Chances are if you’ve hung out in the cannabis crowd, you’ve come across a bong or two in your time.
This extraordinary smoking tool dates back throughout the ages and has found its prime in the world of modern day weed.
What Is a Bong?
A bong is a smoking apparatus that is often used for weed and tobacco, though it can be used for any type of dried herb.
Its design and use of water provides a cleaner smoke with a smoother hit, thanks to the filtration and cooling of the smoke as it passes through the water before being inhaled. Since water is used, it’s common you’ll hear bongs referred to as “water bongs” or “water pipes.”
Bongs are larger than pipes and joints, so they aren’t as portable as other smoking tools. But their functionality as a “cleaner” smoking option has made them a fan favorite in the world of weed smokers.
Who Invented the Bong?
So, who created this beautiful masterpiece? Well, the use of bongs actually dates back to centuries ago to the time of cave dwellers.
That’s right - ancient forms of bongs have been found in a cave in Ethiopia that date back to the early 1000s.
Even older than that, bongs have been found among the artifacts of ancient tribes in Russia, dating back to over 2000 years ago!
These aren’t the only two civilizations that utilized this technology. Forms of bong usage have been found in various locations across the world, including by the Ming and Qing Dynasties in China. In fact, it is believed that bongs even had their own journey along the Silk Road.
The modern day usage of bongs in American cannabis culture really started to take off in the 1960s and 1970s during the “Flower Power” era.
Legend has it, Bob Snodgrass is responsible for the bong we know and love today thanks to his brilliant glassblowing expertise.
Pros & Cons of Using A Bong
Just like with any smoking apparatus, there are pros and cons of using a bong.
The most noticeable benefit of using a bong is how smooth the smoke is after it has been cooled by the water, or even ice in some bongs.
It is a much more enjoyable experience to inhale smoke out of a bong than it is to take a hit off a pipe or joint in that sense, and it's much less harsh on your throat and lungs!
Not only does the water in the bong cool the smoke, but it also filters out a lot of harmful items that you would inhale if you were smoking from a pipe or joint. This includes things like toxins, tar and even ash.
Have you ever seen how dirty bong water can get? Just imagine if you had inhaled all that directly!
An added bonus of the bong - because of the way it is designed, it allows you to take much bigger hits than you could on a pipe or joint.
Beginners beware though, this could lead to a much stronger high than you are ready for!
While the water provides many benefits to using a bong, it can also be a big con if you’re not careful! You’ll want to make sure you are mindful where you put your bong when the water isn’t clean, or you may find yourself in the unfortunate situation of accidentally knocking it over and spilling your dirty bong water all over yourself or your stuff!
And that added benefit of the filtration properties of the water? Well, studies have found that it is actually filtering out some of the THC, which could result in you smoking more to get your desired high.
While bongs help provide a cleaner smoking option thanks to their filtration properties, any form of smoking is still detrimental to your body. Long term smoking habits could lead to chronic damage, like bong lung. A good way to mitigate against this is to use ice bongs (more details below) to help cool the smoke even more before you inhale.
Bongs are larger than joints or pipes, making them a not so portable option if you like having something that you can easily tuck in your pocket or purse. There are some good bong options available, though, if you want to take yours on the go with you!
They also entail more set up and are a tad more complicated to use, which could be more of a challenge if you are already high (don’t worry, though - we have some bong usage easy steps below!).
And lastly, you’ll want to make sure to keep your bong clean! Having a good cleaning habit for your bong could help prevent you from cleaning up some nasty bong water later on!
Types of Bongs (Material)
If you’re wanting to smoke out of a bong, there are a plethora of options for you to choose from! The first step when choosing the right bong for you is to figure out what type of material you want your bong to be made out of.
The most popular and pricey material for bongs is borosilicate glass.
If you are the type of person that is concerned about toxins leaching out of materials that are heated, then you won’t need to worry with your glass bong. These are considered the cleanest material option in that you won’t get any toxins coming out of the glass. They also can withstand some pretty high temperatures as well, which is great for durability when smoking.
Another cool aspect of the glass bong is the visual appeal. Since glass is transparent, you’ll be able to watch your smoke go to work inside the bong, which could make for a nice little show during your smoking session! The transparency of glass bongs also makes it much easier to monitor the status of your bong water, helping you remember to keep it clean!
Glass bongs come in a wide range of artistic varieties, which makes this smoking apparatus a nice little piece of decor for your bookshelf when not in use.
Be careful, though! While there are many advantages of glass bongs, they are also the most likely to break if mishandled. This also means that they aren’t the most portable option if you are looking for a bong that is easy to take on the go.
If want a bong that you can easily take on the go, then a silicone bong could be a great option for you!
These bongs are known for their durability and flexibility. They are bendable and shatterproof, so no need to worry about handling them with care.
Silicone bongs are also a great health-conscious bong option since a good amount of them are BPA-free and non-toxic.
They are also dishwasher safe, which makes cleaning these bongs very low maintenance and easy!
While they aren’t transparent like glass bongs, silicone bongs still offer a great visual appeal as they come in a wide variety of designs.
Another great option if you are looking to go the durable route is to get an acrylic bong.
Acrylic bongs tend to be less expensive than other bong material types, making them much more affordable if you’re trying to buy a bong on a budget.
They are also transparent, so you’ll have that same smoke show in this bong as you would if you were smoking out of a glass bong. You’ll also be able to keep a better eye on the status of your bong water.
Just like the other types of bongs, you can find these in all sorts of shapes, sizes and colors to fit your personality or home decor.
Acrylic bongs are made from plastic, so there is that increased risk that you’ll be inhaling some of the toxins from the material as it is heated. They also tend to give off a bit of an odor when used, which could potentially impact your smoking experience.
A ceramic bong is going to be the best choice if your primary criteria is to find a bong that is visibly striking and unique. These pieces are best known for being a true work of art.
Not only that, but these are the best “throwback” bongs to the early days of this smoking apparatus as a lot of early models from thousands of years ago were made out of clay.
They differ from glass bongs in that they aren’t transparent, but they are very similar in the sense that if you drop one of these, it will break!
They also tend to be cheaper than glass bongs. So if you want a bong that is going to be a nice centerpiece on your coffee table without fully breaking the bank, then this option is a great one for you!
The least common type of bong material is metal.
They are known for being highly durable while still offering a smooth smoke, similar to the glass bong option.
If you come across a metal bong, it might still have a cool design or artwork on it, but you most likely won’t find these pieces to be as artistic as some of the other bong material options.
Alright, so you know how the various bong materials differ, but what style of bong should you get?
And what is the best bong to buy? Well, that depends on what you’re looking for!
The most traditional style bong you’ll see is the straight tube bong. And just like its name, it is designed with a straight tube that comes up from the chamber.
This style is going to give you a smooth smoke with an easy and direct hit. It’s simplistic design also makes it the easiest to clean.
The beaker bong is the perfect style if you want to have that “science lab” vibe with your piece.
The base of the bong is in the wide shape of a beaker. This allows more smoke to accumulate in the chamber, which leads to a larger hit.
The shape also increases the surface area of the top of the water, enhancing the cooling and filtration properties for this bong and thus creating a smoother and healthier hit.
You know that stereotypical bubbling smoke sound you often hear associated with bongs? You can thank the percolator bong for that!
Percolator bongs use - you guessed it - a percolator that is made up of tiny holes or tubes that are used to diffuse the smoke into bubbles. This technique increases the interaction between the smoke and water. Percolators increase the filtration process, cool the smoke even further and also increase the amount of moisture you’ll inhale, making this one of the smoothest hits you’ll find!
A popular subset of percolator bongs is the honeycomb bong. True to its name, the percolator is in the shape of a honeycomb with tiny holes that further enhance how the smoke is diffused, leading to an even smoother hit!
If you’re looking for a bong that is going to provide the coolest hit possible, you’ll want to go with an ice bong.
This bong has an ice catcher in it, which means it has notches along the pipe (or tube) that holds the ice. Just like the other types of bongs, you still add water to the chamber in ice bongs. The main difference is that when you pull your hit, the smoke will also filter through the ice in the pipe and cool down even further.
Be extra careful with this one though! Ice bongs are typically made of glass, so you’ll want to make sure you are handling it with care when you are dropping your ice cubes into the catcher.
The multi-chamber bong is by far the best bong for filtration. The various chambers all include their own water, providing multiple levels of filtration as the smoke passes through them.
Not only are you getting increased filtration with the multi-chamber bong, but you’re also going to get a smoother and more concentrated hit.
Some multi-chamber bongs take it to an even higher level by adding in one or more percolators.
A carburetor bong, or carb bong, is similar to a pipe in that it has a carb hole that you cover and release with your finger instead of pulling out the bowl at the end of your hit.
Various styles can come with the option of having a carb hole, including your typical straight tube bong, the beaker bong and even the percolator bong.
They are often smaller in size and more compact, which makes this style bong a good choice if you are looking to take it on the go.
The bent neck bong is going to provide a more ergonomically friendly smoking experience, since you won’t have to be looking straight down your bong pipe while smoking.
They also have a splash guard feature that prevents any unwanted bong water reaching your face like you may experience with the more traditional straight tube options.
Because of its bent neck feature, this bong is typically shorter and more compact than other options, making it more travel friendly.
While it is technically a hybrid piece between a dry pipe and a bong, the bubbler is a great choice if you want something compact and discreet while also having the added benefits of using water.
This piece comes in many shapes in sizes, though it generally resembles the shape of a pipe.
If you’ve ever seen anyone smoking cannabis out of a Sherlock Holmes style pipe that is bubbling away during the hit, then you’ve seen a bubbler!
Bongs For The Smoothest Hits
Do you find yourself still wondering exactly which bong or bongs are going to provide the smoothest hit? Remember, the more water filtration you have and the cooler you can get your smoke, the smoother your hit will be!
That means that the multi-chamber, percolator, beaker and ice bongs are going to be your best options for finding that smoothest of smooth hits on your bong. Bonus points if you come across a bong that has all four options in one!
Best Way to Hit a Bong
At first glance, using a bong may seem a bit complicated and overwhelming. But fear not! This smoking device is actually pretty easy to use. With these simple steps, we’ll have you pulling some smooth, cool hits off your bong in no time!
How to Use a Bong
Gather Your Things
The first step in using your bong is to make sure you have everything ready and in place. Check to make sure all your bong pieces are probably positioned, grind up your favorite bud, grab your trusty lighter and have some water handy for when you’re ready to fill the chamber(s).
Fill the Chamber(s)
The next step is to pour water into your chamber, or chambers if you’re using a multi-chamber bong. You’ll want to fill the chamber to the point where your downstem is underwater.
This is also a good time to add any ice to your ice catcher if you’re using an ice bong.
Pack Your Bowl
Now that you have your water in place, go ahead and put your bud in your bowl! Put enough green in there to fill the bowl to the top, then give it a nice little pat so that it stays in place (make sure to not pack your bowl too tight, or you probably won’t get a good hit and will just waste your weed). If you haven’t already, go ahead and make sure your bowl is secured in the downstem.
Light It Up
Get that trusty lighter of yours ready for this step! Grab your bong and put your mouth on the mouthpiece at the top of the pipe, or tube. Light up your bowl and take a light pull to help encourage the smoke to fill the chamber and rise up the pipe. The point of this step isn’t to take your hit, but to get enough smoke building up in your bong for the next step.
If you have a carb bong, you’ll want to make sure your finger is over the carb for this step.
Take a Hit
Alright, once you know your chamber is full of smoke, you are ready for your hit. This is pretty easy to tell if you have a glass or acrylic bong, as you’ll be able to see the smoke. If you’re using a non-transparent bong option, like ceramic, metal or silicone, you’ll want to wait until you feel a decent amount of smoke entering your mouth on your light pull. Once you know you’re ready, go ahead and pull the bowl out the downstem (or release the carb) and take a nice, long, smooth, chilled hit off your bong.
And that’s it - using a bong is that easy!
Cleaning A Bong
Now that you know how to use your bong, when should you clean it? The best answer is between every session. The longer you let that dirty, tarred up, ashy water sit stagnant, the higher the chances are that it’ll start to grow mold and bacteria. You definitely don’t want to get in the habit of inhaling that!
Worry not, though! Cleaning your bong is easy with these simple steps.
Disassemble & Dump
The first thing you’ll want to do is take apart your bong and separate all the removable pieces. Once you’ve taken your bong apart, go ahead and dump out that dirty bong water. Next, rinse your bong out once or twice with some clean water, then move on over to step 2!
Add Your Cleaning Ingredients
The great thing about cleaning your bong is that you’ll most likely have all you need right at home to get it done the right way. Grab either some 91% or 99% isopropyl alcohol and pour it into the chamber of your bong, filling it most of the way (you’ll want to make sure to leave enough room for the liquid to slosh around in step 3). Next, add a few tablespoons of coarse salt to the chamber. Once you have your alcohol and salt in the chamber, you are ready for step 3!
Shake, Shake, Shake
Make sure you cover the open areas of the bong or even tuck the entire piece into a large ziplock bag. Once you have the openings secured, go ahead and shake your bong to put the alcohol and salt to work! The alcohol will work as a disinfectant, and the salt will work as an abrasive to help remove any buildup. Once you’ve shaken your bong to your heart's content (or until you feel you’ve gotten most of the scum off), go ahead and let it just sit and soak for 10-20 minutes.
Rinse & Repeat
Once you’ve got a good soak in, you’re good to dump the contents and rinse your bong with some clean water. Go through the same process you did before to secure the openings of your bong, then give it another good shake to help it get a thorough rinse. You may need to repeat this step a few times with fresh water. If you notice some build up that didn’t come clean yet, go ahead and find a bottle brush to give your bong a good scrub.
This is also a good time to give all those pieces you removed a nice check to see if any of them need a bit of a rinse or scrub as well.
The final step is to make sure you properly dry your bong! This will help prevent any mold build up. Once you have a nice dry bong, you are done!
Where to Buy Bongs
Bongtopia offers a wide variety of options when it comes to bongs, both in style and material. Chances are you’ll have no problem finding the right bong to fit your needs, personality and aesthetics when looking through their vast collection!