Given the awkward state of cannabis legalization across the U.S. it comes as no surprise that information on weed consumption is hard to come by. This intro piece is intended to explain the glass landscape and help you understand why so many different shapes and styles of water pipes exist. We hope this helps your ganja discovery journey and please let us know if there is anything you want us to talk about more!
Why do we use glass?
There are a couple reasons that glass is preferable for cannabis, but for us it’s all about the purity of flavor and ease of cleaning. We know having breakable parts of your setup can be inconvenient, but even with the risk of breaking, the Ritual team still personally uses glass primarily. There are also some safer options like the Elephant Cage which enclose your glass in a metal cage for added protection.
Why are there so many words for glass?
Bongs, beakers, rigs, recyclers, bubblers, straight tubes — and that’s just the beginning of the long, long list of names people have come up with for a glass piece that filters your smoke or vapor through water for a smoother inhale and less irritation. We try to keep our verbiage consistent and primarily base it on the piece's function. Below are our general thoughts on each term:
- Bongs: We think of the traditional bong design as a sphere at the bottom with a straight tube on top. Generally, the connection comes out at a 45 degree angle and uses a downstem that stretches into the bottom of the sphere. This was the most popular style in the U.S. for a long time, however we don’t have too many here at Ritual Colorado because we find them generally unwieldy, unstable, and more difficult to clean than smaller pieces. With typically wider straight tubes these pieces do generally accommodate insane airflow which can be a blessing and a curse depending on your preferred consumption method. Additionally, bongs are often used as a catch-all term to describe any glass you smoke or vaporize through just to further complicate things.
- Beakers: We think of beakers as a sub-genre of bongs. They have a similar straight tube upper, but a beaker shape with a flat base for the lower with a downstem typically providing the bubbling at a 45 degree angle. These are more stable and we’ve seen some cool modern designs that make us think this is a style that’s gonna stick around.
- Fab Egg: Named for its likeness to the Fabergé egg from Russia, these pieces are beautiful and offer unique function. A perc at the bottom generally provides the initial filtration after which the vapor makes its way between thin walls which use the surface area of the glass to provide additional cooling. Generally beautiful in appearance, these are really fun pieces that we love to pair with dab quartz for a stylish setup.
- Rigs: The term rig is most commonly used to describe dabbing glass pieces which are typically smaller and provide lots of water filtration for maximum vapor cooling. In our experience we like to limit our dry herb vapor’s contact with water to ensure we’re getting lots of terps in the hit. However, terps are so powerful in a dab that you can run through lots of water and still get a clean terpy taste. We think of rigs as more of a category because many of the other terms listed would also be rigs (for example we consider many recyclers to also be rigs).
- Recyclers: Named for their function, recyclers involve circulating water continuously through a glass piece in a “recycling” function. The recycling refers to the return path which drains water back to the base of the rig where it can go through the cycle again with a fresh batch of vapor. Many recyclers feature fun vortex action where the drain will form a funnel pulling the water back down to the base of the piece. While we typically think of recyclers for dabs, we know many people that prefer to run their ball vape through a recycler for maximum cooling.
- Bubblers: A bit of a catch-all term since pretty much all water pieces produce some sort of bubble as part of their function. We typically use the term bubbler to refer to more sculptural pieces that don’t fit neatly into other categories.
- Straight Tubes: These are the simplified cousins of the bong as they don’t have a spherical base. Instead, straight tubes stand on a flat base and feature a consistently sized “straight tube” which delivers vapor to the user. Most utilize a downstem for water filtration at a 45 degree angle.
- Water Pipes: Another catch-all term for pretty much everything described above. Want me to complicate it even further? While generally referred to as water pipes, you don’t have to use them with water! Hitting a piece dry will deliver a hotter hit, however by not incorporating water you can preserve all the terps of your material. This is particularly popular for dry herb vape users, although there are certainly a fair amount of heady dabbers that are dry guys too.
What is a perc?
Percolators (most commonly referred to as percs) are the complicated bits built into your water piece that determine how the air you’re inhaling gets filtered through the water in the piece. The different shapes and styles create lots of variations in draw resistance, bubble shape and size, and vapor cooling. We find that perc preferences are highly personal, but no matter what style you prefer there is something out there for everybody. Below are some of the most common perc types with a little explanation on how they work.
- Diffused Downstem: A diffused downstem perc is a bit of a catch-all term for a glass tube that extends into the water and diffuses the release of vapor into the water through holes or slits. Many of our heady rigs utilize diffused downstems with holes for unique filtration.
- Matrix: Matrix percs are fun and complicated pieces that create a ton of little bubbles all the way around in a circle. A series of slits (both vertically and horizontally) in the 360 degree perc provide lots of areas for vapor to slip through and filter through water.
- Swiss: Swiss percs are interesting as they are built into the body of the glass as opposed to many of the others listed which are inside the glass and attached to a downstem. These percs rely on the surface area of the glass to help maximize cooling as they insert holes fully through the glass body which forces your vapor to take a different path. Both aesthetically pleasing and functional, we think swiss percs are a fun addition to any glass collection.
- Honeycomb: Honeycomb percs are completely flat like a plate and connect chamber sections while providing filtration. The many small holes across the plate resemble a honeycomb and filter your vapor as it passes from one chamber to the next.
- Showerhead: Showerhead percs are named for how they resemble an actual showerhead. They feature holes or slits in the bottom of a vertical tube, which is generally flared.
- Circ: Circ Percs are, you guessed it, circular and have slits around the outside. They are typically connected to a downstem and provide 360 degrees of filtration for your vapor.
What water pipe is best for dry herb vapes?
While there is never one “best” glass piece, below are some of our favorite ways to pair up water pipes with dry herb vaporizers. Let us know how you like to session!
- Smaller Vapes + Smaller Pieces: There’s just something about pairing a smaller portable dry herb device with a small glass piece that provides a satisfying session. Living in Colorado we run most of our devices through water as the arid air can lead to irritation without a little additional humidity in the hits. Some of our favorite pairings are the Arizer Air MAX + Round The World rig or a Dynavap B + Riptaur.
- Big Airflow for Ball Vapes: We prefer a 19mm connection size when pairing with a ball vaporizer for maximum airflow. Because you’re drawing the heat down onto the bowl via airflow, the more freely that the air can travel the bigger of a potential hit you can get. For the team at Ritual Colorado, the Qarisma is a daily driver that provides great cooling and significant airflow.
- Elephant Cage + Everything: A favorite of our team and customers alike, the Elephant Cage is a really versatile water piece that works great with a variety of different devices. We love it for more powerful desktop devices due to the large volume and significant cooling provided. Additionally, the built-in pass-through adapter means you can clear the vapor from your glass without messing with your dry herb device during the hit. Just pull the plug on the back of the piece, inhale clean air until you can’t see any vapor left in the Elephant, and put the plug back in. That pass-through adapter can also serve as a connection point for a second device if you’re really looking to get crazy! We like to use a Taroma Lite Plus with the bowl on top and insert a Dynavap M Plus into the pass-through for a two-for-one powerful dry herb hit.
What water pipe is best for dabbing?
High quality concentrates are absolutely packed with terps and as such can handle a lot of water filtration without sacrificing their clean flavor. For this reason glass styles like recyclers are particularly popular for their maximum cooling to size ratio. Below are some of our favorite ways to pair up water pipes and dabs, how do you like to session your concentrates?
- Setup for a steal: We get it, glass and quartz are breakable and sometimes you just need a good reliable setup on the cheap. We love grabbing a SpaceKing banger set (which includes inserts and a carb cap) and pairing it with the Plain Jane for an entire setup that comes in at ~$80! One of our missions at Ritual Colorado is to provide top-quality gear no matter what price range you’re shopping in and we make sure to extensively test all our products to make sure they’re built to last.
- Upgraded American Premium Setup: There’s something that just feels right about pairing American quartz with an American water piece. Our special occasion setup is an Evan Shore Trippy Banger paired with a Ras_Glass rig for the cleanest dabs. Clean details on the banger match beautifully with the rig's beautiful function. Just make sure you bring a Dab Rite PRO or some other thermometer to keep that banger temped right and in pristine condition.
How do I clean my glass?
Cleaning glass is really easy and one of the reasons we prefer it to other materials. Cleaning is also much easier if you’re not combusting, so if you have flashbacks to black tar crusted bongs, know that it doesn’t have to be like that! One of the easiest ways to reduce your cleaning burden is to do it more often, for the team here that typically means daily. By not allowing residue to sit in your glass for an extended period of time, it cleans much easier, saving you both time and money in the long run. To be honest, I haven’t used Epsom salt when cleaning a bong since I stopped combusting. The residue from dry herb vaping is just much less noxious and much easier to clean with water and alcohol.
A basic daily cleaning for us involves rinsing the glass with hot water to get out any large particles. This also helps keep your isopropyl alcohol cleaner allowing you to recycle it for a longer time. Once your glass has been rinsed, fill it up with as much isopropyl alcohol as it can take. Plug the open ends either with your fingers or with a glass plug if you’re fancy. Then just shake the shit out of it until it looks nice and clear! To help be more environmentally friendly, we store used iso in a mason jar and keep recycling it until it goes yellow / orange in color and is no longer effective. After the alcohol wash I give my piece two good rinses with water to ensure there’s no residual alcohol that I’m going to inhale. I know many people just leave that alcohol to evaporate (and it does very quickly), but I prefer a final water rinse for peace of mind.
We hope this information helps, and don’t hesitate to reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org if you ever have any questions. Happy vaping, dabbing, and glass collecting!