So you’ve decided you’re going to add a new piece of glass to your collection. There are a lot of factors to consider, so we’ve put this guide together to help you consider them all before you make your final decision. Whether you buy a piece from our store or your local smoke shop, we recommend that everybody always make informed decisions, so make sure you answer these six questions before making your final decision.
The first question people ask themselves when deciding to pick up a new piece is usually how big it should be. If you plan to use this piece every day, especially if it’s your only piece, do you really want it to be a 48″ / 1.3 meter bong? Maybe you are OK with that, but many would prefer their everyday piece to be easier to handle. If you plan on smoking with 10 people, passing around a big bong could be burdensome, but others may prefer a big bong always. If you plan on traveling with it or potentially loaning it to friends, a smaller, more portable piece might be a better option. A smaller piece used to mean a lack of space for percolators, but with the advent of disc percs such as honeycomb percs, even small pieces can provide some powerful filtration. Additionally, the longer path the smoke has to travel through, the longer it has to cool down before hitting your lungs, although percs are much more important if you want smoother hits. You should also be thinking about where you’re going to store it when it’s not being used. A big bong is harder to find a place for, and if you’re going to have to keep it on the floor, that leaves it open to being easily broken, whereas a 10″ bubbler might be a snug fit between some books on your bookshelf, nice and protected. Clearly there are plenty of reasons why considering size is so important when choosing a new piece.
It goes without saying that everybody likes a smooth hit. If you read our guide to percolators, you’ll know that we don’t believe there’s such a thing as too much percolation, because it’s unlikely that water filtration filters any THC from the smoke, but there are other factors in a smooth hit as well. Like mentioned in the size section, a longer path for the smoke means a cooler hit, but this effect is dwarfed by the effects of percolators. Recyclers also give generally smoother hits because some of the smoke is ‘recycled’ through the percolators multiple times, especially if the recycler has multiple percolators. While percolators likely don’t affect the THC content of the smoke, there is an argument to be made for the effects on taste. There haven’t been any studies on the matter, but some say that the taste of cannabis is dulled by additional percolation, so if taste is important to you, you might want to consider less percolation. Additionally, if you’re smoking or dabbing concentrates, there are far less contaminants to filter out, therefore the filtration aspect of percolation isn’t as important as the cooling and moisturizing effects of percolators. So if a piece is going to be dedicated primarily to concentrates, you may consider maxing out with two to three percolators if taste is important to you. However, if taste is an important factor in the enjoyment of your dabs, you should make sure the extract artist who made your concentrates uses the best flavor preserving methods (Rosin being the best) because most extraction processes destroy the terpenes that create the tastes and smells of cannabis.
One important factor that is often overlooked is how thick the glass of your piece is. Most glass bongs are in the 4-5mm range, but some poorly made pieces can be as little as 2-3mm thick. 5mm is thick enough for most purposes, and is the minimum thickness of glass that we stock here at Stoner Pros, but if you want this piece to last you a really long time, you should consider picking up a 7mm, or even 9mm thick piece. A well taken care of 5mm thick piece should never break, but one wrong move while cleaning can spell doom for your piece, and having a 7mm or 9mm thick piece provides some extra insurance that this wont ever happen. Like we talked about in the size section, think about when and how you’ll be using this piece. A bong that never leaves a table and is smoked by only one or two people doesn’t necessarily need that reinforcement, but if you plan on smoking with others or bringing the piece with you when you travel, you won’t regret buying a thicker piece.
Another important, but even more often overlooked, feature of any piece of glass is how stable it is. This mostly pertains to where the center of gravity of the piece is, how much water a piece holds, and how low it holds that water. For example, a 12″ straight tube with two heavy multi-perc ashcatchers hanging off the side will have a center of gravity that is far from the center of the tube, so the slightest tap will send it tumbling. The worst offenders may even require someone to hold it to stand up straight, especially when using an ashcatcher. On the other hand, a 20″ Beaker bong with percolators instead of ashcatchers will have a lot of additional weight from the water the beaker shape holds, and wont have the ashcatchers to send it off balance. This is one reason to prefer beaker bongs to straight tubes. However, if you do plan to use an ashcatcher, especially if you’d like to use more than one, you should consider getting a bong with a vertical joint rather than one that sits at a 45-degree angle, or at the very least an ashcatcher with a joint that cancels out that 45 degree angle so that it stands straight. Since most beaker bongs come with 45-degree joints, straight tubes can be better if you plan on using ashcatchers, although you can get an ashcatcher or adapter that cancels out the angle. Additionally, if you’d like to use an ashcatcher, having a heavier piece, or one that holds more water, will mean that the ashcatchers don’t send your piece off-balance too much. This is also why we only recommend attaching ashcatchers when you’re using the piece.
How clean you like your glass, as well as how often you clean your glass, can be important when deciding on your next piece. If you must smoke through crystal clear glass, then you might want to stay away from complex designs with many small corners & tubes. Complex pieces can still be cleaned, but they require more effort, especially if leaving some dirt between two percolators bothers you, because a 100% cleaning of a complex piece can sometimes take up to 10x as long as a 95% cleaning. 99% of broken bongs break during cleaning. That’s not actually a real statistic, but anyone who’s broken a pipe knows how true it is. This is one of the main reasons considering cleaning should actually be one of the most important factors in choosing a new piece. Keep in mind that when you clean your piece you’re most likely going to be shaking it violently. If the piece you’re considering has a feature that could break just by shaking it (such as a tree perc), you might want to think twice. One related factor people don’t often consider is the dimensions of the sink you’ll use to clean it. If you have a large utility sink that can fit a 4 ft bong under the faucet, this wont matter to you, but if you’re trying to clean your piece in your kitchen sink, you probably want to be able to fit your joint under the faucet, otherwise you might need to use a cup or even a hose. If there are a lot of breakable pieces that could tap the sink (especially if your sink is ceramic!), you might want to consider transferring the water with a cup rather than filling it directly.
while the function of a piece is important, many people consider the visual interest of a piece to be as important if not more. Artistic smoking glass is often called ‘heady’ glass. Getting a custom made ‘heady’ piece with fancy colors and designs usually costs significantly more, often being at least twice the cost of a similarly functioning piece with little artistic value. So if you are on a budget, then you should really consider how important the artistic value of a piece is to you, because it could end up accounting for more than half of the piece’s cost. Additionally, the artistic features of a piece can affect the answers to many of the previous questions. If keeping your piece clean is something you value, then you may want to think twice about buying a ‘heady’ piece, as it can be far more difficult to clean, especially fully. On the other hand, coloring can turn the glass opaque, so depending on your preferences, not being able to see the dirt could be seen as both a benefit or a disadvantage. ‘Heady’ glass isn’t inherently less smooth, as they can have all the same features as fully functional glass, but it’s definitely more common for ‘heady’ glass to have less, or often zero, percolators. On a similar note, since part of your budget is spent on the artistic value of the piece, you’ve got less to spend on features that make for a smoother hit. However, if you place a high value on artistic merit, or cost isn’t an important factor, we absolutely recommend you buy a piece that is designed for its artistic value as much as its function. Furthermore, you’re much more likely to find “pieces of art” from your local glassblowers, so if you want to support your local community or country, we recommend supporting local glassblowers if you’re able to pay the higher costs and/or you place a high value on the artistic value of your glass.
Stoner pros specifications:
If you’re planning to buy at our glass shop then you might want to know a little bit more about the specifications we display on each product’s page as well as in the shop filters. Here at Stoner Pros, we believe that any purchase should be made with the most information possible, and that extends to a glass smoking piece. Unfortunately there are many glass shops online which only give you a picture and maybe a cursory description of what you’re buying and you might find that it has a feature you dislike, or just isn’t what you expected. We try to prevent that by giving as much information as we can to any potential buyers. Additionally, we provide all these specs to help customers filter their searches to just the pieces that interest them. Here are the specifications we use:
Height – This is the height of the piece from the ground. We also provide both inches and centimeters for those of you who live in the other 99% of the world that uses the metric system. If a piece is longer than it is tall, we may enter its length as its height so that you don’t need to use multiple search terms, but if we do that, it’ll be noted on the product page.
Thickness – This is how thick the glass the piece is made of is. all of our glass is borosilicate glass. Even still, many online shops don’t tell you the glass thickness, or even worse misrepresent it. Thickness is one of the most important factors in choosing a piece for a lot of people, particularly those who like to smoke socially or travel with glass.
Color – We aren’t the type to prefer one color to another, but our tastes don’t extend to all of our customers, so if you prefer all your pieces to be blue or pink, then you can search for a piece that specifically comes in the color(s) you like. If a piece has multiple colors (e.g. clear and blue, one of the most common combinations), we say it is both colors, so you may find clear pieces with colored percs if you search for “clear”.
Percolators – The number of percolators a given piece has.
Perc Power – The combined effectiveness of the percolators in a given piece. Keep in mind that this isn’t exactly a scientific measure, but rather an estimation we make based on an assessment of each individual perc within a piece as well as its design. Typically most percolators are estimated to be in the range of 100-150 perc power, but there are occasional exceptions for larger, smaller, or unique percs. For example honeycomb and matrix usually score 150, fritted disc percs usually score at 400, and a simple diffused downstem adds 50. Recyclers are considered to have 1.5x the normal perc power due to the way some smoke is recycled multiple times through the percolators.
Comes With – Pictures are not always enough for a customer to be sure they’ll actually receive whats in the picture, so we try to be very specific about what comes with it, including the joint size and M/F of each piece. Occasionally you’ll receive something extra, but you’ll never be missing pieces included in this list. However, we don’t include the size of the bowls or domes in the shop filters, so if you want to find a piece that is oil ready, you can just search for “Dome+Nail” and “Domeless.” If you want to only search for 18.8mm joints, you can turn on the ’19mm F’ and ’19mm M’ filters. Ice Catchers and Splash Guards are also included in the ‘comes with’ search.
Joint – this is the joint on the piece itself. If a piece comes with an adapter, we include the joint that adapter provides as well. So a piece with a 18.8mm Female Joint that comes with a 18.8mm-18.8mm Female to Male adapter will be listed under both ’19mm F’ and ’19mm Male’ joints.
Cooling Power – this is another estimated figure based on an assessment of each individual piece. A lot of people don’t like smaller pieces because the smoke is too hot, so we try to give a rough estimation of how much the smoke is cooled before it goes all the way through the piece. This is almost always directly related to the size of the piece (about 10 cooling power per inch the smoke travels), but occasionally various features, such as coil percs, or the recycler design, will change that value too. Recyclers are considered to have 1.5x the normal cooling power due to the way smoke is recycled multiple times through the percolators.
Drag – This is a feature of various pieces that many buyers don’t think about, but we added it because a lot of buyers experience buyers remorse when they end up with a piece with too much drag. Again, this is just a rough assessment, but typically most percs fall in the range of 2-4%, most at ~2%, with the notable exception of fritted disc percs at 10%, although they come with big percolation benefits to counter this disadvantage. Not only does drag make it more difficult to hit a piece smoothly, it can also make it more difficult to clean. It is important to note that a piece with 4% drag isn’t twice as hard to hit as a piece with 2% drag. What you should be comparing is 100% – drag, so when comparing 2% to 4%, you should be comparing 98% airflow to 96% airflow, but we opted to keep the number represented as drag as it’s a concept that is easier to understand without too much explanation.
Glass from Stoner Pros:
We’re able to keep our prices lower than our competitors because we ship directly from our Chinese suppliers. This means we save money & time on storage space, packaging, and shipping. There is a stigma against Chinese glass because there are some examples of bad or even unsafe Chinese glass. However, all of our glass is high quality hand-blown borosilicate glass, so there’s no need for concern about the quality of our glass. In fact, we offer many of the exact same pipes you see in local or online glass shops, and we probably use the same suppliers, but these shops either sell in or ship from the US, which gives the impression that it’s locally made, with a price tag to match, even though it rarely is. The main reason, in our opinion, to avoid buying glass that comes from China is that you should support your local glassblowers, and we certainly agree. If you have the extra money or place a high value in having a one-of-a-kind piece of art to smoke out of, we wholeheartedly support your decision to buy from a local vendor instead. However, if you’re looking for high quality, highly functional glass at a low price, look no further.