What is a bong?

A bong is a device that is used to smoke various herbal substances, such as tobacco or weed. It is also known as a water pipe, bubbler, binger, or billy. It works by filtering and cooling the smoke through water, providing a smoother and less harsh hit than other methods of smoking.

The word bong comes from the Thai word “baung” (บ้อง), which means a cylindrical wooden tube or container cut from bamboo. Bongs have been used for centuries in different cultures, such as the Hmong in Laos and Thailand, the Scythian tribal chiefs in ancient Russia, and the Chinese nobility during the Qing dynasty.

Today, bongs come in various shapes, sizes, and materials. Some are simple and basic, while others are colorful and artistic. Some common types of bongs are:

  • Glass bongs: These are the most popular and widely available type of bongs. They are easy to clean, durable, and transparent, allowing you to see the water level and the smoke. Glass bongs can also be decorated with different designs and colors.
  • Plastic bongs: These are cheaper and lighter than glass bongs, but they are also less durable and harder to clean. Plastic bongs may also contain chemicals like BPA and phthalates, which can be harmful to your health.
  • Ceramic bongs: These are heavier and more fragile than glass or plastic bongs, but they can also be more artistic and unique. Ceramic bongs can have different shapes and styles, such as animals, skulls, or fruits.
  • Metal bongs: These are sturdy and durable, but they can also affect the taste of the smoke. Metal bongs can also get very hot when used, so be careful not to burn yourself.
  • Bamboo bongs: These are the original type of bongs, made from natural bamboo tubes. They are eco-friendly and have a rustic look, but they can also be prone to mold and bacteria growth if not cleaned properly.

Regardless of the type of bong you choose, they all have the same basic components:

  • Bowl: This is where you put your herb or tobacco. It can be removable or fixed to the bong.
  • Downstem: This is a tube that connects the bowl to the base of the bong. It allows the smoke to travel from the bowl to the water.
  • Base: This is where you fill the water that filters and cools the smoke. The base can have different shapes, such as a beaker, a round chamber, or a straight tube.
  • Neck: This is the part of the bong that extends from the base to the mouthpiece. It can be straight or curved, depending on your preference.
  • Mouthpiece: This is where you inhale the smoke from the bong. It should fit comfortably around your lips.
  • Carburetor: This is a hole that allows you to control the airflow in the bong. By covering or uncovering it with your finger, you can clear the smoke from the chamber faster or slower. Some bongs do not have a carburetor; instead, you remove the bowl or the stem to clear the smoke.

To use a bong, follow these steps:

  1. Fill the base with enough water to cover the downstem by about an inch.
  2. Grind your herb or tobacco and pack it loosely in the bowl.
  3. Hold the bong with one hand and light the bowl with a lighter or a match with the other hand.
  4. Inhale slowly from the mouthpiece while covering the carburetor with your finger (if there is one).
  5. When you see enough smoke in the chamber, remove your finger from the carburetor (or remove the bowl or stem) and inhale sharply to clear the smoke.
  6. Exhale and enjoy!

Bongs can offer a smoother smoking experience than other methods, but they are not necessarily safer for your lungs. Smoking any substance can harm your lung tissues and cause scarring and damage to your small blood vessels. The water in a bong does not filter out all of the harmful substances in the smoke; it only cools it down slightly. You may also inhale more smoke per hit when using a bong, which can increase your exposure to tar and other toxins. Therefore, it is important to use bongs responsibly and moderately, and to clean them regularly to prevent the buildup of bacteria and mold.

Bongs are a popular and ancient way of smoking herbs and tobacco. They can offer a variety of styles, flavors, and sensations, depending on your preference and budget. However, they are not without risks, so be careful and mindful when using them.


  1. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bong
  2. https://www.healthline.com/health/how-does-a-bong-work
  3. https://weedmaps.com/learn/dictionary/bong
  4. https://www.leafly.com/learn/consume/smoke/what-is-bong