How Do Bongs Work?

If you’ve smoked weed for a while, you may have come across a bong before. Often made of glass, these long, tube-like devices may look a little alien to the uninitiated, but to the seasoned smoker, they’re an appealing option for getting high.

In this guide, we take an in-depth look at bongs: what they are and importantly, how they work on a scientific level.

We also look at the different types of bongs and how they each work, including gravity bongs and percolators.

You can also find answers to the big questions about smoking with a bong, such as why we use water, and whether bongs get you higher.

Key Takeaways

  • A bong is a simple smoking device and easy to use. Smoke from the herb travels down a chamber, through water and up a mouthpiece and into your lungs, giving a cool and smooth smoke.
  • On a scientific level, the process involves thermodynamics, fluid dynamics and pressure differentials, which all contribute to the outcome.
  • Different types of bongs may work in different ways, such as gravity bongs and percolators, which make use of diffusion.

What Is A Bong?

A bong is a device for smoking dried bud or hashish. It’s also known as a water pipe. These smoking devices have been around for thousands of years, with some dating back 2,400 years to ancient Scythia. They’ve been found in every corner of the globe too, from China to Africa.

Part of the popularity is the simple means of smoking cannabis they offer. Bongs usually consist of a bowl where you pack your bud, a downstem where the smoke travels, a water chamber where the smoke is filtered and cooled, and a mouthpiece through which the filtered smoke travels and into your mouth and lungs.

Let’s have a look at how bongs work scientifically.

How Does A Bong Work Scientifically?

So now we know the basics of how a bong works, let’s look at the science behind what’s happening while we’re getting high.

  • Differentials In Pressure - The first scientific thing to take note of is the mechanics of how the bong works. When we inhale through the mouthpiece, the pressure in the bong is lowered to the atmospheric pressure. This process then forces the smoke to move through the water.
  • Thermodynamics - This refers to the relationship between heat and other forms of energy. When it comes to smoking weed with a bong, we see a thermodynamic process when the hot smoke hits the cool water or ice. Heat is therefore transferred to the water, leading to a decrease in temperature.
  • Fluid Dynamics - This refers to the processes involving the water within the bong. When we inhale, the water bubbles, which is the result of smoke (gas) moving through the liquid. The size and number of bubbles impact how well the smoke is filtered and cooled.

So as you can see, while it all seems very simple, there are some very cool and scientific processes at play behind the scenes.

Why Do We Use Water In Bongs?

You may wonder why we use water in bongs, well the answer is that it helps to filter out any harmful particles from the smoke.

Water also helps to cool down the smoke, which can be warm when it hits your throat and lungs. This heat can be harsh and may cause irritation and provoke coughing.

So water in bongs does two things: it filters the bad bits out of the smoke and cools down the smoke so it’s smoother to inhale.

Different Types Of Bongs And How They Work

We’ve looked at the science behind how a bong works. Let’s zoom in and look at how different types of bongs work, starting with the geeb bong.

How Do Gravity Bongs Work (AKA A Geeb)

A gravity bong, also known as a bucket bong or a geeb, is a bong that cleverly uses fluid dynamics and air displacement to push smoke through the mouthpiece. 

Unlike the typical bongs described above, you can use a bucket of water, a plastic bottle with the bottom cut off and a cap with a small hole drilled in the top, and a bowl for the cannabis. With the cap on, submerge the open end of the bottle into the water while lighting the bud. Inhale and slowly lift the bottle out of the water. You can then remove the cap and inhale the smoke as you push the bottle back into the water. The water works to push the smoke up and into your lungs.

So if you only have a few household items available, why not try making a gravity bong?

How Do Recycler Bongs Work

Recycler bongs look a little funky when you first see them, with lots of curving tubes and pipes. However, once you get an idea of the science behind what is going on, you can’t help but feel like trying one out. 

These bongs provide enhanced filtration and cooler hits, as well as providing a more flavorful dose. They achieve this by making good use of fluid dynamics, coupled with percolation and a recycling mechanism.

As we explain more below, percolation helps enhance the filtration process and improves cooling too. These bongs also use recycler tubes, which is where they get their name from. These features connect the main bong chamber to secondary chambers, with loops that allow for multiple filtration. This all helps the smoker get an even cleaner, cooler hit.

How Do Water Bongs Work

Water bongs are simple devices to use. They are the type of bong that we have described throughout this guide. In simple terms, they work by placing cool water into the chamber of the bong, lighting the bud which sits in a small bowl, then inhaling.

The smoke then travels through the water, which provides cooling and filtration. The smoke finally makes its way up the mouthpiece and into your lungs, providing you with a smooth hit.

How Do Percolator Bongs Work

A percolator bong is a device that makes use of diffusion to create lots of small bubbles that help improve the filtration process. It achieves this by creating more contact points between the smoker and water (the bubbling).

These devices work in much the same way as standard bongs. The main difference is that when the smoke moves through the bong, it also hits a percolator where it’s broken down by smaller bubbles.

How To Use A Bong

Using a bong is very simple and straightforward. By and large, all bongs have the same features that we described above. Here’s a quick step-by-step guide on smoking weed with a bong: 

  1. First, add some cold water to the water chamber. You can also add ice cubes for an even cooler smoker.
  2. Next, pack your bud into the bowl. For some types of bongs, you may need to add a gauze strip to prevent the bud from falling into the smoke chamber.
  3. Place your mouth over the mouthpiece and then light the bud and begin to inhale. While you do this, you should cover the small hole in the water chamber, which is known as the carb. This can also look like a slider.
  4. The chamber will fill with smoke, and inhale when ready, covering the carb when you do.

Should I Clean My Bong After Using It?

It’s important to keep your bong clean, especially if you use it often. A failure to do so could see bacteria grow within the dirty water, which can lead to the development of respiratory illnesses and infections. 

It’s recommended that you clean your bong at least once a week. You should also change the water after every use.

If you’d like to learn some expert tips and advice on how to clean a bong, head here to see our in-depth guide.

Do Bongs Get You Higher?

Debate rages in the cannabis community as to whether or not bongs get you higher.

There’s a strong argument to say that they do help get you that bit higher. The reason for this is that a bong allows you to build more smoke up in the chamber, which means you can inhale it all for a bigger hit. 

With the bong water providing filtration and cooling down the smoke, taking a bigger hit is less likely to irritate your lungs and throat too. This means you can also hold in the smoke in your lungs, which can help with THC absorption. 

On the other hand, some smokers argue that bongs get you less high because the water filters out some of the compounds that can contribute to the experience.

It’s important to remember that this is all anecdotal, with no scientific studies having been conducted on the subject.

Buy A Bong Today

If you’d like to buy a bong, then you’re in the right place. Here at Stoned Genie, we stock a wide range of bongs and water pipes.

We offer different types of materials, from glass to ceramic and plastic, and a range of designs, including percolators and ice bongs.

You can find bongs of all different price ranges, such as our range for under $20.

We offer discreet and free shipping on orders over $75, so why not treat yourself to a brand new bong today?

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