Picture the scenario: You’re out in nature. Perhaps at a beach; perhaps at the end of a long hike, enjoying the view. Perhaps a night under the stars. You’re thinking: You know what would make this moment even more perfect?
But your bong’s back home.
Because it’s big, heavy and you don’t want to break it.
And that’s why small bongs exist.
Or at least it’s one of the reasons. In this post, we’re going to take a look at the smaller end of the scale for bongs: what they are, the pros and cons, how much they cost, what makes a good one and why you might actually want or even need one. Because when it comes to bongs, bigger isn’t always better.
What exactly is a small bong?
A small bong is a cannabis smoking device of around 10 inches or smaller, that filters the smoke through water for a cooler, smoother, purer, more potent hit. While 10 inches or under seems to be the general consensus, some sites extend the upper limit to 18 inches.
However, one of the main attractions of a small bong is its portability. So for the sake of argument, let’s just say this: A small bong is any bong that fits easily and discreetly inside a coat pocket, backpack or purse.
Bubbler vs bong: What’s the difference?
A small water bong sounds a bit like a bubbler, right? Well, yes and no. A bong (or water pipe) generally has a removable downstem with a cone-shaped bowl, and is usually somewhat larger. Whereas a bubbler usually resembles a fixed bowl handheld spoon pipe, but with the addition of a small water filtration chamber. Even from small bongs, you’ll get a bigger rip. Plus, bubblers are often less easy to clean, because of the non-removable bowl / downstem.
What’s the world’s smallest usable bong?
The world’s smallest functional bong stands at just under an inch tall, is made of glass, and was hand blown by Dylan Kelley of DBK Glass Creations. You can see a video of him smoking it here.
Small bongs vs big bongs: Are bigger or smaller bongs better?
It all depends. Obviously, the bigger the bong, the bigger the rips, and the more cooling and filtration. However, there are downsides to a bigger bong and occasions where a small bong is just the thing you need.
Small bong pros:
- Fully appreciate the flavor and characteristics of your favorite strain — bigger bongs can add more air to the mix, diluting the flavor.
- Portable. The biggest advantage of going small is that you can take it anywhere. They’re perfect for travel.
- Great for a first-timer. You can see whether you like the bong experience without spending on a larger piece, and small bongs let you easily control the size of the hit.
- Great for longer sessions. Easy to pass around, and smaller rips = a slower mellower high.
- Good value for money. There are high end small bongs too, of course, but on the whole small bongs are cheaper, while still being just as effective.
- More discreet. As well as being smaller, the bubbling’s a little quieter.
- Often less easy to break — and cheaper if you do.
- Convenience. Easy to store, and a small bong doesn’t need a surface to rest on.
- Cuteness. As well as practical, mini bongs are kind of fun, right?
- You can’t get those huge rips.
- Not quite as much cooling and filtration.
Do small bongs filter enough?
Thanks to their size, bigger bongs obviously have more room for percs, filters, diffusers and larger chambers, so the rips are even smoother, purer and cooler. But as we’ve stated above, you may lose some of the bud’s natural flavor. And even the smallest bong will still give you a cool, smooth, potent hit with fewer toxins than a pipe or joint. And if you want added coolness (it’s mostly heat that makes smoke harsh), you can add ice to the water chamber — many small bongs include ice catchers / ice pinches.
Small water bongs: what to look for
There’s no shortage of small bongs to choose from, so how do you choose the one that’s right for you? Here are the main factors to consider:
- Durability. If the main reason you’re looking for a small bong is travel, you want something that’s built to last. SIlicone bongs won’t break, often fold down for travel, but don’t have much in the way of percolators, diffusers, etc., and generally aren’t considered as great a smoke as glass. For durability, borosilicate glass (a.k.a. scientific glass) is the gold standard here — and the thicker the better. Also, consider a modular design, with replaceable parts. Some bongs also come with padded cases.
- Material. Ceramic bongs can be a good smoke, but usually aren’t the most portable. Metal is rarer — because while it’s very durable, it can affect the taste and conducts heat more than other bong materials. You can also find bamboo bongs — durable and non-toxic, but can be tricky to clean. And if you’re on a really tight budget, acrylic bongs are the cheapest. But again, we’d recommend glass for the smoothest smoke — and specifically borosilicate for its toughness. You also don’t tend to find the extra cooling and filtration features mentioned below in non-glass bongs.
- Fixed or sliding bowl. A fixed bowl (and carb) obviously means one less part to lose. However, a slide-out bowl is easier to clean. And can be upgraded and accessorized, e.g. with an ash catcher. You can also swap out the bowl: a glass bowl for home use and an unbreakable stainless steel bowl for travel. (When buying a new bowl, be sure to check what size you need and whether it’s a male or female joint.)
- Percolators and diffusers. Bongs don’t always just rely on water to filter and cool the smoke. Even smaller bongs often have room for added filtration and cooling from honeycombs, percs, recyclers, diffusers, etc., to give your hits maximum smoothness. However, they tend to increase the price and the extra chambers/filters can make the bong more difficult to clean.
- Other additional features. We’ve already mentioned ash catchers and ice catchers. But some small bongs also have other handy features, such as a magnet (so you don’t lose your lighter), integrated storage, a splash guard or an integrated bowl cleaner tool. Some can even double up as a dab rig for dabbing concentrates.
- Size. The obvious factor to consider, but it’s not always that simple. The Capsule Water Pipe, for instance, is perhaps at the taller end for a small bong — but plenty small enough when disassembled for travel. Likewise, silicone bongs are foldable and can pack away small.
- Easy to clean. Can it be easily disassembled? Is it dishwasher safe? Is it transparent, so you can see when it needs a clean?
Incidentally, we wouldn’t recommend the isopropyl alcohol and coarse salt method for cleaning bongs. The salt will scratch the material. And you really don’t want to risk inhaling isopropyl residue! Stick to non-toxic bong cleaning solutions, designed specifically for the purpose. And clean regularly, so stubborn stains don’t build up in the first place.
How much does a small bong cost online?
At most online headshops, a very simple small acrylic bong can cost as little as $6.99; while, at the higher end, limited edition small glass bongs (glass art, basically) can go as high as $700. If you’re not looking for unique art, though, the price ceiling for a small glass bong is around $300. Small borosilicate glass bongs tend to start at about $35, and anywhere between there and about the $200 mark, you’ll find plenty of value for money and functionality, whatever your smoking needs.
The basic rule of thumb, though: The more advanced the features, the larger the size, the better the grade of materials, the higher the cost.
Are mini bongs worth it?
Definitely. The only thing that’s really lesser about small bongs is their size. Small bongs come with all kinds of innovative features. And for some situations, like travel, they’re the ideal option. Even if you already have a favorite larger bong, there’s plenty of reason to consider adding something smaller and more convenient to your smoking arsenal. Just bear in mind everything we’ve written above, and you should be able to find something that’s excellent value and just right for your personal smoking needs.
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