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How to fix a cracked glass bong, pipe, or downstem

Published May 4, 2021 12:00 p.m. ET
iStock / Olena Bondarenko

Bongs and pipes that are made using high-quality glass are considered to be top of the line, but they all come with a fault, and it’s that they break. Sometimes we get lucky and it’s just a small crack that doesn’t really impact the functionality of the device. Sadly, more often than not, that isn’t the case because glass isn’t very forgiving when things go wrong.

Whether it’s the downstem, mouthpiece, or main chamber, a pipe or bong repair is typically the only way to move on unless you’re ready to spring for a whole new device, and this is a task that’s much more complicated than it might seem because you can’t use just anything to stick the pieces back together, and not every piece is salvageable.

Is a bong repair even possible?

If your bong is broken but still in one complete piece, then your chances of a successful recovery are pretty high because there will only be small gaps to fill. When a full piece breaks off cleanly, things might be a bit bleaker, but there’s still a pretty good chance that you can make it work. Unfortunately, if your glass is shattered into a bunch of shards that are impossible to gather or too small to reasonably pick up by hand, then you might need to seek the help of a professional, or you could be completely out of luck and need a replacement.

Professional bong repair

Sometimes it’s best to put your prized bong or pipe in the care of a true professional who knows exactly what it takes, as they can offer the most complete and reliable assessment of the situation. Of course, these experts are rare, and as a result, their services can range anywhere from $100-$500+, which in most cases, for the average consumer, just isn’t worth it when a total replacement is often much less. That’s why professional bong repairs are a rare occurrence.

How to fix cracked glass

The first thing you’ll need to do before starting a bong repair is to decide on the adhesive you’re going to use to fix it. Some people assume that any old glue will work for the job, but unfortunately, it’s not that easy because your device is going to be exposed to heat, which means that you need safe, non-toxic options, like these three:

1. Duct tape

It might sound comical, and it certainly isn’t going to look pretty without a very creative mind, but duct tape is the fastest and easiest thing to use to repair a glass bong or pipe. Duct tape doesn’t need time to set or dry, it can hold up to a pretty significant amount of heat, and it’s the perfect width to patch up most downstems with ease. It’s not the perfect long-term solution by any means, but it works!

2. Food grade silicone

Food grade silicone is a fantastic option that is entirely non-toxic, which is why it’s recommended as a sealant for many pet products. It’s also formulated to stand up to a fair amount of heat, thick so it's relatively easy to work with, without runs, and it’s cheap. The only real downsides are that it does take a while, up to 2 or more hours, to harden, so food-grade silicone isn’t quite an instant solution, and it’s slow-acting, making it good for chips or cracks but less ideal for bigger breaks.

3. Epoxy

Food grade two-part epoxy is the only like food-grade silicone comes in many different colours, so it’s possible to get close to a match for your bong, but unlikely to repair it in a way that isn’t at least somewhat noticeable. It’s long-lasting and perfect for both small cracks and chips as well as gluing whole chunks of pieces back together because the adhesive is very strong, taking hold almost instantly.

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Though it might be a bit more expensive and harder to get than the first two options on this list, it is the best choice if the goal of this bong repair is longevity.

How to glue glass together

Gluing glass pieces together using food-grade silicone or epoxy is a bit more challenging than something lighter or flat like paper. This job requires preparation and care because once the adhesive sets, it’s hard to come back from a botched bong repair.

  1. Thoroughly clean all of the bong pieces so that nothing stops the adhesive from bonding.

  2. Make sure that the pieces are completely dry because even just a small amount of water could stop the adhesive from setting.

  3. Arrange all pieces in order, starting with the largest, working all the way down to the smallest shards. If you have a lot to work with, gluing might have to be done in multiple layers to give the larger pieces enough time to dry before bearing weight.

  4. If necessary, prepare the glue by mixing. If not, you can skip this step.

  5. Use a small, fine paintbrush to apply the adhesive to the edges of the biggest broken piece of glass, and then press it into place. You might need to hold it there or offer support with a small amount of tape while it dries.

  6. Keep going, piecing all of the shards together one at a time. In extreme circumstances, small breaks might be required for drying before moving on.

  7. Once the bong has finally been put back together, leave it to sit for several hours, and if possible, overnight, just to ensure that the bond is complete and strong.

What not to use for fixing bongs

Though bongs and pipes are often made out of glass, they cannot be safely repaired with many of the most commonly used adhesives, including glass glue, and these are just a few of them, along with the reasons why they should be avoided.

  • Superglue – Will not bond to the glass.
  • Glass glue – Releases toxic fumes when heated.
  • Putty sealants or cement – These kinds of sealants are full of chemicals that will continuously emit fumes.
  • Any other sticky, tacky, glue or adhesive alternatives – You just never know if the ingredients could be toxic or hazardous to your health, so it’s better to steer clear of questionable options.
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