The bong stands high as a symbol of passion, fortitude, and conscientiousness. Or maybe it's life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Or maybe it's big rips, good times, and good company. Basically, the bong can represent many things based on how you choose to see it, how you choose to use it, and how you choose to take care of it. But most importantly, your bong takes care of you, so why not build the perfect bong?
Step One - Buying a bong
When you put together the perfect bong, of course you gotta start off with a good piece. Maybe your last piece broke, or you're looking for something that you can get a bigger rip from, or maybe good ol' Adelaide (that's what you named her) who has seen everything from the corners of your college dorm room to the basement of your first house just isn't cutting it for you anymore. Have no fear, the perfect bong is still out there waiting for you, and in bong shopping -- as in love -- sometimes you just gotta go out there and grab it.
When starting out, there are two things you'll want to consider. Are you a person of dry herbs or a person of concentrate? If dry herbs are your thing, you'll probably be looking for a larger piece that can get you some massive rips and good percolation. If you prefer concentrates, look for an dab rig that is more compact and better for vaporization. Next, what are you looking for aesthetically in your bong? Do you want a heady piece decorated with your favorite characters or some badass glass working? Or do you want something minimal; some scientific glass with possibly a minor note of color, that has the perfect percolation just the way you want it? Look at how you want your smoke to diffuse through your piece. Consider the benefits of glycerin coils, ice pinches, and recyclers. All of these things will help cool your smoke and get you stronger hits, and if you start out strong it can only go up from there.
Step Two - Looking at joints, considering bowls and nails
One of the first things to note on your new bong is the size and gender of its joint. The main joint is where the bowl or nail attaches, and it comes in three different sizes: 10mm (too small for your fingers), 14.5mm (you can fit your pinky or index finger inside), and 18.8mm (you can fit your thumb or two fingers). Do slides sit on top of your joint or fit inside? This will determine whether your joint is male (slides fit over top of it) or female (slides fit inside of it). But enough sexy talk. How can you improve your nail/bowl situation, then?
The size and gender will of course help you to narrow down your bowl and nail selection. For bowls, the other two most distinguishing factors are the depth of the bowl and how it looks. Did you know that there are tons of heady bowls with character faces and more? Have fun with it. Even if it doesn't fit your piece, if you fall in love with a bowl you can always pick up an adaptor (more on that later). How much you want to pack into your bowl could affect how deep of a bowl you want. When shopping online, look for pieces that have been noted to have deep bowls for lots of flower.
When choosing a nail, you're going to want either ceramic, quartz, or titanium. Generally glass nails are not made to last. When picking out a material for your nail, check out Smoke Cartel's pros and cons guide. Some nails are universal or adjustable and can fit any size joint, while super universal nails fit any size and gender. Sidearms and bangers are nails that are suspended, so that they have little chance of skin-to-skin contact. Buy a vapor dome to control the airflow around your air, and if you have a domeless nail, pick up a carb cap for some sweet convection action. Honey buckets are a really cool nail that combines a banger with a vapor dome. Enails are nails that can heat themselves electronically without the use of a torch. Ask yourself: "What should my nail do for me?" The nail, just like the bong itself, should ensure that you get the most personalized experience that you can get.
Step Three - Understanding downstems
Downstems are essentially straight tube percolators that attach to the joint of a bong. Some bongs have fixed downstems that cannot be removed, some bongs have removable downstems that give you more options, while other bongs have none at all. Downstems are interesting because they have their own joint. If you have a female joint and add a downstem with a male joint, you'll need to completely reconsider your slide situation. You usually can't go wrong with a downstem since they add more diffusion and percolation, so if you are interested in one make sure that it can fit in your pipe. They can be bought separately, so you can completely forego the downstem or treasure it forever and ever.
Step Four - Browsing adapters and drop downs
Adapters are like little skeleton keys that can open you up to near infinite possibilities. Adapters come in all shapes and joint sizes, so if that bowl or nail that you fell in love with (or already have and love) can fit on any pipe of any size and gender. Drop downs are adapters that work similarly to bangers and side arms: they keep your slide farther away from your face to keep you safe from burns. This makes the search for slides endless as long as you feel alright chipping in some extra money for an adapter.
Step Five - Adding ashcatchers and precoolers
Ashcatchers are accessories that you can add to your piece to catch falling ash or dripping concentrate. They help keep your piece clean and make it easier to catch residue that can be smoked again. The great thing about some of these accessories is that they can work as adapters, downstems, and additional percolators. Some ashcatchers have inline percs, honeycomb percs, or tree percs for extra diffusion. Theoretically, you could add as many ashcatchers you wanted to create something beautiful (or terrifying), but that may be a bit precarious to keep balanced. Either way, an ashcatcher is the perfect finishing touch to creating your perfect bong.
With the growing industry, more and more bongs and bong accessories are becoming available as innovators in the world of glass create more unique ways to build up pipes and get smoother hits. The only way to know what's best for you is to experiment with new features and to keep up with the latest trends. Browse online headshops such as Smoke Cartel to find new ways to smoke and build your bong up to something beautiful. Have fun with it, and smoke it up!