Navigating the world of weed as a new smoker can be overwhelming. With various methods and devices available, figuring out where to start is a common challenge. Most beginners choose between a glass pipe or a bong, often because friends already have one of these devices. This guide will help you understand the differences and make an informed decision.

Understanding Glass Pipes

Glass pipes are popular for their durability, ease of use, and aesthetic appeal. Unlike water pipes and bongs, glass pipes are typically dry, meaning they don’t use water for filtration. This makes them more convenient for on-the-go use. They come in a variety of shapes and sizes, from simple spoon pipes to intricate designs with multiple chambers and percolators.

The Versatility of Bongs

A bong is a specific type of water pipe that often includes additional features to enhance the smoking experience. The term bong comes from the Thai word “baung,” meaning a bamboo tube for smoking. Modern bongs are usually made of glass but can also be found in materials like acrylic, ceramic, and silicone. Key features of bongs include:

Percolators: These additional filtration systems help further cool and purify the smoke.
Ice Catchers: These hold ice cubes to cool the smoke even more.
Multiple Chambers: Some bongs have several chambers for advanced filtration.

Understanding the Basics: Bongs vs. Pipes

Not all bongs and pipes are created equal. There are significant variations within each category, making it tricky to distinguish them at first glance. Here’s a quick overview:

  • Pipes: Typically small and easy to carry, pipes can be dry (no water involved).
  • Bongs: Water filters and cools the smoke, offering smoother hits.
water pipe bong glass pipe bong bubbler

Comparing Bongs and Pipes

Smoothness: Bongs provide a smoother hit due to water filtration and additional features like percolators. Dry pipes can result in harsher hits since they lack water filtration.
Filtration: Bongs offer superior filtration compared to dry pipes, which do not filter smoke.
Portability: Dry pipes are more portable and easier to use on the go. Bongs, with their larger size and need for water, are less convenient for travel.
Complexity: Bongs can be more complex with multiple parts and features, while dry pipes are simpler and more straightforward to use.

What is a Dry Pipe?

A dry pipe is a smoking device that does not use water for filtration. Examples include spoon pipes, chillums, and Sherlock pipes. These are usually made from glass, metal, or wood, and offer a more straightforward smoking experience without the need for water.

Dry Pipes: Simple and Portable

Dry pipes are the epitome of convenience. They are compact, easy to use, and perfect for smoking on the go.

  • Design: A simple tube with a bowl at one end and a mouthpiece at the other.
  • Advantages: Highly portable and straightforward, making them ideal for beginners.
  • Disadvantages: Because dry pipes don’t use water for filtration, the smoke can be harsher on the throat and lungs.

What is a Dry Bong?

A dry bong is essentially a bong that is used without water. While it retains the shape and design of a traditional bong, the absence of water means it does not filter or cool the smoke. This is less common as the primary advantage of a bong is its water filtration.

Dry Bongs: An Unpopular Choice

Dry bongs, unlike their water-filled counterparts, do not offer filtration.

  • Disadvantages: Without water, the smoke can be harsh, making dry bongs less suitable for new smokers. If possible, stick to wet bongs for a smoother experience.
  • Advantages: Easier to clean than their water-filled counterparts, since there’s no need to deal with dirty water.

What is a Water Pipe?

A water pipe is a smoking device that uses water to cool and filter smoke before inhalation. The main components include a bowl for your smoking material, a downstem to direct the smoke into the water, and a mouthpiece. The water in the pipe helps to remove impurities and cool the smoke, providing a smoother hit. Water pipes come in various designs and sizes, each tailored to different smoking preferences. A water pipe is essentially another name for a bong. The water in these devices cools and filters the smoke, providing a more pleasant experience.

  • Terminology: Water pipes are often called bubblers, gravity bongs, or liquid pipes. Regardless of the name, the principle remains the same: using water to enhance the smoking experience.
  • Advantages: Provides smoother and cooler hits, which is easier on the throat and lungs.
  • Disadvantages: Can be bulkier and more challenging to transport and clean.
water pipe, bong, glass pipe, bubbler

What is a Wet Pipe?

A wet pipe, commonly referred to as a water pipe, uses water to filter and cool the smoke. The water helps to remove impurities and provides a smoother hit, making it a popular choice among smokers. Examples include bubblers and bongs.

What is a Wet Bong?

A wet bong is a bong used with water, as intended. This allows for the filtration and cooling of the smoke, which results in a more enjoyable smoking experience. The water in the wet bong captures ash and tar, providing a cleaner inhale.

What is a Bubbler?

A bubbler is a hybrid between a glass pipe and a bong. It combines the portability of a glass pipe with the water filtration of a bong. Bubblers have a bowl, a stem, and a water chamber but are generally smaller and more portable than bongs.


Bubblers: The Best of Both Worlds

Bubblers combine features of both dry pipes and bongs. They are portable like pipes but use water for filtration like bongs.

  • Design: Smaller than bongs with a fixed downstem, making them harder to clean but easier to transport.
  • Advantages: Offers smoother hits than dry pipes and is more portable than bongs.
  • Disadvantages: Cleaning can be more challenging due to the intricate design and fixed downstem.

Bubbler vs. Bong

Size and Portability: Bubblers are typically smaller and more portable than bongs, making them easier to carry and use on the go.
Filtration: While both use water for filtration, bongs often have more advanced features like percolators and multiple chambers, providing superior filtration compared to bubblers.
Ease of Use: Bubblers are simpler to use and clean due to their smaller size. Bongs can be more complex, especially with added features like percolators and ice catchers.

Comparing Bubblers and Pipes

Filtration: Bubblers offer water filtration, making the smoke smoother compared to dry pipes, which do not use water.
Portability: Dry pipes, such as spoon pipes and chillums, are more portable than bubblers. Bubblers, while still portable, require water, which can be less convenient for travel.
Ease of Cleaning: Dry pipes are easier to clean than bubblers. Bubblers require more maintenance due to the water chamber.

Choosing the Right Device: Factors to Consider

Now that you understand the basics, let’s delve into the specifics to help you choose the best device for your needs.

Home Use vs. On-the-Go

  • Home Use: If you plan to smoke mostly at home, a bong is a great choice. They provide smoother hits and come in various styles to suit your preferences. Additionally, home use allows you to manage the cleaning and maintenance more easily.
  • On-the-Go: For traveling and portability, a bubbler or dry pipe is ideal. Bubblers offer better filtration, while dry pipes are more discreet and easier to carry. Their small size makes them perfect for quick sessions without the need for extensive setup or cleanup.

Discreteness and Convenience

  • Discreteness: Pipes are generally more discreet, making them suitable for public use. They can easily fit into a pocket or bag, and their simple design allows for quick and unnoticed use. Bubblers, although still portable, create a bubbling sound which can attract attention.
  • Convenience: Dry pipes are the simplest to use and maintain. There’s no need to worry about water levels or leaks. Bubblers require more effort to clean due to their more complex design, but they offer a superior smoking experience with smoother hits.

Material and Build Quality

  • Glass Pipes: Most common for both dry pipes and bongs, glass pipes provide a clean taste and are relatively easy to clean. However, they can be fragile and require careful handling.
  • Acrylic and Silicone Bongs: These materials are more durable and less likely to break than glass. Acrylic bongs are cheaper, but they may affect the taste of the smoke. Silicone bongs are flexible, durable, and often easier to clean.

Maintaining Your Water Pipe, Glass Pipe, or Bong

Keeping your smoking accessories clean is essential for the best experience. Here are some maintenance tips:

Regular Cleaning: Use isopropyl alcohol and salt to clean your water pipe, glass pipe, or bong. This helps remove residue and maintain the taste.
Change the Water: For water pipes and bongs, change the water after each use to prevent bacteria build-up and maintain flavor.
Handle with Care: Especially for glass pieces, handle them carefully to avoid breakage. Investing in a protective case can be beneficial.

Final Thoughts

Deciding between a bong and a pipe depends on your smoking habits and preferences.

  • For home use and smoother hits, go with a bong. The added water filtration will make your smoking experience more enjoyable.
  • For portability and discreet smoking, a dry pipe is your best bet. Its compact size and straightforward design make it easy to use anywhere.
  • If you want a mix of both, consider a bubbler. It provides the portability of a pipe with the smoother hits of a bong, though it requires more maintenance.


Entering the world of weed is an exciting journey, and choosing the right device is a significant first step. Whether you opt for a bong, a glass pipe, or a bubbler, each device offers unique advantages. Experimenting with different options will help you find your perfect match and enjoy your smoking experience to the fullest. Whether you prefer the filtration of a water pipe, the convenience of a glass pipe, or the advanced features of a bong, there’s a perfect smoking accessory out there for you. Each type offers distinct advantages, from the smooth hits of bongs to the portability of glass pipes. By understanding their differences and benefits, you can choose the best tool to enhance your smoking experience.