What is a bong? And how do I use one?

What is a bong? And how do I use one?

Anyone who has been around cannabis for a while has experimented with ways to use the plant. There are many different methods, actually. Even when it comes to smoking. One of the most popular ways to smoke cannabis is with a bong.

Bongs are water pipes. They are frequently used by cannabis smokers to enhance the experience and cool down the inhaled smoke.

Bongs come in all sizes and shapes. They can be made from multiple different materials. Glass, plastic, wood, clay, bamboo, ceramics and plastic. No matter what they look like, or what they are made of, they all work the same way. Every other variation is up to the imagination of the maker.


Water pipes are as old as time. At least as old as the pyramids and maybe older. They have been traditionally used throughout Asia but they also appear widely in Africa. The Scythians – a nomadic tribe ranging from Asia to Europe – used them. Including to smoke cannabis.

They appear to be a derivative of hookahs. Hookahs are usually immobile water pipes that have a hose attached between the mouthpiece and the pipe. These are designed to allow multiple people to enjoy smoked herb or flavoured tobacco in a group setting.



There are several basic parts to every bong. These include:


This is a bulbous attachment where dried flower is loaded and then combusted. Sometimes this is removable in a cartridge.


This is a small hole that allows the user to clear smoke from the bong chamber. Most glass bongs have a pull or slide carb. This is exposed when the bowl is removed.


This is the small tube that allows smoke to travel from the bowl to the base. This then allows the smoke to be percolated through the water.


This is the bottom of the bong. It can take many shapes. It is usually shaped, however, like a bubble or beaker.


This ends in the mouthpiece. It is the chamber that fills with smoke after it has filtered through water. Modern bongs have all kinds of twists on the same including splash guards and so-called “ice pinches.” These are designed cavities in the tube where ice can be applied to further cool the smoke as it is inhaled.


The easiest way to use a bong is when a friend hands you one, fully loaded and ready to go. Other than that, experiment. Essentially you put water or ice in the pipe to prepare it. Then you pack the bowl.

After placing lips around the tube, flame the bowl. At the same time, cover the hole on the tube if there is one, to insure that all smoke flows into your mouth. Then just inhale.

There are many things to make your bong hits more pleasant than by just using water and/or ice. Bong water alternatives such as tea or flavored water can make it a different experience each time. So be creative.


The biggest reason to use a bong is because it can filter and cool smoke. This offers a smooth draw, even when a lot of smoke is inhaled. There is no right way to consume cannabis, much less smoke it. And usually those people who use one method experiment with many.

Bongs offer cooling percolation. They maintain the experience of the aroma and flavour of the cannabis. A dry pipe creates smoke that is harsher on the throat and lungs. A bubbler, which is basically small water pipe, is also a very popular way to smoke weed, but some say it tends to get easily clogged.



There are many different kinds of bongs. Some of them look like the more traditional upright water pipes associated with cannabis. Others can look like hookahs.

In addition, the fancier cannabis bongs have developed various cool differentiators. Particularly on the glass side of things.

For example, some bongs have additional filtration and percolators built in. A Tree Perc, for example, helps diffuse smoke within the tube. It looks a bit like a glass tree that sits inside the tube just above the waterline. Other percolators work a bit like showerheads. They force the smoke back through an internal recycler for a second diffusion before entering the lungs.

Some bongs have other filtration systems with all sorts of intriguing names like a “Honeycomb Perc.” Or a “Swiss Perc,” because of all the holes – like the cheese.

In the end, however, no matter how fancy the gadget or its name, these are just added filtration designs to enhance the smoked experience.