I know it’s probably just me, but my go-to bong is… not the cleanest thing out there. Far from it.
So, when I picked up a new bong for my adventure as a High Times Cannabis Cup Alaska: People’s Choice Edition, I set out to keep things clean this time around. And, yes, I’m aware that you can clean up a bong just fine, but I had the previous bong since legalization in Alaska, so it was time for a change.
After doing my usual form of glass shopping—looking around at a bunch of different things before just ending up with something from Grav—I brought home the Grav Empress, a 13-inch-tall beaker-style bong that brings some nice twists on the formula. As my shopping goes, I didn’t really set out to look for the easiest to clean bong, but it’s been a breeze… as long as I keep up with it.
It has an integrated downstem percolator that means the whole package is just two pieces: The bong and the bowl. At first, I was wary about everything being integrated and the eight-slotted percolator looked like it’d be a trap for sticky resin and gunk. But it turned out to clean up surprisingly easily with the old standard of isopropyl alcohol and kosher salt mix, letting the isopropyl soak into the tough spots before shaking and swirling it to scrub the insides out clean.
Turns out, the fewer connections there are the fewer places there are for things to get trapped and stuck together.
I also sprung for a small bottle of RezBlock, a special sauce that promises to help stop buildup, but I’ll hold off on a verdict quite yet because in my endeavor to keep things clean, I’ve been following the directions to keep the water changed every couple days (who knew you’re supposed to change it regularly). I’d hazard a guess that changing the water regularly does more to stop things from getting too disgusting, but I’ll keep testing.
As far as looks go, the Grav Empress caught my eye. It has the classic beaker shape but with a fluted waist that makes it sit comfortably in the hand while smoking. It’s also surprisingly hefty even by Grav’s hefty standards. It’s definitely a step up over the cheaper bongs with a high-class look, and it also comes in a sharp tinted glass edition for an extra $60.
If there’s one thing that I don’t really love about the Grav Empress, though, its that I’m still just not a huge fan of Grav’s funnel bowl design. The funnel shape seems to make it difficult to evenly ignite the bowl, leaving big patches of green and baked-on gunk. Of course, you can get it lit with a bit of adjusting but it looks like something I’ll be upgrading in the near future as it fits any 14mm bowls.
As far as the function of the Grav Empress goes, I find that it hits smooth and strong. If you're coming from smaller pieces and bongs—as I am—it's definitely easy to overwhelm yourself at first but I found that taking my time and being careful with just how much I'm drawing made for very pleasant and flavorful smoke sessions.
Matt Buxton is a freelance writer in Anchorage. Comments about this story? Contact Alaska Cannabist editor Dorothy Resch Chomicz at editor@AlaskaCannabist.com.