Bongs are a classic cornerstone of cannabis culture. And if you enjoy cannabis, learning how to use a bong can come in handy. ‘Hits from the bong’ became a Cypress Hill classic for a good reason! Anyone who has taken a bong hit can understand the rationale for immortalizing the experience.
Bongs are pipes designed for smoking cannabis. Most bongs are made of glass. Some come with plastic parts, but they aren’t as sturdy or attractive.
What truly distinguishes a bong from a standard pipe is water. A bong has at least one large chamber to accommodate water. And its purpose is to cool and freshen the combusted cannabis smoke.
Bongs, Bubblers, and Pipes
A bubbler is somewhere between a pipe and a bong. Like most glass cannabis pipes, bubblers have a choke to allow fresh air to finish a hit. Like a bong, they have a small chamber for water to freshen the smoke.
5 Reasons Bongs are Amazing
- The freshening effect of the water makes bong hits easier on your throat and lungs than straight combustion with a pipe. But make no mistake: this is still combustion. For a combustion-free, smokeless delivery system, learn more about the benefits of vaping weed.
- Bong hits accomplish more with less, making your weed last longer than smoking joints.
- That special feeling you get from participating in a cultural ritual.
- Bongs are fun to use with a group, which is what makes them such a beloved cornerstone of cannabis culture. Tip: If you’re passing a bong, pass to the left. The same goes for joints!
5) Many bongs are works of art, made by extremely talented glass artists.
Anatomy of a Bong
Bongs have a mouthpiece and stem that both connect to one or multiple chambers. And these chambers are filled with water.
When you inhale through the mouthpiece, the air is drawn up through the stem, via the cannabis-filled bowl, passing through the water-filled chamber.
Like any glass pipe, a bong has a bowl to fill with freshly ground weed. Bongs are made for cannabis buds, hash, or a combination of the two.
Because concentrates are often made with solvents, they should not be used in a bong but a dab rig instead.
Learn all about concentrates, dabs, and dab rigs right here on the SacredMeds blog.
The bowl fits into the stem and can be lifted as your inhale is winding down at the end of a hit. This is done to allow fresh air to shotgun the cannabis smoke deeper into your lungs. The choke on a glass pipe is there for the same reason.
How to Use a Bong
The first time a bong is handed to you, it can be rather intimidating if you have never handled one before. No worries, we get it and that’s why we wrote this article! Bongs are simple to use and once you’ve had your first hit, you’ll get it.
Setting up the Bong
Screens: Do You Need One?
Your bowl doesn’t need a screen, but it does help to keep fresh and charred herb out of the water. So if you’re lazy about replacing the water in your bong, use a screen to keep the water cleaner for longer.
A stainless steel screen can be found at any store that sells bongs and vapes. They are inexpensive and are handy to have around, so pick up a couple of packs when you buy your first bong or vape and you’ll never run out!
Tip: if you’re restocking, bring your bowl to the store to make sure the screens you buy fit properly. It can be a real bummer to get home to find you’ve now got 20 screens that don’t fit.
Just Add Water
Add fresh cold water to the chamber, either through the stem or mouthpiece. Since the water is there to freshen and cool the smoke, the colder the water, the fresher the hit.
Tip: put a bit of crushed ice into your bong water for really fresh hits. Be aware of the condensation: it can make the glass bong wet and more prone to slipping out of your hand. You don’t want to get that water on the carpet! Also, place the ice gently in the bong to avoid cracking the glass.
Grind Up Some Weed
If you have a screen in your bowl, then you don’t have to pay close attention to how finely the weed is ground. If you forgo the screen, then ensuring there is a slightly larger chunk of weed blocking the bowl’s hole is a good way to keep the herb from getting sucked into the water.
That being said, some herb is going to get in your bong water at some point, even if you use a screen.
Pack the Bowl
Compress the freshly ground weed into the bowl, not too tight or loose, but snugly in-between. There should be a bit of ‘room for cream’ (space between the edge of the bowl and the top of the weed). This will allow the flame to engulf the entire surface area more effectively.
Take a Hit From the Bong
Large bongs often have a wide, long mouthpiece with sufficient room for you to fit your lips inside the entrance to form a seal. Smaller ones will have more familiar mouthpieces that you can sip from like a straw.
Begin inhaling through the mouthpiece as you light the cannabis, initiating both actions simultaneously. The force of your draw will pull the flame inwards. Slowly move the flame to evenly toast the green surface area of the cannabis.
This is just like smoking a pipe, except now you have a large chamber of water through which the smoke passes.
Controlling the Bong Hit
As you feel the smoke begin to fill your lungs, slow your draw so you don’t flood your lungs too quickly. When you’re close to finishing your inhale, slowly lift the bowl up and out of the stem. This allows fast-moving fresh air to finish your inhale, sending the cannabis smoke deeper into your lungs for a more intense high.
Your first lung full of bong smoke is likely to make you cough heavily. That first hit is always instructive! Figuring out how much you need to inhale to get an optimal hit is something you get the hang of.
How to Clean a Bong
Quick Bong Cleaning Between Sessions
Cleaning a bong between sessions is a classy thing to do when you have guests! Freshening the water and clearing out errant combusted cannabis between bowls is always an appreciated touch.
A quick clean is simple. Remove the bowl from the stem. Clear out as much used cannabis as you can. You can even replace the screen, although this isn’t always necessary.
Pour the used bong water down the kitchen sink. To prevent the odor from quickly overtaking your home, first, let the used water run down the sink before turning on the hot water you’ll use to rinse the bong thoroughly.
Rinse thoroughly and carefully with hot water. Then rinse with cold water until the glass becomes cool to the touch. Blow out as much water as you can through the stem via the mouthpiece. This ensures that no one accidentally inhales water drops on the next hit.
If the bong is big enough to accommodate ice, add some, otherwise add the coldest water possible. Dry the bowl, replace the screen and reload!
Deep Cleaning Your Bong
Even the most fastidious hitter will lapse in cleaning their screens and bong water. After more than a few uses, the bong water will turn dark and begin affecting the taste of your hits. Resin and herb also build up and create a dark layer of sticky resin that is very difficult to remove with hot water alone.
Finish up with your last session of the day before you clean with rubbing alcohol. The reason is that it is ideal to leave it soaking overnight for a deep, low-effort clean.
What You Will Need to Deep Clean a Bong
You will need enough 99% rubbing alcohol to fill the chamber of your bong for one cleaning session. Larger bongs will require more, while bubblers and small bongs require just a few ounces.
Rubber dishwashing gloves are optional, but highly recommended as rubbing alcohol is severely drying to the skin and can cause irritation.
5 Steps to Deep Cleaning Your Bong
- Begin with a quick hot water rinse in a well-ventilated area.
- Once you’ve removed all the build-up that you can with hot water, it’s time to pour rubbing alcohol into the chamber through the mouthpiece and stem.
You can clean stainless steel screens in rubbing alcohol, so there is no need to dispose of your screen if it still works. Just be sure to rinse the alcohol from it thoroughly before your next use.
Pour slowly and try to get the alcohol to run down the full interior length of the mouthpiece and stem.
- Once the bowl is about two-thirds full, with rubber gloves on, seal all external openings. Shake the bong gently to agitate the alcohol, thoroughly rinsing the glass interior.
- Set the bowl in a small container with a lid, preferably glass or pyrex, so it can be fully soaked in alcohol. Set aside the bong and the bowl in a well-ventilated area so they can soak.
- The next day, rinse all glass parts thoroughly until the alcohol has been completely rinsed.
Bongs: A Kind Way to Combust Cannabis
So there you have it. Even if you prefer vaping, bongs can actually just be fun to collect. Many are beautifully designed pieces of art, and there is a whole culture behind glass blowing and bong design that we encourage you to explore!
However, here at SacredMeds, we prefer to vape our buds for health, enjoyment, and AVBs!
If you’re interested in learning more about vaping, you might enjoy these articles:
Vaping Cannabis: What You Need to Know
What To Do With Already Vaped Buds (AVBs)