What is a bong? Good question. If you’re interested in weed, it’s high time you learned about bongs.
Let’s start with defining a bong. It goes by various nicknames: binger, billy, bubbler, water pipe. Essentially, it’s a tube with various bulbs and entry points designed to make smoking weed a pleasure.
Trivia Extra Credit: the word “bong” could have come from the Thai word “baung,” a bamboo tube used to smoke weed.
So grab some herb out of your stash box, and let’s get to it.
Table of Contents
How Does a Bong Work?
You’ll find bongs in a variety of different shapes and sizes. The most basic ones are simply a bowl and a smoke chamber. Others are veritable modern masterpieces, full of colors, shapes, and intricacies that would make Michelangelo’s face melt.
The purpose of the various bowls, tubes, and chambers is simple: they work together to take hot marijuana smoke, cool and filter it and deliver it to your lungs.
It starts with the bowl. This small structure holds dried weed, which you light as you suck in air through the mouthpiece. That sucking action draws the smoke down into the bong and the water chamber at the bottom of the bong, where it bubbles upwards.
The weed smoke percolating through the water serves several purposes. It does filter the smoke, though it’s not necessarily healthier for your lungs than normal weed smoke (contrary to popular belief). It also cools the smoke, so you’re not sucking down scorching lungfuls of fire.
What Are the Parts of a Bong Called?
Now that you have the basics, here are the five components of any bong:
- Tube: This is the long, straight section of a bong, typically 8” or longer. The bottom of it is filled with water.
- Downstem: This is a tube you slide into the water from the side of the bong. Your downstem may have slots in the bottom for better bubbling.
- Carburetor: This hole in the bong’s base creates better airflow and helps clear the tube out.
- Bowl: Where you pack your herb.
- Percolator: This is the filter that allows bubbles to form in the water while also helping to remove impurities from the smoke.
There are also different types of percolators you can choose from:
- Honeycomb: These feature a honeycomb-shaped series of filtration holes.
- Turbine: This is a fun one — it creates a cyclone in the water by pulling smoke through five or so different slots.
- Hanging: A hanging percolator hangs in the center of the main tube, creating more bubbles.
- In-line: This small, horizontal tube puts slots near the very bottom of the base.
- Fritted: This is made with a porous glass filter that looks like fibers. These create small, fine bubbles, creating the most filtration (but also the most likely to clog).
If It’s Not Healthier, Then Why Use It?
Great question. Bongs do have plenty of benefits over paper-rolled smoking techniques.
For example, there’s a lack of dry heat. You’re inhaling a moist, creamy toke rather than a harsh, hot one. Keep in mind that this will definitely feel more pleasant than regular smoking, but that doesn’t mean it’s healthier.
A final note on this: Look, we’re not saying bongs are evil — we’re just saying that all the talk about them being “safer” than other types of smoking is bogus and isn’t helping anyone. The best way to fight B.S. is not with more B.S.
So pick your favorite strain and go forth with more knowledge!
What’s the Best Type of Bong to Use?
Avoid using plastic bongs whenever possible. Plastics are made of petroleum and tend to off-gas when heated, potentially releasing BPA, phthalates, and other chemicals known to be linked to cancer.
A good old glass bong is your best friend here. They’re more breakable, but they look nicer, age better, and are chemically inert.
How Do I use my Bong?
It’s a pretty simple process:
- Start by cleaning the bong.
- Fill it with purified water until the bottom of the downstem is covered. You can also add ice.
- If you’re using percolators, fill them with water too.
- Take a test drag by sliding the downstem into the bowl, ensuring the water level is right.
- Pack the bowl with weed.
- Light it while inhaling the top of the bong.
Enjoy this centuries-old method of smoking weed.
Other Methods of Smoking Weed
Don’t want to use a bong? Then here are two other options: