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Glass water pipes (also known as bongs) offer a traditional method for smoking tobacco, flowers, and other herbs that is simple, enjoyable, and effective. Similar to a hookah but more compact and portable, these filtration devices feature an air-tight water vessel with a bowl for loading herb and a stem for guiding smoke down into the water. Each hit bubbles upward from the water, purified and cooled, as you inhale through the top chamber. While glass pipes come in many shapes and sizes, the essential function of delivering smoother, cooler, and purer hits is the same across the board. Smoke is purified, moisturized, and cooled before it reaches your lungs, making for a more comfortable hit.
For those who prefer concentrates, dab rigs are a type of glass pipe for wax and oils.
Smoking pipes generally feature a simple design--bowl, stem, bottom chamber, top chamber--and a high grade borosilicate glass build. This makes them easy to clean, and guarantees smooth, tasty hits. Operating this type of device is equally simple, making it the ideal choice for those who want a hassle-free way to smoke smoother, cleaner hits.
There’s a reason this smoking method has been popular for over 2 millennia. Smoke pipes offer big, smooth rips with a chilled quality, minimizing harshness. These pieces offer a better alternative to devices that lack advanced filters. Rather than create pure smoke, they filter out harmful particles so each rip is easier on your lungs.
To take a hit from your piece, simply load the bottom chamber with water, place herb in the bowl, and light it while inhaling through the top of the bong. When you take a hit from a glass smoking pipe, smoke is pulled from the bowl through the stem and into the water compartment, bubbling upward through the chamber and into the user’s lungs. When a good amount of smoke has gathered, the user removes the stem from the device so the remaining smoke can be inhaled.
Glass smoking pipes are generally very easy to clean. Made of high quality borosilicate glass, the surfaces are non-stick and can be wiped down with ease. For light cleaning, users simply empty out the water and the wipe down the chamber, stem, and bowl with isopropyl alcohol or an alcohol-free cleaner like Agent Orange. To lightly clean the bowl, you can insert a pipe cleaner into it, pushing down into the stem and brushing it clean.
If your glass water pipe needs a more thorough cleaning, you can fill it with isopropyl and salt, plug the bowl and opening of the top chamber with rags, then shake the unit vigorously. Afterward, simply pour out the isopropyl and wipe inside of the chamber down. It’s unlikely this shaking method will clean the stem, so make sure to run a pipe cleaner doused with isopropyl into it for good measure.
The more often you clean, the easier each cleaning session will be. But you can also use Piece Water, a bong water alternative, to ensure that less grime build ups on the inside walls of your glass pipe.
For more information, read our blog about how to clean glass pipes.
Smoking pipes do an exceptional job of extracting flavor, aroma, and effects from herb--and sometimes waxy oils. But you can get even more enjoyment out of your smoking materials by storing them in an airtight container. This preserves the freshness of the herb or wax. If you own a dry herb pipe, TightVac containers are airtight, water-resistant and discreet vacuum-sealed jars that keep plant matter extremely fresh. On the other hand, if you smoke wax concentrates, a NoGoo container is an essential tool. It’s silicone, non-stick walls ensure no wax is lost while in storage. Both the TightVac and NoGoo line of containers come in a variety sizes to meet whatever your storage needs maybe.
There are a variety of water pipes available depending on your preferences. From perc bongs that provide the optimal level of water filtration through percolation to large-chamber beaker pipes down to double-chamber pieces that offer smoother hits than single-chamber units.
Percolator pipes sift smoke through numerous small holes beneath the water, producing thousands of tiny bubbles. This ensures that smoke comes into even more contact with water, cooling it faster and purifying it more thoroughly. This type of glass piece comes in a variety of styles, each offering a different level of drag, smoothness and purity.
Units like the Famous Brands Anthony feature showerhead percolators that diffuse smoke into the water similarly to how a showerhead sprays, ensuring that the hit is thoroughly moisturized through water-filtration. Showerhead percs are some of the most efficient bubblers, guaranteeing that more of the smoke’s surface area is exposed to the water in the bottom compartment for much smoother rips.
Beaker-style water pipes feature bigger bottom compartments with more water, making for smoother hits. Because the smoke must pass through more water than it would in a unit with a smaller bottom chamber, the draw resistance of beaker bongs is higher. The smoke production of these pieces is dense, comfortable, and clean. Beaker pipes like the Famous Brandz Strawberry feature a contoured neck that bends toward the user’s mouth for convenient hits. The beaker is ideal for those who want smoother hits and don’t mind higher draw resistance.
Double-chambered pipes offer double the water filtration. Smoke passes through the first chamber, clean and moisturized, before passing through the second chamber for another round of water filtration. The Famous Brandz Clyde features a dual-chamber bubbler design, lengthening the air path to give smoke more time to cool off, and doubling up on the water-filtration. Users will experience more draw resistance with these units because the smoke takes more time to travel through the water, however each hit will be extremely comfortable and freer of particulates.
With a variety of options available, it’s important to know what sets each apart, and what that means for your smoking experience. We recommend asking the following questions about the piece you’re considering buying.
Bongs, hand pipes, and other glass smoking pieces come in a variety of shapes and sizes. If you want to travel with your device, you’ll want a more compact unit along the lines of the Genius Pipe, a super stealthy portable unit that purifies and cools smoke using an innovative filter. There are also relatively compact glass pipes that can be carried in a bag. If you’re a home smoker and prefer larger hits, a bigger piece will do.
In the glass pipe world, you generally get what you pay for. That extra cost translates into better materials, designs, and, ultimately, hits. That said, there are several affordable pieces that still deliver excellent rips. Famous Brandz, for example, makes pieces between the $50 and $100 range that feature high borosilicate glass, sleek designs, and excellent smoke production.
Bongs differ in the smoke profiles they create. Knowing what type of hits you prefer, and which water pipes deliver them, is key. Percolator pipes have smooth, comfortable hits, but more draw resistance. Double chambered bongs like the Famous Brandz Clyde provide extra filtration and cooling. Some pieces are designed for dry herb, while others are made for concentrate consumption. Knowing what you want, and how to get it, will help you find the best glass pipe for you. Our product pages contain in-depth breakdowns of each piece to help you make the right choice.
If you’re buying a new water pipe, or you’re new to smoking, you might want to invest in a unit that’s easier to use. You also want to make sure the pipe creates smoother hits if you’re a novice at smoking. This will ensure less coughing. If you’re experimenting with smoking, it’s always a good idea to try an affordable unit first to make sure you like it.
Bongs create smoke. Smoke can leave lingering aromas that may blow your cover. If you’d like a discreet way to enjoy smoking, blow each hit into the Smoke Buddy, a device that strips smoke of its odors.
To ensure even combustion of the bowl, stir the herb around between hits so every inch of surface area is touched by the flame of your lighter. You can accomplish this using stir sticks.
Cleaning your piece often will ensure the best performance and help you avoid having to do a deep clean by preventing heavy build up of resin or other residues. Isopropyl alcohol is the most common cleaner.
Bongs are generally available in three different joint sizes: 10, 14, and 18 millimeters. Take note of your water pipe size when purchasing new parts as they will need to fit the exact dimensions of your piece.