Shopping around for a new bong or piece? A quick online search will yield thousands of results for smoking devices in an array of shapes, colors and materials. One hotly debated topic among cannabis smokers is the value of silicone vs. glass bongs. What’s the difference between the two, and is one better than the other? We’ll compare the characteristics of each so you can decide whether silicone or glass is right for you.
If you have been smoking out of glass for long enough, you’re probably familiar with that gut-wrenching feeling as you helplessly watch your favorite piece shatter into a million pieces on the floor. While it is possible to repair glass bongs and pipes, the integrity of your bong is never truly the same. The cost to have a professional glassblower patch your piece may end up being higher than what you paid for the bong itself. For this reason, many will attempt to repair pieces on their own with potentially toxic materials that could cause even bigger problems down the line. Durability is where silicone pieces really demonstrate their value. Silicone bongs can withstand a great deal of impact, so it’s a great choice for the adventurous type, or anyone who takes their smoking on-the-go. They can be thrown into a pocket, backpack, or duffel bag without the need for padded wrapping or tender handling. Silicone pieces also tend to be much lighter than their glass counterparts, but it’s important to note that many silicone bongs still contain glass or other fragile components. Silicone’s durability is also ideal for users who experience mobility issues that may make it difficult to firmly grip their pieces.
Freshly cleaned bongs allow you to experience the true flavors of the cannabis strain you’re using. Regular cleaning could also prevent you from ingesting the mold and bacteria that can thrive in a dirty bong. Both silicone and glass bongs are fairly easy to clean with the right methods, but each comes with its own set of unique considerations. Glass bongs can range from being entirely transparent to at least partially translucent. On one hand, this means that you will begin to see unsightly resin collecting on your glass bong after the first smoking session. On the other, the ability to see residual buildup may encourage you to keep your pieces cleaner. You can easily clean a glass bong using commercial products, boiling water, or an alcohol and salt solution. Silicone bongs are more likely to be opaque, meaning you won’t be able to see the residue as it builds up on the inside. While this is beneficial for display purposes, it may facilitate a lax attitude about keeping your bong clean. Furthermore, anyone who has ever used turmeric with a silicone spatula can attest that silicone is NOT stain-proof. Traditional cleaning methods will remove the residue itself but leave stains behind. You may have more success cleaning silicone bongs with commercial bong cleaning products like Eyce Silicone Cleaner.
Environmental concern has become a major factor in consumer purchasing decisions, so it’s worthwhile to consider the sustainability of silicone versus glass bongs. Common-use glass is made of sand, soda ash, limestone, dolomite, and cullet(bits of recycled glass). Glassblowers may also use pigmenting agents such as iron oxide or cobalt. These elements must be heated at around 1700 °C to transform into molten glass that can be blown, stretched, and molded into various shapes. The mining techniques for sourcing the raw materials can vary, and the energy consumed during production is not insignificant. However, glass gains a major environmental edge because it is 100% recyclable. Silicone is a man-made polymer made of both renewable and non-renewable resources. Its base ingredient is silica, which is found in sand. To become a polymer, it must be passed through hydrocarbons that come from oil or natural gas, which are not considered renewable resources and many consider their use harmful to the environment. The finished product, however, does not present the same environmental and biological hazards, including BPA, BPS, and microplastics, as many common plastics do. Debra Lynn Dadd, a consumer advocate, carried out research on the impact of silicone and found that it “is not toxic to aquatic or soil organisms, it is not hazardous waste, and while it is not biodegradable, it can be recycled after a lifetime of use.” Not all recycling facilities are capable of recycling silicone, but due to its durability, your silicone bong could last a lifetime. If you have grown tired of your silicone piece and can’t recycle it, consider selling, trading, or gifting it instead to prevent your bong from finding its way into a landfill.
The Value of Silicone vs. Glass Bongs
There are many ways to assess the value of two comparable items. For many, the most important factor is cost. Silicone bongs tend to be less expensive than their glass counterparts. If you’re ordering glass online, shipping and processing fees may also be higher due to the fragile nature of the material. On the flipside, if glass is kept in pristine condition, it is also likely to retain a high resale value. Because silicone is fairly affordable to purchase new, you may have a harder time fetching a good price when you want to resell. Value is not always measured in dollars and cents, however. Aesthetics are also important to many cannabis users. Glassblowing is a centuries-old art form whose craftspeople take many years to hone their skills. The most unique and aesthetically pleasing pieces are usually made of glass. Silicone bongs come in a limited variety of shapes and colors at present, but with advances in 3D-printing and other technologies, intricate and artistic silicone bongs may be well on their way. One of the most important factors to consider when comparing silicone and glass bongs is the smoking experience. Some smokers simply enjoy seeing their smoke fill a glass chamber, which is something most silicone bongs can’t offer. Hardcore glass enthusiasts will tell you that it’s the only way to truly enjoy the flavor of your smoke, while others chalk this notion up to common snobbery. If you can, try smoking out of both types of material to see if you notice a difference in the smoking experience. Ultimately, the choice between glass and silicone bongs comes down to personal preference. If you’re looking for a simple, lightweight, and durable bong, silicone may be the way to go. If you are looking for a bong made from renewable materials that’s also aesthetically pleasing, glass may be the better choice for you...just be careful not to drop it!