Beaker Bongs vs. Straight Bongs; What Sizes and Shapes Are Best, and Does Material Matter?
If you’re in the market for a bong and you’re not looking for a specific shape, chances are you’ll be choosing between the two main types: beaker bongs and straight bongs. It’s pretty evident when you look at the two side-by-side that a beaker bong has a large bottom and a straight bong is vertical all the way down, but there other differences besides appearance that people take in consideration when choosing one or the other. A beaker bong isn’t necessarily better than a straight bong (or vice versa), so we’ve explored the reasons why you might want to choose one over the other.
Size and Shape:
When you first think about what makes a beaker different from a straight bong, it’s usually the size of the base. A lot of people like beaker bongs because they aren’t as easy to tip over as straight bongs. You probably know it can be an issue when you have a 24” straight bong and the slightest table nudge accidentally sends it to the ground in shatters. It’s nice to not have to worry so much about your bong getting knocked and broken when you’re just trying to chill and smoke. Apart from being less accident prone, you know when you have a larger bong you get larger hits. Large beaker bongs can be good for a bigger smoke, but you’ll also waste more weed that way. Sometimes people prefer smaller beaker bongs for this reason, especially because the bottom adds an extra chamber of smoke to the pipe so you’re not losing as much as you would with a straight pipe.
Beside size, the other elements that make up the shape of a beaker bong make a difference too. A beaker bong generally has a better filtration system than a straight bong because of its larger base. When smoke hits the water in a bong, some of it heats and turns into water vapor, which makes your hit much smoother. More bubbles = more filtration, which means you’ll probably be getting a smoother hit with a regular beaker bong than you would a regular straight bong because of a beaker’s ability to create more bubbles and hold more smoke. Another addition that helps filtration within a beaker bong is a percolator. Percolators are glass extensions that are built inside of a piece to create extra laters of filtration. There are several different types of percolators, like the inline, honeycomb, showerhead, and tree, to name a few. They all have different shapes and mechanisms, but generally exist to create more bubbles and vapor for the smoothest hits possible. It’s really up to trial and error figuring out which perc works best for you, but the rule is usually that the more percs there are involved, the better the smoke.
Despite what we’ve mentioned above, people have reasons for preferring straight bongs over beaker bongs. For one thing, straight bongs clear much faster than beaker bongs, which means the smoke is crisper and cleaner because it’s more direct. There’s less drag with straight bongs because you’re not dealing with a large bottom chamber for smoke to sit. The more premium straight bongs have bigger stands incorporated on their bases as well, so there’s more support and less chance for a tip-over. Another convenient thing about straight bongs is that they’re sometimes designed with bent tubes, so you’re able to lay back and smoke without spilling dirty bong water everywhere.
Straight bongs can include the same built-in percs that the higher quality beaker bongs do, so some people feel that the large bottom chamber of a beaker bong isn’t necessary for extra filtration as the perc accomplishes that same process in a straight bong. Straight bongs also generally take up less room than beaker bongs, and they’re easier to clean than beaker bongs, especially when internal percs are involved.
Bongs can be made from several different types of materials, but the three main ones are acrylic, ceramic and glass. When someone is deciding on whether they want a glass beaker bong or an acrylic beaker bong, they’re usually thinking about the quality of the smoke. That being said, there are different reasons for deciding on whether you’d rather have something like an acrylic straight bong vs an acrylic beaker bong.
Acrylic is usually the cheapest material, and there’s much less risk of a fall-and-break situation with acrylic than with ceramic and glass. You could pretty much chuck an acrylic pipe across the room and it would probably be fine. For that reason, someone might choose an acrylic straight bong over an acrylic beaker bong as straight bongs take up less space, are easier to clean, and there’s less chance of a plastic-y flavor with a straight bong because there’s no large bottom chamber for water to just sit and soak in the plastic. To avoid the plastic taste that can mix in with your smoke from acrylic bongs, you’ll just need to keep your pipe extra clean.
Ceramic pipes are sort of a niche in the bong market, as there aren’t tons of them available but they’re more accessible to create than glass or plastic which means that there are a lot of really interesting designs from heady artists. It’s easier for artists who handcraft their pipes to be inventive with ceramic than with glass, which is takes totally different skill-sets and equipment. Ceramic also tends to be sturdier than glass, and the hit has better flavor than from an acrylic pipe. Ceramic weighs less than glass, so usually people will choose a ceramic beaker bong over a ceramic straight bong because even though ceramic is more durable than glass, it breaks easier than plastic and can tip over quicker than glass.
Most bongs you’ll see in online smokeshops are made of glass. Glass is a classic material for bongs, as it provides the smoothest smoke and is the easiest material to clean. Scientific glass in particular is the best glass to look for in a beaker bong or straight bong, as it’s made of borosilicate which is the sturdiest and most durable and you’ll get the most use out of it. Some glass artists create pieces known as Heady Glass, which are different in that they’re pieces of art, built personally for their aesthetics and less for function like Scientific glass. A lot of people also like to see the inside of their bong in action (especially so they know when to change the water), so glass is also a preferred material for that benefit. Scientific glass can be a bit pricier than acrylic and ceramic, but it also lasts longer and most people prefer the investment.
There are a lot of marijuana accessories that are specific to certain pieces, but luckily most additional elements you’re able to include with your bong are interchangeable between straight bongs and beaker bongs. Ash catchers are great, because not only do they control the ash going into your bong but they also give an additional layer of filtration. The extra filtration and percolation is great for if your bong doesn’t already include percs, or if you’ve got a straight bong you’d like to create a smoother hit with. They also come in all kinds of unique colors and shapes, so if you’ve got a basic scientific glass bong you use all the time, you can add a little extra and change it up with each new ash catcher. Besides ash catchers there’s of course a huge amount of bowl and dome combos you can add to your bong to give it a little more personality. Screen bowls are also super useful, as they’re like an ash catcher and a bowl combined into one piece.
Another useful addition to any straight bong or beaker bong is a diffused downstem. Like with built-in percolators and ash catchers, you’re able to choose from different styles of diffused downstems and specific sizes that will fit your bong. The same rule applies here as with percolators and ash catchers too: the more tiny holes, slits and intricacies, the better percolation and filtration.
There are a lot of reasons to choose either a straight bong or a beaker bong. The main consensus seems to be that beaker bongs are safer from breaking because of their large bottoms, but that doesn’t necessarily matter when it’s made out of a material like acrylic. Some people like that straight bongs take up less space and deliver quicker hits, but might prefer they have a bent tops so they’re able to tilt without spilling water. Any bong you choose, it’s good to think about what situations you’re mostly using it for so you pick the most effective piece. No one ever said you can’t own more than one bong though, so having both could give you a more direct experience with the differences and what you most prefer!