By Luke Sumpter

Although there are many different ways you can consume cannabis, one of the most popular methods is still the tried and tested bong. Some cannabis enthusiasts even think that nothing beats the high that you get from a huge bong rip.

Although this may be down to personal preference, smoking weed from a bong does indeed have some advantages: it can give you a cooler and smoother smoke, and you don’t have to fiddle around with papers like when making a joint.

On the other hand, not everyone may know how to properly use a bong. Well, help is on the way: In this guide, you will learn everything you need to know so you can smoke a bong like a pro. We’ll also share some helpful tips on how to clean your bong to keep it in top shape.

The Basic Components of a Bong

A bong or water pipe filters your smoke by sending it through water to make it cooler and less harsh. Bongs are typically made from durable glass like borosilicate, but you can also find ones made from acrylic, wood, and many other materials. Bongs are available in many sizes, from small and stealthy rigs to massive centerpieces that come with additional features to enhance your smoke experience even more. For this guide, we will stick with the basics to keep things simple and clear.

In order to have the best experience smoking from a bong, it pays to know the different components of the apparatus. A bong will normally consist of a bowl, a stem, the bong’s interior (the base), a smoke chamber (tube), and mouthpiece. Many bongs also have a small opening called a carb hole.

  • Bowl

The bowl is the part on your bong that holds your bud. Unless your bowl is made entirely from glass, the bowl can also be made from metal such as steel or copper.

  • Stem

The bowl of the bong is attached to a tube called the stem. This tube extends into the base of the bong through a hole. Inside the bong, the stem is partially submerged in water.

  • Base

The base is the large interior part of the bong at the bottom that holds the water. The base is also where the smoke builds up as it bubbles out from the water.

  • Chamber (tube)

The smoke chamber (or tube) is the large cylinder that extends up from the base. This is where the smoke goes through before it reaches the mouthpiece.

  • Mouthpiece

The mouthpiece is the large opening at the top of the bong where you place your mouth to inhale the smoke.

  • Percolator

A percolator is a filtration system featured in some water pipes that helps to cool down the smoke before inhalation. Percolators work by diffusing and filtering the smoke, breaking it up and making for a smoother smoking experience. Percolators can appear in the downstem of a bong, or in distinct locations, and come in various configurations. The percolator is what makes that familiar bubbling sound when using your bong.

The Basic Components of a Bong

How to Prepare Your Bong Before Smoking

  • Fill the bong with H₂O

Before you start ripping your bong like a champion, first you must fill it with fresh water. The golden rule is to add enough water to cover the slits of the downstem completely. If your downstem does not have slits, add enough water to submerge the downstem by approximately half an inch.

⇢ How Much Water Do I Put in My Bong?

The ideal amount of water is dependent on the size and features of your bong. If you have a massive bong with numerous percolators and chambers, add enough water so that all the percolator openings are submerged. This ensures you're taking full advantage of the filtration system.

  • Pack it up

There are smokers who fill their bowl with cannabis before they put the stem into the bong, while others pack it with the stem kept in the bong the whole time. Try for yourself to see what works best for you.

To pack your bowl, use your fingers or a grinder and break your bud down into small pieces. If needed, you can put a screen into the bowl as well. Pack your ground material into the bowl. If you smoke with others, make sure that you pack enough so that everyone can enjoy some green. If you took the stem out before, you can now insert it back into the hole on the bong.

Hitting Your Bong, The Right Way

How you hit your bong depends on whether your bong has a carb hole or not. The carb hole is a small opening that’s normally on the side or back of the bong. If your bong has a carb hole, close the carb hole with your thumb. This will keep the smoke inside your bong before you inhale it.

1. Light your bud

Now it’s time to light the bud in your bowl! Take the bong, put the mouthpiece to your mouth and get ready to draw: Take a good lighter or a lighting wick, but don’t go all crazy scorching the entire bowl. If you’re sharing with others, it is considered polite to only light a small edge of the bowl and not to turn the entire bud into ash.

Hitting Your Bong, The Right Way

2. Fill the bong with smoke

As you light up the bowl, draw in through the mouthpiece and fill the chamber with smoke. Are you still covering the carb hole? Good! Keep drawing smoke into the bong until you have collected the desired amount. Get ready to rip!

Hitting Your Bong, The Right Way

3. Clear the bong

When the bong is filled with smoke, you’re ready to rip, clear the chamber, and inhale the smoke. Remove your thumb from the carb hole, or, if you have a bong without one, pull the stem out from the stem hole. Now, inhale the smoke from the chamber. If you can’t finish all the smoke that’s in the bong, no big deal since you can always draw a second time.

You don’t want your next rip to start with stale smoke left in your bong, and you sure don’t want to come across as an impolite jerk when you’re smoking with others. Because of that, you should make sure that you clear the bong of any lingering smoke left in the chamber when you’re done.

Hitting Your Bong, The Right Way

How To Clean Your Bong

Keeping your bong clean and properly maintained isn’t just something you should do to achieve the best flavor, biggest rips, and smoothest high; an unclean bong can also be bad for your health. It only takes about 24 hours for the stale water in your bong to turn into a breeding ground for bacteria. Likewise, sticky resin on your bong will also promote the growth of mold and bacteria. Because of that, you should regularly clean your bong after each and every use. But no worries, basic bong cleaning is pretty easy and doesn’t take long.

First off, you should always dump your bong water out after your session. Simple: If there is no bong water left, it cannot get nasty. Afterwards, rinse your bong with some warm water. With a paper towel, wipe your bong down and then allow the piece to dry. This should do for everyday use and helps keep your bong from getting too icky.

Tip: If there is sticky resin that won’t easily rub off on some spots, such as the stem or the bowl, alcohol wipes will do wonders. Likewise, make sure that you also replace your screens regularly if your bowl needs them.

If you follow these simple bong maintenance tips, you can always enjoy big rips and the best flavor from your bong. If you want more thorough information on proper bong cleaning and maintenance, check out How To Clean Your Bong, Bowl Or Pipe, where we show you further tips on you how you can clean your bong and other smoking devices.

Bong Water Temperature

Ask weed enthusiasts what the perfect temperature for bong water is, and you will be met with different answers. Everyone has their own opinion, and there is no right or wrong—it all comes down to personal preference.

  • Hot vs Cold Bong Water

However, there are unique benefits to using both hot and cold water that may make one more appealing to you. To give you some idea of what to expect, here are some pros and cons.

Hot Bong Water Pros and Cons

Pros Cons
Potentially smoother hits Not suitable for all bongs
Better filtration Takes some preparation
- Potentially less-potent hits (less-condensed smoke)

Some swear that hot bong water gives you a smoother, more enjoyable hit. The steamy smoke is believed to irritate the throat and airways less than cold water, resulting in less coughing.

When we say "hot", we don't mean boiling, and we don't mean lukewarm. We are talking about the temperature of a freshly brewed cup of tea.

Though there isn't currently any evidence to suggest whether the temperature of bong water can influence levels of THC, hot water is believed to filter out more contaminants than cold.

It is not suitable to use hot water in acrylic or plastic bongs. You should only use cold water in these models.

Cold Bong Water Pros and Cons

Pros Cons
Allows for bigger hitss Potentially harsher on the throat
Suitable for all types of bongs Filtration is not as good
Doesn’t require preparation Using ice may have adverse effects
Remains fresh longer -

Cold water cools the smoke down and condenses it. Some believe this makes for the most powerful impact as it allows the lungs to intake more smoke—though this theory is contested. Furthermore, using cold water means you don’t have to spend time heating up your water before enjoying a smoke. Cold water will also stay fresher and more appealing for longer than hot water.

You will also see bongs for sale with special compartments for ice. The purpose is to cool the smoke down even further to allow for bigger, smoother hits.

However, there have been reports associating ice bongs with bronchitis and other respiratory illnesses. Though unproven, it's worth considering.

Once you have mastered how to prepare, clean, and use your bong, you will see how it is one of the easiest and most effective ways to use cannabis.

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