How do Bongs work

MJ Supply Co's Interesting and Informative Guide on How a Bong Works

What is a Bong?
Basic Parts of a Bong
How Does a Bong Work?
Different Types of Bongs
How to use a Bong
How to Clean a Bong


Most people have probably at least heard about bongs, even if they don’t know exactly what they are and how they work and that’s where this guide comes in. We’ll take a look at bongs and answer some of the more common questions.


What is a Bong?

The first question, of course, is what is a bong?

A bong may also sometimes be referred to as a water pipe. It is a filtration device that is normally used to smoke cannabis or tobacco but may be used for other herbal substances. Bongs have been around for centuries, maybe even millennia with no real agreement on where they originated. Some say Thailand, others say China, and still others say Northern Africa.

how a bong works diagram

The basic parts of the bong include:


The tube, or also know as the neck, is the chamber that fills with smoke to be inhaled. It ends in the mouthpiece.


This is where you pack your weed to heat it after it has been broken down. It is normally made of glass, quartz, or borosilicate glass which is temperature resistant.


The bottom of the bong. It may come in different shapes, such as a beaker or a bubble. It serves as a water chamber.


Short for “carburetor,” this is a hole that allows you to clear the smoke from the bong by inhaling.


A small, angled tube that lets the smoke flow from the bowl to the base, where it percolates through the water.

what is a bong

How Does a Bong Work?

You can find bongs of all shapes and sizes, but no matter what they look like, they all do the same basic thing: they filter and cool the smoke coming from the weed or tobacco.

Once the dry herb has been lit, the smoke it produces travels down the downstem into the water. This is done to filter out undesirable particles. As the smoke passes through the water, some of the ash and tar bind to the water molecules, but the neutral compounds that you want to smoke pass through. The water also helps to cool the smoke before you inhale it, eliminating the dry heat that you experience with a joint. Many users will describe the smoother toke they get as being cool, smooth, and even creamy, and not at all harsh.

Keep in mind that while the water may filter some of the harmful elements, it’s a comparatively small amount and the notion of it being a safer way to smoke comes from somewhat questionable science. You are still putting smoke in your lungs, after all.


Different Types of Bong

There are countless types of bong available ranging from the most basic, simple ones to others that are almost works of art. They vary considerably in appearance and in size. While some may be made with unusual materials such as wood or bamboo, the majority of those that you find are made with glass, metal, silicone, acrylic, and ceramic.

The most common are glass, offering a mix of the smoothest smoking experience with some stunning artistry. The downside is that they can sometimes break easily. Silicone bongs are gaining in popularity due to their durability and affordability. They come in a wide variety, though they aren’t as easy to accessorize as glass bongs and they tend to be smaller, meaning there is less room for filtration, cooling, and percolation. Being compact and durable, however, makes them good for travel.

If you want to go old-school, you may want to consider a ceramic, bong. They offer an excellent smoking experience, are durable, less sensitive to temperature changes than glass, and can be found in some great designs at affordable prices, though they can be difficult to accessorize.

 Check out our selection of Bongs
how do bongs work

How to Use a Bong

Using a bong is a pretty straightforward experience with just a few basic steps to follow:

Prep the Bong

First thing first: prep your bong. Insert the downstem while checking that the bowl slides smoothly into place. The bowl should be clear of any ash.

Pour the water into the water chamber, usually through the mouthpiece. Add just enough to cover the bottom of the downstem. If there are any other components, like an ice catch, make sure everything is ready to go.

 how to grind weed for a bong

Grind Your Marijuana

The easiest way to do this is with a grinder, though if necessary, you can use a pair of scissors, or if nothing else, your fingers. You want to break it down into chunks of a reasonably uniform size. 

Checkout our selection of grinders here


Pack the Bowl

Once your weed is ground, grab a pinch and place it into the bowl and tamp it down with a tamping tool, the flat end of a lighter, or your finger. Avoid packing it too tightly, or you may have trouble pulling smoke through the bowl. Fill it to the top then slide the bowl into the downstem.

bong tips

Ignite Your Weed

You’re all set now, so just light a corner of the bowl with a lighter or hemp wick. As you do this, put your mouth to the mouthpiece and inhale in a smooth, steady manner. The smoke will travel through the downstem and bubble up through the water.

Clear the Chamber

At this point, the chamber will be full of smoke. Clear the chamber by either uncovering the carb (if your bong has one) or sliding the bowl from the downstem as you continue to inhale. This creates airflow that pushes the smoke up the mouthpiece into your lungs.


How to Clean Your Bong

Your bong should be cleaned after each session, or else it can become dirty and smelly, or messed up with resin.

Remove the ash from the bowl, then remove the bowl itself and place it in a zipper-top bag with a bong cleaning solution, or some coarse salt and rubbing alcohol. Shake the bag gently, using your hands to scrub the bowl, breaking up and removing the resin. Once you are satisfied that it’s clean, remove the bowl and rinse with clean water. Repeat this process with the downstem, replacing the cleaning solution first if it’s too dirty.

Follow this by cleaning the bong itself; pour out the water from the chamber and add some cleaning solution or coarse salt and rubbing alcohol. Give it a good shake until it comes clean, then dump out the solution and rinse thoroughly.

Cleaning your bong properly is important. Debris in your bong can degrade into fungus and bacteria, which can lead to mould in the water chamber and lung issues that you’d rather avoid.

We carry some of the best cleaning solutions on the market. Check out our stock here.

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