When bongs first hit the scene, practically all models were made from glass. However, while an amazing material to use to smoke out of, it does have its drawbacks (expensive, can break, etc.). Thankfully, in recent years there are more choices, with the most popular glass alternative being silicone. But what is a silicone bong? Is it safe? Is it easy to clean? To understand a little more about this favored bong choice, here are some answers to some common questions.
What Is Silicone?
Silicone is a man-made compound. It is a type of polymer containing a rubbery texture made from a combination of carbon, hydrogen, and oxygen. Not only is it easily accessible, cheaper, and extremely durable, but it is also exceedingly versatile. Silicone can be used from everything from cookware to sealants, to medical devices. One of the useful features that make silicone a favorable bong material is its ability to resist both cold and heat. An even better feature is that you’ll never have to worry about your silicone bong breaking. They’re indestructible.
Is a Silicone Bong Safe to Use?
One of the largest reservations people have about silicone bongs is whether or not they are safe. This stems from the fact silicone has a very similar appearance (and feel) to plastic. However, as long as you choose a bong made from food-grade silicone (which is non-toxic and BPA free) and purchase from a reputable head shop (such as Global Smoke Shop), you have nothing to worry about. Food grade silicone does not emit any toxic gases and is the safest silicone option available.
Keep in mind, although silicone is durable and heat resistant, you do not want to put it in direct contact with your torch or flame. Only heat the appropriate non-silicone parts. Otherwise, you could damage your piece.
Why Do Users Like Silicone Bongs?
Aside from personal preferences, there are plenty of reasons users choose silicone bongs. Nonetheless, the two most common reasons silicone bong enthusiasts choose silicone boils down to cost and durability. Silicone is practically indestructible. In fact, with normal use, silicone bongs are highly unlikely to break. Unlike a glass bong that can be destroyed with one small slip up, silicone bongs can be dropped time and time again without fear of breakage. (This also makes it a great option for travel.)
Another popular reason users love silicone bongs is due to price. Glass bongs can be extremely expensive. Each one is handblown, and the price is generally based on a variety of factors (including but not limited to) size of the bong, amount of time it takes to complete, and intricacy of the design. For example, the bigger, more detailed and colorful glass pieces tend to take longer to make, and thus typically have a much larger price tag. However, unlike glass, silicone bongs are only a fraction of the price (part of this is due to the ability for silicone bongs to be mass-produced).
How Do You Use a Silicone Bong?
Silicone bongs are used the same way you would use any water bong. The biggest difference being silicone bongs are less delicate. Therefore, gentleness is not a factor. While different types of bongs can slightly alter how you use a bong, in most cases the process is very similar.
To begin, you will want to add the water to your bong by slowly pouring the water through the mouthpiece. The stream of water will flow directly down to the bottom of the bong, adding enough water to cover percolators and the bottom portion of your downstem. Generally, a good rule of thumb is to start by filling the water to about an inch to an inch and a half above the end of the downstem. If your bong comes with an ice catcher, feel free to add ice cubes at the top of the bong. This will help provide smoother and cooler hits.
Remember, too much or too little water is problematic. Too much water and you will have issues with pulling and or water getting in your face, while not enough water will cause the bong to not function correctly (causing a harsh, dry hit). To help assure you have determined the perfect amount, try doing a practice run. This can be accomplished without lighting your bowl by inhaling (like you would for a hit) through the mouthpiece.
Pack the bowl of the bong and place it back into the bong. Light the dry herbs by holding the flame directly over the bow and inhaling gently through the mouthpiece. As you are inhaling, the flame will be suctioned, pulling the flame into the bong bowl. This will create a “cherry” where the dry herbs are glowing. Continue to inhale until you have the desired amount of smoke you want to inhale. Remove your mouth from the mouthpiece and take a quick breath while you remove the bong bowl. Then inhale the hit through the mouthpiece.
How do You Clean a Silicone Bong?
When it comes to bongs, one of the worst parts is keeping your bong clean. Fortunately, compared to glass and other material alternatives, silicone is much easier to keep clean. Due to its flexible nature, silicone allows you to easily clean out every nook and cranny of your bong. Plus, they allow for additional cleaning options other materials cannot provide. First off, silicone is heat resistant. Therefore, a quick and easy method to deep clean your bong is to place it in the dishwasher. However, this is not the only method to clean your device. You can also use the freezer method. Since silicone is resistant to cold as well, silicone bongs can be placed into the freezer. Once the proper amount of time has passed (less than 12 hours), you can twist the bong. This allows the frozen residue inside to break apart and fall off.
Although silicone offers additional cleaning options, most users prefer the tried and true cleaning solution method. While the specific solution mix can vary depending upon personal preference, the solution generally contains some form of salt and alcohol mixture. This is the same solution used for cleaning glass bongs. However, silicone requires fewer solutions to do the same cleaning job.
To clean your silicone bong, start by soaking your bong. The amount of time will vary depending upon the extent of the residue within your bong. After soaking, scrub the inside of your bong. If it is still not clean to your liking, simply repeat the process until you are completely satisfied.
Are There Any Tips to Remember about Silicone Bongs?
Like any smoking device, there are some quick tips to help new users. Personal preferences do play a part. For instance, some users prefer to add ice with the water at the base of the bong. However, there are tips relevant to all users. These can include (but are not limited to):
- Regularly Clean Your Bong – This will help prevent the taste from being altered and prevent residue from building up inside.
- Start Small – This is especially true if your water bong is a new purchase. How much smoke the bong can hold varies depending on the size of the bong, and oftentimes, it may not look like you have as much inside as you think you do. Therefore, by starting small you can slowly build-up to the perfect hit size (and avoid wasting your dry herbs).
- Remember to Change Out Your Water – In most cases, it is recommended to change your water out after each smoke session. However, more frequent users tend to change out their water each day, with most simply dumping the water out at the end of the night and replacing it when they begin to partake the next day.
- Take Time Between Hits – While bong hits do tend to take effect quicker than some other smoking devices, new users should still wait about 15 minutes between hits. This will help assure you get the effects you desire.
Written By: Chelsea O.