A water bong (so-called bong) is very popular smoking device. It uses the same principle for smoking any tobacco, molasses or similar substance of smoking material, as hookah. It means the smoke is bubbled through water.
Bongs are constructed for more smoking pleasure. Thanks to the water filtration they providing clean cool smoke without unwanted pieces of ash. Bongs can also deliver much more smoke in one single puff, thanks to larger smoke chamber. Most bongs are designed to either cool the smoke before it enters the operator’s lungs, build up a large buffer of smoke which the user inhales quickly, or both.
The word bong derives from the Thai word baung, which refers to a cut off section of bamboo.
Bongs also vary greatly in their shape, materials, colors, and sizes. Commonly constructed from acrylic, ceramic, or glass. Bongs can also be fabricated from materials as diverse as pykrete or even from household objects. Some people make bongs out of fruits and vegetables, discarding them when they start to decompose. Many bongs are regarded for their style, distinct vivid colors, or customizations such as stickers, and become a personalized signature of that particular bong owner. Glass bongs of ExcellentPipes production can be also customized by a sign hand written on the bong's mouthpiece during the production process.
Description of bong parts
Each bong should have at least several main parts so it can be used to smoke through the water. The bong on the picture here represents common glass water bong that has all the basic part described below.
Main parts of the basic bong
A mouthpiece. This is where the user mouth is placed over.
A chamber. There is the smoke stored after it is bubbled through the water. Some bongs have several smoke and water chambers, bongs like that are called percolator bongs. Basic bong has one chamber for accumulated smoke in direct connection with a mouthpiece above the water level.
A base (or water chamber). It is a container for water. It is usually wider than chamber so it can stand-alone without tipping (see the consequences of a spillage.) It is the main part of water bong, inserted stem have to ends under the water level so the smoke can be bubbled through the water.
A stem. Stem is the duty tube which purpose is to lead smoke from a bowl under the water. One bong can have several stem – water parts, also called as precoolers or ashcatchers. Stem can be removable using glass joint (so-called slider or slide) or fixed. It isimportant that the connection between stem and the base or other part was airtight.
A bowl. Is a small container for smoking substance. It can be separate removable part usually using glass joint for fit into stem, or fixed with stem (bowlstem, bowlslide). Bowl bottom have at least one hole, so the smoke can be sucked through it.
Principles of operation
When using a bong, one inhales with his or her mouth sealed over an opening at the top. This reduces the air pressure in the chamber of the bong above the water level in the bottom of the bong. To equalize the pressure, the atmosphere pushes air through the combustible matter releasing smoke in the bowl travelling down the stem. The smoke then bubbles through the water, into the chamber and into the user’s mouth and lungs. This bubbling action leads to a characteristic noise. For example, if you bubble a glass of milk with a drinking straw, by placing the straw beneath the surface of the milk and blowing, you are demonstrating the same physics, except that you are assuming the role of the atmosphere and not the bong user.
Some bongs have a carburetor or carb, also called a shotty (from shotgun); choke; or rush (hole); a small hole or bleed valve that the user places his finger over when first inhaling allowing the chamber to fill up with smoke. When the user releases the carb while still inhaling, fresh air is allowed to rush in through the hole, clearing it of smoke. The fresh air forces the smoke into the users lungs more rapidly than just breathing will do. In other bongs, the bowl-piece is removable. This piece is then called a slide or pull, and is similar to the carb in function. When the slide is removed, fresh air instead of smoke bubbles through, and acts to clear the chamber.
|A carb (carb hole).Is a hole that simulates function of slide or removable bowl for bongs without this system. When covered, smoke is sucked through the bowl so the bong has a full stroke and user fills the bongs chamber with smoke. When released, the air is sucked in through the hole and not through the bowl, so only the smoke inside the bong’s chamber comes to smoker.|
|Diffuser.This is only the word for stem which ends with several small holes instead of one big hole. This makes many smaller bubbles and provides better smoothness of smoking.|
|Precooler(ash catcher). Extra "bowl – stem – water chamber" system which is inserted before the main bong’s base. Provides extra filtration before the smoke reaches the main water chamber. Can be connected more precoolers in a row.|
Ice catcher (Ice holder).Commonly afewbumpson the insideof the bong mouthpiece tube. Their functionis to hold ice cubes that do not fall into the water.
Percolator. Another water filtration system – it uses already filtered smoke which comes from the bong base. It can be shaped like a small container with a tube inside which delivers the smoke under the water and spread it through several small holes. Or it can be also done just by curved tubes leads smoke above and under the water level in percolator water chamber directly. Usually it is incorporated into the mouthpiece tube. Can be serialized, one bong can have several percolators one above another.
Oil dome. Is an accessory for bong that allows smoking concentrates. Normally consists of three parts. One is required for reduction glass joint from female to male end. So-called nail, that looks like a small stick with flat round end have to placed inside the dome. Third part is a dome that covers the nail flat end. Dome has female glass joint so it can be easily placed and cover the inside vaporizer stick. Dome have one larger hole, smoking materialis inserted through the hole to the hot end of the glass stick inside.
Motivations for operation
The characteristics of the bong enable the material to be smoked in ways not possible with a simple pipe or spliff. Because the main chamber on most bongs can be up to 6 inches (15 cm) in diameter the speed of the air moving through the chamber is reduced and the chamber now acts as a large buffer of smoke. Depending on the length of the bong a considerable amount of smoke can be built up in this way. On the larger bongs, about 4 ft (1.2 m) tall, the operator must stop drawing on the bong when the smoke reaches their lips. At this point the operator must exhale deeply, open the carb, and use the entire contents of their lungs to clear the chamber of the charge of smoke. This high concentration of smoke in the lungs enables the operator to transfer much higher quantities of the chemicals in the smoke into their lungs but also tends to waste large amounts of the smoke. The longer the operator can hold the hit in, the more chemicals he will extract from it, but this becomes more difficult as the smoke gets denser and the quantity increases. Individuals in the Cannabis culture who can hold in a monster hit are typically held in high regard.
Bubble the smoke through water also serves to cool down the smoke, which is typically very hot, and to trap some of the heavier and more water-soluble particulate matter, keeping it from entering the smoker’s lungs. Most smokers believe that bongs are healthier than other smoking devices; however, a 2000 NORML-MAPS study found that water pipes filter out more psychoactive THC than they do other tars, thereby requiring users to smoke more to reach their desired effect. The analysis used smoke from NIDA-supplied marijuana drawn through a smoking machine adjusted to mimic the puff length of marijuana smokers. The apparatus, comparing smoke from a standard bong, a small portable device with a folding pipestem, a battery-operated model with a motorized paddle to thoroughly mix the smoke in the water, and two different types of vaporizers, found that the unfiltered joint and all devices except the vaporizers, with a ratio of about 1 part cannabinoids to 13 parts tar.
Used bong water is a notoriously disgusting fluid. In many movies and even in company of others stories are told of bong waters ability to stain anything and make it smell awful. Bong water ranges from clear when it is fresh, to a slightly used green, yellow or brown tint, which will get worse as the water is used more. A practice of some bong users is to turn the bowl around backwards and suck the remaining ash and unburned material down the stem into the water when the bowl is empty. While this is convenient it rapidly degrades the quality of the bong water. If this is done bong water can go from dark green or grey, to black, and will usually have chunks of dark unburned material floating around. As the quality of the water degrades, same does the taste of the smoke. Over a long enough time the bong will develop a distinct unpleasant odor and the smoke drawn through it will acquire that taste as well. Bong water is extremely unpleasant to ingest. Drinking bong water will produce minimal psychoactive effect, since THC and other cannabinoids are minimally soluble in water. It is HIGHLY recommended that one does NOT use alcohol-based liquids as bong water, as THC and other cannabinoids are alcohol-soluble and will get soaked up in the bong water. This includes using mouthwash, liquor, beer and anything else with alcohol.
Since the bong is such a simple device it can be constructed out of nearly anything that is at least semi-rigid and can be made airtight. This includes, but is not limited to bamboo, plastic bottles, soda-pop cans, buckets, vases, beer bottles, hollow plastic and ceramic statues, chemistry beakers, snorkels, and many other common items. A clever bubbler can be constructed out of fruit such as apples and potatoes. The simplicity of bong construction has led people to consider constructing bongs with materials as outlandish as pykrete. Most bongs purchased will be made out of glass (either hand blown or cast in molds) or clear acrylic tubing. Most of these bongs will include or otherwise utilize glass stems and bowls. However, cheaper bongs (nearly all made out of acrylic) may be designed with metal stems and bowls.
A common home-built bong is made from a bowl and stem purchased either from a head shop or fabricated from supplies around the house or from a hardware store; this could be out of tinfoil and a short length of garden hose for instance. The rest of the design needs nothing more than a knife or scissors, a 20 oz to 1 liter empty plastic bottle, and some duct tape. Just because a bong can be constructed this way does not indicate it is a good idea; to avoid dangerous fumes and chemicals all bowls and stems should be made of glass or metal.
Using materials such as PVC, plastic, rubber or garden hoses will emit toxic chemicals when heated. Aluminum foil releases toxic chemicals while heated, and its use should be avoided as high aluminum levels have been found in the brains of some patients with neurological diseases. Plastic can release fumes which may induce asthma. Little has been documented on the inhalation of these fumes but the practice should be avoided. Soda cans are widely used, but release aluminum fumes along with paint fumes when heated, which have been shown to cause brain damage. While duct tape may release rubber, metal and aluminum fumes, apples are toxin free.
Offshoots from the simple bong concept do exist. The bucket and waterfall bongs offer the same benefit of delivering a concentrated charge of smoke to the user but are much more effective at making the smoke denser. More chemicals can be absorbed. In fact these devices are known for inducing huge coughing fits in their users and can be very unpleasant to use. Regardless, their use is common, especially at parties, as they are extremely effective and can induce fear in people who has never seen them before. Interestingly both the bucket bong and the waterfall bong can be known as gravity bongs and some people using that term may only be familiar with one design.
A bubbler is a small bong that can be operated with only one hand (aside from having to provide an ignition source). In these devices the stem is internal and the bowl is at the very top. A majority of the bong is enclosed with only a hole in the side to act as the carb and the hole the smoke will exit on its way to the operator. These operate very much like a pipe since their internal chamber is so small but they have identical parts to a common bong. Some find them more pleasant to smoke out of than a regular pipe.
Bucket bong (gravity bong)
A bucket bong (or bucket ripper - a bucket rip is a bong hit from this device) is constructed out of a medium sized bucket filled with water, a two-liter bottle, a bowl, and stem. Anything that can be filled with water and is slightly taller than a two liter bottle can replace the bucket. The device is built by first cutting the bottom off the two-liter bottle (leave as much length as possible). This forms a large dome, with nearly a two-liter capacity.
Next a hole is cut in the bottle cap and the stem is fed through. The bottle cap is left off for now. The plastic bottle is placed in the bucket with the large hole going in first, then submerged until the water is nearly level with the hole at the top of the bottle. This reduces the gas content of the chamber to nearly zero.
Next the user screws the cap with the bowl onto the plastic bottle, inserts the desired smoking material, lights their lighter, holds the flame to the bowl, and slowly lifts up on the plastic bottle. The user is now creating a large vacuum in the chamber and atmosphere is entering through the bowl and stem. This pulls the heat of the flame with it and ignites the material.
As the user lifts up extremely dense smoke will fill the chamber; the slower the user lifts the denser the smoke will be (punching a small hole in the bottom a la waterfall bong rather than removing the whole bottom will also ensure slow draining of water). This smoke can become so dense that it becomes dark yellow. The user must stop lifting before the bottom of the bottle comes out of the water. Once the height is sufficient the user is ready to inhale the smoke.
The operator unscrews the cap, places their mouth over the opening on top and pushes down on the bottle. The available area is once again decreased, the smoke is forced out the hole at the top, and the user inhales the smoke into their lungs.
This can also be referred to as a gravity bong. See differences and clarifications.
Similar in design to the bucket bong is the waterfall bong. A waterfall bong usually consists of a plastic bottle with a hole punched at the bottom and a removable bottle cap with a bowl in it. The bottle cap is removed, the hole is covered by a finger, the vessel is filled with water, and then while holding a flame to the bowl, the finger is removed. Gravity causes the water to flow out creating a vacuum inside the chamber and smoke begins to flow into the chamber; see the section on the bucket bong for a more detailed description of this process. When all the water has run out the user removes the bottle cap, places their mouth over the opening at the top of the bottle, and inhales the contents. The smoke isn’t cooled at all making this bong not one for people who like to savor their weed.
The waterfall bong is sometimes referred to as a sobe bong, since the notch near the bottom of a glass SoBe drink bottle can easily be punched out to make a waterfall bong.
A lung is similar to a bucket bong, but is slightly modified. The main chamber is still made out of a two liters pop bottle with its bottom cut off, but in this case a standard-sized plastic grocery bag is taped on to the end. The bowl itself is created by removing one from any screw-on pipe and screwing it into the plastic cap of a 2 liters bottle. This creates a structure similar to a real lung and diaphragm - when the plastic bag is shoved in the bottle, there’s no air, and when it’s expanded and slowly pulled out of the bottle, air is drawn in through the bowl, located on the cap piece, filling the chamber with smoke. Since this method has no cooling system, it can be a harsh hit which often sends the user into a coughing fit. The lung can be placed in the freezer for a few seconds to cool the smoke, but you sacrifice smoothness, as standing marijuana smoke tends to become progressively foul-tasting the longer it sits. This bong is most useful in getting more stoned in less time, and should not be used by someone merely seeking a relaxing mellow.
Also called a shotty. A Shottie bottle is similar to a bong, but lacks the bowl. It is generally made from readily available resources, such as a plastic drinking bottle (500ml). The bottle should be firm and rigid, so as not to buckle from the force of shooting the shottie. A good example is a soft drinks bottle or bottle that used to contain carbonated drinks, as these have to be stronger than water bottles to maintain their shape under pressure. A small hole is burnt in the bottle about one quarter of the way up, and a pipe is pushed into this hole at a downward angle while still warm, ensuring an airtight fit as the molten plastic cools around the pipe. The pipe used can be made from materials such as metal wind chimes, tubular aerials and bong pipes with the bowl unscrewed. A Popper is performed in much the same way as a bong, except a rush-hole is not required, as when it is shot the mixture in the pipe falls into the water, allowing air to enter quickly. One way people do this is by cutting a cm off a cigarette and putting it in sideways into the piece then packing cannabis on top by stamping the piece into cannabis covered flat surface. When the user smokes a Popper they light the cannabis and breathe slowly then when the cigarette underneath begins to burn they pull as hard as they can create a pop. This gives the user a quick couple minute head rush and gets them high faster with less cannabis. However the water requires cleaning often because the waste materials fall directly into it.
Differences and clarifications
Gravity bong and waterfall bong can refer to bongs where there’s a flow of smoke induced by a change in air pressure which is caused by the lowering of the level of the surface of the water held within the device.
Gravity bong can also refer to a bucket bong even though the water level does not change, rather, if a user so chooses they can drop the bottle (and let gravity take over) to force the smoke into their lungs at a faster pace.
When the airflow is caused not by the flux of the water level but by the inhalation of the smoker’s lungs, the device is referred to as a hookah, bong, bubbler, or more generally waterpipe.
A waterfall or bucket bong, unlike a common bong, does not necessarily filter the smoke through the water or cool it significantly (although they can be constructed to do so). It is simply a device whose main design feature is a large chamber in which the flow of smoke can be condensed, making it easier to inhale a large amount of smoke quite quickly.
The erroneously named apple bong is not a bong at all as it does not use a water chamber; rather, it is an improvised device used in lieu of more proper smoking utensils. Also known as a rat tail.
Cleaning a Bong
Bongs become quite dirty and stink after use. Depending on what material your bong is made from you may be able to quite easily clean without use of bong cleaning kits. While one shouldn’t put a plastic bong in a dishwasher many other techniques, such as simply scrubbing the interior with a brush will get good results. For strong resin stains in the chamber Epsom salts and rubbing alcohol mixed can be used as a soak and should remove buildup without much trouble. A laboratory glassware cleaning brush works wonders for scrubbing out resin and tar on the inside chamber of your bong. Be aware however, any soft glass bong can be scratched by these brushes.