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Bongs, or “Water Pipes” have been a favorite choice of smokers for over 2400 years! While the designs, materials, and features of today’s glass bong have evolved significantly from the bongs our caveman ancestors were smoking, the ultimate purpose of the water pipe has remained the same:
Bongs provide a smooth, cooled and filtered smoke that’s easy on the lungs.
While the original bongs made centuries ago were mostly of bamboo, ceramic, and later acrylic, glass bongs and glass water pipes quickly became and stayed the most popular option for smokers after their inception; and for good reason! Glass bongs are the easiest type of bong to clean, they provide excellent filtration, and if treated carefully they can last for generations. Water bongs are an improvement over traditional smoking pipes by filtering your dry herb or tobacco smoke through water; sometimes through one or more “percolators” (percs) to achieve an extra smooth and chilled smoke. Water filtration in a bong has a similar purpose and effect as the radiator in your car: cool it down! As the smoke passes through water inside your pipe, it is instantaneously chilled. Even further, a perc bong uses percolators to force the smoke through many tiny holes underwater, breaking it up into into thousands of tiny smoke bubbles. These tiny bubbles force more of the smoke’s surface area to get in contact with the water, which cools the smoke very quickly to a temperature more comfortable to inhale. There are dozens if not more types of percs out there, but they all serve essentially the same purpose. Some perc bongs provide smoother hits but more drag, and others vice versa. Some water pipes, such as the tree perc bong and removable downstem bong, are super easy to clean. On the other hand, more intricate pieces, such as the fab egg or the pillar percs bong offer smoother hits but are a bit tougher to get clean.
You may be wondering what these percs look like on a bong. While we recommend heading over to the bongs collection page and taking a look at these percs, we do want to clear up some confusion that you might come across. First and foremost, certain kinds of percolators can look very similar yet have different names. Take the UFO perc, for instance. The UFO perc has a sibling that looks strikingly similar to it. This sibling is callled the showerhead percolator. The showerhead percolator is very commonly used in water pipes, which makes sense due to its thorough filtration capability. However, it is very easy to get the showerhead percolator and UFO percolator mixed up. Both of these percs are circular, and have slits going around their entire circumference. The key difference is that the showerhead perc tends to hand from above, while the UFO perc hovers in the middle of the glass it is attached to. However, there is an even more distinct way to characterize one from the other, and that is through their outline. A showerhead perc is not rounded on its edges. Rather, it has angular edges that make it look like a flattened cylinder. The UFO perc, on the other hand, looks like a frisbee disc. It has rounded edges, like that of a flying saucer.
What should I look for in a bong?
Options besides percolator type include the base type (beaker base bong vs straight tube bong), size, and features. Bong features can include removable or fixed down stems, body designs, and ice catchers. Ice catchers are a great way to cool your smoke even more for the smoothest possible hits. Water pipes are available in 10mm, 14mm, and 18mm joint sizes, so be sure to know what size your bong is when buying parts like glass bowls or accessories like ashcatchers. You’ll also want to pay attention to the angle of the joint when shopping for an ashcatcher. While most beakers have 45º joints, most straight tubes and inline perc bongs will have a 90º joint angle.