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"Prohibition will work great injury to the cause of temperance. It is a species of intemperance within itself, for it goes beyond the bounds of reason in that it attempts to control a man's appetite by legislation, and makes a crime out of things that are not crimes. A Prohibition law strikes a blow at the very principles upon which our government was founded."

Abraham Lincoln - Former U.S. President

Early History in Oz

Bong On, Aussie, Bong On - all about the Billy (bong)



A bong, also commonly known as a water pipe, is a smoking device, generally used to smoke cannabis, but also other narcotic substances. It is sometimes confused with a hookah pipe. A bong usually consists of a bottle or a vertical tube partially filled with liquid into which is inserted a smaller tube, ending in a bowl.

Bongs can vary greatly in their shape, materials, styles, colors, and sizes.

Bong Principles1


For counter-culture afficianados, bongs are regarded for their style, distinct vivid colors, or customizations such as stickers, and become a personalized signature of that particular bong owner.

The word bong is an adaptation of the Thai word baung : a cylindrical wooden tube, pipe or container cut from bamboo. One of the earliest recorded uses of the word dates to a piece in the January 1971 issue of the Marijuana Review.

Bong vs. Joint

Smoking using a bong contrasts with smoking using a pipe or cigarette in two major ways. Bongs supposedly cool the smoke before it enters the user’s lungs and a large amount of smoke is inhaled quickly, as opposed to the smaller, more frequent, inhalations of pipe and cigarette smoking.

Bong Etiquette

1. The base is filled with water to the depth dictated by the bong. Water quality can include use of tap water, which may promote mineral buildup, or distilled water, which deposits less residue on the smoking equipment and is easier on lungs. Sometimes other liquids are used, e.g., lime water, giving the smoke a different taste. More rarely, liquids like Coca-Cola and herbal teas are used. However, such liquids can make cleaning difficult and time-consuming.

2. The substance to be smoked is packed into the bowl and ignited. Cigarette lighters and matches are commonly used for ignition. Packing the bowl is a balance between filling it with enough substance to create a useful amount of smoke and leaving enough room for air to be sucked through the substance.

3. The user places his/her lips on the mouth piece, forming a seal, and inhales. An inhalation is known as a "hit." If the smoker is using a larger bong, the first hit contains no smoke; this type of hit is known as a "dry hit." Its purpose is to draw the clean air out of the chamber and to start drawing in smoke from the bowl. If a smaller bong is being used, the first hit should consume all the potential smoke. If two inhalations are made, this is known as a "double hit" and is considered poor bong etiquette.

4. Once enough smoke has collected in the chamber, the smoker inhales sharply, drawing the smoke into his/her lungs.

Steps 3 and 4 can be repeated until the substance has been completely burned.

There is a fifth step that is not entirely necessary in using a bong.

In many bongs, when the user feels that he/she has inhaled a satisfactory amount of smoke, he/she can pull the bowl out of the bong to introduce "clean" air. This is known as "clearing" or "pulling the slide." Other bongs have a small hole, known as a "carb", "rush", "shotty" or "choke", above the water level, to be blocked with the user's thumb until he/she draws enough smoke to "carb" or "shotgun" the hit. This conserves the substance, should it still have a remaining usable portion left in the bowl that is unburnt. This also clears smoke from the chamber, so that old, or "stale," smoke is not inhaled by the next user of the bong. Another effect some notice is that the hit has a stronger effect on the user when this technique is done correctly.

Step 5 can be repeated along with steps 3 and 4.

Physical Principles
Sell High Copy

When inhaling, the volume of the lungs increases, causing the air in the lungs to decrease in pressure. The air in the lungs is then at a lower pressure than the air in the atmosphere. The pressure difference causes a flow of air from outside of the bong through the bowl picking up smoke from the burning substance. The smoke then bubbles through water and on into the chamber where it is temporarily held. Once the chamber is full to the smokers desired capacity, the hole above the water level is uncovered, either the bowl is pulled out of the stem, or, in bongs with an attached bowl a "carb" or "shotgun" (a small hole that is covered by the thumb) is uncovered and the smoke is inhaled into the lungs. Once in the lungs, the active chemicals in the smoke are absorbed into the blood stream.

The smoke initially travels through a hollow pipe that is attached to the bottom of the bowl containing the smokeable material. The pipe enters into the side of a large vessel containing water. The hole in the side of this container is airtight, and the bottom of the pipe is submerged in the water. The flow of air increases the burn temperature of the herb and chemicals are vaporized into the air stream.

The water is the most important part of the process. The water has two roles: 1) It acts as a filter for undesirable particles present in the smoke, and 2) It acts as a coolant. After a few uses the water turns into an unpleasant bitter smelling solution having absorbed water soluble chemicals and large particulates from the smoke.

Once the smoke has risen through the water, it is trapped in the air gap above the water. The empty space of the container fills up with cool filtered smoke. At the side of the container above the water level, there is a small hole which is kept covered up with a finger until the point when sufficient smoke has been held in the air gap. This hole is sometimes known as a shotgun hole or carburetor, more commonly "carb." Its purpose is to allow an easy passage of air into the container when the smoke is finally inhaled into the lungs. The fresh air from the shotgun hole also further helps to cool the smoke as it is inhaled.

Bongs of more expensive design can sometimes feature ice catchers, which allow ice to be stored in the main chamber where smoke resides. This ice can cool the smoke to room temperature, sometimes allowing smokers to intake significantly more smoke and hold it in the lungs for a longer duration.

Motivations for use

The motivations for use are threefold:

  • Smoke palatability
  • Efficiency of dosage
  • Perceived health benefits

Efficiency of dosage

By making the smoke cooler and more palatable it allows the dose of active chemical to be inhaled more deeply and rapidly. This makes absorption of the active chemical more efficient and so less of the original substance is required. The maximum amount of smoke that can be inhaled in a single hit depends on the bong's chamber capacity, and the smoker's lung capacity. Normally, this amount of smoke is far greater than can be achieved when smoking a pipe, cigarette, or spliff. The bong can also give a stronger hit than other smoking methods.

If a smoker uses too much substance or collects too much smoke or uses a substance that is destroyed by high temperatures, bongs can still prove wasteful, as the excess smoke is often lost to the atmosphere. In the case of cannabis, it is a common misconception that holding the smoke in one's lungs for a longer period of time increases the absorption of THC, however roughly 95% of the THC is absorbed within the first five seconds and holding the smoke for longer than that can only irritate the lungs.[citation needed] Different substances that can be inhaled through a bong have different absorption rates, so the five second rule should not be considered standard. For instance, it is recommended that Salvia divinorum be held in the lungs for at least twenty to thirty seconds for optimum results.

Health benefits/Research

Bongs bubble the smoke through water, which cools it down. This helps to reduce the chance of burning to the mouth, airways, and lungs. The water can trap some heavier particles and the more water-soluble molecules, preventing them from entering the smoker's lungs

Most smokers believe that bongs are healthier than other smoking methods; however, a 2000 NORML-MAPS study found that "water pipes filter out more psychoactive THC than they do other tars, thereby requiring users to smoke more to reach their desired effect" .

Smoke from cannabis supplied by the NIDA was drawn through a number of smoking devices and analyzed. A smoking machine, adjusted to mimic the puff length of cannabis smokers, drew smoke through a standard bong, a small portable bong with a folding stem, a bong with a motorized paddle that thoroughly mix the smoke with the water, and two different types of vaporizers. The study found that the unfiltered joint outperformed all devices except the vaporizers, with a ratio of about 1 part cannabinoids to 13 parts tar.

However, MAPS reviewed a study that examined the effects and composition of water filtered and non-filtered cannabis and tobacco smoke. It found that when alveolar macrophages, an important component in the lungs immune system, were exposed to unfiltered smoke, there was a marked reduction in the macrophages' ability to fight bacteria, whereas there was no such reduction in those exposed to water filtered smoke. It also found that there is substantial epidemiological evidence among tobacco smokers that those who smoke through water-pipes, as opposed to cigarettes, cigars, and regular pipes, have lower incidences of carcinoma.

"It appears that water filtration can be effective in removing components from cannabis smoke that are known toxicants... The effectiveness of toxicant removal is related to the smoke's water contact area. Specially designed water pipes, incorporating particulate filters and gas dispersion frits, would likely be most effective in this regard; the gas dispersion frit serves to break up the smoke into very fine bubbles, thereby increasing its water contact area."

This study suggests that a bong's smoke is less harmful than unfiltered smoke.

Bongs become dirty and smell with use. Tars accumulate in the bowl, bowl stem, stem, chamber, and base. The tars can be scraped out and re-combusted as they can contain large quantities of water-insoluble THC.

Booby Bong 300

Bong water

Bong water is used to filter and cool the smoke. When bong water is not properly maintained the water can take on many undesirable characteristics. These effects can include simple discoloration in the form of a green then brown and eventually black tint. Some waters, such as municipal tap, contain minerals that can promote residue buildup, making distilled water preferable. In addition, as a bong is smoked, ash is sucked through the stem where it rests in the bong water. Therefore, heavy users might consider rinsing and filling their bongs with pure fresh water daily.

Additives, such as flavored drinks and alcoholic beverages, are common in place of water; however, certain chemicals bond easily to alcohol and could reduce the effect of the substances contained within certain strains of tobacco and cannabis. Additionally, there is a minute risk of fire when using flammable substances in place of water.

Finally, there are energy drinks advertised as "bong water." These often add flavor while containing very few other properties.

Homemade Bong

Bongs can vary greatly in their shape, material, style, color, and size. Commonly constructed from metal, acrylic, ceramic, or glass, bongs can also be fabricated from materials as diverse as pykrete or even from household objects such as empty water bottles. Some people even make bongs out of fruits and vegetables that are discarded after use. Many bong owners take pride in giving original names to their smoking devices. These names usually reflect cannabis culture or some particular distinction of the bong.

Since the bong is such a simple device, it can be constructed out of nearly anything that is at least semi-rigid and can be made airtight. This includes, but is not limited to, bamboo, plastic bottles, soda-pop cans, buckets, vases, beer bottles, hollow plastic and ceramic statues, chemistry beakers, snorkels, even apples and potatoes. However, care should be taken, as burning plastics results in the production of dangerous toxins. Most bongs purchased will be made out of glass (either hand-blown or cast in molds) or clear acrylic tubing. Most of these bongs will include or otherwise utilize glass stems and bowls. However, cheaper bongs (nearly all made out of acrylic) may be designed with metal stems and bowls.

A common home-built bong is made from a bowl and stem purchased either from a head shop or a hardware store, or fabricated from supplies around the house. (A bong can be assembled out of tinfoil and a short length of garden hose, for instance.) The rest of the design needs nothing more than a knife or scissors, a 20 oz to 1 liter empty plastic bottle, and some duct tape. Just because a bong can be constructed this way does not indicate it is a good idea. To avoid dangerous fumes and chemicals, all bowls and stems should be made of glass or metal, and the chambers of the bongs of glass, metal, or acrylic. This type of Bong is often referred to as a MacGyver, after the TV show, due to its improvised and home-made nature.

Blu-tac can be used to create good airtight seals on a temporary bong. Milliput (or any other epoxy putty) is a more permanent solution, and has many other good properties for DIY bongmaking - it will set under water, becomes hard after 2 hours, rock hard overnight, and is resistant to high temperatures.

Materials such as PVC, plastic, rubber, or garden hoses may emit toxic chemicals when heated. Aluminum has been linked with Alzheimer's disease but research in this area has been inconclusive (see the appropriate references). Plastic can release fumes which may induce asthma. Little has been documented on the inhalation of these fumes but the practice should be avoided. Duct tape may release rubber, metal, and aluminum fumes.

Carburretor Water Pipe


Offshoots from the simple bong concept do exist. These devices either bubble the smoke through water to cool it or have very large chambers. Some of the devices are designed to allow slower, more controlled draws through the bowl, causing the smoke to be much denser. Other bongs even have attachments for vaporizers.


Carburretor Water Pipe

Some bongs have a small hole, called a carburetor or carb, choke, clutch, shotty or rush-hole, in the chamber across from the stem. This is simply a valve that the user places his/her finger over when inhaling, allowing the chamber to fill up with smoke. If the user releases the carburetor, then he/she is no longer having to pull the smoke through the downpipe and water so it is easier or more relaxing to smoke. Some bong users allow fresh air to rush rapidly in through the hole. The fresh air mixes with the smoke and forces the smoke into the user's lungs more rapidly than could be achieved through normal inhalation. Inhaling a lung full of smoke is known as a hit. Often, bongs are smoked in two hits; first a "lit hit" when smoke is allowed to fill the chamber, then, after a short break, the "chamber hit" or the "clear," when the user inhales smoke.

Carburetor hole bongs use a hole to release the vacuum which allows air into the chamber. This has the effect of clearing the chamber of the smoke which is inhaled into the lungs. This method prevents the need to fill the chamber with carbon dioxide to clear the smoke before it becomes stale. They are easy to construct and often used in home-made bongs.



Slide bongs have two piece downstems. One is temporarily attached to the bong itself and the other, with the bowl, slides into that one using a smaller diameter. To use, you pull out the second piece by the bowl. Also known as a "California carb" or a "cali carbo."

Ice bong

Ice Bong

One of the most common varieties is the ice bong, which is a sub variety of a slide or carburetor bong. These are typically made of glass or acrylic, like the one to the left. Ice is placed in a twist or ice trap in the neck. This has the effect of cooling the smoke when the user comes to inhaling. These bongs are typically bright colors and are popular due to the durability, ease of use, and controllability. They usually have carburetor holes on the opposite side to the bowl or slightly to the left or right of that position. These tend to have larger chambers than other bong varieties, as ice is used rarely in smaller bongs.

The stem and bowl in this hand-blown glass bubbler are internal.


A bubbler is a small bong that can be operated with only one hand (aside from having to provide an ignition source). In these devices, the stem is internal and the bowl is at the very top. A majority of the bong is enclosed with only a hole in the side to act as the carburetor and the hole the smoke will exit on its way to the user. These operate very much like a pipe since their internal chamber is so small but they have identical parts to a common bong. They are considered more pleasant to smoke out of than a regular pipe because the smoke is cooled through the water and filtered.



A vaporizer-bong, or "vapor-bong," is the use of a box type vaporizer or heat gun and a bong connected via a special glass attachment. The vapor goes through the attachment, filters through the water, and may pass through a layer of ice - creating an ice-cold, vaporized hit of herbal material.


A popper, also called a shotty, is made out of a plastic bottle and is similar to a bong but lacks the bowl. The bottle should be made from a firm and rigid bottle, so as not to buckle from the force of 'shooting' the shotty. A good example is a soft drinks bottle or bottle that used to contain carbonated drinks, as these have to be stronger than water bottles to maintain their shape under pressure. A small hole is burnt in the bottle about one quarter of the way up.

A pipe is pushed into this hole at a downward angle while still warm, ensuring an airtight fit as the molten plastic cools around the pipe. The pipe used can be made from materials such as metal wind chimes, tubular aerials, golf club shafts, and bong pipes with the bowl unscrewed. A shotty is performed in much the same way as a bong, except a rush-hole is not required, as when it is "shot" or smoked the mixture in the pipe falls into the water, allowing air to enter quickly. One way people do this is by cutting 1cm off a cigarette and putting it in sideways into the piece then packing cannabis on top by stamping the piece into a cannabis covered flat surface. One could also take a flattened piece of tobacco and maneuver it into the top of the tube; again, the substance is added on top. When the user smokes a popper, he/she lights the substance and breathe slowly. Then, when the cigarette underneath begins to burn, he/she inhales as hard as he/she can, creating a "pop".

Bong mix

This form of bong is similar to a popper but where no bowl is used on the former, a small conical bowl (with its wide end slightly wider than the stem being used and its narrow end considerably smaller), known as a 'drop-in cone,' is placed at (not fixed to, hence 'drop in') the end of the stem. This type of cone has a fairly small hole at one end and does not require a gauze.

Use: Cannabis is chopped until very fine, most often with some tobacco (hence 'backy-bong') so that the 'chop' will burn rapidly. (Some users also prefer the flavor and/or 'buzz' of a cannabis/tobacco mix.) The chop is then placed in the cone and ignited while the user sucks slowly (it is best to keep the ignition source on the mix for as short a time as possible in order to keep the heat of the smoke to a minimum) until the entire surface of the mix is burning. The user will then suck as hard as he/she can, pulling the burning material into the chop below it and thus igniting it, until all the chop is burnt to ash and has been sucked through the narrow end of the cone. The cone is then pulled from the stem (be careful, as it can get very hot after multiple uses in close succession), allowing the stem to act as a 'carb'/'rush'/'shotty.'

Gravity bong

Gravity Bong

A gravity bong (also known as bucket bongs, hydros, buckets, g-bongs, GBs, sinkers, fuck bucks, torpedoes, depth-charges, aqualungs, turbos, plungers or serial thrillas) does not necessarily filter the smoke through water but instead uses water to generate a slow and constant vacuum in the chamber. This offers the same benefit of delivering a concentrated charge of smoke to the user but is much more effective at making the smoke denser, thereby causing more chemicals to be absorbed. These devices are known for inducing massive coughing fits in their users and can be very unpleasant to use, but can allow a user on a tight budget to conserve his/her substance and still get high. People sometimes filter smoke through the water by inserting a makeshift stem (i.e., a pipe the length of the bucket) from the bowl into a bucket of water.

In a typical gravity bong, a crucible is attached to a malleable container with an open floor, such that the crucible is part of the inbound carburetion cycle. Canonically, a bucket and a plastic 3-liter soft drink bottle are used. The bottom of the soft drink bottle is removed, and the cap is carefully heated until a small hole is introduced into the top; a screened metal bowl is then screwed into the soft plastic to create a sealed, threaded interface. The cap is then removed, and the bottle is placed into the bucket, which is then filled with water until the water level is almost to the cap. The cap is reattached and the bowl is filled. A lighter is lit and the flame is held over the plant material. Next, the soda bottle is lifted. This creates a vacuum, which draws air through the bowl and into the chamber. Continue lifting the bottle until the bottom comes close to the surface of the water; the contained smoke will be very thick, as it will have been produced at the airflow limit of the bowl's neck.

The cloud bottle is a similar type of bong constructed of a plastic bottle and a plastic bag. The bottle is usually a two-liter bottle with the bottom removed and the plastic bag, usually a soft bread bag, taped to the bottom so that when the air is inhaled, it retracts into the bottle. the bag is usually secured by duct tape or sellotape but insulation tape and brown parcel tape can be used. The bowl, or in colloquial terms, the chillum, is made of a socket from a mechanic's socket set. Usually, the creator finds the best fit for the bottle and makes it airtight by either wrapping it in thin tape or melting the opening of the plastic bottle and melting it with a cigarette lighter and inserting the bowl while the plastic is still malleable. The screen, or gauze, can be bought commercially although some smokers use either tin foil with pinholes in it or the metal mesh found in some car air filters. To smoke, the user puts his desired herb in the bowl and burns it, at the same time, pulling the bag from inside the bottle to create a thick, controlled 'cloud'. When the plastic bag is fully extracted and the bottle is full of the smoke, the smoker takes the bowl from the top and inhales sharply. This method tends to get the smoker rather high.

A variation on this technique, referred to as an "anti-gravity bong," uses a more elaborate setup to reduce the complexity of use. Rather than to lift the bottle, the water is drained (ostensibly into a second container,) in order to produce the vacuum. Also known as a "waterfall," this type of gravity is made by cutting a hole in the bottom of the bottle instead of cutting it off completely. The bottle is then filled and drained into a sink or bucket while the bowl is lit. Such a device is rare, as gravity bongs are characterized by party situations, poor users or users focused on efficiency (such as in conserving the end of a stash;) as such, this demographic rarely has impetus to improve on the simpler, smaller and more easily concealed as separate pieces parent design.


A "Parachute", although it does more damage to your lungs, is used to get a much stronger inhalation for the more experienced smoker. It is a very basic concept in design, a large bottle (2L bottle, many other similar bottles can be used to achieve different capacities) is cut about two inches from the bottom all the way around until you have a bottle with no bottom, then a bag (for a 2L bottle I personally suggest a shopping bag of good material) is placed around the bottom of the bottle and tapped so you now have half a bottle with a bag sticking out of it (the bag should have an air tight seal to the bottle). If done correctly you will be able to push the bag inside the bottle to form the look of a trash bag inside a garbage can, but upside down. Now you cut a small piece of aluminum foil (about an inch larger then the opening at the top of the device) and form a bowl over the mouthpiece of the bottle.

Now to smoke. A parachute works by pulling the bag out of the bottle sucking smoke from the bowl into the bottle, once the bottle is filled up remove the bowl, feel the mouthpiece where the bowl was (to ensure that it is not hot enough to burn your lips) and then inhale in one quick breath (don't worry if you cough, because you will). Now for the Dilemma posed due to this device, it takes one hand to hold it, one hand to light it, and one hand to pull the bag out, well that causes a problem because the average person only has two hands (but if you have three then you have nothing to worry about). This problem is easily fixed, just put the device bowl-up in between your legs and reach under your legs to pull the bag while using your other hand to lite it.

Granny Bong

Gang Bong