What is a Bong?

January 3, 2021

What is a Bong?

A bong is a smoking device, usually made out of glass, which uses water to cool down the cannabis smoke/vapour before it enters your mouth.  At their simplest, bongs are long, tall water pipes. While borosilicate glass is the most common material to make Bongs with, they can also be made out of plastic, ceramic or even metal.  


A basic bong consists of three parts: 


  • The main glass chamber which holds the water
  • The Bowl for placing the ground up marijuana into for smoking
  • The downstem, which connects to the bowl and slides down through a hole and into the water inside the glass chamber. 


Why Use A Bong?


The reasons for using water pipes, or “bongs” as they are most commonly referred to, are simple, and there really are only two of them.  


1. Cooling Down the Smoke


When you inhale smoke from a marijuana cigarette, or a “joint”, as they are most commonly called, the smoke travels from the burning ember directly to your mouth and subsequently to your lungs.  If the average joint is 2 inches long, then there is a maximum distance of 2 inches that the hot smoke must travel before entering your mouth.  The same can be said when smoking from a pipe.  Both methods deliver hot smoke to your mouth, directly from the ember.  


A Bong is different because it includes water in the smoking process.  A bong is a large water pipe, much larger than a typical pipe, and it uses the water inside of it to cool down the smoke as it travels from the ember to your mouth.  If the average height of a bong is 12 inches, then it takes at least that distance for the smoke to travel from the ember, through the water, up the bong and into your mouth.  This process allows the smoke to cool in two ways:  Firstly, the water plays a significant role in lowering the temperature, by surrounding the smoke with cool water and encapsulating it in air bubbles.  Secondly, the added distance from the burning ember to your mouth also helps cool the smoke down as it is sucked up into your lungs.  Just imagine the 2 inch joint or pipe from before.  With the bong, even without the water, there is an extra 10 inches of distance for that smoke to cool down before reaching your mouth. 


2. Enabling Larger Hits


Let’s break things down into units to explain this one.  Let’s compare smoking a joint to smoking a bong.  


Imagine we have a joint with 0.5 grams of cannabis rolled up inside of it, as well as a Bong with 0.5 grams of cannabis ground up in its bowl.  Both the joint and the Bong have the exact same amount of marijuana. The joint is 2 inches long and the bong is 12 inches tall, with a large basin at the bottom to allow the smoke to “brew” as it is being pulled from the ember in the bowl.  Brewing refers to the process of pulling the cannabis smoke down into the bong without the user immediately inhaling it.  This allows for the smoke to pass through the water and accumulate just above the water line as the user builds up a significant amount of smoke.  


Now, let’s convert both the joint and the bong into units of measurement.  Since they both contain the same amount of cannabis, they should both have the same amount of units.  So, let’s say both the joint and the bong have 10 units of “smoke-able” marijuana inside each of them, and that any user, regardless of how they use either method, can at their maximum, consume 10 units of marijuana.


The main difference between a joint and a bong is the amount of units that the user can consume at one time.  


With a joint, the user must take a full draw in order to consume 1 unit of marijuana.  The smoke is hot and flows directly from the ember to your mouth.  With the bong however, because of the cooling effect of the water, and the large basin into which smoke can be “brewed”, the user can potentially consume 5 to 10 units in just one hit.  Compared to the joint, the bong user can potentially consume 5-10 times more marijuana at once, ultimately allowing for a much stronger effect.