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A look into the key differences between traditional glass bongs and electronic dab rigs

For the longest time, cannabis enthusiasts and casual partakers of the devil’s lettuce have been presented with a variety of options for consuming this remarkable mind-altering plant. From the old-fashioned joint and other traditional weed smoking devices to the more complex glass bong, water pipe, and dry herb vaporizer, people have been looking for more enjoyable, safer, and healthier methods of cannabis consumption.

Ever since cannabis consumption has been widely accepted and legalized across multiple cities and states, there has been tremendous growth in the amount and the variety of cannabis products in the market, which has also affected how modern enthusiasts are consuming them. From edibles to concentrates, there are certainly more options today than in the last couple of decades in terms of cannabis products and the available devices for smoking and consuming them.

One such method of consuming weed is the traditional glass bong, which is a rig made mostly of glass that allows partakers to smoke cannabis flowers in a bowl, with the smoke filtered through water pooled at the bottom of the rig. Bongs, however, have evolved over the years and are now adapted for another form of cannabis consumption, referred to as dab.

Dabs, which go by other names such as shatter, concentrate, or sugar wax, just to mention a few, are a concentrated form of cannabis. Unlike dry herbs that you must burn with a blowtorch to consume the smoke, cannabis concentrates don’t usually require that level of heat to produce smoke, or vapor to be more accurate. This is one of the reasons why dabbing is quickly becoming the preferred method of cannabis consumption among modern enthusiasts looking for a healthier option of enjoying their weed.

The traditional glass bong, what is it?

A glass bong is a pipe, but with a water chamber at the bottom where the smoke coming from the burnt marijuana flower will pass through before the partaker inhales and takes in the smoke. The water acts as a filtration system to trap ash and other sediments, which is why it often gets darker or discolored after several uses.

Most of the glass bongs in the market can be easily converted into a dab rig, by simply swapping one part, from the old vegetable dish to a glass banger. While glass bongs are commonly used to smoke cannabis, they are also often used for smoking tobacco and other dry herbs. They are made from heat-resistant borosilicate glass, which means they can withstand higher temperatures, especially high-quality ones.

Electric bongs, e-nails, or e-rigs

Electric bongs, which are also referred to as e-rigs or e-nails, are a type of vaporizing machine powered by high-drain rechargeable batteries like that of Trident Laser by Hitoki. While they are inspired by traditional glass bongs and dab rigs, electronic rigs look nothing like the traditional glass bong setup. In the general sense, e-rigs work by electronically heating the chamber or the nail to a specific temperature, which is usually set by the user, to melt or vaporize the cannabis concentrate. Some e-rigs are designed to attach to a traditional glass bong/rig piece, but most of the popular electric bongs in the market typically work as an all-in-one weed smoke machine.

Standalone electric bongs typically come with a banger, an e-nail, a glass water chamber, a mouthpiece, and its power supply, all in a single device. They are powered by high-drain rechargeable batteries that work to heat the bowl or the e-nail to a set temperature with just the press of a button.

Dabbing using a traditional glass bong setup is a ceremonial process for most enthusiasts, and it takes quite a bit of practice to perfect. This, however, can be intimidating for most beginners. On the other hand, electronic bongs or e-rigs are easier to use and a bit more forgiving when it comes to the process of loading up the dab and heating it to just the right temperature.

E-rigs are also very portable compared to traditional glass rigs and typically come with their custom carrying case. This makes electric bongs the best desktop vaporizer for most dabbing enthusiasts, as they are inherently portable even though they’re technically desktop devices.

Vapor quality, flavor, and vapor quantity

Performance-wise, traditional glass bongs and electronic rigs can be compared through three main categories: vapor quality, flavor, and vapor quantity. Since traditional glass rigs use nails (heated by a blowtorch), to vaporize the cannabis concentrate and there’s no open-flame contact, you can be fairly certain that the vapor quality produced by classic dab rigs is clean and pure. Similarly though, electric bongs produce vapors that are just as pristine.

With a marijuana vaporizer bong that is set up for dry herb consumption, the open flame contact often produces smoke that has an unwanted taste, affecting the flavor profile of the herb. Opting for a laser bong, or a laser vaporizer, usually takes care of this problem as it utilizes light technology to heat the herb, effectively maintaining the strain’s flavor profile and aroma.

When it comes to flavor production, creating a consistent flavor experience from a traditional glass bong or dab rig will require a bit of practice, especially with cannabis concentrates. Mastering classic dab rigs takes practice if you want to get a consistent experience in every session.

In contrast, most e-rigs are designed for ease of use, making them easier to get into. While some would argue that an electric bong/rig doesn’t meet the flavor standards of a traditional dabbing rig, the ability to control the temperature with the push of a button certainly helps with the consistency that is often lacking or difficult to achieve with the classic dab rigs.

Additionally, laser bongs, laser vaporizers like the Saber laser consumption device, and even laser hookah are designed to maximize flavor production and keep the strain’s unique flavor profile intact by using light technology to heat the loaded material. In the same vein, electric bongs are tailored to optimize the overall experience by ensuring consistent flavor production through a heating process that doesn’t involve open-flame contact.

In terms of vapor quantity, it can be difficult to produce consistently dense clouds of vapor from both setup options. Whether you’re using a traditional glass bong or an electric rig, producing thick clouds right off the bat is often a challenge, especially for beginners. However, with the advancement of vaporizer technology and the availability of modern dab rigs, vapor quantity has not been an issue for cannabis enthusiasts for years.

Benefits of electric bongs

One of the benefits of using an electric bong for dabbing or weed consumption is having complete control over the heating temperature. Temperature control is a crucial factor in the overall consumption experience, and using an electronic rig allows you to dial in the preferred temperature setting with just a press of a button. So, whether you prefer lower temperatures to maximize flavor or higher temps for bigger clouds, an electric bong/rig can deliver that exact temperature control.

Another benefit and a key factor to consider when choosing between a traditional glass bong and an electric rig is consistency. While it is possible to achieve a consistent performance with classic glass rigs, getting there can be a challenge for newer users. It takes a lot of practice and experience to get an acceptable level of consistency that every cannabis enthusiast wants.

However, with an electric bong, the heating temperature can be easily set by pressing a button. And once the user finds the temperature they like, they can just heat the device over and over and get the same level of performance every single time. In contrast, using a butane torch to heat the dry herb or the nail for dabbing can be a challenge. It’s difficult to get the same temperature repeatedly, especially for beginners.

There are also health and safety benefits of using electric bongs, instead of the traditional glass rigs. It’s no secret that cannabis vaporizers, dab rigs, and electric bongs are healthier as a form of cannabis consumption compared to smoking combustible joints and flowers. Burning any material with an open flame to produce smoke that is then inhaled is hazardous.

The amount of toxic chemicals that are released from the process of burning is staggering. Dab rigs, and especially electric bongs and vaporizers do not have an open flame and they do not need an open flame to produce flavorful, clean, and dense clouds of vapor.

The bottom line

So, which is better, traditional glass bongs or electric bongs? Ultimately, the answer depends on user preference. Yes, it’s a cop-out answer, but it’s a realistic one. The bottom line is that it’s all about experience, and experience is subjective. One person may find using a classic dab rig very enjoyable and satisfying, but it doesn’t necessarily mean that other people will get the same enjoyable and satisfying experience.

For joint smokers who have never tried dabbing or have never used a dab rig before, the electric option is a good entry point as it is more forgiving and easier to master compared to the more complicated setup process normally associated with traditional glass rigs.