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Bongs for Beginners: A Detailed Guide for Buying & Using a Bong

Beginners Bong Guide

The combination of resistant glass, water, and sometimes ice cubes inside the neck of a bong work to cool smoke before it enters your lungs and make smoking bongs one of the smoothest ways to enjoy cannabis. 

The bong water also traps ash and debris that may pull through from your water pipe bowl piece, which prevents particles from entering your mouth or lungs and makes each hit as clean as possible. 

Bongs are typically used to smoke cannabis, but they are still widely used to smoke tobacco, or a mix of both. This comprehensive guide to bongs will outline the different types of bongs and the benefits of using each for cannabis consumption.

Beginners Bong Guide

There are countless varieties of bongs available today. The most common type of bong is made from glass. Glass bongs come in a multitude of different shapes and sizes, and are often decorated with colorful designs.

Glass bongs are popular as they provide the smoothest hits. Glass bongs are generally easier to clean and maintain, but they are also more fragile than other types of bongs. 

What are the different types of bongs?

Beaker Bong:

A beaker bong is the most common type of bong. It is shaped like a test tube and has a wide base for stability. The beaker bong gets its name from its resemblance to a beaker tube you may have seen in high school chemistry class. 

Most beaker bongs have a 45 degree joint angle and use a removable glass downstem to filter smoke through water. The Marley Natural Walnut Beaker Bong pictured above is a great example of a classy beaker bong done right!

Straight Tube Bong:

A straight tube bong is similar to a beaker bong, but it does not have a wide base. This style of bong is just a straight tube like the name implies. The simplistic design of a straight tube bong makes them a little less stable, but it also makes them easier to clean.

Straight tube bongs also provide the user more control over the size of each hit and it’s much easier to clear the entire chamber of smoke than a voluminous beaker bong. Check out the LA Pipes Straight Tube Bong for an example of a classic straight tube bong. 

Fat Can Bong / Chamber Bong:

Fat can bongs are also referred to as chamber bongs and sometimes just labeled as percolator bongs (explained below). This categorization of bongs covers a variety of water pipes that don’t quite fit the bill to be considered a straight tube or beaker bong. 

Instead, fat can bongs typically have a wide cylindrical body and a large middle chamber that houses at least one percolator inside the middle. Fat can bongs usually have a neck that is skinnier than the rest of the body too. The neck can be positioned straight off the top of the body or at an angle that comes off the side of the bong. 

The Grav Coil Showerhead Perc Bong is a favorite fat can chamber bong of ours because its highly unique coil percolator!

Recycler Bong:

A recycler bong is a type of bong that recycles the water through separate, interconnected chambers as you draw from the mouthpiece. This means that the smoke is constantly being filtered and cooled to provide smoother hits.

Not only are recycler bongs highly effective, the more intricate designs are really fun to watch in action! Some great examples of a recycler bong include the Pulsar Inline Recycler Honeycomb Perc Bong and the CaliConnected Microscope Recycler Bong.

Gravity Bong:

A gravity bong is a type of bong that uses gravity to fill the chamber with smoke. Gravity bongs can be made from a variety of materials, and the most well-known is made at home from a 2-liter plastic bottle and a bucket.

There are also manufactured options that offer a classier gravity bong experience including the GRAV Gravitron and the Stundenglass Gravity Bong.

Modular Bongs:

Modular bongs have interchangeable parts that come apart to allow for complete customization and hassle-free cleaning. These bongs are held together by metal or plastic clips that can be quickly assembled or disassembled for easy travel. 

Prism Pipes is a brand of modular bongs that has revolutionized the modular bong concept with their patented Halo connectors. This system allows you to securely screw in each piece of the bong rather than rely on the plastic clips and metal clamps of the past. 

Modular bongs can be built as beakers, straight tubes, and fat can bongs. We even have a 3-D Custom Bong Builder that allows you to build and customize every single aspect of your bong from top to bottom!

Percolator Bong:

A percolator bong can be any type of bong that has a built-in percolator. A percolator (or perc for short) is a built-in glass filter that cools smoke before it enters your lungs.

Percolators come in a variety of shapes and sizes. Some of the most popular examples include tree percolators which have multiple glass arms resembling tree branches, showerhead percolators or UFO percolators that resemble flying saucers, and honeycomb percolators that look like a honeycomb. 

Themed Bong:

Themed bongs are a type of bong that is designed to look like something else. The most well-known manufacturer of themed bongs is Empire Glassworks. They create intricate glass bongs that look like animals, food, politicians, pop culture characters and everyday items like the Sriracha Bong pictured below!

Beginners Bong Guide

What are the parts of a bong?


The mouthpiece is the part of the bong that you put your mouth on to create and inhale smoke. Most bongs have openings wide enough for your lips to go inside while creating a seal with your face. Some bongs have smaller straw-style mouthpieces that are positioned on your lips while you inhale like a straw. 


The ice-catcher is commonly found in the neck of many bongs and acts as a shelf that you can stack ice cubes on for cooler hits.


The percolator is a device that filters and cools the smoke before it enters your lungs. It is typically located in the main chamber or base. Straight tube bongs oftentimes have percolators inside their own compartments in the middle of the bong’s neck as seen in the graphic below.


The bowl is the part of the bong where you put your cannabis. It is typically located at the bottom of the bong inside the joint. The bowl is also referred to as the slide or bowl piece. 


The joint is the part of the bong that secures the downstem inside the base of the bong. The top of the joint holds your bowl piece inside the downstem. A 14mm joint size is the most common, but some bong’s will have a larger 18mm joint or smaller 10mm joint. These three sizes are universal joint sizes in the smoking community and it’s extremely rare to come across any other size. The bong’s joint size will correspond with the bowl piece you need, so a bong 14mm joint will use a bowl piece that also has a 14mm joint. 


The downstem is the part of the bong that goes from the joint to the bottom of the bong. It is typically made from the same material as the bong and holds the bowl piece at the top. The bottom of the downstem usually has slits so that your smoke can be effectively filtered through water inside the bong. A 6-slit downstem is the most common.

Some bongs have fixed downstems and others have removable downstems. Fixed downstems are less likely to break but removable downstems allow for easier cleaning, and they can easily be replaced if damaged without the need to replace the entire bong. 

Parts of a Bong

How do you use a bong?

Fill the bong with water:

To start, you will need to fill the bong with water before you can use it. Fill the bong until the water level is about halfway up the downstem. If water reaches your mouth while you draw or moves into other chambers, then you filled the bong with too much water. 

Pack the bowl:

Next, you will need to pack the bowl piece with cannabis. Use your fingers or a grinder to break up the cannabis and pack it into the bowl. Do not pack it too tightly, as this will make it difficult to draw air through the bong.

Light the bowl:

Once you have packed the bowl, you can light it and start smoking! To do this, hold a lighter next to the bowl and inhale at the same time. The suction will pull the flame into the bowl and the cannabis will start to burn. As you continue to pull air through the mouthpiece, the smoke will be drawn through the water and up into the bong.


When you are ready to take a hit, simply continue to inhale from the mouthpiece and pull out your bowl piece when the bong is filled with smoke. Removing the bowl piece allows air to flow quickly through the bong to clear the smoke inside. The smoke will be drawn through the bong and into your lungs. Place the bowl back inside the bong’s joint for your next hit. 

Exhale & repeat as necessary!

Beginners Bong Guide

What’s the best way to clean a bong?

It is important to clean your bong regularly to prevent the buildup of resin and bacteria. It is good practice to clean your bong after every few uses or when you notice it starting to get dirty. You can effectively clean your bong with a mix of isopropyl alcohol and rock salt.

To clean your bong, simply remove the bowl and downstem from the bong and soak them in isopropyl alcohol inside a resealable plastic bag. Then, add some salt to the isopropyl alcohol and shake. It helps to use a cotton swab when cleaning the bowl and a pipe cleaner for the hard to reach areas of the downstem.

Now repeat this process for your bong. Fill and empty your bong using warm water to remove excess debris then combine a mix of isopropyl alcohol and salt inside the empty bong using a 4 to 1 ratio. Plug the holes with your hands and shake the water pipe for up to five minutes. Rinse with water and repeat as needed. Finally, rinse your accessories off with hot water and reassemble your bong.

Beginners Bong Guide


Are Silicone Bongs Safe?

Yes, silicone bongs are safe to use. They are made from food-grade silicone, which is non-toxic and will not leach chemicals into your water or smoke. Silicone bongs are also shatter-resistant, making them a great option for people who are clumsy or accident-prone. Eyce happens to be one of the leading brands in that category with their Silicone Beaker Bong.

Can You Smoke Out of a Plastic Bong?

Yes, you can smoke out of a plastic bong. However, it is important to confirm the plastic is food-grade and does not contain any harmful chemicals. Some plastics can release toxins when heated, so it is crucial to choose a safe option if you plan on smoking out of a plastic bong. Also make sure that the bowl is not plastic and instead is made of glass, ceramic or titanium.

Are Glass Bongs Better Than Plastic Bongs?

Glass bongs are often seen as being better than plastic bongs because they do not leach chemicals into your water or smoke, and doesn't feel as cheap as plastic. Glass bongs are also more effective at cooling your smoke. However, plastic bongs are typically cheaper than glass bongs, so it is really up to personal preference.

Are Ceramic Bongs Safe?

Ceramic bongs are safe to use as long as they are made from food-grade materials. Ceramic is a durable material that does not leach chemicals into your water or smoke. However, ceramic bongs can be more expensive than other types of bongs and more fragile.

What Is the Best Material for a Bong?

The best material for a bong is really up to personal preference. Some people prefer glass bongs because it can not not leach chemicals into your smoke and provides coolers hits. Others prefer plastic or silicone bongs because they are cheaper and more durable. Ultimately, it is up to you to decide what type of bong material fits best for your smoking needs.

Beginners Bong Guide

So, there you have it! We hope you found this comprehensive guide to bongs helpful. You should now have a better understanding of the different types of bongs, the benefits of using a bong for consumption, and some other insightful tips for bong shopping. 

If you still have questions, please feel free to reach out to us in the comments below, email, phone, chat, or even on social media. We are always happy to help!

Happy smoking!

The CaliConnected Team.

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