Demystifying the Bong, One Myth at a Time
Bongs, which you may also know by slang terms like bubbler, binger, or billy, are water pipes used to smoke cannabis.
They’ve been around for centuries. The word bong is said to have come from the Thai word “baung” for a bamboo tube used for smoking weed.
Today’s bongs look a lot more complicated than a simple bamboo tube, but they all come down to the same basic process.
Read on to learn more about how bongs work and why, contrary to lore, they aren’t actually any better for your lungs than other smoking methods.
Bongs come in all shapes and sizes. Some are very basic with just a bowl and chamber. Others are colorful, mouth-blown works of art.
At the end of the day, they all do basically the same thing: filter and cool the smoke that comes from the burning marijuana.
Bongs generally feature a small bowl that holds dried weed. When you light the weed it combusts. Meanwhile, as you inhale, the water in the bottom of the bong bubbles (or percolates, if you want to get technical). The smoke rises up through the water and then the chamber before entering your mouth and lungs.
If you’re looking for a smoother toke, a bong will give you just that compared to smoking weed rolled in paper.
As expected, the water in a bong eliminates the dry heat you get from a joint. The effect is often described as being cooler, creamy, and smooth rather than harsh.
This effect can be deceiving, though.
While the smoother smoke might feel better on your lungs, you’re still smoking. And that smoke is still filling up your lungs (we’ll spare the lecture on why this is all-around bad news for your health).
Sure, a small amount of the bad stuff might get filtered out. But it’s not enough to make much of a difference.
Yes, this means all those stories about bongs being the “safer” way to smoke are largely based on junk science.
So far, bong safety has been pretty low on the list of priorities when it comes to medical research. But as cannabis becomes legal in more areas, this could change.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and other health organizations, smoke is harmful to lung health regardless of what you’re smoking because of the carcinogens released from the combustion of materials.
Smoking marijuana, whether via doobie or bong, can harm lung tissues and cause scarring and damage to your small blood vessels.
The tendency to inhale deeply and hold your breath when smoking pot means you’re often exposed to more tar per breath. Plus, bongs are basically a way to get more smoke into your lungs while also making that smoke more pleasant to inhale.
All of these aspects make it easy to overdo it when using a bong.
One other risk to keep in mind is related to the use of plastic bongs. Plastics that contain chemicals like BPA and phthalates have been linked to adverse health effects, including cancer.
Bong health risks aside, depending on where you live and local laws, having a bong with marijuana in it or even just some residue could get you in legal hot water.
Research also shows that marijuana-only smokers have more healthcare visits related to respiratory conditions than nonsmokers, regardless of the method used to inhale the smoke.
How do those fancy bongs, with all their bells and whistles, actually work? Plus, find out whether they're actually easier on your lungs than a joint.
How to properly hit a bong
April 19, 2018 by Jonny Rhein
So you’ve never hit a bong before.
That’s totally fine. You have come to the right place. Hitting a bong can be intimidating at first: Where do I start? What’s the right amount of smoke? Am I going to die? I will answer all of those questions in this guide.
Here is how to properly hit a bong:
- Finding the perfect fit.
Bongs come in all shapes and sizes. You have the zig-zag shape (or zong), bongs with an ice catcher for a nice, cool hit, hookahs, the homemade gravity bong, mini bongs called bubblers, etc. For our purposes, we will stick with the standard bong, although they all pretty much work the same way.
2. The Five Elements
Water, fire, weed, bong, stem.
First, you want to fill the bong with enough water so a decent portion of the stem is submerged. If you want to get crazy, I have heard of people using a different substance other than water for a more pleasant taste, such as pineapple juice. Give it a shot; it couldn’t hurt.
The stem should conveniently fit in the hole provided on the outside of the base of the bong. You can pack it with weed before you insert it or while it’s in the bong; it doesn’t matter. Just make sure you pack the correct amount for the number of people in your circle. If you are smoking by yourself, that’s cool too. No one is judging you. You do you.
3. Hitting the bong
a) Remember, you are in complete control. You have the power to determine the amount of smoke that will build up in the chamber. There is no standard limit; it is all personal preference.
The first part of this process involves no inhalation. Once you have the bowl lit, put your entire mouth inside of the opening on the top of the bong. In other words, DO NOT put your mouth around the opening. You are not trying to eat the bong. Now suck (I repeat, do not inhale yet.) If the bowl cherries, water bubbles and smoke rises, you are doing something right.
b) Once you have the desired amount of smoke in the chamber, you are ready to inhale. Pull the stem out of the hole and inhale until the smoke has exited the bong and entered your lungs. If you feel like you cannot finish it, no worries. You can take two inhales if you want, but the second one might taste a little stale.
You’re doing great! We’re so proud of you!”
4. The aftermath.
Depending on how big of a hit you just took, this could be smooth or terribly rough. Hold it in for as long as you can to get the most out of your hit. Exhale. Now, you may experience a satisfying head rush, lightheadedness, an intense coughing fit, anxiety, pacing around the room, the desire to go back in time to right before you took that stupid, huge hit or all of the above.
No matter how your experience goes, everything will be fine. No one has ever died from a marijuana overdose and chances are you will not be the first.
Have fun, and know your limits!
How to properly hit a bong April 19, 2018 by Jonny Rhein So you’ve never hit a bong before. That’s totally fine. You have come to the right place. Hitting a bong can be intimidating at