Whether you’re looking for a replacement for a missing bowl or just looking to upgrade your bowl game, choosing the right bowl for your piece is a quest most glass owners go through at least once. The decision comes down to three main factors: the type of piece you have, the size of your joint, and the aesthetic you’re looking for. We’ll break down these factors to make it easier for you.
Type of Piece
When it comes to water pipes, there are three main categories. Dry herb bongs are most popular. A typical dry herb bong comes with a standard bowl, which almost always matches the piece. Heady bongs, built by independent artists often come with a decorated glass bowl that matches the bong’s design. Branded glass comes with a more standard glass bowl. These bowls are usually quite standard but often come with some sort of grip or heat protection accessory built-in such as a Maria ring or side grip.
Dab rigs, a category rising in popularity, require a different type of bowl known as a dish, banger, or nail. Bangers can be made of quartz, ceramic, or titanium, materials known for their ability to maintain their integrity under intense heat exposure. The high temperatures required to vaporize oils and concentrates could deform or fracture regular glass bowls. Though borosilicate glass could withstand high heat exposure, it tends to heat up slowly and would be difficult to use for vaping oil.
Bubblers, though lesser, used have their place in the smoking game. Most standard bubblers have a built-in bowl that connects directly to a downstem. However, higher end bubblers, made by well-known brands or artists, do require bowls to function. Fixed downstems usually connect upward to a removable bowl.
Size and Gender
Size matters when it comes to choosing the right bowl for your piece. Bongs comes in four basic sizes: 10mm, 14mm, 18mm, and 22mm. These measurements are used to describe the diameter of the bong’s joint. A 14mm joint, for example will only accept a 14mm bowl and vice versa. While you might get away with using a slightly larger bowl for a slightly smaller joint, it won’t work the other way around. You also won’t get the desired suction when smoking. A tight seal is important, but the bowl should be built so that it is easy to slide on and off.
Knowing your bong’s joint gender is also very important. Fitting a male bowl to a male joint would be impossible. A female joint must accept a male bowl and a male joint can only accept a female bowl. Adapters may be used to connect male joints to male bowls, though these can make removing your bowl to take a rip a bit more complicated.
Be aware of any accessories you plan to use in the future as well. Some connect male to male while others connect male to female. The logic is that you would want to use the same bowl with or without the accessory, but accessories are made to suit all types of needs.