Silicone vs. Acrylic: What Makes the Better Bong?
Buy Silicone, not Acrylic
Acrylic bongs are easier to find than any other kind; they’re at gas stations, in malls, on shelves of novelty stores. You can find them basically anywhere that tobacco is sold, and for many people it’s particularly enticing to just pick up a $10 acrylic piece rather than investing in something more expensive. But is acrylic necessarily the best choice? For people who are concerned with quality and innovation but don’t want to buy glass, the same old acrylic pipes and bongs might not cut it anymore.
More and more, people are turning to silicone as a mid-price glass alternative. And while it’s easy to dismiss the purchases as simply part of a trend or hype, it turns out it is also backed up by evidence that silicone really might offer a better bong material.
Everyone knows that even the thickest glass bong can shatter when it’s dropped on the floor, and who of us hasn’t been clumsy enough to make that mistake and break a perfectly good piece at least once? While acrylic is going to hold up being dropped better than glass, break-proof silicone can withstand any number of falls. The only real thing threatening a silicone piece is a puncture wound, and those can be easily avoided by not using sharp objects to clean the bong.
It is important to note, of course, that most silicone pieces have glass components (bowls, downstems and ice catchers) whereas acrylic bongs tend to have metal parts. Obviously glass is more breakable than metal, but it’s easy to understand why the difference in the quality of those two materials makes it worth the risk of a broken downstem. Glass bowls and downstems, if taken care of, can last much longer than metal or plastic ones.
A huge problem with acrylic is that it’s hard to clean. This is a common complaint of acrylic bong owners and anyone who’s seen one can quickly pick up on it. Using anything but a specially made acrylic bong cleaner on those sorts of pieces can compromise the plastic and cause it to break down, leaking harmful chemicals, which means that most people just leave them dirty.
But when it comes to silicone you can use the best and simplest cleaning method of them all, the same one that glass owners swear by: a mix of 90% rubbing alcohol, kosher salt, a toothbrush and a few minutes of patience. A special added feature of silicone is that it can be dishwasher safe, so if you don’t have any cleaner or alcohol on hand there’s still a way to make your piece look like it’s brand new. (And it’s good because like acrylic, silicone pieces can also get very dirty quickly.) Some silicone bongs even disassemble for easier cleaning, an unthinkable option for an acrylic piece and almost any affordable glass.
Silicone pieces also tend to be more portable, since they’re bendy and even occasionally designed to be rolled up. That means you can bring your cleaned bong or bowl with you camping, to festivals, on trips, or basically anywhere you can think of (even if it’s just your friend’s house). Even the tallest silicone bong is relatively lightweight and can be made compact enough to fit into a backpack, meaning you’ll never have to worry about transporting fragile glass again.
Glass aficionados might argue that silicone isn’t a safe material to make a piece out of. But in reality, silicone bongs and bowls are often made of FDA-approved, high-quality silicone that’s non-toxic and BPA-free. What can be harmful, though, is using the metal bowls that often accompany acrylic bongs. Some people even argue that the metal and plastic pieces can leave behind a particular taste that glass pieces don’t. And the safety of smoking out of acrylic is still technically up in the air.
Silicone bongs often have an innovative extra feature: a bottom-mounted suction cup. That way you will not be at risk of breaking the bong and you’ll also be able to avoid knocking it over—so you can eliminate the nuisance of having to clean up a pool of dirty water.
So while silicone pieces can be more expensive than your standard plastic bongs and bowls, they’re often still cheaper than glass and offer a number of benefits that acrylic do not. If you’re looking for something unlikely to break or tip over that’s made of FDA-approved materials and is easily portable—and who isn’t—then silicone is the way to go, not acrylic.