percolators, diffused downstems, ice catches, and even more zany glass creations to make your smoking experience as smooth as possible.
Lastly, glass bongs can be more durable than you may think. While a drop from a high height will most certainly break them, thick glass bongs can take a beating. There are even some unbreakable glass bongs with lifetime warranties.
Pros & Cons of Glass Bongs
Overall: Glass bongs are by far our favorite type of bong. Perhaps that is just a bias we have, but it is safe to say that a wide majority of the Stoner community agrees. At the end of the day, they are convenient, easy to accessorize, high quality, and relatively affordable. There are literally hundreds of types of them, and you can find thousands of designs.
3. Silicone Bongs – Up & Coming, Highly Recommended
Within the last decade or so, silicone bongs have started to make a serious splash in the cannabis world.
And it should come as no surprise why – these bongs are nearly unbreakable, they are easy to fold up, most of them are dishwasher safe and come with lifetime warranties. On top of that, they are extremely affordable, come in a decent variety of colors and designs, and are made of silicone that is safe to smoke out of.
Now, with that being said, there are still some downside to this type of bong over some more traditional glass bongs. For instance, most of these models do not allow for easy accessorization, though some of the best silicone bongs are making breakthroughs in this.
These bongs also are usually much smaller than glass bongs, leaving less room for filtration, cooling, and percolation. Many also come with metal bowls that taint flavor, though a few include quartz bowls wrapped in silicone that help users avoid this, while still maintaining durability. The last area this type of bongs falls short of glass bongs is that almost all models have very little to no percolation, due to the fact that percolators are very intricate glass or quartz designs that cannot fit in the small sizes of silicone bongs. Not to mention these intricate parts kind of contradict a silicone bongs main purpose: durability and easy transport.
Pros & Cons of Silicone Bongs
Overall: Silicone bongs are great for people who are looking for a great travel pipe. This is best for Stoners who are looking for a very terrible peace that is easy to clean trouble with. As long as you are willing to sacrifice a bit of performance, this is a one of the best types of water pipes you can have.
4. Acrylic Bongs – Not Recommended
Acrylic bongs are basically the forefather of silicone bongs. They’re usually made a very hard plastic, and come in a variety of shapes and sizes.
Most people who like acrylic water pipes usually pick this type of bong based on the price point. I need something cheap, easy to replace, and that just gets the job done.
Our main complaints about acrylic bongs is that they break easily, are extremely cheap, are usually made in foreign countries so you cannot guarantee the safety of them, and they are nearly impossible to accessorize. If $5-10 is your budget for a piece, and you really don’t feel like making a homemade pipe, but feel like waiting 3 days for a bong, then this is right for you. Otherwise, your money is better spent on silicone or a small glass bong.
For the most part, people who buy acrylic bongs soon realize their flaws and upgrade to either silicone or glass. It just makes a lot more sense to spend maybe $10-20 more on an insured, safe, accessible, and nearly indestructible silicone bong than a brittle acrylic one that will decay quickly over time.
Pros & Cons of Metal Bongs
Overall: We are not big fans of acrylic. It simply doesn’t get the job done, or stand up to a slightly more expensive glass or silicone bong. It breaks easily and will wind up costing you more in the long run. It tastes horrible, and you rarely can find a nice one.
5. Ceramic Bongs – Old School, Recommended
Before glass water pipes took the scene, ceramic bongs were the only choice for Stoners. People have been making pottery and smoking devices out of ceramic materials for thousands of years, so the art has been damn near perfected.
Ceramic bongs are the next step down from glass and silicone. They provide an excellent smoking experience with smooth flavor and massive rips. They are extremely durable, and less sensitive to temperature changes than glass bongs.
One massive advantage that ceramic bongs have over glass is that it is very easy to find extremely creative and one-of-a-kind designs affordable prices. Oftentimes complex glass designs can take hundreds of hours, resulting in higher prices, whereas ceramics are much easier to mold into crazy creations.
However, where they fall short of glass is the fact that they are often difficult to accessorize, and do not come with additional accessories like diffused downstem, percolators, ash catchers, and regularly.
Also, they tend to be just as expensive as glass bongs or even more expensive in some cases. At the end of the day, it is really a matter of preference. For people who prefer a more old-school approach, or like larger hits, or who don’t need all the flashy features, ceramic works just fine.
Pros & Cons of Ceramic Bongs
Overall: For someone who is looking for an affordable and durable bong that will usually be kept indoors, this is a great option. It’s also great for people who are looking for thousands of custom design options, and who do not need exceptional percolation.
6. Other Types of Bongs – You Really Can Make One Out of Anything…
Alright so without going to in-depth into the hundreds of ways that people can make different types of water pipes, here are a few of the other options you have:
On top of that, there are virtually infinite ways to make pipes out of household items such as food, office supplies, tools, recyclables, and more. If you look feel like getting creative and experimenting with your own homemade log, we definitely recommend checking out our complete guide with dozens of ideas and step by step instructions.
12 Different Types of Bongs By Design
Alright, so now it’s time to get to the actual types of bongs based on their design.
Keep in mind that most of these designs evolved over the years in order to make water pipes more interesting looking, and also improve their functionality.
For the most part, these different designs are available for both ceramic and glass bongs, while acrylic, metal, and silicone bongs are limited just straight tube and beaker base designs.
Also, keep in mind that a single bong can have multiple features, such as a beaker base and a percolator.
1. Beaker Base Bongs – Tough & Reliable
The beaker base is a very common type of water pipe that of course features a base in the shape of a beaker.
This design helps to add a lot of stability and the base, allowing these types evolve to be taller, which usually makes for larger hits and more room to add percolators.
2. Straight Tube Bongs – Simple, But Reliable & Smooth
Straight tube bongs are fairly straightforward, featuring a design from one straight tube of blown glass.
Usually,this type of bomb is thicker than most other types, in order to make it more durable. Straight tubes are also typically taller, usually in the 8-24+” range.
More often than not, straight tube bongs will feature percolators, diffuse downstems, and / or ice catches.
3. Percolator Bongs – Smooth Smoking Experience
As the name implies, percolator bongs are distinguished by – you guessed it – their percolators.
We won’t take the time to go in depth about what percolators are and how they work here, as that is an entire subject on its own. But basically, they make your smoking experience much smoother by cooling down the smoke and filtering it more before it reaches you.
If you want to know more about the various types of percolators and how they work, check out our complete guide to percolators.
4. Round Based Bongs – Stylish & Reliable
Round base bongs are a type of water pipe that features a round base. Much like beaker base, this is meant to make for a wider, more sturdy base in order to allow for taller designs.
I know what you’re thinking – how in the heck does a round base make for a sturdy base?! Well, technically, the base itself is flat, and the bottom chamber of the bong is just shaped like a sphere rather than a beaker.
Overall, this design is usually coupled with a straight tube or a percolator, but is also typically used with zong designs, which we will cover soon.
5. Multi-Chamber Bongs – Even Smoother Smoking Experience
Multi-chamber bongs are on the higher end of water pipe designs. They typically feature complex glasswork that transfers smoke from one chamber to the next in order to cool and purify it for smoother hits.
These types of water pipes have tons of different designs that not only look cool, but function in extremely impressive ways. Watching bubble is a thing of beauty, and the hits you get are out of this world.
For people who want a high-end bong, and who are willing to spend over $100 for a great piece of glass that is durable and smooth, this is definitely the right choice.
Because of the high price point and the level of skill it takes to make them, you can often find extremely thick glass designs that are highly creative and nearly one of a kind – which also makes them great collector’s items.
6. Recycler Bongs – The Smoothest Smoking Experience
Recycler bongs are very similar to multi-chamber bongs, and most would even consider them to be a different type of multi-chamber bong.
The reason we wanted to make the distinguishment between them is that multi-chamber bongs technically do not recycle the smoke through the same chamber, but transfer it to another chamber.
But recycler bongs actually take the smoke and filter it using water through the same chamber and percolators multiple times before finally transferring it to you. This all happens very rapidly, and 5-10 cycles can happen in just seconds. But when played in slow motion, it is truly something to behold.
There are dozens of types of recycler bongs out there, each with their own way of working, unique designs, and amazing efficiency.
Overall, this is a great bong for someone who is looking for the smoothest smoking experience, or who is looking to get into dabbing in the future. They are easy to accessorize, high quality, and durable. The only downside is that they are often some of the most expensive bongs.
7. Bubblers – Portable Miniature Bongs
Bubblers are the bongs’ little brother. They are basically miniature bongs that are a mixture of water pipes and bowls in one. This allows them to provide the convenience and the ease of use of a hand pipe, with the smoothness of a bong – all at an affordable price point.
The beauty of bubblers is that they are super easy to travel with, and can also simply function as a hand pipe if you don’t have time to fill them up. Another great thing about bubblers is that they come in tons of designs.
Some cons are that they often do not have percolation – though some types of bubblers with percs do exist – and that they are impossible to accessorize. Also, some of the more complex bubblers can be a real pain in the ass to clean – unless you know how to clean a bubbler.
Overall, bubblers are a type of bong that is best for someone who is looking to mix things up. Someone who usually likes to smoke on the go, but wants a piece that is a bit smoother than a hand pipe, but still affordable and easy to pack up.
8. Zongs – Different Design for Diffusion
Zongs are named because of their Zig Zag design, usually in the shape of a Z. While this may seem to be purely aesthetic, there are actually a few interesting performance benefits to this type of bong.
First of all, if the tube is skinny enough, the Z section functions as its own ice catch. It also provides a place to easily secure a good grip on large bongs. Lastly, this section allows smoke to cool a bit more before reaching you, making for a smoother smoking experience. There is also the fact that these things just look awesome, like a bong sent from outer space!
There are a few cons to the design as well. Some Zongs tend to be a bit top-heavy, which can be a problem without a sturdy base. Other times, they can be easier to break because people who brush by them can easily knock them over.
Overall, zongs are a bit better performing than strict straight tube bongs, but nothing notable. They can also be broken more easily if not careful. They are usually just as affordable as glass bongs, so generally, people usually side with Zongs strictly because of the cool design.
9. Scientific Glass Bongs – Sturdy, Smooth & Expensive
Scientific glass refers to the actual chemical makeup of the glass itself. This type of bong is made with borosilicate glass, which reduces the glass’ reaction to changes in temperature.
Without getting scientific 😉 , this glass is better because it will not break as easily from rapid temperature changes, and will not become as weakened as regular glass over time from use and heat exposure.
Generally, this type of glass bong is a bit more expensive, but well worth the investment as long as you can keep it nice throughout the years.
Scientific glass bongs are usually made to be high-performance pieces and regularly include diffused downstems, ice catches, percolators, and more features to make your smoking experience smoother. They are also usually made to be thicker in order to be more durable.
Overall, this type of water pipe is best for someone who is looking for a very high-performance piece that will last a long time. They can be a bit expensive, but you can find amazing deals from a trusted online headshop.
10. Inline Bongs – Intricate Designs, Strong Bases, Excellent Percolation
Inline bongs are not very common, mainly because they are usually very expensive compared to other types of water pipes.
This type of bong is distinguished by their inline percolators, which are horizontal percolators built into the glass – usually in very creative and intricate ways. This usually leads to another percolator above to make the experience even smoother. For this reason, technically, this is considered to be a very specific type of multi-chamber bong.
Overall, inline bongs are some of the smoothest hitting water pipes. They are typically very large, and paired with a thick straight tube made of scientific glass. The best ones are very expensive, but well worth it for people who keep them nice and collect glass. This type of bong is best for someone who is willing to drop $200 or more on a piece and who wants the cream of the crop when it comes to smoothness.
11. Dab Rigs – The Next Evolution of the Bong
Dab rig s have only recently stepped onto the scene. Made for dabbing wax concentrates, this type of bong has some seriously unique designs in order to handle the heat and intensity of dabs.
As a result, most dab rigs focus heavily on recycling and percolation, with lots of intricate designs that help improve airflow and cooling of the smoke.
Most of the time, dab rigs are smaller than bongs, in order to make them easy to transport. They are also designed to easily allow for different dab rig accessories, which allow you to smoke dabs in a number of ways.
Overall, dab rigs can also be used as bongs. In our opinion, purchasing a dab rig and then adding a glass bowl to it is an easy way to get all of the smoothness of an expensive bong, with the affordability and portable design of a dab rig. Our dab rig starter kit has all you need to get started dabbing, or turn your rig to a bong!
12. Home Made Bongs – Getting Creative
You knew we couldn’t make a post about the different types of bongs without including the most infamous (and creative) type – homemade water pipes!
Over the years, Stoners have found a way to make bongs out of just about any household item you have laying around, including:
- Plastic bottles
- And more…
While these bongs are not very durable or high quality, they are honestly a blast to make, and get you blasted just the same. We strongly recommend that any hardcore Stoner gives this a try every once in a while, just for the entertainment value alone.
If you are interested in learning some easy, step-by-step ways to make homemade smoking devices, check out these awesome resources we’ve made:
What is the Best Type of Bong?
The answer to this question really all depends on your budget, smoking preferences, and smoking style. For some people who prefer a smoother smoking experience, glass may be best. For others who are on the move more often, silicone may be the right choice.
Personally, our favorite type of bong by material is without a doubt glass, with silicone being a close second because of its durability, affordability, and convenience.
As far as bong design goes, we prefer recycler or percolator bongs with thick glass, or scientific glass to ensure durability combined with smoothness. For on the go smoking, we prefer a sturdy mini bong or rig made of glass, or a silicone bong with quartz bowl.
Still not sure which type of bong is best for you? Check out some of these helpful resources we have:
Great Deals on the Best Bongs
Looking for a solid deal on some of the best bongs on the market? Check out our online headshop for some amazing products from trusted brands!
Tell Us About Your Favorite Bong!
Have a favorite type of bong we forgot to include on our list? Let us know in the comments below. Also, feel free to tell us about your bong experiences, and what some of your favorites from this list are!
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Thanks for reading, we hope to see you again soon! For even more great Stoner content, check out our blog. Until next time, stay up.
What types of water pipes are there. Which one fits your needs? What are the differences between them? Answers to all these questions and more.
Different Types of Bongs and Their Benefits Explained
There are so many ways to get your THC or CBD fix these days—blunts, joints, thai sticks, edibles, wax, oil, the list goes on and on. Despite many of these new and novel approaches to cannabis use, one thing remains constant: the bong is the go-to choice for marijuana smoking. But just as there are many different ways to consume cannabis products, there are many different types of bongs to choose from.
Here at Honest Marijuana, we want you to be an informed consumer. We want you to know the difference between a blunt and joint. We want you to know all the weed terms. And we want you to know the difference between a percolator bong and a gravity bong. That’s why we’ve created this guide to the types of bongs available for your smoking pleasure.
Let’s start by discussing the various materials from which bongs are made so you can see the benefits and drawbacks of each. After that, we’ll move into the numerous bong designs you have to choose from.
Glass is the most popular material used to build bongs. It provides a clean, pure taste because the glass doesn’t affect the flavor of the smoke. Glass is very easy to monitor for resin buildup because it’s transparent. It’s also very easy to clean when the buildup becomes a problem. Because of these factors, glass bongs are often more expensive than bongs made from other materials.
Plastic is probably the second-most popular material for making bongs because it is extremely durable. You can drop a plastic bong during a coughing fit and the only damage done will be the water stain on your carpet. Plastic bongs are also fairly cheap when compared with other materials. Bongs made from plastic are great for traveling because they are difficult to break and don’t shatter or crack like glass or ceramic. The only downside of plastic bongs is that they might affect the taste of your smoke slightly.
Ceramic bongs tend to be heavier and more robust when compared to the other materials on this list. For that reason, and their general fragility, ceramic bongs don’t usually travel well. They do, however, come in all sorts of novelty shapes, sizes, and colors thanks to the fact that clay is extremely malleable and easy to work with. Ceramic bongs are usually a bit more expensive than plastic bongs because of the work that goes into making them. Though a ceramic bong might not be your daily smoker, they are certainly great for special occasions or to display in a cabinet or on a shelf.
Bamboo is another popular material from which bongs are made. Bamboo bongs can range from pretty basic—just a tube of bamboo sealed at the bottom—to fancy and ornate with metal, varnish, and paint incorporated into the design. Bamboo is also very durable meaning that your bamboo bong will pretty much last forever if you treat it right.
Metal is also used to make bongs although the practice is not as common as glass or plastic. Metal is very durable and long-lasting. It’s also pretty cheap. The downside of metal bongs is that they can affect the taste of your smoke and you never really know when it’s time to clean them.
Now that we’ve discussed the materials from which bongs can be made, we’ll move to the bong design. Each of the bongs below could could be built from any of the materials above, although some materials are more common than others thanks to their ease of use.
1. Carburetor Bongs
Your bong will either have a hole in the middle somewhere, or it won’t. If your bong does have a hole, it’s a carburetor bong. If there is not hole, it’s not a carburetor bong. Pretty simple, no? Carburetors are not necessary to the design of the bong, but many feel that carburetor bongs produce a much more intense hit. This is because, when you release your finger, the carburetor hole allows fresh air into the pipe. This fresh air forces the smoke into your lungs more rapidly and makes it easier to inhale all the contents of the pipe.
2. Straight-Tube Bong
Straight-tube bongs are the simplest design available. They consist of a simple tube sealed at one end with a stem and a bowl poking out of the side. You pour a bit of water in the tube, place your ganja in the bowl, and go. It’s simple, straight-forward smoking at it’s best.
3. Beaker-Shaped Bong
The beaker-shaped bong is similar to the straight-tube bong except that the bottom is flared into a cone shape that looks like a beaker. Hence the name. Beaker bongs are more stable than straight-tube bongs because they have a larger base. The smoking process is the same: just add water, cannabis, and fire and you’re good to go.
4. Round-Base Bongs
Round-base bongs are similar to beaker bongs in that the base is wider than the tube and the mouthpiece. Round-base bongs, as the name suggests, have a sphere-shaped water chamber with a flat base. They are more stable than straight-tube bongs, but slightly-less stable than beaker bongs because the flat surface is smaller. Regardless of the shape—straight, beaker, or round—the basic mechanics of using them are the same.
5. Multi-Chamber Bong
A multi-chamber bong, sometimes called a recycler bong, is a variation of the straight-tube bong (although the chamber can come in various shapes). In a multi-chamber bong, the straight tube is separated into two chambers connected by a tube or third chamber (you can see one of them on the right in the picture above). Both upper and lower chamber hold water so the smoke is filtered twice. This produces a much cooler, much smoother smoke than the straight-tube, beaker, or round-base bong can provide. Because of the complexity, multi-chamber bongs are more difficult to build. That makes them more expensive than the simpler builds on this list. Multi-chamber bongs are also harder to clean.
6. Percolator Bong
A percolator bong, or bubbler bong, can be straight-tube, beaker-shaped, round-base, or pretty much any other shape you can imagine. The thing that makes them unique is that they contain a percolator. The percolator (shown up close below) is a piece of glass that dissipates the smoke before it passes through the water and causes a bubbling effect in the bong. Spreading the smoke out in that way helps to filter it better and cool it faster.
The percolator can be at the bottom of the bong (a single-chamber percolator), in another chamber (a multi-chamber percolator), or both (a multi-chamber, multi percolator). Because of the complexity of this type of bong, they can be difficult to clean, not to mention more expensive.
7. Bucket Gravity Bong
Gravity bongs rely on the vacuum that water leaves behind when it leaves an enclosed space. Gravity bongs come in two types: bucket and waterfall (which we’ll talk about next). The simplest version of the bucket gravity bong uses a plastic bottle and a bucket full of water. This is a fun project to try now and again, but if you use this type of bong regularly, you’ll probably want to purchase a professionally-built model. Check out the link here for detailed build instructions.
Once built and packed, you light the weed in the cap and slowly pull the water bottle out of the water being sure to stop before the bottle comes completely out. Pulling the bottle up creates a vacuum in the enclosed space on top of the water that pulls the smoke down into the bottle. When the bottle is full of smokey goodness, remove the cap and inhale the contents.
8. Waterfall Gravity Bong
The waterfall gravity bong is similar to the bucket gravity bong but instead of pulling the bottle up to create the vacuum, you drain the water out the bottom. Again, you can get detailed build instructions here.
When everything is assembled, light your cannabis and let the water drain from the bottle. As the water leaves, it pulls the smoke down into the bottle. When the water has completely drained, plug the hole with your finger or tape, remove the cap from the top, and inhale to your heart’s (or lung’s) content. As with the bucket gravity bong, you can make a waterfall gravity bong from household materials. But if you want to use it regularly, purchase a professionally-built glass or plastic model.
9. Homemade Bong
The gravity bongs discussed above make a nice segue into the wonderful world of homemade bongs. If you’re without your prized multi-chamber, multi-percolator, beaker-shaped glass bong, you can construct a simple substitute from everyday materials like fruit, water bottles, candy, building blocks, and even snow. They may not look as pretty as your colored-glass bong, but they’ll get the job done in a pinch.
Try Them All And See Which One You Like Best
Cannabis consumption is all about enjoying yourself. There’s no need to make smoking marijuana any more complicated than it has to be…unless you want to. That’s why we recommend trying all the different types of bongs we’ve discussed above. You’ll have fun doing it and you’ll find the bong that fits your needs just right.
Discover nine types of bongs for your smoking pleasure and learn the benefits of each design so your next toke session goes off without a hitch.