What is a Stemless Bong?
Headshops online have a whole range of smoking devices available. A lot of them may be uncommon and rare sights if you’re a casual user. While more experienced users may stay up to date with varying designs of devices, there are many apparatuses that seem to go over the heads of average users.
Among the various bongs, stems, ice catchers, and percs, you’ll find stemless bongs too these days. So, what are stemless bongs and how do they work? Today, we’ll answer these questions and also make a comparison between how stemless bongs differ from stem bongs.
To understand how stemless bongs work, we’ll need to know what stemmed bongs are, first.
What’s a stem anyway?
The stem is that handy bridge that connects your bong with the bowl. Depending on the maker’s design, bongs today may or may not have stems. So, it depends on the glassblower’s intended design.
Bongs with stems
Stemmed bongs are legitimate paraphernalia in smoking. The water chamber in stemmed bongs is usually deeper. This means you normally need something to connect the water chamber. This is where the stem comes in. The stem is like a tunnel that lets the smoke make its way to the water chamber. The easiest way to tell if your bong has a stem is to see if the downstem is removable.
Stemmed Bong: The advantages
Bongs generally do not come with a crab hole. This means you normally have to lift the bowl up so that the smoke can get released. This isn’t a deal-breaker for a smoking device. But it increases the risk of breaking the joint that acts as an attachment. It’s especially dangerous if you have the habit of taking out the bowl at an angle that’s not right.
If your bong has a stem, it decreases the risk of something like that happening. The stem allows you to take out or reattach the bowl without worrying about breaking the joint. Even in the worst-case scenario of a broken joint, you can replace the stem without having to discard the whole bong.
There’s also the added benefit of percolator options when you have a stem. You can choose from a variety of perc types depending on your preference:
- Disc style
- Fire cut
The perc determines what kind of diffusion you get with the smoke. The different perc designs give you varying smoking experiences. So, you can go for the usual preference or experiment with something new.
Stemmed bong: Disadvantages
While stemmed bongs can allow you to replace the stems without discarding the whole bong, finding the right fit is an issue. To find the ideal replacement, you have to know the precise measurement of the downstem. Now, if you have the whole downstem, this is not an issue. But if you happen to break or chip of the downstem, the real measurements can be harder to determine.
A common way to fix this problem is to use a pencil for measurement. Placing a pencil in the stem shows you how much of the pencil fits inside and how much of the stem might have broken off. If your replacement is longer than the original piece, your downstem naturally sticks out more and gets suspended (or even blocked). On the other hand, if the stem is too short, you’ll have to use much more water to make it work.
Replacing a stem isn’t all that cheap. And for smokers who use it on a budget, it can be a heavy expense altogether. The price of a stem may vary depending on the make and brand, but it more expensive models can even go up to $40 for a piece.
The easiest way to identify a stemless bong is to is if the bong has a fixed downstem. So, it’s not normally a removable or re-attachable piece. The stem’s length can vary depending on the model. But most stems can be as long as 1/3rd of the bong’s size. A common feature of stemless bongs is a perc right below the end. The perc can moisturize and help to clean the smoke before it reaches your mouth.
Stemless bongs: The advantages
One of the biggest advantages of stemless bongs is that you don’t need the keg clips to keep the stem in position. So, you can comfortably take up the herb slide without worrying about the stem coming off or falling out.
Also, the fixed downstem makes it a smoother connection between the two ends of the device. So, users often find that there’s less drag on every hit compared to removable downstems. The smoother drag is more prominent in those models that have a shorter connection.
The stemless bongs essentially give you a simpler mechanism. This means there are less complications to worry about and fewer parts to keep track of.
Stemless bongs: The disadvantage
The unified mechanism of stemless bongs also has its disadvantages. You have to keep up with regular cleaning to avoid clogging the pipes and pathways. And cleaning it isn’t all that easy either. Since it doesn’t have detachable parts, you have to use a liquid cleaner that makes its way to every part of the bong. If you break any components while cleaning, the stemless bong becomes as good as useless.
A common reason why stemless bongs stop working is when you break the parts while lifting the herb bowl. The bowl can get caught in the joint, and even the wrong amount of pressure cracks the parts.
Stemless Bongs: The verdict
The stemless bong is a simpler and convenient smoking device that many users prefer over the stemmed designs. But the differences aren’t so prominent and drastic. It only matters if you’re concerned about the finer details and nuances of experiencing your smoke. The best way to arrive at a conclusion would be to try out enough bongs of both varieties. Then, you can form a specific taste or preference for one design over the other.