by: Lexi Bel
Bongs––love ‘em or hate ‘em, they’re a quintessential staple of smoking paraphernalia. And unlike many of the other things we smoke out of––like pipes, bowls, and one-hitters––bongs use water in order to filter your smoke and give you (ideally) a cleaner, smoother hit. Bongs and other portable water-pipes have been around for a long time, used by indigenous populations like the Hmong people of Thailand and Laos for centuries; even the word “bong” comes from the Thai word baung referring to a bamboo tube used for smoking. Bongs have history!
Stoners and casual smokers alike tend to have strong opinions on bongs, mainly because they tend to hit hard and get you high fast, and they can be a little too good at their job for some folks. For me, bongs have always been an on-again-off-again friend; there was a year in college where I would hit my bong every few hours, spending all day everyday together like we were joined at the hip. Then, well, something happened that tends to happen to almost all stoners at one point or another: I had a weed-induced panic attack that made me lay off the bong for awhile, a time during which I only vaped my weed or occasionally took tiny tokes from my glass bowl. Because that’s the thing with bongs––they’re amazing at getting you high, but if they have one major drawback, it’s that they lack control. It’s easy to take a really controlled, tiny hit from a vape, a one-hitter, or even straight from a bowl, but controlling your intake with a bong hit is kind of like letting a lion in your house and telling it to “be good.” It’s part of what we love about bongs, but it’s also kind of why sometimes, we may need some time apart.
Luckily for me, I’m back in good standing with bongs at the moment. While I still find taking a controlled hit from a bong next to impossible, I’ve gotten better at judging when is and when isn’t a good time for me to take a bong hit, most of which comes down to really taking a second to sit with myself and see how I’m feeling. If I’ve got even a whiff of anxiety, fear, or paranoia in me while sober, I know that it’s probably not a good time to seek out my bong. But if I’m feeling relaxed, joyful, content, or if I just need a little mental break (from work, from content creation, etc)––that’s when I break out my bong. And oh, what a bong she is.
Currently, I’m using the Sunset Bong from Yew Yew––a sculptural, incredible piece of smokeware constructed of thick borosilicate glass in a green that looks like pure carved jade. To say that I’m obsessed with it would be an understatement. It’s a bong so beautiful that for the first time in my life, I don’t immediately stow it away in the cabinet under my sink after I’m done taking a hit. I leave this baby out on the counter, because she deserves to be seen. The Sunset Bong really is the prettiest piece of smokeware I have ever owned––and that’s saying something, because I’ve been collecting pretty pipes, bowls, one-hitters, and water-pipes for several years now, and I thought I had seen it all. And don’t get me wrong, there’s lots of beautiful bongs out there––the Summerland Ceramics ones come to mind, or the famous Stündenglass––but the Sunset Bong is still, for me, the winner. The elegant minimalism of its lines, reimagining the classic shape, coupled with a perfectly-designed mouthpiece and comfortable base make it a smoking experience unlike any other. So let’s talk about it.
The first thing I noticed about the Sunset Bong when I unboxed it was the shape; a perfect, rounded base topped by a hollow cylinder, it was the same shape as basically ever bong ever, only…it was different, somehow. The neck was shorter than other bongs I had used, and the base––or body––was larger and more circular. There’s something really refined and simple about it. It’s as if you took the average bong shape and sort of smoothed it out, pared it down to its basic components and really honed those essential elements to create something super streamlined and almost deconstructed. You could probably get all this just from looking at a picture of it, but when you actually handle it in person, it’s kind of different somehow, more dramatic. The glass is thick, but somehow it’s still very lightweight; every edge is rounded. Looking at the circular base where it seems to melt seamlessly into whatever flat surface it sits on, I could see where the piece got its name. I knew it was special as soon as I saw it––and, of course, I couldn’t help but wonder if the experience of using it would live up to its beautiful appearance.
The First Hit
After a quick cleaning, I packed the bowl about halfway full of a freshly ground sativa (one of the only ways to control a bong hit that I know of: don’t pack as much as you want to) and took my first hit from the Sunset Bong. I tried to be gentle, and to my surprise the bong was responsive––it let me take what I can only describe as “a chill little rip” without completely wrecking me. That’s not my usual experience with a bong, and it was a welcome change. The only reason I can think of why the Sunset Bong let me take that nice, mellow little hit is that the smoke is filtered through three very tiny holes in the stem that goes under the water (see above). If I had to guess, I’d say that super-fine filtration is the reason that I was able to take a pretty controlled hit with the Sunset Bong, but all I really know is that it was a comfy, perfect first hit that didn’t leave me coughing my lungs out, so I was happy.
I took a few more hits from it throughout the day, and I found that the experience did live up to the hype––the mouthpiece was comfortable, the large base felt sturdy in my hand, and despite my reservations about there being no carb, the bowl was surprisingly easy to slide in and out and didn’t give me any trouble. Plus, I have to admit that the lack of a carb does help with the streamlining of the design––I think it would lose some of that sculptural effect with a carb included, and I’m willing to sacrifice it for the aesthetics of the piece. And whether it's the design of the stem or something else I’m not smart enough to figure out, the hits are smooth, smooth, smooth.
So, Is The Sunset Bong Worth It?
Short answer? Yes.
Long answer? A million times yes. At $140, the Sunset Bong really isn’t all that more expensive than a run-of-the-mill smoke shop one––it might even be cheaper than a lot of the glass bongs in your local smoke shop. With a design that manages to put so much focus on aesthetics while still not skimping on any part of the functionality, the Sunset Bong is a no-brainer for the design-minded weed enjoyer. And as someone with a low tolerance and a tendency toward dramatic coughing no matter how much or how long I’ve smoked, I can also confidently say that the Sunset Bong is perfect for the sensitive smoker. Somehow, it really lets you wrest some control back over your bong-ripping experience, and I absolutely love it.