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Glass, Silicone, Ceramic, And Acrylic Bongs: What’s The Difference?

Bongs are made from a variety of materials, including glass, acrylic, ceramic, and silicone. In this article, we take a look at the features that make each bong unique, as well as their pros and cons.

If you’re shopping for a bong, arguably the most difficult part of the process is actually choosing which one to purchase. Not only do bongs come in all shapes, colours, and sizes—from small and portable to gigantic bong monsters for your coffee table—they also vary by material and fabrication. What’s the difference between bongs made from glass, silicone, ceramic, and acrylic? And moreover, what are the pros and cons of each? Let’s take a closer look!

ACRYLIC BONGS

Acrylic, also known as plexiglass, is a type of plastic that is often used as an alternative for glass. As acrylic can easily be formed into all kinds of shapes, acrylic bongs can be mass-produced, which makes them the cheapest option. Because of their low price point, they are great if you don’t want to spend a lot, and they also make decent beginner bongs.

Acrylic is a rather durable material that doesn’t break easily, so these bongs can tolerate some wear and tear. That said, they’re not unbreakable. Because they are relatively sturdy and don’t weigh much, they are great bongs to take with you on your travels, and they’re perfect for parties. Even if you should break your acrylic bong, a new one will only cost a few bucks.

So, what’s the disadvantage of acrylic bongs? Easy: They have the worst taste compared to the alternatives. The reason for this is that the plastic material can give off unpleasant odours when heated, which can adversely affect the taste of your weed. Worse, cheaply made acrylic bongs from overseas could possibly contain harmful substances.

ACRYLIC BONG ADVANTAGES

• Inexpensive
• Lightweight
• Sturdy and durable
• Good for travelling
• Available in many different shapes, sizes, and colours

ACRYLIC BONG DISADVANTAGES

• Bad taste compared to bongs made from other materials
• “Cheap” look
• Low-quality acrylic may contain harmful substances

CERAMIC BONGS

Bongs made from ceramic combine some of the pros and cons of glass and acrylic pieces. You can find them in all sorts of shapes and styles, and the artistry and design behind these pieces makes them something special to behold. For that reason, ceramic bongs are often considered collector’s items. You can certainly find ceramic bongs in the classic shape with a bowl and downstem, though you can also find them in the shape of figurines, sculptures, and pipe-style bubblers. An artsy ceramic bong with a cool or fun shape also makes a great conversation piece when you’re smoking with friends. Since some ceramic bongs look like a collectible your grandma might buy on her trip to a foreign country, they won’t raise too much suspicion on your shelf.

The big advantage of ceramic bongs, apart from the lower price compared to glass, is that they have a neutral flavour and provide a smooth smoke. This makes them almost as good as glass when it comes to taste. The main disadvantage is that ceramic bongs are perhaps the most breakable of the bunch. For this reason, they don’t always travel well, and might not last through a rave without meeting an untimely demise.

CERAMIC BONG ADVANTAGES

• Middle-of-the-road expense
• Good, pure flavour
• Available in many cool shapes
• Can make good stealth bongs
• Aesthetically pleasing and collectible

CERAMIC BONG DISADVANTAGES

• Breakable
• Don’t travel well
• Not as versatile as a quality glass bong

SILICONE BONGS

Silicone bongs are kind of in a league of their own, and are made from the same material as those flexible silicone baking moulds. They are soft and squishy, much like rubber, but have the advantage that nothing sticks to them. For that reason, silicone has already been quite popular in the cannabis industry as a material for resin containers. Recently, however, there has been an insurgence of silicone bongs on the market.

The biggest advantage of silicone bongs is their neutral taste. As silicone bongs are made from the same food-grade material as cooking supplies, this also means they are safe to use near a flame and won’t give off unpleasant odours. Some cannabis users swear by silicone bongs, claiming that the flavour is just as good as glass. Another big plus is that a squishy silicone bong is pretty much unbreakable. They make great, lightweight travel bongs that you can even fold and squeeze into a small bag. For parties or any occasion where there may be some crazy blazing action going on, silicone bongs are ideal.

So, what are the cons of silicone bongs? One is that they are not transparent like glass bongs, so you won’t see the buildup of resin happening inside unless you take a good peak from above. On the other hand, silicone bongs are very easy to clean, and you can even throw most of them in your dishwasher.

Where silicone bongs will likely not win any prizes is in the beauty department. Compared to stylish glass and ceramic bongs, silicone bongs are not exactly the centrepiece you’d go for to impress your stoner buddies. They also have a “toyish” sort of look that makes them stick out, and because the material is soft and squishy, these bongs usually don’t come with any flashy features like percolators.

In this post, you will discover the differences between acrylic, glass, silicone, and ceramic bongs, as well as their pros and cons!

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Owning an expensive bong or pipe can be more stressful than fun. Everyone always expects it to be clean enough to eat out of at all times, and handing it over to a stoned friend is always a white-knuckle experience. But then we discovered ceramic pieces. The glazed clay pipes and bongs, colored in simple, earthy tones reminiscent of Southwestern pottery, are tougher than glass and easily hide last night’s murky bong water from visitors.

We were introduced to our latest stoner obsession while flipping through the pages of High on Design: The New Cannabis Culture, a new book about cannabis art and branding. It features an uncolored, single-chamber clay bong from Summerland Ceramics, a San Francisco pipemaker founded by Liam Kaczmar in 2011, shortly after he graduated from art school. After checking out more of Summerland’s work — a collection of ceramic pipes, chillums and bongs, including a ceramic apple pipe for all of us who’ve smoked out of produce — we had to learn more about the process, so we caught up with Kaczmar to talk about cannabis and kilning.

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Westword: As cannabis legalization spreads and use becomes more accepted, how will that change the way we accessorize our homes?

Liam Kaczmar: Cannabis is becoming more a part of our everyday lives. It’s no longer forced to be hidden away; it’s lived with and celebrated. With this thought in mind, it’s clear that we might choose accessories that similarly blend seamlessly into life.

What are the advantages of smoking out of a ceramic pipe or bong compared to glassware?

Compared to glass, ceramic pieces are more similar than different. Glaze on ceramic is a thin layer of glass. Cleaning is the same — a simple salt and alcohol solution will dissolve any resin buildup — but a benefit of ceramic is that it’s opaque, so it hides your embarrassing mess if you are lazy about cleaning. Ceramic is sturdy, so a well-fired piece will be less fragile than thick blown glass. That being said, don’t drop it. The main difference is in aesthetic and vibes. The extra-natural and less refined nature of clay retains this amazing soulful quality that feels amazing in your hands.

Most of Summerland’s pieces are a combination of simple and elegant, featuring single and double chambers colored in earth tones. What did you draw inspiration from when designing your pieces?

Much of the inspiration is from the material itself. Ceramic is literally earth, and we want to retain that natural innocence. Ceramics in your home help bring the outside world in. I often look to mid-century ceramic art and sculpture for inspiration.

Is it hard for the layman to make a simple ceramic pipe or bong?

Making anything in ceramic takes a deeper understanding of the materials and how they work. There are a lot of steps and variables, but once you dive in, it’s relatively easy to learn. Pieces should definitely be fired to at least mid-fire temperatures to keep the clay sturdy and well-sealed, with a food-safe glaze in the areas touching water or smoked material.

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How did you start making ceramic smoking accessories? Was it like most of us, who failed at making a pipe or bong in high school ceramics?

Not quite. I was a late bloomer, and didn’t really become interested in weed until after college. By that point, I had gone through a lot of formal training in art school, so I really knew the best process to get going. It became more about designing the best-looking and best-functioning ceramic bong instead of just trying to fashion something out of clay.

How do the “What do you do for work?” conversations go? What’s the reaction when you tell people you make handmade stonerware?

It really depends on who I’m talking to. Sometimes I say I’m a designer, because that’s broad and vague enough. My most common response is a simple “I make bongs,” and then it goes from there. It’s often a fun conversation. or one that awkwardly ends abruptly.

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Ceramic stonerware, or glazed clay pipes and bongs, are usually colored in simple, earthy tones reminiscent of Southwestern pottery. They're also tougher than glass and easily hide last night's murky bong water from visitors. After check out Summerland Ceramic's work — a collection of ceramic pipes, chillums and…