Updated: Mar 8
Bongs have been around for a long, long time. Anyone who's seen stoner movies from the 70s and 80s has seen bongs and know basically how they word - if not then a couple of Cheech & Chong movies + Fast Times at Ridgemont High will bring you up to speed!
And though bongs have been primarily associated with super stoner culture, with medical (and recreational) marijuana being accepted more and more they are gaining more respect - and popularity. Are you a new time medical marijuana patient? Or do you currently use another intake method and are curious about different options?
Then bongs just might be the thing for you! Personally I like to change up my intake methods and for a milder smoking option (the smoke is filtered through cool water), bongs are on permanent rotation on my MJ intake method playlist!
Different Types of Bongs
Bongs come in different shapes and sizes, and can be made out of heat resistant borosilicate glass or plastic, glass being by far the most popular. Bongs also have a plethora of features, design and doo-dads to make the smoking experience more unique to the bongs' owner.
But look closely ... all bongs have the same general structure (vertical) and have the same basic components: mouthpiece, cylinder neck, a place to put the marijuana and a bowl-like base that holds water. Again, there are many more features, but these are the general ones you will see when first looking at (just about) any bong.
Keep in mind - though we talk about 'the smoke filtering through water' when describing a bong, the water doesn't actually filter out anything; it's simply another element the inhaled smoke will go through before reaching the user.
Let's go through the anatomy of a bong!
Follow the picture below, starting from the bottom. These are the minimum components that a bong needs to actually work. Starting from the bottom! ...
Chamber - the chamber is base of the bong that is also holds the water the smoke will filter through. Some partakers like to add ice to cool the water down even more and some bongs even have ice-holding feature. This doesn't actually 'filter' out anything more or less, it just softens the smoke as you intake.
Bowl - the bowl is where you add the weed. It's recommended that you use a good grinder to grind up your weed; it will also make it easier to load, light and clean the bowl. The bowl is connected to the stem.
Stem - the bottom part of the bowl is the stem. This hollow tube (usually the same material as the bong itself) stick into the water and serves as the conduit for the smoke from the lit weed in the bowl to get sucked into & filtered through the water. Then via the uptake tube, the cooled down smoke reaches the MMJ partaker.
Uptake tube - this is the cylinder neck of the bong. Some of the fancier, more-advanced bongs might have a tubular design, but the idea is the same: the uptake tube delivers the cooled smoke from the chamber to the partaker.
Mouthpiece - this is where the bong user places their mouth and from which they will slowly inhale. The size of the mouthpiece is different for every bong and is unique to the user. Just remember to sanitize your bong mouthpiece each time if you are smoking with someone else.
When lighting the bowl and inhaling from the mouthpiece, there will inevitably be smoke left in the intake tube. Unless you are at the end of your bowl, your weed is likely also still burning. How do you get the smoke out of the intake tube without bringing in more smoke from the burning bowl? By the carburetor.
Carburetor - this often overlooked feature is very important. To inhale the last of the smoke in the intake tube without bringing in more smoke, simply release the carburetor. This is generally a hole in the intake tube that is covered by the smoker's thumb/finger while taking a hit.
Don't worry, we go into how to use a bong in the next blog post!