Although there is a certain level of subjectivity involved, bongs are considered by many to be the best method for enjoying cannabis. After all, whether you have an off-the-shelf bong or a custom bong you get a nice big hit that doesn’t shred your windpipe and most of the impurities are filtered out by the water.
But while most people agree that bongs have definite advantages over papers or hand pipes, there is widespread disagreement over which material makes the best bong, real glass or acrylic.
Which side of the debate people come down on tends to mirror what they consider to be the most important issue, i.e. durability, price, etc. We, however, would like to be able to settle the debate once and for all. And so below, our smoke shop team examines the question: is one type of bong material objectively “better” than the other type?
The Great Wholesale Head Shop Debate: Glass or Acrylic?
Right up front we should state that, for the purposes of this debate, we are not going to talk about some of the more exotic bong materials on the market today, such as stainless steel or bamboo. This discussion is strictly about whether genuine glass or acrylic is the better bong material.
That said, if we are going to answer the question about which material is better we’ll need to take a close look at the pros and cons of both. So let’s do that now. Glass first.
The Pros and Cons of Glass Bongs
Glass bongs are preferred by purists, but does that mean they are objectively better than acrylic bongs?
Glass Bong Pros
- Glass is ‘real’ - In a world where real materials are becoming harder and harder to come by, a glass bong provides a respite on the path toward an entirely plastic, virtual existence. In addition, a lot of glass bongs today are made from extremely durable borosilicate glass, which is made with silica and boron trioxide. These provide the glass with amazing heat and impact resistance.
- Glass can be fashioned into a multitude of shapes - A talented glass blower can create just about any shape imaginable. Glass can also be colored in any way the glassblower desires. This combination of pliability and color options means the sky’s the limit when it comes to design options for a customized bong.
- Glass does not absorb smells or tastes - No matter how often you use it your glass bong will not absorb foul odors or tastes. If it seems like you are getting a foul taste from your glass bong it’s the result of the bong not being properly cleaned.
- Glass bongs are heavier than acrylic - This might seem like a downside but the heavier the bong the more stable it will be. If someone bumps into your acrylic bong it could easily wind up on its side and you’ll have a nice mess to clean up. A heavier glass bong will not be easily tipped over.
Glass Bong Cons
- Glass is more fragile than acrylic - If your bong is made of standard, run-of-the-mill glass, this is true. It's going to be pretty fragile and you'll have to handle it with care at all times. If, however, you have a custom bong it will likely be made of borosilicate glass which is almost as tough as acrylic. That’s almost, not entirely.
- Glass is more expensive than acrylic - There’s no debating this point. Real materials cost more than their faux counterparts. That’s true for real wood vs faux wood, real marble vs faux marble, and real glass vs faux glass, i.e. acrylic.
Glass bongs definitely have an impressive upside, but is it enough to say that they are objectively better than acrylic bongs?
The Pros and Cons of Acrylic Bongs
Acrylic bongs have become increasingly popular. Let’s see if we can find out why.
Acrylic Bong Pros
- Acrylic bongs are durable - Acrylic bongs are going to win the toughness test every time. Borosilicate glass is definitely stronger than standard glass but at the end of the day, it will still shatter before acrylic will. While acrylic is not indestructible, it's pretty close.
- Acrylic bongs are light - Acrylic bongs are much lighter than real glass bongs and won’t weigh you down while you’re walking miles from your car to your spot at the music festival. The fact that they’re more durable than glass only enhances their portability.
- Acrylic bongs are less expensive - Not everyone has big cash to plop down on a customized bong made of borosilicate glass. If you’re on a budget an acrylic bong may be just the thing.
Acrylic Bong Cons
- They’re acrylic - Sure acrylic bongs have some things going for them but at the end of the day they’re the equivalent of laminated flooring instead of genuine hardwood.
- Acrylic bongs are harder to clean - No matter how diligent you are when it comes to cleaning your acrylic bong it’s eventually going to stain, which is not a good look.
- The quality of the smoke is not great - Even with water filtering the smoke acrylic bongs are notorious for being hard on the throat.
The Bottom Line
Whether you’re dealing with an off-the-shelf or custom bong you could make an argument for both glass and acrylic. In our opinion, however, it is hard for acrylic to compete with a high-quality, customized bong fashioned from borosilicate glass.