stem of a bong

Anatomy of a Bong 101: What are the Different Parts of a Bong?

The anatomy of a bong is varied and more complex than one might think. Bongs come in many shapes and sizes, but there are some features that you can expect to find on most pieces. Bongs set themselves apart as a cannabis smoking apparatus because they have one or more chambers with water to filter and cool smoke. Bongs can be made of wood, acrylic, soft glass, borosilicate, silicone, metal, and other materials.

Most bongs, however, are made of glass and consist of several components, as opposed to bowls, which are typically all-in-one. As a result, there are several more pieces of glass to worry about. We’ll go over the anatomy of a bong to give you a better understanding of all the components and their individual functions.

Bowl Piece

From weed to inhaled smoke, smoking a bong starts at the bowl piece.

The bowl is where you pack your weed after it has been through a grinder or broken down. Bowls come in several shapes and sizes, but often it is just a “push” or glass indent with a hole at the bottom.

Some are just for aesthetics, while others have functional purposes.

Many newer bowls have built-in glass screens, eliminating the need for smoking through thin-wired metal screens that need to be replaced often.

There are several different styles of built-in screens with various-sized holes to suit your preference. If you don’t want anything making it past the bowl, go with a smaller hole screen, like the honey-comb style.

Ash Catcher

With a name like ash catcher, the function is a dead giveaway. You guessed it—an ash catcher is a glass attachment that catches ash.

They catch the ash from your bowl when it sinks through the hole. This prevents ash from getting into your bong, and then potentially your mouth.

Despite the name’s focus on that one function, ash catchers are useful for other reasons. Some ash catchers come with built-in percolators to further filter and cool the smoke.

Additionally, ash catchers will accumulate most of the tar and gunk from regular use before your bong does.

They’re much easier to clean than the whole bong, and when you do, you won’t have to clean a bong as often as you normally would to keep the flavor and function on point.


The part of the bong that holds your down stem is called a joint. There is also a joint at the end of all down stems.

Some bongs have a fixed stem with no removable down stem. In those cases, the bowl goes straight into the joint of the bong.

Joints generally come in three sizes: 10mm, 14mm and 18mm size holes. For smoking weed, you’re going to want to make sure the joints are female and not male.

Female joints allow the male jointed bowl piece, stem or ash catcher to be inserted instead of wrapping around the joint.

Male joints became popular for designated dab rigs that use domes and nails.

Down Stem

One of the most important parts of the anatomy of a bong is the down stem. The down stem is the bridge between the bowl and the water in the main chamber of your bong.

At the end closer to the joint, there should be a 10, 14 or 18mm sized hole. Down stems come in many different styles with various functions.

The most basic down stem is just a glass straw with a hole at the end to cause bubbling. However, there are far more intricate down stems with their own built-in percolators to further cool smoke.

For glass bongs, we recommend using a plastic clip to keep the down stem fixed to your bong. It’ll make it easier to clear a bowl.

We’ve seen many stems come out along with the bowl once things get gunked up. Then, the stem can fall and break—if it didn’t snap on the way out of the bong.

Some lower-end bongs have the down stem and bowl all in one piece, and refer to them as slides.


The percolator is used to filter the smoke additional times after it passes the water at the end of your stem.

There are so many different types of percolators out there, it’s hard to tell which is the best without an idea of your individual needs.

Avoid tons of tiny small holes if you’re not a regular bong cleaner. Eventually, the holes will get clogged up, negatively impacting the performance of your bong.

Splash Guard / Ice Pinch

A splash guard is a feature found usually in some bongs with heavy percolation. As the name suggests, its purpose is to prevent the water bubbling upwards from getting through the mouthpiece. Splash guards come in different shapes.

Before there were splash guards, the only thing you’d find close to the mouthpiece of a bong was the ice pinch.

Three spikes of glass come to hold ice. This cools the air before it reaches the mouthpiece. Now there are better splash guards that look like dome percolators right below the mouthpiece.

For some bongs, a bent neck acts as an additional splashguard, making it harder for water to travel up and out of the mouthpiece.


The final stop the smoke has to make before arriving at your lungs is the mouthpiece.

Traditionally, mouthpieces were horizontal, at the highest point of the bong.

Now, you can find bent-neck bongs with angled mouthpieces allowing you to get a hit without having to hunch over the bong.

Now that you know all of the individual parts of the anatomy of a bong, you’ll know what you’re looking at when browsing the shelves of a smoke shop. Understanding the functions of each part should help when choosing between two similarly priced pieces. If you feel like your current bong is too harsh, you can get an ash catcher with a built-in percolator to help make hits smoother. If your weed sinks into the bowl before it’s all smoked, it’s time for an ash catcher, and perhaps a bowl with a smaller hole or built-in screen.

Regular bong smokers, whether smoking flower or moonrocks, should use a glass bong because they’re better-tasting and easier to clean. However, if you are clumsy, you should follow our tips to avoid destroying your bong.

Welcome to the Anatomy of A Bong 101. Class is now in session.

The Science Of The Bong Explained: How Does a Bong Work?

For those who are new to smoking cannabis flower, using a bong maybe something new. The appearance of a bong is typically associated with that lazy stoner on the couch, playing video games, eating junk food, and enjoying their large water pipe stuffed with weed. The bong works with the principle of water diffusion and percolation for making rips a lot smoother.

Bongs can also work through gathering a lot of smoke in the chamber. This allows a massive hit straight to dome upon clearing it. While comfortable and smoother hits are sure with the bong, it’s vital to know how you’re able to get these! Let us first understand the bong and then we’ll move to its function.

History Of The Bong

The “bong” word has been known to be derived from the Thai word “baung.” Traditionally, the word baung refers to a wooden bamboo tube. It also has taken on the current definition of cylindrical pipe for smoking.

According to some sources, the water pipe used was to cool down and filter smoke back in the Ming Dynasty of China. Various other reports indicate its usage history in Africa with tribes designing earthen bongs in the ground with the help of the same principles behind modern bongs.

Also, there are accounts of ancient bongs being made up of pure gold being used through the nomadic race of warriors what is currently known as Russia.

Nowadays bongs have a lot of sizes and shapes, but the common versions are ones that are hand-blown through the glass.

Throughout the evolution of bong, it has also been designed through materials such as bamboo, hand-carved wood, plastic, and also ceramics.

How Does a Bong Work?

People think of bongs to have a simple mechanism: But upon getting a drag from it you’ll know about how does a bong work and how you can use it.

Fill the bong base with water while stopping below carb hole as this is part of the stem and is accessible when you take the bowl out of the bong. Now, you’ll have to light up your cannabis!

Upon lighting your flower, you’ll have to breathe in while the cannabis gently catches. With this, smoke gets pulled into the tube through the stem. As it would pass through water, the smoke also gets filtered and purified while getting cooled down.

Because water is cooler compared to the passing smoke, the smoke you breathe becomes much cooler. Also, the smoke gets rid of residual plant matter that otherwise can clog up the lungs. This turns the smoking experience a lot pleasant.

Why Do People Use Bongs?

The bong performs in a similar manner to a wet scrubber or a gas washing bottle used for removal of dust and pollutants from different gases. The use of a bong is mainly intended to filter out additional particles and cool down the smoke. The function of a bong is visible easily with a transparent bong. The smoke in a bong comes in contact with water and other heavy elements like unburnt green materials and ash get caught and are filtered out.

When someone draws on the bong, a negative pressure is created that forces smoke to get bubbled through water from lit cone through the stem.

In some bongs, there is a small hole known as a choke, shotty, carby, etc. After taking a hit, it is uncovered for clearing the smoke pipe once you use the cone.

Alternatively, no hole is there and the cone itself gets lifted clear of stem for facilitating sluicing clean air rush.

Parts of a Bong

Any bong consists of mainly five parts:

The Bowl

The bong’s bowl is a bulbous attachment available with dried cannabis flower which is combusted after loading. This is removable often and allows for functioning as a pull or the slide carburetor.


Carb which is short for the carburetor, is a little hole present the lets user clear out the smoke from the bong chamber while completing bong toke. The most common carb generally seen in glass bong types is slide or pull-carb, which can be seen when you remove the bowl.


The little tube letting smoke travel from downwards of the bowl to the base is known as downstem, where is gets percolated through the water.

The bottom of a bong is known as base and takes a lot of shapes while depending on style. A breaker or bubble-shaped base often is used for creating a water chamber where the smoke gets cooled down while passing through water.

Tube while ending in the mouthpiece, is chamber filling with smoke after getting filtered through water. Various other features, like ice pinch, often remain included in the design of the tube.

All parts are available in different colors, designs, and shapes depending on the intended function of the bong. The downstream often get attached or replaced with different percolator designs offering diffusion or separation of smoke while passing through the water chamber.

Different Types of Bongs

Here are a few common bong types with their working:

The Einstein

The bong has two percolators. First being honeycomb for recycling smoke in second perc, known as Swiss perc as holes resemble Swiss cheese functioning for diffusing smoke.


Salvager has been designed for efficiency. The smoke first percolates through showerhead percolator at the downstem end. Also, it travels through internal recycler for recycling smoke back through the second diffusion before reaching the mouthpiece.

Sesh Supply “Poseidon”

The piece has two separate percolation chambers with both feature inverted showerhead percs. Smoke traveled through showerheads and continuously gets diffused upon passing through honeycomb perc between the chamber.

Common Myths Associated with Bongs

Many myths surround the use of bongs and some common ones are:

Bongs Make You Higher

This can be a yes or a no as well. Compared to traditional smoking methods, bong smoking gets you a lot higher. The high is caused because of the high amount of smoke.

Although compared to modern concentrates, these are less as with a little vape hit, you’ll be on the couch for a few hours for sure.

Bongs Are Better For Your Lungs

Bong smoke feels smoother compared to a dry bong or joint. Unfortunately, none of these is good for the lungs. Any form of smoke entering the lungs isn’t considered healthy. Technically the healthiest option would be vaping. If you’re concerned about lung health, you must refrain from smoking any cannabis substance and instead consume the edibles.

The More Expensive It Is, The Better

Higher priced bong indicates that bong is sturdier and is made up of stronger materials, better construction, or through percolator (filters smoke and also cools this as well). However, with a price increase, the artistry and size are also dictated.

Cheaper bongs work ideally compared to expensive ones. Thus, the best thing would be doing thorough research and narrow down according to different features and price options before purchasing one. The bong ideally symbolizes the traditional time-honored cannabis smoking. The bong is the most elegant, simple glass piece the appears graceful and also adds a lot of comfort to your pot-smoking style.

For those who are new to smoking cannabis flower, using a bong maybe something new. Let us explain to you how a bong works?