A Bong is commonly defined as a device, generally used for smoking cannabis, tobacco, or a myriad of other herbal substances, which uses water and/or ice as a filtration system.
The basic concept of the bong is to cool the smoke being inhaled by passing it through one or several chambers filled with water or ice. The more contact the smoke has with the water, the cooler and smoother the smoke. Although these devices vary in size, shape, and complexity, the one thing they all have in common is delivering a pleasantly refreshing smoking experience.
- Tube and/or base – the long, straight tube is essentially what defines a bong. These can vary in sizes from 8” on up. The base is filled with a small amount of water.
- Downstem – a tube that slides into the side of the of the bong and into the water. These may also be slotted at the base to create more bubbles.
- “Carb” or carburetor (generally a pull or a slide) – a hole in the side of the base to create clean air flow and clear the tube. (Most times, this means simply lifting the bowl off of the downstem.)
- Bowl – placed at the opposite end of the downstem, this is where the herb is packed.
- Percolator – a filter that creates bubbles in the water when smoke is drawn through the tube.
Why Use a Bong? The Benefits of Percolation
There is no denying the distinctive sound of a bubbling bong, but there is science behind that beloved gurgle. Although the level of filtration acquired is debatable, studies are promising that passing smoke through water helps to filter some of the toxicants that may be inhaled while smoking. With other smaller devices, such pipes, cigarettes, or joints, the smoke is not filtered which allows small particles, toxicants, even burning embers to pass into the smoker’s mouth, esophagus, and lungs, potentially causing damage over time. Using a water pipe, as the smoker inhales, the smoke travels through the water trapping particulate matter, as well as, commingling with clean air and water vapor, which essentially expands the smoke. As more bubbles are created, the more the smoke expands, and the smoother and cooler the hit.
These are but a few of the most popular types of percolators:
- Honeycomb – just like the name suggests, this filters the smoke and water through dozens of tiny holes.
- Turbine – pulls smoke through 5-6 slots creating a cyclone effect in the water.
- Hanging – a series of smaller tubes, hang in the center of the main tube to create more bubbles.
- Inline – a small horizontal slotted tube near the bottom of the base
- Fritted – finely porous glass filter, almost looks like fibers, creates the smallest bubbles, which creates the most filtration, but can also clog the easiest.
Other Pieces and Parts of a Water Bong
- Classic Down stem – a simple glass tube with a flared end to fit the bowl.
- Diffused Down stem – like a classic down stem, but with extra slots at the base to create more airflow.
- Direct Inject – also called a “stemless bong”, this is built into the side of the bong.
The Variations are Limitless
So many options, combined with the artistic creativity of extremely talented glassblowers, equals an impressive array of intricate, beautiful glassware seen in water pipes. Some very elaborate pieces may have several chambers with multiple levels of diffusion and functionality, others may be finely detailed sculptures of artistic splendor that sit on a shelf, never used. While some might only be used to entertain guests. Just remember the more complex the piece, the higher the price tag. Bongs can vary in price from very cheap $10 pieces to upwards of $20,000 or more. Find a good online headshop, like milehighglasspipes.com, when looking for the Weed Pipes, Weed bowls, Marijuana Pipes and bongs.
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