what is the liquid in bongs

My Ridiculous Quest to Find the Perfect Bong Water

Filling one’s bong with a liquid other than water is a far-from-novel idea. The annals of early internet forums are rife with comments by intrepid young stoners positing questions and anecdotes on the pros and cons of using various H2O alternatives in their pipes. And while there’s no concrete evidence to back this up, I can only assume that this experimental practice is as old as the water pipe itself. Take the oldest known specimens, these solid gold proto-bongs enjoyed by Scythian tribal chiefs who ruled Eurasia 2400 years ago. You can’t tell me these fellas didn’t occasionally get wild and throw some yak milk in there.

Today, with cannabis laws continuing to slacken around the world and the stigma and dangers once associated with getting high dissipating, pot smokers will soon have even more leeway to get creative with their fluid selections. And with more liquid options available to them than at any other time in history, there are likely to be more than a few sublime water substitutes out there waiting to be discovered. With that in mind, and using the suggestions of VICE’s sadistic editors, I assumed the role of human guinea pig and prepared to smoke from a bong filled with 11 unorthodox liquids.

The strain I used throughout, the all-around average hybrid, Gorilla Glue, was chosen partially because I knew it wasn’t too potent, but mostly because it’s what was on hand. To further keep some semblance of rigor, I vowed to take only one chamber-clearing bong rip per liquid and regain sobriety before attempting the next on the list. I’d also clean out the bong between tests, of course. I deluded myself into believing that these strictures were going to somehow elevate this from “cautionary tale” to “science.”

As I filled a shopping cart with the sundries needed for the coming week’s trials, the only question on my mind was “how many Pulitzers can one article win?”

I started my journey with a substance that I thought would offer both a palate cleansing baseline and a potential blessing upon the entire endeavor: holy water. Though I never learned the exact origin of the petite, corked bottle of sanctified water that my editor donated for the experiment, he assured me it was indeed blessed by a man or woman of some sort of cloth. Unfortunately, there wasn’t enough water in the tiny vessel to adequately fill the bottom of the bong, so I was forced to top it off with some from the tap, crossing my fingers that this wouldn’t dilute the Lord’s powers in any way.

The hit was clean, albeit a bit mildewy—I think the bottle’s cork had begun to rot—but the ensuing high was disappointing in its secularity. I guess DMT’s still the tried and true drug route to meeting God.

Still getting my sea legs, I chose a mango-flavored La Croix as my next water replacement. Though included on the roster primarily as a craven ploy for the kind of web traction that comes stock with any usage of 2015’s “it” beverage, this one turned out to be an unexpectedly pleasant experience.

The carbonation and hint of mango added some tropical fizz to the hit and the high was what I imagined Instagram celebrities must feel like 24/7.

Now comfortable with the testing process, I took off my training wheels and picked one of the scarier contenders from the list. As someone who actually enjoys hot sauce, I couldn’t bear to part with any of my good shit for this escapade, so I dumped a bunch of Tabasco bottles into the bong instead.

Before I’d even had a chance to spark the bowl, the spicy fumes wafted up and filled my eyes with tears. I flicked the lighter and Inhaled deeply, taking in what felt like off-brand mustard gas before crumpling into a coughing fit. This was not an enjoyable experience.

To give my lungs a bit of a reprieve, I poured minty blue mouthwash into the chamber and lit up.

Akin to a Camel Crush, this combination gave the smoke a menthol taste, with a nice and smooth draw. And for the first time in my life, I coughed zero times after a bong hit.


As ‘twas the season, I popped into my neighborhood Starbucks and picked up a piping hot PSL for the next round. Because I like neither lattes nor the now-ubiquitous “pumpkin spice” flavor, I had never actually seen the fluid outside of its opaque containers before and was somewhat disturbed at the orange bisque-like substance that poured into my bong.

Surprisingly, none of the cloying gourd flavor made its way into my hit. I only tasted the burnt weed, which was not dissimilar to the burnt coffee bean frequently found in Starbucks orders.

Articles like this are as much about preparation as they are about the writing and, I’ll tell ya, my editor and I agonized over which alcoholic beverage would be the funniest for me to fill a bong with. After popcorning out-of-touch ideas like Fireball and Four Loko around, we finally settled on Casamigos tequila because George Clooney recently sold the company for a billion dollars and he looks kinda douchey in the ads for it. Hilarious, right?

The hit itself was robust, like licking the bar at Mexican restaurant. I kinda liked it. I also liked the hint of smoke that was infused into the gently-used tequila that I recycled from the bong into a cocktail.


The next morning, to combat the hangover from my tequila-soaked night, I dumped a healthy cold-pressed juice into the pipe and took a draw while seated on the floor in the lotus position.

The juice bubbled like one of those algae-filled hot springs that look fun but actually give you a UTI. The hit itself was just as unexpectedly gross. The grassy juice flavor latched onto the smoke and gave me the kind of wet, stuck cough that comes with a black mold infestation.

Ranch? La Croix? Holy water? Hot sauce? Which liquid delivers the best hit?

The Best Bong Water Alternatives To Amp Up Your Cannabis Experience

Who doesn’t like ripping a nice bong!? If you’re looking to add some more magic to your next smoking session, then these 9 bong water alternatives are an excellent place to start.

Smoking a bong is one of the most beloved ways to enjoy cannabis. No wonder, as a bong can get you high like nothing else, while still providing a nice, smooth hit. On the other hand, even the tried and true classics can use some spicing up once in a while to keep them exciting and fresh. Have you ever tried giving your bong water a tasty twist?

There are many ways you can elevate your bong-smoking sessions. You could add flavourful notes to your smoke with juices or tea, or give your smoke a fun fizzy note with sparkling water. But before you get too excited, know that not all beverages are good candidates for this job. Milk, for example, makes your weed less potent, and using beverages with a high alcohol content brings along some obvious dangers that are best avoided. Here are 9 of the best bong water alternatives to try on different occasions!


• Gatorade

If you’re at a party, chances are there will be all kinds of soft drinks along with Gatorade or similar sports drinks. Well, it just so happens that Gatorade is also a great water alternative that you can use in your bong. Gatorade has the advantage of giving your smoke a nice yet subtle flavour note, which is most noticeable when you exhale.

The only disadvantage with Gatorade is that it is quite sugary. So rinse your bong well with warm water after your Gatorade bong session, as the sugar will otherwise make your bong icky, and could even damage it if you don’t regularly clean it afterwards.

• Wine

Putting beverages with a high alcohol content such as whiskey or vodka into your bong is normally a bad idea for several reasons. Inhaling alcohol fumes from high-proof liquor can lead to serious health problems, and the combination of fire and alcohol has the capacity to turn your bong-ripping experience into a potentially dangerous scenario.

Wine, however, is an exception as its alcohol content is rather low. If you want to rip a bong using wine, try sweet, medium-bodied red wines like Malbec. For an extra exciting note, try sparkling red wine such as Lambrusco. The carbonation of the Lambrusco gives your smoke a nice fizzy feel in addition to the distinguished taste of the wine.

• Food colouring

This one won’t add any flavour to your water, but it will make it look cool as hell. Add a festive 420 green or a holiday red hue to your water and impress your stoner buddies! When adding the drops to your bong water, it’s best to tread lightly here; not for safety reasons, but because going too dark runs the risk of staining your bong. As such, it’s best to use it sparingly. Nevertheless, it’s always a fun and artsy way to make the bong-ripping experience that much more special.


• Fruit juices

You can add all sorts of flavour notes to your smoke by substituting your bong water with fruit juice. Try grapefruit, apple, or orange juice, or whatever sounds good to you, and you will surely find a favourite in time! The best juices for your bong will be freshly squeezed juices that do not contain artificial ingredients and additives.

For the best experience and a smooth smoke, you may also want to add plenty of ice cubes to your juice as well. What could be better on a hot summer day than a bong with some good weed and ice-cold, fruity-fresh juice?

• Sparkling water

Substituting plain water with flavoured sparkling water is one of the best ways to enhance your bong-ripping experience! There are several reasons for this; unlike cola and other soft drinks, sparkling water contains no sugar, so it won’t turn your bong into a sticky mess. The flavours of sparkling water, like lemon, peach, mango, strawberry, and whatever else is out there, are also very subtle and won’t overpower the flavour of good weed.

But the best part about sparkling water is how the carbonation adds a nice effervescence to your smoke, which makes it super fun and refreshing. Once again, adding ice cubes can make for an extra cool, extra smooth, and very refreshing smoke.

• Infused water

Some folks just like to stick with regular water, but choose to amp things up by infusing it with natural flavours. Anything from orange and lemon peels to mint leaves, ginger, or refreshing fruits such as kiwi, lime, or strawberry can add just the right touch to the experience.

To infuse water with your flavour of choice, it’s best to cut your ingredients into small pieces. Add the fruit pieces, peels, or leaves to a carafe with cold water and allow the water to infuse for several hours in your fridge—best if left overnight. As mentioned, ice cubes always help round out the bong-smoking experience, but some folks choose to use hot water instead. Try both out to see what you like best!


• Essential oils

Essential oils are key in aromatherapy, and offer a host of benefits with their terpene-rich contents. Adding a drop or two of peppermint, eucalyptus, or lavender to your bong water can make for a smooth and soothing experience. Just make sure not to add too much; essential oils are very concentrated and are best used to add just a hint of flavour.

If you want to get fancy, try choosing oils that complement the terpene profile of the strain you’re smoking. For instance, if you know your strain is high in linalool, try using lavender oil, which contains high concentrations of this floral terpene. Peppermint oil is a particularly popular option as it not only cools down the smoke, but helps clear the sinuses and throat.

• Cranberry juice

Okay, we already mentioned fruit juice above, but cranberry juice deserves an honour of its own. Cranberry juice is unique because it adds a tart and slightly bitter note to the smoke that is extremely satisfying. Moreover, 100% cranberry juice is lower in sugar than other juices, and therefore won’t mess up your bong as quickly. In fact, the high acid content of the juice might even help to keep your bong clean. Some also say that using cranberry juice makes for better hits because of the vitamin C that’s in it. For the best flavour experience with cranberry juice, we recommend using freshly pressed cranberry juice made without additives.

• Tea

Putting tea in your bong is another very popular alternative to ordinary bong water. Just like with ice water or fruit juices, freshly brewed black, green, or herbal tea can give your smoke a rich yet subtle profile that enhances the flavour significantly. The good thing about tea is that there are so many types available, so you can always try out new flavours.

If you fill your bong with hot, freshly-brewed tea, it can make for an especially pleasant and warming winter smoke! Just be careful when you pour hot tea into a glass bong. Cheaper bongs made from poor-quality glass may crack. Likewise, it isn’t recommended to use piping hot liquids in cheap acrylic bongs, as the heat may bring out potentially toxic plastic fumes.

Some people enjoy their tea iced rather than hot, and the same is true for bong water. You can put ice tea in your bong for a particularly cool and smooth smoking experience. For this, brew your tea as usual, then let it cool for a while in your fridge. Afterwards, put the tea in a carafe or straight into your bong and add plenty of ice cubes. Alternatively, you can freeze the tea into ice cubes and add them to your water instead.


Give the bong-ripping experience a new twist with juices, teas, or wine! Just remember that if you use anything but plain water, your bong will need extra care after use. For some good tips on how to clean your bong thoroughly, check out our article “How To Clean Your Bong, Bowl or Pipe”, where you will learn everything you need to know!

Learn how to add an exciting twist to your bong-ripping experience with these 9 bong water alternatives. Which one is your favourite?