Nearly every marijuana enthusiast will be familiar with bongs. What they may be less familiar with is how the name for these water pipes came to take on such a name. The word ‘bong’ comes from the Thai word of the same spelling that refers to a cylindrical tube used for smoking. There are many different types of smoking pipes found around the world, but bongs have a more iconic identity than any of them. And while smoking any type of substance is hard on the lungs, bongs are a little less harmful due to the fact the water in the pipe will trap some of the heavier particles and prevent them from passing into your lungs. This is one of the many reasons why bongs are a good way to enjoy your cannabis, so let’s now discuss how to use a bong.
First, let’s start with a brief overview of the bong parts and how each functions as part of the whole.
The Parts of a Bong
The tall cylindrical part of a bong that ends in the mouthpiece opening is the chamber, and it’s most easily identified by containing the water at the bottom of it. A stem housing will protrude up at a roughly 45-degree angle from near the base of the chamber, facing outwards.
Next you have the bowl, which is where your cannabis rests and is exposed to the flame source. Attached to the bowl is the stem, which is a thin and narrow extension that’s attached to the bowl at its top and is submerged in the water of the chamber. The bowl and stem assembly will be the only parts of the bong not fixed to the chamber.
The last part of the bong that we’ll highlight here is not found on all bongs – the venting port, or ‘carb’ as it is most commonly referred to. This is a small opening on the side of the bong that the smoker will cover with their thumb and then uncover it as they complete their toke. Doing so allows air to bypass the stem and clear the chamber of smoke into the inhale more effectively.
How to Use A Bong
Here it is in the simplest of terms:
- Ensure your chamber is full of enough water that the stem is completely underwater. Ideally, the waterline should be ¾ of an inch or so above it.
- Pack your bowl with whatever strain you would like to enjoy.
- Place your mouth over the mouthpiece and light your lighter with your dominant hand, holding the flame upright as you place your other hand around the bowl where it rests in the stem housing.
- Turn the flame over the bowl and begin to draw on the mouthpiece. If your bong is functioning properly then the flame goes into the bowl and the water in the chamber will bubble as smoke fills the chamber.
- Draw lightly on the bong, allowing the smoke to fill the chamber gradually rather than pulling hard, burning the bowl more thoroughly, and taking in a large toke.
- Pull up on the stem of the bowl slowly, pulling it up and away from the stem housing in unison with the progression of your inhale so that as you near the end of it the stem comes out of the stem housing completely.
- Release the carb if your bong has one.
- Complete your inhale and pull your mouth away from the mouthpiece.
- Exhale after 1-3 seconds as you like.
That’s the long and short of how to use a bong. The most important thing to remember is to draw on it slowly, exerting just enough suction to have the flame of your lighter dip down and burn the bowl at a moderate rate of combustion. This will allow for smaller, less voluminous tokes that are less likely to leave you coughing and better for allowing you to move into your high more comfortably.
Types of Bongs
Discussing the array of different smoking pipes found around the world would fill this page 4 times over, but when it comes to types of bongs there’s far fewer kinds out there. Once you’ve learned how to use a bong, you’ll likely want to explore the different types and see which one suits your smoking preferences best.
The best bongs are borosilicate glass, which is particularly good for cleaning. This type of glass is durable and is both air and watertight. Of course, you should handle glass bongs more carefully but all in all they’re much better than a plastic bong (very common) or metal bongs (less common).
Here’s a list of common bong types:
Standard Straight Tube Bongs: The most common ones to see. Chamber, stem, mouthpiece and that’s it
Carburetor Bongs: Any type of bong that has a ‘carb’ opening to promote more efficient clearing of the chamber once you’ve completed your toke
Beaker Bongs: No, these bongs are not named after the spastic Muppets character. Instead, they have the name they do for being nearly identical to a standard straight tube bong but the base flares out in a way that makes it resemble a beaker from a science lab
Round Base Bongs: Similar to beaker bongs, but with a round base on the flat bottom rather than a beaker shaped one. Both these types of bongs are ideal for tabletop use due to their stability
Multi-Chamber Bongs: Some people call these recycler bongs, and they differ in that they filter the smoke many times as it passes through multiple water chambers. Not just one as would be the case with a standard bong. Makes for a smoother toke, but are more difficult to clean
Percolator Bong: A percolator is a piece of glass in the middle of a bowl’s stem and dissipates the smoke before it passes through the water. This improves filtration and cools the smoke even more. Any type of the standard bongs fitted with a percolator becomes a percolator bong
Need to know more about the different types, or some more tips about how to use a bong? There’s a wealth of information out there, as well as some pretty darn knowledgeable individuals as well. Dig as necessary, and happy toking!