The Ultimate Beginners Guide on How to Choose a Bong

The Ultimate Beginners Guide on How to Choose a Bong

Throughout our careers, we’ve witnessed new bong users buying water pipes (Bongs, Water Pipes, Water Bongs are the same thing) that either didn’t do anything for them, the smoke hits were too harsh, or it couldn't fit their needs. Although they’ve read guides on purchasing bongs, these buyers never took themselves into account. A better, more precise blog was needed, one that guides buyers properly into the world of bongs, and we delivered. The ultimate Beginners Guide on how to choose a Bong.


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In the kw, Kitchener waterloo Guelph or Cambridge area? Come in for in-store shopping and we'd be happy to assist.  If you are near the Kitchener, ON area then stop by our shop for a more in-person experience and we’ll sort you out with whatever you need.


Finding your niche

Whether it is your first time or not, if you are having issues with your bong then you’ll need to learn 5 aspects of yourself when buying a water pipe, the initial 3 being essential. What are they?


Your Budget

No one ever has a fixed price. Everyone sets maximum and minimum spending margins, and you should do the same. This allows you some room to breathe when choosing your new water bong and helps control your expenditure.


There are 3 price points with bongs, from a buyer's perspective. These vary depending on the size of the bong, so we’ve prepared 3 tables to make things easier to grasp


Large Bongs Price Range
Medium Bongs Price Range
Small Bongs Price Range


These price points target different size criteria of bongs and appoint the High, Medium, & Low cost ranges for them. If you are new to water bongs then you may have noticed the different sizes we listed in the tables above. The next 2 aspects—Mobility & Experience—directly affect the size of your water pipe, let's take a look. (NO not that water pipe!, and not THOSE 2 aspects!)


Your Experience

Customers frequently underestimate the strength and maintenance of Bongs. The strength of your smoke session depends on the time the burned cannabis takes to brew because the hit becomes smoother and easier to inhale giving you a solid session. In layman's terms, bigger bongs allow stronger hits.


People who have been smoking cannabis for a long time can tolerate and enjoy larger bongs as compared to those less experienced. So if you are a veteran cannabis smoker you might want to try a larger or percolator bong to meet your needs.


Another factor to keep in check is how much you know about bongs or their maintenance. Water pipes require a lot of care and more complex bongs require different methods and techniques that beginners might find tiring or hectic. If you are completely new, then stick to simple bongs, they are easy to set up and smoke.



Do you travel a lot? Are your adventures outdoors or indoors? Or do you travel only on occasions? We’d hate to set you up with a bong that is too big for you to carry around or breaks easily depending on your travels. So size matters…with bongs (This is completely unintentional). If you frequently stay at hotels or rooms like salesmen or businessmen and like to take a hit after a long day, then steer clear of large water pipes. You’ll hate the thought of carrying it around after a while unless you get silicone paraphernalia, indestructible and perfect for rough travels.




Small to medium water bongs should be in your niche, they are small enough to carry around. For example, this Gear Premium 12” Space Beaker is a great option having a sturdy 7mm thickness or this Nice Glass 12” Straight Tube with the same 7mm thickness.




If you travel outdoors then think of nothing bigger than small-sized bongs. In fact, if your adventures are rough then we’d suggest considering pipes or bubblers; they’re small, ready for on-the-go sessions, extremely portable, and much more durable. If you prefer glass bongs then we recommend getting 10” or below like this OG 10" Clear Glass Beaker Bong.




Care level

Now, this may not be as important as the previous three, but it can be important for fresh users. Complex water pipes can be a pain in the keister, like those with percolators or odd-shaped necks. Moreover, if you tend to drop things frequently you may want to consider starting with silicone bongs. The bowl and downstem will still be made of either borosilicate glass, quartz, titanium, or in some cases ceramic to tolerate the heat from the burning process.


Thus, if you want easy to clean bongs, then simple transparent glass bongs are your go-to. If you can give it care and time then you can consider complex water pipes. The cleaning process can get even easier with cleaning products made specifically for bongs and water pipes like this Black Label glass cleaner, these Scrubber duckies, or a Rezblock. 




Aesthetical Value

A very small number of people give the appearance of a water pipe importance. Some customers go from shop to shop for unique, one-of-a-kind pieces, or Collector units. Glass makers occasionally make a very limited number of custom hand-made bongs that they pour their heart and soul into. We have some unique pipes in our collection, these are very rare and hard to come by and are hence costly.

Tiki Hand Pipe 

There are also water pipes with beautiful and intricate artwork; bongs that have a glow-in-the-dark effect, etched bongs, etc. Some aesthetics add to the overall experience, such as this Egyptian Hieroglyphs 14” Bong. Hitting a session with this water pipe in complete darkness is an experience worth trying. Obviously, the harder the work that goes in a bong, the more expensive it is. Simple and clear water pipes cost the least which is why they are usually recommended for first-time users.




Finding Your Bong

Now that you have a clear understanding of where you stand, we can pinpoint what bong will be a perfect first buy for you. Let's start with:



As this is a guide we will only be listing materials that you can go for as a first choice, if you want more details you can look into our Types of Bongs blog (coming soon). Without getting into unnecessary details, we’ve listed out the pros and cons of recommended materials that Bongs are made of, check it out below.


Borosilicate Glass (Recommended)

Pros: Chemically altered glass that allows the water pipe to tolerate much more heat compared to conventional glass and more durability to it. Glass bongs are mostly see-through showing you when a clean is needed


Glass water bongs also come in so many varieties to choose from: percolator bongs, recycler bongs, multi-chambered water pipes, and Zong Bongs. Moreover, master glassmakers add beautiful colours and shapes to Water Pipes giving them a spectacular look.



Red Eye Tek Terminator Radiation Bong 12 inch

Glass Water Pipes can be accessorized to the limit due to their popularity and common preference. That is why they are generally the most recommended material for water pipes.


Cons: Glass is glass, and glass breaks, unless you have a Tank Glass that gives you a lifetime warranty on their unbreakable glass water pipes. Borosilicate glass water pipes more commonly crack due to carelessness.


Recommendation: High. Glass Water pipes are extremely common and have multiple accessories to customize them to your needs. They last long with moderate care, can have complex designs to improve the experience and have readily available replacements for the demountable parts.


Silicone (Best for Travelers)

Pros: The silicone that is used in Bongs has made a lot of progress. Silicone water pipes today can withstand a lot more heat than they used to, however, that is not its main selling point.


Travel friendly, silicone is the king. It can be folded, washed roughly, packed anywhere and is nearly indestructible. Since the material is so easy to work with they are much more affordable and easy to give complex colours to, like this LIT Silicone 13.5” Straight Tube with epic Sugar Skull art.


LIT Silicone Straight Tube Sugar Skull


Silicone water pipes are also dishwasher friendly. No special scrubs, no special cleaners. Just throw them in the dishwasher and your bong is just like new.


Cons: Perhaps the biggest downside of silicone bongs is the lack of percolation within larger bongs. While silicone bongs are easy to make, giving them intricate designs within is much harder. Intricate designs mean weak joints that can get easily damaged in a flexible bong. Hence many makers avoid adding any percolation to silicone water pipes.


There are fully modular silicone bongs today in smaller sizes that also have percolator parts. For example, check out Waxmaid’s 4 in 1 modular bong, it comes with an attachable double percolation chamber.


WaxMaid 4 in 1 Silicone Bong


But, users have complained that they worry about accidentally damaging the glass parts when removing and cleaning. This is because silicone needs a little rough handling while glass requires a more gentle touch, mixing these two can cause problems.


Accessorizing silicone water pipes is possible but very limited, and it is advised to go for the same brand accessories to make sure each part can easily fit. Another limitation is the size, silicone water pipes cannot be too big otherwise they would collapse on their weight.


Recommendation: High for travellers. Moderate recommendation for travellers seeking silicone bongs with percolation. Silicone water pipes are extremely durable, versatile, and cost less. So even if you lose your bong, purchasing another is relatively cheap. If you want more variety, check out BobHQs Silicone Water Pipes.


Ceramic (For Enthusiasts)

Pros: Ceramic Bongs are as old school as it gets, similar to metal bongs. Ceramic Water pipes are known to give the best hits after glass. Some people love the classic look and feel of ceramic bongs and prefer smoking through them stating that it elevates their smoking experience. There are reliable master ceramic bong makers like BRNT Designs with their Hexagon Ceramic Bong.


Cons: Ceramic Water pipes are more fragile than borosilicate glass bongs. Due to this, their popularity has taken a nose-dive. They are also significantly more expensive to make, lack complex designs that improve function and can hardly be accessorized.


This is why you rarely see ceramic bongs in shops. You must also be very careful when cleaning ceramic water pipes, although after some time they require replacing. Therefore, keeping ceramic bongs can become quite expensive.


Recommendation: Low, only for enthusiasts. In our experience, ceramic bongs give different hits to people based on their mindset when smoking through them. People who love the touch and sensation of burning herbs in ceramic water pipes have enjoyed smoking through them more than they do with glass. Keep in mind, they are expensive, very hard to clean, and have a very limited lifetime.



Note: There are more materials that bongs are made of, however, their disadvantages significantly outweigh the advantages while having a worse smoking experience, not to forget safety hazards.



Two factors that help you decide what size your bong should be are Mobility & your Experience Level. Bigger bongs reduce the mobility of your piece, but give better hits, while smaller bongs increase mobility but reduce hit quality. To reduce any confusion from this check out the graph below.


Experience vs Size vs Mobility Graph


This graph should give you a clear understanding of what size range you wish to go for when purchasing your first bong. For example, if you stay at home frequently and want to get bigger and stronger hits, then go for this massive Genie 22” 9mm thick Beaker Bong.


Genie 22 inch Beaker Bong


If you travel indoors frequently and want to carry your water pipe around then the 10” Wheel Beaker Bong is a great option.



The type of a bong has both preferential and functional aspects. So it really depends on you, but make sure you don't go off your budget as complex bongs take more time to make and thus cost more.


Beaker Bongs (Low Cost/ Average Experience/ Cooler Smoke)

The most basic bong you can get. Beaker bongs have a thick base that stores more water giving better filtration to your hits, like this INFYNITI 12” Beaker Bong. Better filtration means you have room to smoothen stronger hits.



Infyniti 12 inch Beaker Bong

The design also gives the water pipe more stability and sturdiness, preventing the water bong from accidentally tipping over. Beaker bongs do tend to require stronger drags than straight tubes due to the larger volume.


Straight Tubes (Low Cost/ Average Experience/ Easy Drag)

The classic bong design, straight tubes get their name from their shape, like a straight pipe with a stem for burning your cannabis. Straight tubes have easier drags due to a lower volume, thus smoking through it is a little easier than beaker bongs. A great choice is this Red Eye Tek Terminator 15” Straight Tube, it is slim, but with a strong 6mm thickness.

Red Eye Tek Terminator Straight Tube


Straight tubes are easier to transport than beaker bongs because of their slimmer form factor. Hence, people looking for full water pipe function but small form factor for portability prefer straight tubes. Like the Bongjour 8” Straight Tube over at West Coast Gifts, small, durable, and portable.


Multi-Chambered (Moderate Cost/ Good Experience/ Moderate Drag)


Multi-Chambered Water Pipes are designed to diffuse the smoke multiple times from chamber to chamber in order after finally being inhaled. Multi-Chambered Bongs come in 2 general types; one with complex designs like this 10” Genie 6-Ball Bong, where small tubes lead the smoke to a different chamber,


Genie 6 ball multi-chambered Bong



and a simple bong design like this Gear Premium 12” Magnum Dual Chamber Bong that looks like your average percolator bong but with different sections.


Gear Premium Dual Chamber Magnum Bong


The difference between these 2 is the price tag. Since the complex designs require a lot of time they cost significantly more than the simple ones. As these water bongs smoothen your hits they are often preferred by users who burn big bowls or by dabbers who burn concentrates for a stronger hit session.


Multi-Chambered Bongs are a hassle to set up but the water lasts a lot longer than simple and recycler bongs.

Recycler (Highest Cost/ Best Experience/ Moderate Drag)


Many people confuse Recycler Water Pipes with Multi-Chamber bongs, but there is a crucial difference between them. Multi-Chambered bongs take the smoke from the first chamber to the next in line where it gets diffused. Recycler Bongs are engineered to circulate the smoke multiple times in a single chamber, giving the smoke an unprecedented level of smoothness. For instance, take this Pulsar 4-Tube Recycler Bong:


Pulsar 4-Tube Recycler Bong


When taking a drag, multiple tubes divert the smoke back into the water ‘recycling’ it before the smoke is finally inhaled. This process happens so fast that it takes a mere second for the fumes to get recycled 5 to 10 times!


These Water Pipes require top-notch expertise, time, and care which is why recycler bongs are very expensive. Rare for first-time buyers to go for this but people with a lot more experience with cannabis would generally prefer it. Smoother smoke gives room to larger hits. That is why many dabbers like recycler dab rigs.


Keep in mind recyclers require frequent water changes, so it’s more hassle and is tough to clean.





There are 2 criteria in Bong design: Functional Design, and Aesthetic Design.


Aesthetic designs include artistic additions to Bongs like beads, frosting, etching, etc. As these are numerous we won’t be getting into its details, there is no signification function to it. However, we’ve been told by customers that water pipes with glow in the dark art decal really tripped them up after a good hit, of course, in complete darkness.


Functional designs are additions done to a Bong that improve the smoking experience. These are as follows:


Percolators (Better Experience/ Higher Cost)



Infyniti Tree Perc Beaker Bong

Percolators or ‘Perc’ are intricate passage shapes that diffuse the smoke either through the water or after the initial water filtration stage spreading it out to cool much faster. This cools down your smoke giving you a much smoother hit. You can easily burn bigger hits with percolator bongs as compared to basic water pipes. Percolators are preferred inside bongs as they are easier to drag and clean, however, you can also find ash catchers with percolators that can be attached to simple bongs.


Ice Catchers


It's pretty hard to find a bong without any ice catchers, as their function is to prevent the ice from falling into the base of water pipes. Ice cools the cannabis smoke, and the difference between hot cannabis smoke and cold is considerable. Ice catchers are commonly found in the neck of a bong.




Stemless or Fixed Stem


This is a matter of preference, as there are pros and cons to having either a stemless bong or a fixed stem bong. Stemless Bongs have a fixed downstem that goes into a water pipe, is usually percolated, and is not removable or replaceable. Fixed Stem or Stemmed Bongs need a downstem (usually comes with the bong when purchasing new) that guides the smoke burned from the bowl into the water in the base for filtration.


Stemless Bongs (Better Experience)


Stemless Bongs mean fewer removable parts, which in turn means less hassle and fewer air pockets. More air pockets increases drag which means smoking the bong will be harder. This can be a major issue for first-time buyers; you want a smooth and fun experience, not an exhausting one. One example of a stemless water pipe is this 18” Pulsar Upscale Horn Bowl Bong.


Pulsar Upscale Horn Bowl Straight Tube


Stemless bongs do pose a risk, if it breaks you need to buy a whole new bong. Since the stem is fixed cleaning requires more delicacy, patience, and time. However, the female joint where the herb bowl fits in commonly gets cracked when pulling the herb bowl out. Sometimes the herb bowl gets stuck and takes a little fiddle to pull out, a slight mishap in the twist and the joint cracks, rendering the whole bong useless.


Fixed Stem/ Stemmed Water Pipes (More Convenience)


A Fixed Stem Bong provides more options for the type of percolation you want at the base end of your downstem. Moreover, as most bongs don’t have carb holes you need to remove the herb bowl to inhale the brewed smoke. A downstem makes the process a lot easier, and if it breaks, you just need to get a replacement. You can see the downstem clearly visible & perfectly fit in this Red Eye Tek 15” Bubble Beaker Bong.


Red Eye Tek Bubble Beaker Bong



Getting the right measurement for a compatible downstem is still a struggle for many bong users. There is the pencil method but people still make errors. If you get it short you need more water which causes backsplash; if you get it too long your downstem either gets blocked or suspended.





Your first-time bong makes or breaks your overall experience with it; if it was bad you will always first remember that experience when you look at another bong, if it was good you will always remember your first hit as one of the best hits of your life. We at James Bong 420 want to help customers buy a water pipe fit for them and help teach how anyone can purchase bongs for themselves in the future, our Ultimate Beginners Guide on how to choose a bong is for that purpose. This way customers can be protected from being tricked into wasting money. 

Drop us a comment if this blog helped you, or if you believe this blog needs corrections done.

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