There is hardly another series of bongs that enjoys such a good reputation in terms of smoking culture as the by now generation-spanning beloved waterpipes by Merlin. Enough to ask Bodo Bähring – the mastermind behind this marvels – for a short interview to unlock the deeper philosophy of bongmaking. Time for „10 Questions to the maker“:

  • The Maker: Bodo Bähring
  • Brand: Merlin Bong
  • Active since: 1988
  • Style: handmade glass art

  • headmin:Hi Bodo. The reputation of „Merlin Bongs“ is hard to beat. What specifications are essentiell for a high class waterpipe?
  • Bodo:There are a lot of indicators. Of course, it mainly depends on good workmanship. The glass thickness got to be constant on every part on the pipe, not only at some parts of the bong. Also exact grounds are very essentiell to avoid to much oxygen with your draw. The kind of glass is really important: Merlin only use premium „Schott Duran“ Glass. There must not be any tension in the glass and the bong got to have a performing flow. If there are percs, it should work proper and should not be there only for decoration. Most bong smokers knows the effect of „counter pressure“ that occures during the draw just as a drinking straw. This pressure should be as low as possible to allow a comfortable draw. In short terms: Drag free maximum – Counter pressure minimum.
  • headmin:What about the grounds? Does a bigger ground always mean a better performance?
  • Bodo: Not in general. The best ground size depends on the volume of the pipe.
  • headmin:A lot of modern glass bongs are rather playful in design and equipment. Some smokers are annoyed by these feature, because its rather hard to keep the bong clean. What is Merlins philosophie about that?
  • Bodo: Of course, bongs got to be freshed up frequently. Merlin always got an beady eye on that point – especially with circulators and showerheads

  • headmin: Size does matter! What was your biggest bong?
  • Bodo: 1,70m … with a kick hole you could handle with your big toe.
  • headmin: and what size is ideal?
  • Bodo: depends on the ver ypipe ….50cm if it is a usual bong, 13cm – 30cm with BHOs
  • headmin: apropos: What does the professional reccommend? Kick hole or lift-off?
  • Bodo: Lift-off without Kickloch, because you have the fresh air at the right place. It is much more comfort with that methode. Kick holes are wide spread in Europe, but you wont find many pipes with kick hole in the US.
  • headmin: There are plenty of equipment for glass bongs. Which are indispensable in your opinion?
  • Bodo: A pre-cooler and an active-carbon filter
  • headmind: Much of a bongs quality depends on the kind of glas. Which sort do you prefer?
  • Bodo: Definitely Schott Duran. There are many sorts of imitated borosilicates available, but none of them are equal in quality to Schott Duran.

  • headmin: Do you still remember the first bong you have ever made?
  • Bodo: Sure ;) That was the start of all and finally i received my first big order of 20 pieces. I was an apprentice and therfore it was some kind of challenge for me. My collegues had to help me, but
    my teacher wasnt familiar with our doings.;) That was how it began and i never stopped since that.
  • headmin: A last question: How do you expect the ideal bong in 2100?
  • Bodo: Hard to say, at the moment we have a trend for best flow practise.
    • the pipe is custommade and very colorful
    • Stemmless
    • the bong got filter systems like circ, perc and similar but no extern filters like pre-coolers.
    • the bong got an implemented burner
    • additional features like dabber and dish

Many thanks to Bodo Bähring / Merlin Bongs.