Commonly asked questions about BONGS

Posted by Tom Heron on


  1. How do I use a bong?

They may seem quite intimidating in the moment however bongs are one of the easiest to use forms of smoking. Simply fill the bong (also known as a water pipe) with clean water to a level above the open end of the downstem, pack the bowl with whatever material you are using to smoke and light the material as you inhale through the mouthpiece of the bong. When all the material has been burned or when you want to clear the smoke from inside the bong, simply lift the bowl off the downstem and air will rush in. Some bongs have holes in the chamber or uptake of the bong, this is so that instead of removing the bowl, you would plug this hole with a finger or thumb then release when you wish to clear the bong instead. These are known as carberators.


  1. Should I get a glass or plastic bong?

The traditional model of a bong has always been one made of glass however bongs being made from other materials have been getting more popular over the past 20 or so years. The small acrylic plastic bong is now a mainstay in most headshops and for good reason, they’re affordable and more drop resistant than the traditional glass bong. This doesn’t take away from the fact that a bong made from high end glass will definitely give the most premium bong experience. Glass is preferred by most due to it not impacting the flavour of the smoke at all and that its one of the easiest materials to clean. Often the choice of glass is borosilicate glass due to them having a higher ability to withstand temperature changes than regular glass.


  1. How do I clean my bong?

Cleaning your bong can be a risky process, especially if you aren’t experienced with bongs yet. Many unfortunate bong owners have cracked or otherwise broken their glasspieces from unknowingly pouring in boiling water in an attempt to clean it. The glass used in bongs is designed to withstand temperature change but often the sudden change in temperature when exposed to boiling water causes them to crack or shatter. Our recommendation is to stick to lukewarm water with a product designed to clean these products such as our in-store favourite, Schmand-weg.


  1. Where do bongs come from?

As high tech as bongs seem to be nowadays, they actually have roots hundred of years in the past. At the time of writing, the oldest discovered bong dates back roughly 2400 years from where is now southern Russia. Bong use has historically thought to be used primarily in Africa from the 1100s and the first written use of bongs dates back to the 16th Century in central Asia with theories crediting the Ming Dynasty in China for the first use of water in bongs. The English word bong dates back to 1944 in a Thai-English dictionary, this was derived from the Thai word buong referring to a tube made of bamboo used to smoke cannabis or tobacco.



  1. How do bongs work?

Bongs come in all different shapes and sizes and thus some bongs usage differs slightly from others. One key difference in a lot of bongs is the inclusion or exclusion of a carburettor, more commonly known as a carb, shot hole, choke or rush hole among other terms. This is a hole on the side of the glass-piece which is covered by a thumb or finger when inhaling through the bong and released to allow clean air to rush in clearing the smoke from the inside. The other method of clearing the smoke from the bong is by removing the bowl which in this circumstance is referred to as a slide. The principals of the bong is that the bowl would be packed with whatever material the user is trying to smoke and the user places the mouthpiece on or around their lips. As the material in the bowl is lit, the user will inhale which burns the bowl down and brings the smoke down the downstem (also known as a firing tube) into the water at the bottom of the bong. The smoke bubbles through the water which filters and cools the smoke before travelling up the uptake. Some bongs may have percolators which further bubbles and cools the smoke but most of this will be done initially in the base water. At this point when the bowls fully used or when the user wants to inhale all of the smoke, the bowl is removed or finger lifted from the carb which allows all of the smoke to be quickly inhaled.


  1. Are bongs healthier than pipes or joints?

Bongs are often used as a healthier alternative to joints or pipes, but this may not be entirely true. Smoking anything in any capacity won’t be healthy, in fact the only product for inhalation of herbs which is medically approved are some dry herb vaporisers such as the Mighty by Storz&Bickel as these produce a vapour rather than a smoke which contains considerably less unwanted particles and impurities. Bongs are perceived to be healthier as they remove a bit of the dry heat associated with pipes or joints and although they would technically be filtering out some impurities in the water, it would be a negligible amount of filtering so for health reasons we can’t recommend smoking in any form. (But if you’re going to anyway, bongs are a good choice)


  1. How much do bongs cost?

Bongs can range from as cheap as a few pounds to well over tens of thousands for certain designer pieces. In todays market there are bongs for everyone, from the cheap and simple acrylic bongs which have become a staple in most headshops over the past few decades to the crazy high end designer brands such as ROOR, Illadelph and Stundenglass. On our website you will be able to find decent cheap acrylics starting at £8 all the way to intricate glass-pieces at the £100 area. We are always looking to improve our range and find new and interesting bongs from different brands and sources so expect much more to become available in the future.


  1. What accessories do bongs take?

All bongs usually are good to go on purchase and don’t require anything else to be functional but for the avid bong fan there are plenty of accessories to grab for your daily driver. These include new bowls, downstems, glass gauzes, travel bags, downstem clips, vaporizer attachments, extra percolators and ash catchers. As time goes on and with bongs being a staple choice for many smokers, bong accessories will continue to be made and improved on. One accessory we recommend is an ash catcher as this will help to cool and filter the smoke before going into the base of the bong and any ash falling through the bowl will be caught here keeping your favourite piece looking cleaner for longer. 




  1. What are percolators?

Percolators are extra sections in the uptake of the bong which hold water themselves. Much like the base of the bong these sections will help to filter and cool the smoke as it travels and they have been designed in a huge variety of different ways allowing for the possibilities of bong design to be almost endless. Common types of percolators are disc percs, showerhead percs and honeycomb percs just to name a few. There are that many that we would need a separate post just to highlight our favourites. By definition most bongs contain a percolator at the base of the downstem which helps diffuse the smoke. Many people report a much smoother and cooler smoke out of percolator bongs rather than basic beakers or straight tube bongs.


  1. What are the different joints for bongs?

For the downstem and bowl, bongs have a range of different joints (not those joints). The three main sizes of joints are 10mm, 14mm and 18mm. Often times the 14mm joint is used and this has become almost an industry standard. Most joints are a conical hole which has been sandblasted to give it a rough surface. The downstem or bowl will also be sandblasted and in most cases protruding so fit into the bong connection. One key detail to consider is that there are male and female joints. Male joints are most commonly used for downstems and bowls and these fit into the female connection on the bong. The easiest way of determining the type of joint you have is to remember the male connection goes inside of the female. If your bong has a male joint you will need a female bowl and vice versa.


Written by Thomas Heron on 04/12/2022

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