If you have been using weed for a while and want to take it to the next step, ordering a bong from a headshop is the next natural step. The problem is that bongs can get quite complex and expensive, which can be intimidating for a beginner.

The good news is that while you can spend months studying different bong designs and choosing add-ons, you don’t have to go that deep when selecting your first bong. This guide will go over the basics of how a bong works and outline the key factors you should consider when choosing your first one.

Why even use a bong?

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There are many advantages to smoking weed through a bong, but the biggest one is being able to enjoy a smoother hit. The added smoothness is primarily due to the water filtration system at the core of your typical bong; the water in the main chamber of your bong will filter out and cool down the weed smoke, making it smoother and less likely to irritate your lungs. Addons such as percolators and ash catchers help to cool down further and filter the smoke, making for even smoother rips.

The result is a much more enjoyable smoking experience, which allows the user to appreciate all the flavor and subtle tones of the weed they are smoking. A bong can make cheap weed much more palatable, and it is the best way to appreciate expensive herbs.

Bongs are also durable and upgradeable, which is why you will see people spending hundreds of dollars on high-quality bongs. Yes, they are expensive, but a good bong will last a lifetime, and you can swap components to get different experiences. That said, you don’t need to spend hundreds to get a great bong. Let’s go over some of the tips beginners should follow when choosing their first bong.

1. Settle on a budget

You’ll find bongs at pretty much every price point out there, but you get what you pay for. So instead of trying to figure out which to buy in a vacuum, it is often best to decide how much you are willing to spend and buy the best bong at that price point.

The good news is that you don’t need to spend a lot to get a good experience. You can find decent glass bongs starting at around the $50 price point. And you start finding great options at around the $100 price point, as evidenced by the collections found on the DopeBoo website.

2. Consider discretion

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Once you settle on a price, the next thing to consider is whether or not you need a stealth bong. There are plenty of bongs out there that look like vases, toys, and other everyday objects, so you don’t have to worry about putting them away if you are ever entertaining guests who are squares.

The other option is to buy bongs small enough that they are easy to put away. But we’ll go over why that is a bad idea in just a second.

3. Go for medium size

For a beginner, a bong sized somewhere between 8” and 12” is a good place to start. If the bong is too big, it becomes unwieldy. And if the bong is too small, it can’t perform its job properly. You need sufficient airflow and room in the water chamber for the smoke to be filtered out and cooled down.

A small bong is better than nothing if you need something travel-sized, but if you are planning on enjoying your weed at home, get a medium-sized one. A small and cute-looking bong may look great on social media pictures, but without sufficient chamber room to cool down and filter, the smoke hits produced by small bongs are often very harsh. Many are as bad or worse than using a pipe.

If you want to be able to carry your bong with you while you’re out and about, one solution that is growing in popularity is to use silicone bongs. We’ll cover that in the next section.

Reading all of this, you may be tempted to go even further and buy a huge bong in the 20 to 24” inch range. However, it’s important to approach that decision carefully. Bigger bongs can indeed produce smoother hits – if they are well-made – but they also tend to be more expensive, and some models are quite complicated to put together. That also makes them tricky to take apart and clean when needed.

You may very well end up deciding to upgrade to a huge party bong down the line. However, when shopping for your first bong, those are not the best option.

4. Choose the right material

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You should avoid acrylic and plastic bongs, especially the cheap ones. Their low price may seem appealing, but they are often so barebone as to barely improve the smoking experience over rolling a joint or smoking out of an apple.

The two best materials for beginner bongs today are glass and silicone. As mentioned earlier, you can find good glass bongs for around $50, and glass is a great material to provide clean and smooth smoke. Silicone is also a solid choice. Some silicone bongs can be folded down to a small footprint, making them a great pick if you want something portable.

Silicone bongs are often at their best when they are matched with a few glass and metal parts. For example, many silicone bongs are designed in a way that allows them to be used with standard percolators. This allows you to enjoy a smooth smoking experience, and once you are done, you can take out the percolator and fold the bong to put both away.

One lesser-known option that is worth considering is ceramic bongs. Ceramic is one of the oldest bong materials in the world, and it can produce smooth hits at an affordable price. The main reason why ceramic bongs are more common is due to how fragile ceramic can be. However, if you find a good deal on a ceramic bong when comparing prices, buying one isn’t the worst idea.