A bong, also known as a water pipe (make sure you use this term in headshops) is a smoking device with water filtration. Bongs come in all sizes, from handhelds and minis, to monsters, and everything in between. A bong can have a single straight tube, or an elaborate series of chambers. Bongs can be made from just about anything, glass being the most respected in most circles, and the most common. Glass bongs can be complex, or extremely simple. Acrylics, or plastic bongs, are cheaper, harder to break, and generally less sophisticated. Bongs can also be made out of wood, ceramic or metal, or can be homemade from household items like bottles, pens, and a litte tin foil. Bongs can be clear, colorful, or partially both.
Common bong shapes
Bubble Bottom - The rubber grommet bong below is an example of this
I am not experienced enough to know about the differences in the way each of these hits, but different shapes will create differences in the way a bong pulls.
There are many different "classes" of bongs.
Waterfall or Gravity bongs: Work by drawing smoke into a chamber, be it a soda bottle in a bucket or just a bottle or tube, through water draining from the chamber. Often homemade. Diagram. Video demonstrating this can be found at youtube.com/watch?v=37SDIC2AxeI, with instructions to make one here.
Glass on Glass or GonG bongs: On these bongs, ground glass of the joint and ground glass of the downstem only come in contact with one another, as do the ground glass on the bowl and downstem. These are preferred by most people, and can be found on more expensive bongs, as the ground glass joints provide a better seal and smoother pull than a rubber grommet.
Rubber grommet bongs: These bongs (pictured below) use a rubber grommet to seal the downstem/bowl to the joint. Usually cheaper.
Stemless bongs: The difference here is that the "downstem" so to speak is built onto the outside of the tube and chamber and connects at the base. These are not very common, but are becoming more popular.
A partially clear glass bong, with a rubber seal (not glass on glass)
Choosing a bong
I was told not to choose a bong, but let a bong choose me. Go to your local shop, have a look around, and if something catches your eye, ask to see it. Always refer to bongs as "water pipes"! While your headshop may be more lax in this, it's generally a bad idea to say "bong", or use any other weed lingo in a store.
There are different ways to judge a bong's quality once you find one you might be interested in. Thicker glass means a bong will be heavier, more durable, and less likely to break. No glass, however, is unbreakable. Inspect all joints and look for defects in the glass. A small hairline crack can mean big trouble down the line, so make sure to look closely at problem areas like places where the glass turns or changes shapes. DO YOUR RESEARCH! Check out online stores like grasscity and pick out a few features you like. Go into the store with some idea of what you want, and what price you expect to pay. At some shops, you can haggle a bit on price to get a better deal, or the clerk will throw in a few free items like screens, or if your lucky, a small handpipe or bowl. Don't expect this unless you're a regular, however.
There's some debate about the major "brand name" bongs like RooR, Illadelph, etc. These bongs carry a higher price tag, and are usually more complex and intricate than generic bongs. I've personally had 0 experience with brand name bongs, but I've never had problems with generic bongs either. Ultimately, it comes down to two things: the amount of money you care to spend, and the amount of time and care you plan to devote to your glass. I find it hard to justify spending the big bucks on a brand name bong, as I don't have the time or resources to display, care for, clean, and admire such an investment. However, if you have your own place, or a safe place to store your glass, think you'll be able to maintain and take care of it, and trust EVERYONE you'll possibly be sharing it with, I would suggest going for a big name.
A Roor Black Label Bong with Ashcatcher and Icecatchers. Beaker bottom style.
The parts of a bong
While bongs can be configured in may different ways, there are a few key parts a bong must have.
Tube: This is the main body of the bong.
Base: This can either be an extension of the tube, or a bulbous chamber where water will sit and smoke will form.
Stem hole: This is a joint in the base of the bong for the downstem. This is said to be glass-on-glass or GonG when it is designed for another peice of glass to fit it. Otherwise, a rubber grommet or seal of some sort joins the downstem and the stem hole.
Downstem: This attaches to the bong at the stem hole, and extends into the base. It will be submerged when the bong is filled with water.
Bowl: The bowl attaches to the downstem, and can be small or large. Weed goes in the bowl. This can be stationary, or what is referred to as a slider. A slider is a bowl that is pulled out before clearing the bong of smoke.
Other parts: not applicable to every bong, and each works in a different way.
Carb or shotgun hole: This is a hole on the tube of the bong, and acts in place of a slider. It is covered during inhalation, then released during clearing to allow air to enter the bong and the smoker's lungs. This is used in place of a slider, and most people say it makes it harder to clear the chamber of smoke. It's up to personal preference.
Ashcatcher: This attaches to the downstem, and acts as a primary filtration and debris catcher. If material pulls through the bowl, it will ideally stay in the ashcatcher instead of entering the bong's downstem and dirtying the water. This may make it harder to pull your bong, however, as the smoke is being transferred through two bodies of water.
Icecatcher or ice notches: These are pinches in the bong tube. They allow you to add ice or snow to the tube to cool the smoke.
Diffuser: This refers to a specific type of downstem that has several small holes or slits in it, rather than one large hole at the end. It is designed to further cool and expand the smoke. Can add drag, but make the smoke smoother and sometimes thicker.
Percolators: Often referred to as "percs". These are found in the tube part of a bong, and further cool and expand smoke. They can add drag, making it more difficult to clear the bong, but often make the smoke smoother. There are two common types- dome percolators, and tree percolators. Tree percolators have arms, dome percs resemble a disk. Bongs can have one or more of these.
Drag: Drag is how difficult it is to pull smoke into the bong. Thanks to jeffreATL for the following information on drag:
Many arm tree percs, the more arms the better
Illadelph style inline
Many stemmed a/c
Single stem a/c
Smoking a bong
The best way to learn to do this is to smoke with an experienced bong owner. However, here are the basic steps:
First, fill your bong with water. Using sugary liquids is generally a bad idea, as the inside of your bong will get sticky and attract bugs. You can use flavored sugar free water, but there won't be much difference in taste. Do not use any liquid with fat content (milk that isn't skim), as the THC will be absorbed by the fats. If your bong has ice notches, pour the water in first, then add the ice. You want the liquid to be just covering the hole(s) of your downstem.
IMPORTANT: Never, EVER breath into a bong. You will force the water up the downstem and into the bowl of weed, thus blowing it out or soaking it. If you have to cough, give up the bong or set it down carefully.
1. Put the bong up to your lips. Depending on the size of the mouthpeice, your mouth should form an O shape, with your lips inside the tube.
2. Get the bowl ready and have a lighter in one hand.
3. Get settled - you don't want to be in any kind of situation where you'll have to move a lot or risk dropping anything.
If you're standing, place one hand on the base of the bong, and hold it against your face. If you're sitting, place the base of the bong on something sturdy inbetween your legs. You can also place the bong on a table or something similar and stand over it.
4. Place a finger over the carb hole, if there is one.
5. Light a corner of the bowl and inhale slowly and at a gradual pace. You should hear bubbles at a consistent pace. The bong will slowly fill up with smoke. If you want to milk and clear in one breath, use about 3/4 of your breath capacity for this part. Otherwise, milk it as much as you can.
If you've used all your breath already, take the slide out and cover the top as best you can. Alternatively, you can exhale slowly through your nose, and then breath in again to clear the bong.
After it gets as milked as you think you can handle:
1. Take your finger off the carb, or pull out the slide.
2. Inhale slowly at first, and then rapidly with as much breath and force as you can. If your bong is huge or you're inexperienced, it may take several tries to get all the smoke. Make sure to cover the top between breaths if you're doing this more than once.
3. Hold your hit for atleast two seconds, then exhale.
With experience, you'll be able to judge how much milk is enough, and how to maximize your breath for bubbling/inhaling action.
Every bong pulls and rips differently, so don't be surprised when you can rip and clear one in one breath, while another may be more difficult.
Caring for your bong
Take care of your glass and your glass will take care of you. Treat other people's glass as if it were your own, and expect the same from those you share with. Nobody wants a broken bong.
When you finish smoking:
Empty the water and ice. Remove the bowl, empty it out. Remove the downstem, and dry it as best you can. If there is any particles in the downstem, clean them out with a q tip or pipe cleaner. Empty the ashcatcher or other attachments, and dry them. It's a good idea to have a padded box to keep all of these attachments in, with some bubble wrap to keep them from hitting against each other. This keeps everything organized and protected. In this box, you should also have screens and a lighter, and some visine if you wish.
It's a good idea to empty your bong water between sessions, and don't leave water sitting in the bong for a long period of time. This can lead to hard water stains, where minerals in the water will leave marks on your glass. It is not entirely necessary to keep a bong dry at times when it is not in use, but it's a good idea to wipe away any streaks and remove any excess water that you can to prevent stains and smell. Obviously, the more intricate and complex bongs will be harder to clean.
The Official GrassCity Piece Cleaning Guide
When storing your bong, you want it to be protected. My bong has paper towels stuffed in the upper tube, another in the downstem hole, and a longsleeve t-shirt wrapped all around. This is because I have to keep it hidden, and don't want it to smell. Bong bags are padded bags made specifically for storage and transportation. If you have your bong in a vehicle, make sure it is covered, out of sight, or both. If a policeman sees your bong through a window, he then has probable cause to search your vehicle, and nobody wants that.
I'd like for this to be a sticky. If anyone has ideas for additions or changes, pm me or reply. Thanks for reading, and I hope you learned something!
Edited by sparticus63, 12 February 2009 - 08:40 PM.
spelling errors, formatting, etc.