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How Does a Bong Work

The bong as we know it today has been in circulation only since the late 60s, but it soon became one of the most iconic ways to consume cannabis.

If you’ve ever smoked your herbs from a bong (or water pipe) and you’ve enjoyed it, but have no idea how they work, we’ve got a nice treat for you.

This guide will help you learn the basics of how the bong works, and how to use it to get the most out of your next sesh.

Everyone that has ever smoked out of a bong has had to learn the basics — however, there’s some serious science behind these basics.

Let’s break down what a bong is, how it works, and how to keep your piece fresh and clean.

The History of the Bong

The word “bong” allegedly comes from the Thai word “baung,” which traditionally describes a wooden bamboo tube and has also contributed to the modern definition of a large water pipe.

Although glass bongs are a relatively new invention, some researchers have traced the use of a water pipe back to China’s Ming Dynasty. Other historical records suggest that bongs were used by African tribes, and there are even accounts of ancient bongs made of pure gold. Those were discovered in the graves of nomadic warriors from the regions of modern Russia.

The History of the Bong

Today, bongs can take on many sizes, shapes, and designs — they’re also made out of different materials. The most popular type of bong is the glass one. Glass bongs are made from sturdy borosilicate glass that prevents them from cracking and shattering upon falling down.

Basic Elements of the Bong

A standard bong consists of five basic components:

The Bowl/Slide

The bowl is the bulbous part of your bong where you insert dried cannabis flower and combust it. Most often, the bowl can be detached from the bong’s body.

The Downstem

The downstem is the small tube that facilitates the way for the smoke from the bowl down to the base, where it gets filtered through water.

The Mouthpiece

The mouthpiece is the element at the end of the elongated tunnel at the top of the bong. This is where you need to place your lips and draw up the smoke once you’re ready to take a hit.

The Chamber

The bong’s chamber holds the smoke — it will sit there until it is released by the user pulling the smoke through the mouthpiece in a quick inhale.

The Carb

This is the hole on one side of your water pipe. You need to cover it as you’re lighting up the herb and release it when ready to inhale the smoke. Many bongs come without this feature.

How to Prepare the Bong for Your First Session

First things first, you need to feel your bong with water, covering the downstem. All the downstem’s holes must be submerged.

How to Prepare the Bong for Your First Session

The next thing on your to-do list should be placing your ground marijuana into the bowl and attach the bowl to the downstem. Make sure not to place the bowl too tightly on the downstem — shoving it down is out of the question.

At this point, you’re ready to light up. Just remember to dry off any residual water that might have splashed on the outside of the bong. Wet glass can be quite slippery, and you don’t want to risk your precious piece by shattering it into a hundred pieces.

How Does a Bong Work? (User’s Manual)

Once you’ve packed your favorite strain into the bowl and the bowl is screwed onto the downstem, you can place your lips over the mouthpiece to complete the smoke funnel.

We recommend taking this step prior to lighting up because this allows you to inhale the smoke once it accumulates in the chamber and is ready for the suction as soon as you ignite the herb.

Now it’s time to light the bowl. Position your lighter just above the end of the loaded bowl and light ub the herb while inhaling the smoke at the same time. If your water pipe is equipped with a carb, you’re also going to use your non-dominant hand to cover the carb so the smoke remains in the chamber until it’s thick enough to travel to your lungs.

Once there, pull out the bowl gently and suck the smoke through the mouthpiece in a quick motion. It’s good to keep your bong on a hard, even surface as you take hits from it, or secure it between your legs to prevent the water pipe from falling.

When smoking in a group of people, you should clear any residual smoke from the bong before passing it to another person.

Keep Your Bong Clean to Always Get the Most out of You Herbs

Cleaning your bong after each smoking session is the key to successful maintenance. Clean the ashes from the bowl and tap them off into an ashtray. Lingering ashes can smolder when you don’t clean the bowl, reducing the quality of your next smoke.

Sometimes, giving your water pipe a deep clean is inevitable. There are a few different ways to clean your bong. Some people like to use a mixture of isopropyl alcohol and salt. Others rely on an alcohol-vinegar-soda solution to loosen residual resin from the trouble spots in the pipe.

Keep Your Bong Clean to Always Get the Most out of You Herbs

Start by disassembling the bong and placing each piece in a separate Ziploc bag. Pour the cleaning solution over each piece and seal the bag so that the cleaner can penetrate even the tiniest spots in your piece. 

Once you’ve done the job, rinse, dry, and reassemble the bong.

Key Takeaways: How Does a Bong Work?

So there you have it! Now you know how a bong works and how to get through your first smoking session from A to Z, knowing the exact science behind the famous water pipe. Bongs are often raved for their ability to produce large hits full of smooth smoke — if you feel like experimenting with different models, you can use units equipped with percolators and ice catchers for even better filtration and an extra cool touch to your experience.

How would you rate your skills with the bong? Do you have any tips to share about how bongs work with less experienced tokers?Share them in the comments!


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