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Demystifying the Bong, One Myth at a Time

Bongs, which you may also know by slang terms like bubbler, binger, or billy, are water pipes used to smoke cannabis.

They’ve been around for centuries. The word bong is said to have come from the Thai word “baung” for a bamboo tube used for smoking weed.

Today’s bongs look a lot more complicated than a simple bamboo tube, but they all come down to the same basic process.

Read on to learn more about how bongs work and why, contrary to lore, they aren’t actually any better for your lungs than other smoking methods.

Bongs come in all shapes and sizes. Some are very basic with just a bowl and chamber. Others are colorful, mouth-blown works of art.

At the end of the day, they all do basically the same thing: filter and cool the smoke that comes from the burning marijuana.

Bongs generally feature a small bowl that holds dried weed. When you light the weed it combusts. Meanwhile, as you inhale, the water in the bottom of the bong bubbles (or percolates, if you want to get technical). The smoke rises up through the water and then the chamber before entering your mouth and lungs.

If you’re looking for a smoother toke, a bong will give you just that compared to smoking weed rolled in paper.

As expected, the water in a bong eliminates the dry heat you get from a joint. The effect is often described as being cooler, creamy, and smooth rather than harsh.

This effect can be deceiving, though.

While the smoother smoke might feel better on your lungs, you’re still smoking. And that smoke is still filling up your lungs (we’ll spare the lecture on why this is all-around bad news for your health).

Sure, a small amount of the bad stuff might get filtered out. But it’s not enough to make much of a difference.

Yes, this means all those stories about bongs being the “safer” way to smoke are largely based on junk science.

So far, bong safety has been pretty low on the list of priorities when it comes to medical research. But as cannabis becomes legal in more areas, this could change.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and other health organizations, smoke is harmful to lung health regardless of what you’re smoking because of the carcinogens released from the combustion of materials.

Smoking marijuana, whether via doobie or bong, can harm lung tissues and cause scarring and damage to your small blood vessels.

The tendency to inhale deeply and hold your breath when smoking pot means you’re often exposed to more tar per breath. Plus, bongs are basically a way to get more smoke into your lungs while also making that smoke more pleasant to inhale.

All of these aspects make it easy to overdo it when using a bong.

One other risk to keep in mind is related to the use of plastic bongs. Plastics that contain chemicals like BPA and phthalates have been linked to adverse health effects, including cancer.

Bong health risks aside, depending on where you live and local laws, having a bong with marijuana in it or even just some residue could get you in legal hot water.

Research also shows that marijuana-only smokers have more healthcare visits related to respiratory conditions than nonsmokers, regardless of the method used to inhale the smoke.

How do those fancy bongs, with all their bells and whistles, actually work? Plus, find out whether they're actually easier on your lungs than a joint.

WHAT IS A BONG? HOW TO USE IT

The bong, or water pipe, is a marijuana smoking system, chilling the smoke and getting more powerful effects. There is a wide range of models, concerning different colors, materials, sizes and forms; bongs made of plastic, metal, glass, mud, ceramic, clay or bamboo, big, small, expensive, cheap, and endless possibilities.

  • 1 History
  • 2 Parts of the bong
    • 2.1 Bowl
    • 2.2 Carburetor
    • 2.3 Stem
    • 2.4 Base
    • 2.5 Neck
  • 3 How to use it
  • 4 Advantages

History

Water pipes appeared centuries ago, according to several archaeological fields in Asia and Africa. From Ancient Age, bongs and pipes have been used; pipes come from bongs. Through the years, their use became popular, spreading from Africa and Asia to the whole planet; currently, its use has become global. In fact, nowadays it is difficult to find a place in this planet where bongs are not used for consuming tobacco, marijuana or hash.

The origin of its name comes from the word bamboo in Thai – bamboo stem, to be precise; in fact, they say that the bong surged in Thailand thousands of years ago, and it was used for smoking tobacco, marijuana, hash or opium.

Besides, over-2,400-year-old bong traces have been found in some archaeological fields in Scythian, Russia.

Parts of the bong

The forms and models of the bong can vary, but there are some common, basic parts; in fact, if it does not contain these parts, maybe it is not a bong. Next, we describe the different parts of the bong:

It is a device with a cavity to introduce marijuana, combusting inside; usually, it is removable, easing its cleansing and recharge.

Carburetor

Little hole to empty the chamber smoke; usually, glass bongs have a removable carburetor.

Tube which transfers the smoke of the bowl to the base of the bong, being filtered through water.

It is the bottom part of the bong; usually, it is bubbly, although there are bases with many different shapes.

It is the chamber being filled by the smoke filtered through water. This chamber is connected to the nozzle. Some of them have a cavity for ice introduction, chilling the smoke rapidly.

How to use it

Apparently, these pipes are difficult to be used, but nothing could be more untrue; their usage is very simple: fill the bong with water, and fill the bowl with marijuana; next, put your lips on the tube and ignite the vegetal material in the bowl with a lighter or blowpipe, tapping the tube hole and inhaling profoundly.

Many consumers prefer to fill the bong with juice, alcohol or tea, providing different details to the smoke.

Marijuana in bong

Advantages

The main advantage of the bong is that it removes toxins by means of water, and it chills the smoke, offering a softer, nicer puff, that is, it filters and refrigerates the smoke, maintaining the cannabis flavor; softer puffs are longer, so you can smoke more without forcing your throat. Besides, adding liquid material – different from water, marijuana acquires some details of different flavors; give it a go, and discover all the different flavors and possible combinations, enjoying your buds a lot.

Lastly, there is a wide range of models, with new systems which provide some variations to the traditional system. Some of them have incorporated filters, helping to distribute the smoke along the tube, and some others have systems which push the smoke, getting a second diffusion before being inhaled; anyway, they are just slight variations, but the basic system is always the same.

3 Comments

Big Daddy Smoke 22 December, 2018, 7:26 am

A bong consists of many different parts such as neck, bowl, base, carburetor and stem. The way to use it is quite simple and not difficult. Informative article!

The main advantage of the bong is that it removes toxins by means of water, and it chills the smoke, offering a softer, nicer puff, that is, it filters and refrigerated the smoke, maintaining the cannabis flavor; softer puffs are longer, so you can smoke more without forcing your throat

Herb Tools 13 July, 2020, 4:15 pm

Bongs are by far the superior way to smoke, this article really helps clarify that in more depth. Top stuff!

The bong, or water pipe , is a marijuana smoking system, chilling the smoke and getting more powerful effects. There is a wide range of models , concerning different colors, materials, sizes and forms; bongs made of plastic, metal, glass, mud, ceramic, clay or bamboo, big, small, expensive, cheap, and endless … ]]>