How to Measure Bong Size and Gender

Base of translucent and black glass beaker bong by Illadelph

If you ever plan on upgrading your existing bong it will be important to know both its joint size and gender. Otherwise, you may wind up with a new bowl that doesn’t fit. Now you may not be aware that bongs have genders but they do. Or more specifically, the joint used to connect the bowl to the stem is either “male” or “female”. So, if you buy a new bowl or stem from our online head shop and you don’t take the gender into consideration you’ll wind up having to return it for another. Read on to learn how to identify the gender of your bong and how to measure the joint size.

Determining the Gender of Your Bong

Every bowl joint is either male or female. That is, the part of the bowl that attaches to the stem is either inserted into the top of the stem (male) or fits over the top of the stem (female). Life would be much simpler for bong aficionados if there were uniformity of design and all manufacturers used the same type of joint for every bong. But such is not the case.

Therefore, before you can modify your current bong you will need to know whether the bowl is male or female. And just as important, you will need to know the width of the joint so that your new bowl is able to make a snug connection.

Identifying the gender of the bowl joint is simple. Just remove the bowl from the stem and take note of whether it is designed to fit into the top of the stem or over it. As we said, however, you also need to know the width of the joint if your new bowl is to be a proper fit.

About Joint Sizes

Our Northglenn and Denver head shop teams get asked all the time about joint sizes, often after someone has bought a new bowl and discovered it doesn’t fit. The good news is that, while joints do come in different diameters, most bongs these days only use one of three sizes: 10mm, 14mm, and 18mm, with 14mm being the most common size and 10mm being pretty rare.

Because there are plenty of bongs out there with 18mm joints you need to know if your bong is one of them before you go ahead and buy a new bowl. (For the record, some manufacturers will refer to 14mm joints as “14.5mm” and 18mm joints as “18.8 mm”, but they are the same as other 14mm and 18mm joints, so don’t get confused.)

Measuring the Joint Size of Your Bong

If you have a female joint at the top of the stem the fastest and most accurate way to measure it is to use a ruler or tape measure. But if you do not have either one of those available there are hacks you can use to determine the joint size.

The most popular of these hacks is to use a dime to determine the joint size. The reality is that there are almost no 10mm joints still in circulation so there’s about a 95% chance your joint is either 14mm or 18mm. So, grab a dime and, holding it vertically, try to fit it down into the joint. A dime has a diameter of 17.9mm, so it will fit down inside an 18mm joint. If your joint is 14mm only the bottom 20% or so of the dime will fit down into the joint.

If you have a female connection on the bowl instead of the stem the process of determining its size is exactly the same. If you can fit a dime up into the bowl connection then it’s 18mm. If you can’t then it’s 14mm. Remember, there’s almost no chance it’s actually 10mm.

If for some reason you find yourself with a bowl that does not fit onto the stem of your bong you have a couple of choices. You can return the bowl to our brick-and-mortar pipe shop and get a replacement that’s the proper size, or you can purchase an adapter from our online smoke shop that will fit in between the stem and the bowl and ensure they play nice.

The Bottom Line

If you plan on installing a new bowl on your heady glass pipe you’ll need to make sure the bowl you buy from our online head shop has the right size joint that is also the right gender. The good news is that determining the gender of your water pipe and the diameter of the joint is easy to do by following the instructions laid out above.

And if you find yourself in Denver make sure to stop by 710 Pipes for an outstanding selection of the highest-quality pipes, bongs, and peripherals.

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