How Does a Bong Work? A Guide to the Water Pipe

A bong is a device that uses water to filter and cool the smoke from burning herb or tobacco. Bongs are one of the most common forms of consuming dried flower, especially among cannabis enthusiasts. But how does a bong work, and what are the benefits and risks of using one? In this blog post, we will answer these questions and more.

The History of Bongs

The word “bong” is said to have been derived from the Thai word “baung,” which traditionally refers to a round wooden tube of bamboo and has also taken on the modern definition of a cylindrical smoking pipe. Some have traced the use of a water pipe to filter and cool smoke back to China’s Ming Dynasty. Other reports show a history of use in Africa, where tribes would build earthen bongs into the ground using the same principles behind modern bongs. There are even accounts of ancient bongs made of pure gold being used by a nomadic warrior race in what’s now Russia.


Bongs are also closely related to the hookah, a type of water pipe generally used to smoke flavored tobacco. Hookahs use a hose as a mouthpiece and can be designed to allow multiple people to enjoy the smoke from a single bowl.


Today bongs can take on many shapes and sizes, but the most common versions are hand-blown from glass by artists who blend science and art, creating masterpieces that are both beautiful and functional. This wasn’t always the case, though. Throughout its evolution the bong has also been made from materials including hand-carved wood, bamboo, ceramics, and even plastic. Many appreciate the MacGyver-like ability to fashion just about anything into a bong, from Coke bottles to watermelons and everything in between.


Anatomy of the Different Bong Parts

The anatomy of a standard bong can be broken down into five basic parts:


  1. Bowl

    : The bowl is the bulbous attachment where dried herb or tobacco is loaded and combusted. It’s often removable, allowing it to function as pull- or slide-carburetor.

  2. Carb

    : The carb, short for carburetor, is a small hole that allows the user to clear smoke from the entire chamber of the bong, completing the bong toke. The most common type of carb found on glass bongs is a pull- or slide-carb, which is exposed when the bowl is removed.

  3. Downstem

    : The downstem is the small tube that allows the smoke to travel from the bowl down to the base, where it then percolates through water.

  4. Base

    : The base is the bottom of a bong and can take many shapes, depending on style. A bubble- or beaker-shaped base is often used to create the water chamber in which the smoke cools as it passes through the water.

  5. Tube

    : The tube is the main part of the bong, ending with the mouthpiece. It’s where the smoke travels through after being filtered by the water.

How Do Bongs Work?

Bongs work by using water percolation and diffusion to make rips much smoother. A vacuum-like airtight design forces smoke to bubble and diffuse as it travels through water, which filters contaminants and cools smoke.


When you light the herb or tobacco in the bowl and inhale, you create a negative pressure that sucks the smoke into the chamber. The smoke then bubbles and diffuses through the water, which removes some of the tar, ash, and other impurities that can irritate your throat and lungs. The water also lowers the temperature of the smoke, making it less harsh on your respiratory system.


The user can then inhale the smoke from the mouthpiece, which is usually located at the top of the tube. Depending on the type of carburetor, you may need to remove or cover it with your finger to clear the chamber.


Are Bongs Really Better for Your Lungs?

If you’re looking for a smoother toke, a bong will give you just that compared to smoking herb or tobacco 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.


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 herb or tobacco, 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 herb or tobacco 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.


How to Use a Bong?

Using a bong is not rocket science, but there are some steps you need to follow to get the most out of your experience. Here’s how to use a bong:


  1. Fill the base with water until it covers the downstem by about an inch. You can also add ice cubes or other liquids like juice or tea for extra flavor and cooling.
  2. Grind your herb or tobacco and pack it loosely into the bowl. Don’t overpack it or you’ll restrict the airflow.
  3. Place your mouth over the mouthpiece and light the bowl with a lighter or hemp wick. As you do so, inhale slowly and steadily through your mouth.
  4. When the chamber fills with smoke, remove the bowl or cover the carb with your finger and inhale the smoke from the chamber.
  5. Exhale the smoke and repeat as desired.


Bongs are popular devices for smoking herb or tobacco that use water to filter and cool the smoke. Bongs have a long history and come in various shapes and sizes. Bongs work by creating a vacuum that forces smoke to bubble through water, which cleanses and cools it. Bongs may provide a smoother smoke than joints, but they are not necessarily safer for your lungs. Bongs can also be used with different liquids and accessories to enhance your experience. To use a bong, you need to fill it with water, pack the bowl, light it, and inhale.

We hope this blog post has helped you understand how does a bong work and how to use it. If you’re looking for high-quality bongs and other smoking accessories, check out our online store for some amazing deals.