What is a bong?

A bong is a device that is used to smoke herb or tobacco by filtering and cooling the smoke through water. Bongs are also known by other names, such as water pipes, bubblers, bingers, or billys. Bongs can have different shapes, sizes, and materials, but they all share the same basic principle of operation.

The history of bongs

The word bong comes from the Thai word “baung” (บ้อง), which means a cylindrical wooden tube or container cut from bamboo and used for smoking. Bongs have been in use by various cultures for centuries, such as the Hmong in Laos and Thailand, and the Scythian tribal chiefs in Russia who smoked herb and opium from gold vessels 2400 years ago .

Bongs were also invented independently in other parts of the world, such as India, China, and Persia. During the reign of Emperor Akbar in India, physician Hakim Abul Fath suggested that tobacco smoke should be passed through a small receptacle of water to make it harmless . In China, bongs became the most popular method to smoke tobacco during the Qing Dynasty, and were preferred by Empress Dowager Cixi over snuff bottles or other methods . In Persia, bongs were used to smoke hashish, a resinous form of herb.

The anatomy of a bong

A typical bong consists of the following parts:

  • A bowl that holds the dried herb or tobacco. The bowl can be removable or fixed to the bong.
  • A stem or slide that connects the bowl to the base of the bong. The stem can be straight or angled, and can have different diameters and lengths.
  • A base that holds water and features an angled hole to accommodate the stem. The base can have various shapes, such as a beaker, a round chamber, or a bottle.
  • A tube that comes up from the base and ends with a mouthpiece. The tube can be straight or curved, and can have different heights and widths.
  • A carburetor or carb, which is a hole somewhere on the lower part of the bong above water level. The carb allows fresh air to enter the bong and clear the smoke from the chamber. Some bongs do not have a carb, and instead require removing the bowl or stem to clear the smoke.

The function of a bong

To use a bong, you need to fill the base with enough water to submerge the bottom end of the stem. Then you need to pack the bowl with your desired amount of herb or tobacco. Next, you need to light the bowl and inhale from the mouthpiece while covering the carb with your finger or thumb. As you inhale, the smoke travels from the bowl through the stem and into the water, where it bubbles and cools down. The cooled smoke then rises up through the tube and into your mouth and lungs. When you want to clear the smoke from the chamber, you need to uncover the carb or remove the bowl or stem and inhale again.

The benefits and risks of using a bong

Many people prefer using a bong over other smoking methods because it provides a smoother, creamier, and less harsh hit. The water in a bong cools down the smoke and eliminates some of the dry heat that comes from smoking a joint or a pipe. Some people also believe that using a bong filters out some of the harmful substances in smoke, such as tar and carcinogens.

However, using a bong is not necessarily safer than other smoking methods. According to health organizations such as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), smoke is harmful to lung health regardless of what you are smoking or how you are smoking it . Smoking herb or tobacco can damage lung tissues and cause scarring and inflammation. Smoking also exposes you to many chemicals that can cause cancer and other diseases.

Using a bong may also make it easier to overdo it when smoking, as the smoke is more pleasant to inhale and the device can hold more smoke than a joint or a pipe. Additionally, using a bong may pose some risks related to the materials and cleanliness of the device. For example, using a plastic bong may expose you to chemicals like BPA and phthalates, which have been linked to adverse health effects . Using a dirty bong may expose you to bacteria, fungi, and mold, which can cause infections and respiratory problems.

The conclusion

A bong is a device that is used to smoke herb or tobacco by filtering and cooling the smoke through water. Bongs have a long and diverse history, and come in various shapes, sizes, and materials. Bongs can provide a smoother and more enjoyable smoking experience, but they are not necessarily safer or healthier than other smoking methods. Smoking any substance can harm your lungs and your overall health, so it is important to be aware of the risks and benefits of using a bong.


  1. How Does a Bong Work? Benefits, Risks, and Myths – Healthline
  2. Bong – Wikipedia
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