Types of Bongs (with pictures) - Different Water Pipes Explained
Show me that bo-bo-bo-bong! When it comes to smoking herbs, nothing beats a bong rip. A stoner without a bong is like a Cheech without a Chong.
But bong shopping can get a little overwhelming. There are so many types of bongs out there! How’s a stoner supposed to choose the right bong when you can barely decide which munchies to get?
We got you, fam. Here’s a bong breakdown by style and material to help you figure out which water pipe best suits your needs.
Two Key Factors: Material and Style
A bong is a smoking device that uses water. There are a number of ways to make a water pipe.
When it comes to buying a bong, you’ll want to consider two factors, the design of the bong, and what the bong is made out of.
15 Most Popular Different Types Of Bongs
Here’s a handy breakdown of bongs by design. We’ll start with basic shapes and then go into more detail about different styles of percolators or “percs,” which provide a smoother hit.
1. Beaker Bong
Herb smokers off stripes will recognize this. The classic beaker bong is a smoking staple for a reason, it's a great design. The beaker shape is very stable, and thus it's less prone to getting tipped over.
The bottom-heavy shape means they can get pretty tall. This can give you nice, big hits. Glassblowers also like to add percolators to this design.
One of the advantages of a beaker bong is it’s easier to add an ash catcher. They can throw off the balance of other bongs, but the beaker bong is nice and sturdy.
You can also add a diffused downstem to filter the smoke, even if the bong has no percolators. Many beaker bongs also come with ice notches so you can cool the smoke down.
2. Straight Tube/Cylinder Bong
Here's the other most common type of bong: a straight tube or cylinder bong. Much like the beaker bong, it's named after its shape.
When it comes to bongs, straight tubes can be pretty inexpensive because it's a very simple design. You'll find these types on most websites you can buy bongs from. That said, if you want to get fancy with it, this is also a very popular design by bong brands to add percolators and ice catchers to.
We've got straight tube bongs in all sizes and made out of all kinds of materials, including silicone. Most straight tube bongs come with a downstem, though some feature a stemless design.
3. Round Base Bong
Maybe you're wanting a bit more of a Cheech and Chong vibe for your smoking experience. In that case, you'll want a round-base bong.
Following the typical naming pattern, a round base bong features a round base. It's a popular design because like the beaker bong, it's bottom-heavy.
You don't have to worry about it rolling around because while the water chamber at the bottom is round, the base is flat.
Like the other bongs, this can come with percolators, ice catchers, and the like. These can also come in interesting zong designs– we’ll get to that later.
4. Multi-Chamber Bong
Multi-chamber bongs actually describe a number of different smoking items, but they all have one thing in common. They all have two or more sets of percolators.
We’ve mentioned percolators several times now, what exactly are those? There are actually several different types of percolators. All percolators, or “percs,” are small glass contraptions that capture water to filter the smoke.
Percolators add another layer of smoke filtration, making your hit nice and smooth. They also add to that bubbling sound when you take your hit. The more percs, the smoother the hit.
When it comes to percolators, smokers have a lot of options! Let’s take a look at the wild world of percs.
5. Tree Perc Bong
Tree percolators are the most popular type of perc. It’s what most people mean when they say “percolator bong.”
A tree perc bong has a glass bulb at the top which connects to arms that look like tree limbs. More limbs give you more filtration.
Some people dislike tree percs because they can be difficult to clean. They are also prone to breaking when they're made from cheaper glass.
6. Showerhead Perc Bong
The showerhead percolator design is the second most popular perc. They're pretty similar to tree percs.
The showerhead perc bong is made of a thin glass tube that flares into a round chamber at the bottom. That chamber has many slits which create bubbles that filter the smoke.
Most showerhead percs look like the bathroom fixture. However, some glass blowers like to get artsy with the showerhead perc.
If you're looking for something to smooth your hit with a bit more panache, take a look at a showerhead bong.
7. Honeycomb Bong
Some smokers consider honeycomb bongs to be the holy grail of percolation, and we can see why. Honeycomb bongs provide some of the world's smoothest hits with zero drag.
A honeycomb perc is a flat glass disc. It's got a bunch of tiny holes in it that filter smoke. Because they're so flat, it's easy to put 2 or 3 sets of honeycomb perc in one bong.
Honeycomb bongs mainly come in a stemless design, which makes it easier to clear the chamber. They're also one of the easiest percolators to clean.
8. Inline Perc Bong
Maybe "classic" doesn't really do it for you. Let's say you've got some cash to drop on something that both hits smoothly and comes with a cool design. You might want to look at an inline bong. They provide some of the smoothest hits.
An inline bong is a specific type of multi-chamber bong. The inline bong has both inline and tree percolators.
An inline percolator is a horizontal tube of glass with slits in it that diffuses your hit.
When you hit an inline bong, it passes through the two sets of percolators, making your hit super smooth. We like to top ours off with a splash guard to prevent "bong kisses."
9. Cyclone Bong
Cyclone bongs are hypnotizing. They’re also called tornado bongs because they feature special spiral percs that cause the water to swirl around in a spiral pattern. They’re so cool to watch!
In addition to its aesthetic appeal, the turbine percs do a superior smoke cooling job than a tree perc. In the tree perc, it breaks the smoke down into bubbles.
The turbine perc swirls the water around the chamber through every part of the hit. This gives you cooler, more filtered smoke.
10. Matrix Bongs
Just like the movie did when you first watched it in 1999, this percolator will blow your mind.
The matrix percolator is a 360-degree mesh that turns smoke into a million tiny bubbles.
Matrix percolators provide an incredible volume of smoke diffusion. They can do this because the smoke can move in all directions through the matrix perc, instead of the few tubes of a tree perc.
11. Zong Bong
A zig zag can be more than just a smoking paper, it can also be the inspiration for a bong.
A Zong is a z-shaped bong. In addition to how cool these look when you hit them, they also offer a few advantages.
The unique shape does an excellent job at holding ice to cool down your hit. The shape can make it easy to hold while you're hitting it.
Also, because the design makes the smoke travel further, it has more time to cool down before it gets to you. Did we mention how cool it is to watch the chamber clear?
Unfortunately, the design has a few drawbacks. It's not the most sturdy design. If you want a Zong, make sure to get one with a sturdy base because they can be top-heavy. They are also to tip over when you brush by them.
The unique shape of Zongs make them excellent gifts for the herb smoker who has it all.
12. Mini Bong
No matter what anyone tells you, size matters. That said, you don't always want the biggest bong on the block. Mini bongs are a scaled down version of a classic water pipe.
Mini bongs generally stand at 6 to 10 inches, and use water to filter smoke. They come in all materials. Some have ice catchers and percolators to cool down your hit.
The biggest advantage of mini bongs is how small they are. They're portable, hence they are the preferred bong of the on-the-go herb smoker.
They're also usually cheaper than full sized bongs since they use less material.
While it's normal to call a bong a water pipe, a bubbler is closer to that. If a mini bong is a bong's little brother, bubblers are the baby sister.
Bubblers are the most portable water-filtered smoke a stoner can find. They require very little water, and you can smoke them like a regular if no water is on hand. They're usually inexpensive, easy to use, and come in all sorts of designs.
The main downside is these pieces are often too small to fit any percolators. Bubblers are also usually too small to fit any accessories like an ash catcher.
Because they use so little water, the water gets gross quickly. You'll also want to change the water after every smoking sesh because bubblers are notoriously difficult to clean.
14. Dab Rigs
Flowers are fine, but concentrate has splashed onto the scene and it's here to stay. Anyone who's done the dab with Mary Jane can tell you: wax is tastier and gets you much higher than herb. If you want to dab wax concentrate, a dab rig is the best for that.
Dab rigs come in so many varieties that we've dedicated an entire section on our site to them. There are many, many varieties of dab rigs, but let's get a feel for a basic rig.
Usually a dab rig is a separate water piece specifically made for concentrate. It's a small bong with a quartz banger, or "dab nail," in place of the bowl.
To use a dab rig, you heat up the banger that looks like a bucket with a blow torch until it's red hot. Then you give a few seconds to cool, and then you can instantly vaporize your dab of concentrate.
Because the vapor from the concentrate can be quite harsh, most dab rigs come with multiple percs. It's also possible to convert a regular bong into a dab rig by adding dab accessories.
15. DIY Bongs
Of course, who can forget the time-old tradition of building your own bong? With a little elbow grease and know-how, large fruits such as pumpkins can be fashioned into a summertime smoking device.
But you don’t have to limit yourself to fruit. All sorts of found materials can be fashioned into a bong.
When making your own bong, be aware of the materials you are using. Inhaling the fumes from certain plastics or metals can be hazardous to your health. We recommend you at least use a glass bowl.
What Bongs Are Made Of
Design is only one element of what makes a bong special. You also need to decide what material you want your bong made out of. There’s more to it than just glass.
You don't have to make a bong out of glass, but there's a reason it's the most common material for water pipes and best for beginners. The main reason for this is glass blowers can make bongs of all kinds of shapes and sizes.
It's also easy to add things to a glass bong to cool down smoke. Additions can include diffused downstem, percolators, and ice notches. Whatever kind of bong you want, it comes in glass.
The two main downsides of glass are it looks gross when it's dirty, and it can break. Thick glass can be impressively durable. You can also purchase a carrying case for glass pieces to extend their lifetime. That said, not all glass is created equal.
Do you like glass, but don't like it breaking? Meet borosilicate, aka scientific glass, it's glasses' beefed-up cousin.
Borosilicate glass does not react as much as regular glass when exposed to rapid changes in temperature. This results in the scientific glass being much tougher.
Scientific glass bongs are more expensive than their classic counterparts. They almost always come with all the bells and whistles: diffused downstem, perc, and ice notches.
They're also usually made with thick glass. They are made to last years, so you won't find a basic scientific glass bong.
If you're looking for scientific glass, be ready to drop some cash.
Silicone parts aren't just for toys anymore! Smoking-grade silicone is hot on the scene. These bad boys can surely take a beating. The better silicone bongs are nearly indestructible and dishwasher safe.
These are the perfect music festival bongs. They're colorful, durable, and you can stuff them into your backpack.
There are few downsides to a silicone bong. They just don't come with the range of accessories when compared to glass bongs.
Do bear in mind, some silicone bongs come with metal bowls. That can affect the flavor of the flower.
Our silicone bongs feature glass bowls because we like the taste. We've also got dab rigs, pipes, and other fun smoking implements made of silicone.
Wanna get real old school with it? Archeologists have dug up ancient ceramic smoking implements.
Glass and silicone tend to perform a bit better, but ceramic is perfectly fine smoking material. They're less reactive to temperature change. This makes them a bit more durable than classic glass.
The main advantage of ceramic is bong makers can get creative with it. It's due to the nature of the material. Glass needs to be blown while ceramic is molded by hand.
Ceramic also comes with beautiful paint jobs. Unfortunately, ceramic is opaque and therefore you cannot see the smoke filling the chamber.
Acrylic bongs have been a staple of frat houses for decades. Your standard acrylic bong is nothing fancy. Just a straight plastic tube with a metal bowl.
Most acrylic bongs have a carb on the back. The best thing about them is that they are cheap and hard to break.
That said, if you want a cheap bong that's hard to break, go for silicone. It's only slightly more expensive and provides a far superior smoking experience.
It's just as colorful, just as durable, machine washable, and they actually make decent bongs out of silicone. If you're thinking of acrylic, go for silicone.
What’s the best bong material?
Our favorite bong material is scientific glass. It provides a nice smooth hit and is hard to break. It's more expensive than regular glass, but worth the extra money. Most scientific glass bongs come with additional features that make hits nice and smooth.
All of our scientific glass bongs come with multiple chambers and ice notches. These make your hit nice and smooth. If you're gonna get a nice bong, spring for the one that won't break.
What bong design gives the smoothest hit?
A multi-chamber bong will give you the smoothest hit. Generally speaking, the more percolators, the better.
Our favorite types of percolators are honeycomb and matrix percolators. These do an amazing job of diffusing the smoke, and making the hit extra smooth. Remember to add ice for a nice cool hit.
What kind of bong is the best value for my money?
In terms of bong bang for your buck, we love silicone. It's inexpensive, indestructible, and machine washable. It also provides a much smoother hit than its acrylic counterpart.
Want a bong you'd be proud to hand down to the next generation? Go silicone.
Which Bong Is Best? Our Top Pick
It’s got everything that makes it one of the best bongs: three sets of honeycomb percs, ice notches, and a stemless design. It’s made of 5mm scientific glass, so it’ll be sure to last.
You can also swap out the herb bowl for a dab rig, making this a very versatile smoking piece.
A Blaze of Glory
We hope you found this bong breakdown helpful. Bongs come in a range of sizes, prices, and capabilities.
No matter what kind of stoner you are, there is a perfect bong for you. Now if you’ll excuse us, it’s almost 4:20.