Bongs: You’ve heard of them, you’ve seen them, and maybe you’ve even used them. But how do they work exactly? Where did they originate? And is there any advantage to using them over other methods?
Below we’ll explain a short history of this smoking device, examine the science behind why it works so well, and perhaps even convince you to try one of today’s modern glass bong brands. Who knows? You may love it so much you choose to never roll another joint again!
A History of the Bong
Bongs are common objects in popular culture, having appeared in television, movies, and your friend’s basement for years. But bongs originated much earlier, and have been around much longer than Cheech and Chong.
While some online articles posit that bongs were invented in Asia, other scholars that have studied the history of the device point in a different direction, claiming that its origins lie on another continent altogether: Africa.
Some archeologists claim that ancient earth pipes found on the continent are evidence that this smoking technique has been around for much longer than a few hundred years. The first African earth pipes were built directly into the ground.
According to researchers, burning embers would be placed in a buried bottle, the smokable material placed on top of the embers, and an underground duct led from the burning chamber to the mouth of the tube a short distance away. These pipes, they say, are the ancient ancestors of the modern day glass bongs.
There are five distinct parts in any modern glass bong. A bong is usually comprised of:
- Bowl: Cannabis is placed here and ignited.
- Mouthpiece: The user inhales from this area.
- Chamber: Smoke passes through the bowl, the downstem and the water, and is stored here prior to inhalation.
- Carb: A hole in the bong’s base above the waterline that helps control airflow before and after inhalation.
- Stem: Attached to the bowl, the stem is long enough to dip into the water held in the base of the bong.
- Base: An area filled with water used to filter the smoke from the ignited cannabis.
How It Works
Water bongs all work under the same general principle.
A user blocks the carb with their finger, and a smokable material (such as cannabis) is ignited in the bowl while the user inhales with the lips on the mouthpiece.
Through the vacuum created by the user’s inhalation, smoke is drawn through the ignited material, passes down through the stem, is filtered by the water, and ends up stored in the chamber.
At this point the user unblocks the carb, completes the inhale, and the smoke passes into their lungs, to be absorbed by the bloodstream.
What are the Advantages of Using a Bong?
There are a few distinct advantages to using a bong.
First, there is a convenience to using a bong. Whereas someone rolling a joint will need to grind up cannabis, roll a joint (a skill in its own right), insert a folded or rolled paper filter, and then smoke - a process that can take a few minutes. Using bongs allows users to simply place cannabis into the bowl, light it, and inhale, a process that takes seconds.
Second, there is a health advantage to using a bong. Instead of inhaling cannabis directly into the lungs with no real filter, using a bong forces the ignited cannabis smoke to be filtered through the water. Not only does this eliminate some toxic elements that are harmful to the human body (such as tar), smoking with a bong also cools down the smoke, which is better for the tissues in your lung and throat.
Third, using a bong is a more efficient way to get high. To smoke cannabis with a joint, it would require multiple inhales to burn and ingest all of the smoke. However, because a bong allows users to suck in air slowly and build a great deal of smoke in the chamber, when the carb is released and the user completes the inhale, all the cumulative smoke enters your lungs all at once. This results in an immediate sensation, as opposed to the gradual method of smoking a joint.
Why are Glass Bongs the Standard?
Glass bongs are definitely preferable to plastic bongs.
Smoking plastic fumes is extremely toxic to the human body, and heating plastic beyond a certain point releases those fumes. Because of glass’s heat resistance, it doesn’t release any toxic fumes when it is warmed, whereas plastic or acrylic bongs do break down more easily under heat.
Not only does using a glass bong protect you from the toxic chemicals in plastic or acrylic products, using glass bongs also tastes better. Most smokers agree that both plastic and acrylic bongs leave an unpleasant aftertaste, something you want to avoid when enjoying cannabis.
What Bong is the Best?
Glass bongs come in a variety of styles and shapes, so it’s up to the user to discover their favourite style.
Certain bongs like the Ross Gold Straight Tube Beaker have a more traditional look and simplified design, but others like Red Eye’s Stratus Dual Ball Rig have a more intricate look to them, and can also be used for smoking cannabis concentrates.
Or a user might prefer something small and discreet like the Hydros Hourglass Bubbler, so that they don’t have to devote much shelf space in their home to one of the larger, more intricate designs.
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