How Do Bongs Work?

The bong is a key part of the stoner’s toolkit, and one of the most popular ways to smoke cannabis outside regular smoking through joints and blunts.

How Do Bongs Work?

Bongs are used for many different reasons. They can be used to smoke dry herb or wax in order to get a more potent high, and provide a massive amount of smoke in each hit – guaranteed to get even a seasoned smoker stoned.

Different forms of bongs have been used for hundreds of years, and you can find them in all shapes, sizes, and designs.

But while bongs are among the most common ways to smoke cannabis, if you aren’t familiar with bongs then it can be hard to understand how they work. But don’t worry – this guide is here to clear the air! 

Here we’ll take a look at how bongs work, from the parts that they’re made out of to how to use them. So whether you’re getting your first bong or just want to know the science behind how they work, let’s jump right in!

What Is A Bong?

To understand how one works, we first need to cover what a bong is. Bongs, also commonly referred to as ‘water pipes’, are devices used to smoke cannabis.

Their defining feature is the chamber of water that the smoke passes through; this serves two purposes – to purify the smoke by filtering out harmful particles, and to cool the smoke down before you inhale it for a smoother hit. 

A bong is made up of several parts. The main body of a bong features the chamber on the bottom (where the water is held and the smoke is first pulled through to) and the neck leading to the mouthpiece on top.

You also have the bowl, which is a small, round piece that your ground bud is held, ready to be smoked. 

Finally, you have the downstem, a tube that connects the bowl to the water chamber. Some bongs have additional features, such as a carb

(a small hole in the chamber of the bong that stops you from needing to remove the bowl every hit) or a percolator (an additional filter made of porous glass that further cools and smoothens the smoke). 

Most bongs are made out of borosilicate glass, a specialized heat-resistant type of glass that makes it perfect for smoking through.

However, you can also find bongs made out of heat-resistant acrylic or ceramic. On top of coming in many different materials, bongs also come in endless different shapes, sizes, and designs.

There are countless bongs out there, and there’s guaranteed to be something for you no matter your preferences!

How Does A Bong Work, Exactly?

So now that we’ve covered what a bong is, how do they work? It’s actually a fairly simple process, but it’s a bit tricky to wrap your head around at first. 

You start off with a prepared bong, with the chamber already filled with water, and the bowl already packed. When you burn the cannabis with a lighter, match, or hemp wick, it starts to combust and release smoke.

How Do Bongs Work?

As you inhale through the mouthpiece of the bong, this starts to pull the smoke through the downstem (this is the same principle as smoking a joint or blunt, where the smoke is drawn through the filter).

As it enters the water chamber, it is filtered by the water inside. Heavier particles, such as ash and burning particles of bud, are trapped in the water, and most of the harmful chemicals inside the smoke are stripped away.

The clean smoke is also cooled down by the water. These things make the smoke easier and smoother to inhale, causing less irritation to your throat as you take the hit. 

When you’ve gathered enough smoke in the chamber, you can inhale it. However, without a good flow of air you’ll just continue to pull smoke through.

To create this airflow, you need to remove the bowl from the downstem; alternatively, if your bong has a carb hole then you can take your finger away (as it should have previously been covered).

The improved airflow allows you to inhale the gathered smoke with a sharp breath, emptying the chamber and replacing the smoke with clean air.

Bongs are pretty simple devices, which is part of why they’re such a popular part of smoking culture. Because of this simplicity, the way bongs work isn’t too complicated.

When the bowl is burned and you start breathing in, it pulls the smoke through the downstem into the water. The water filters the smoke, and removing the bowl gives you the airflow needed to inhale it. 

How To Use A Bong

Now that you understand how bongs work, it’s much easier to use a bong for the first time. As mentioned before, bongs are pretty simple and it only takes a few easy steps to use one. Here’s a step-by-step breakdown of how to use a bong.

1) Prepare The Bong

First, you need to set up your bong. Make sure it’s clean and dry before you use it. Fill the chamber with water, just enough for the downstem to be submerged by around 2 inches.

Place the bong on a flat and stable surface, with the downstem in place but with the bowl removed and ready to be filled.

2) Pack Your Bowl

Speaking of which, now it’s time to pack the bowl. Grind your cannabis to the desired texture. Aim for a coarser grind without any large lumps;

if the weed is too fine then it will just fall through into the chamber, while large pieces of bud will prevent the bowl from burning evenly.

Fill the bowl with some of your ground bud, and gently press down on it to keep it secure. A good trick to improve your bowl-packing is to put a slightly larger piece of weed

or some tobacco right at the bottom of the bowl – this will keep the rest of your bud from falling through while still letting the smoke flow freely.

How Do Bongs Work?

3) Light The Bowl And Inhale

Here’s where taking your bong hit really starts. Place your mouth at the top of the bong’s neck, with your lips on the inside to create a seal around the mouthpiece. Using a lighter, match, or hemp wick, start burning the weed in the bowl. 

At the same time, start to inhale gently and evenly. The smoke from the bud will start to flow into the chamber and gather there.

When you’re lighting the bowl, try to keep the flame along the edge. Burning the middle will create a layer of ash on top of your usable product, while sticking to the edge of the bowl leaves most of your weed safe and untouched.

4) Remove The Bowl

When you’ve gathered enough smoke in the chamber of your bong, you need to create good airflow so you can inhale it properly.

Remove the bowl from the downstem (taking extra care because it will have gotten hot), or uncover the carb hole to let air enter the chamber freely.

If you’re new to taking a bong hit, you may want to take a breath of fresh air before you inhale the smoke to make sure you’re getting enough oxygen. This also helps you to actually take all the smoke into your lungs.

5) Breathe All The Smoke In

Finally, it’s time to inhale the smoke. Unlike when you were pulling the smoke through, this should be done in one sharp breath. Once you’ve inhaled the smoke, don’t try and hold it for too long.

THC and CBD, the beneficial compounds in cannabis, are absorbed by your lungs in just one or two seconds, so don’t try to hold it longer than is comfortable. Congratulations – you’ve just used a bong!

Bong hits can be hard to manage if you’re new to using a bong, and the large amount of smoke you inhale at once means that even veteran smokers can cough after a bong hit. Don’t worry if you need to cough a bit, and be prepared for a potent high!

Final Thoughts

Bongs are a great alternative smoking method, and it’s clear to see why they’re so popular! They are a fun way to mix up your smoking sessions and to use cannabis differently,

with the smooth smoke and strong high they provide making them a favorite amongst casual and frequent smokers alike.

So now you know a bit more about what bongs are, how they work, and how to use one. All that’s left for you to do now is put your newfound knowledge to good use!

David Lumis
Latest posts by David Lumis (see all)