Handling a bong for the very first time might seem a little tricky, mainly because a regular water bong has a lot of different parts. So, buckle up while we take you on a journey of learning how to use a bong.
Truth be told, mastering the art of bongs does require some expertise, but in this detailed article we will gradually guide you through all the critical steps, and once you’re finished reading you’ll be more than ready to tackle any bong that’s in front of you.
Bongs are undeniably one of the most recognizable icons of the cannabis realm, but besides being a pretty cool way to indulge in weed, they also offer a couple of advantages when compared to joints and blunts.
First of all, they make the smoke feel less harsh on your lungs. Forcing the cannabis fumes to pass through water cools down the smoke, making it much more pleasant for inhalation. This trait can be additionally intensified if a couple of ice cubes are added in the mix.
Secondly, allowing the cannabis smoke to pass through water also filters the smoke, which significantly contributes to the overall quality of your smoking experience.
Now before we begin with the actual guide, we should first acquaint you with every important part of the bong, as this will make the instructions down the road much easier to understand.
What Does an Average Bong Consist Of?
The biggest part of any bong is the chamber. It is the large cylindrical tube where the water is held, and the chamber is also where the smoke accumulates.
The upper opening of the chamber is typically known as the mouthpiece, because this is where you position your mouth to inhale the smoke.
Since the diameter of an average bong chamber is usually pretty wide, the lips are placed inside the mouthpiece, and not around it.
Finding an appropriate position in order to create an airtight seal with your lips takes some time to master, but it definitely isn’t something that’s difficult to accomplish.
An average bong consists of mouthpiece, chamber, downstem and a bowl. Additionally, bongs can include percolators and a carb hole.
Another important piece of any bong is the bowl. Also known as the slide, the bowl houses the weed. It’s called the slide because once you’re ready to inhale the smoke through the mouthpiece, the bowl is removed (or slided) from the rest of the bong.
This allows the air to pass through the entire bong, and the smoke inside the chamber to enter your lungs.
A bowl is typically placed inside the downstem, which is a small tube that connects the chamber of the bong with the bowl. The downstem’s purpose is to enable the smoke from the bowl to enter the chamber and pass through water.
When the water is poured into the chamber, it should always be higher than the downstem, as this ensures that all of the smoke passes through water.
More sophisticated bongs also have percolators (also known as percs), which are small additions that are placed in the neck of the chamber, and they are used to additionally cool and filter the cannabis smoke.
Percolators come in a wide variety of shapes, but since they’re not a constituent of regular bongs, we won’t be focusing on them in this guide.
Finally, some bongs also have a carb hole, although this feature is fairly rare with standard glass water bongs.
Bongs with a carb hole are usually made with other materials such as porcelain or wood. The purpose of the carb is to allow the air to pass through the chamber, because with such bongs the bowl cannot be removed from the downstem.
Again, since the vast majority of bongs don’t have a carb, we won’t be focusing our attention on them.
Pouring the Water Into the Bong
Before you start pouring the water into the chamber, make sure to remove the bowl from the downstem, so it doesn’t get accidentally damaged during the process.
Fill the chamber with water so it completely covers the downstem. The water should reach approximately one inch above the downstem part of the bong.
Taking a test drag is the best way to determine the right amount of water.
The best way to determine if you’ve poured too much water is to take a test drag. Place the empty bowl into the downstem, position your mouth on the mouthpiece, and take a long stable inhale.
If the bubbling water reaches your mouth and splashes you, it’s safe to say that you’ve poured too much.
It should be noted that a bong doesn’t require too much water to function smoothly, it’s only important that it covers the downstem section of the bong.
The Temperature of the Water
The temperature of the water used in the process is definitely a matter of preference, but most people enjoy using cold water, as it cools down the cannabis smoke.
To additionally cool the smoke, you can also place a couple of ice cubes in the water, but make sure to do it gently, to avoid damaging the pipe of the downstem.
Some fancier bongs also have ice catchers. An ice catcher is a part on the upper part of the chamber (above water level) where ice cubes can be positioned, in order to cool down the smoke right before it enters your mouth.
Temperature of the water is a matter of preference, but it’s probably best to start off with lukewarm water.
On the other hand, some users prefer warm water, as it creates a humid moisty vibe.
For your first crack at using a bong, it’s probably best to stick with lukewarm water without ice, and later down the line you can experiment with various temperatures to find what best suits your personal requirements.
Now it’s time to cover how to correctly pack the bowl with cannabis.
Packing the Bowl
The first thing you need to do is to prepare your weed. Remove all of the stems and seeds, and make sure that your cannabis isn’t ground too finely.
The ideal way to break apart the weed for bongs is either to use a sharp pair of scissors, or you can break the bud apart with your hands.
Using a grinder for bongs is not the best of ideas, mainly because grinders have a tendency to cut up the nug into very small pieces, which can later on get sucked into the downstem when you’re inhaling.
The tiny pieces of weed can get sucked in the water before you have a chance to ignite them, and since this will result in wasting weed, it is something we wish to avoid.
Grinders are also capable of removing tiny trichomes from the bud, and this is why they are usually designed with a special compartment that collects these delicate crystalline growths.
Since the trichomes contain most of the cannabinoid and terpene content of your weed (and they can also easily get sucked in through the downstem), it’s best to avoid using grinders for water bongs.
Once you’ve cut up your weed, it’s time to pack it in the bowl. Before your start packing, remove the bowl from the rest of the bong.
When you’re packing the bowl, make sure not to pack it too tightly, as this will create airflow issues. You need to leave room for air pockets, so once you ignite the weed the smoke can freely flow through the bowl and into the downstem.
You also need to avoid packing over the edge of the bowl, as this can cause the smoke to drift away from the bowl.
When packing the bowl, make sure not to pack it too tightly or over the edge.
Once you’re finished, you can take a test drag to determine if you’ve packed the weed too tight. Insert the packed bowl into the downstem, and take a long even inhale through the mouthpiece.
If you notice that the water is bubbling and that everything is running smoothly, you’re now ready to learn how to properly ignite your weed.
For an in-depth look, check out our article on how to pack a bowl (for both bongs and pipes).
Now it’s time for the final chapter of our guide, which is of course how to take a hit with your bong.
How to Take a Hit?
You can start by strongly gripping the bong by the neck of the chamber. Most bongs are designed in a way that allows you to easily hold the chamber. It’s best to hold the bong with your non-dominant hand, which allows you to use your dominant hand to light the bowl.
While you’re holding your bong, you can either rest the lower part of the chamber on a flat surface (like for instance a tabletop), or you can position it on your lap while you’re comfortably seated.
Once you get the hang of it, you can also take a hit without any support underneath the bong, but while you’re still learning how to do it, it’s probably better to rest the bong on something, to avoid the risk of accidentally breaking it.
Hold the lighter with your dominant hand, and bring it close to the bowl. If you’d like to avoid inhaling butane from the lighter, you can also use a hemp wick, which is basically a long waxy string of hemp that is used to light cannabis. But, in the likely event that you don’t have some hemp wick by your side, a regular lighter will do the trick just fine.
Place your lips inside the mouthpiece of the bong, and try to form an airtight seal.
Start gradually inhaling through the mouthpiece, and as soon as you begin, strike your lighter and bring the flame towards the bowl.
Because you are inhaling, the air will immediately pull the flame inside the bowl and ignite the weed. As soon as you notice that the weed has caught on fire, remove your lighter, but don’t stop inhaling.
Continue inhaling slowly, and you’ll notice that the smoke is travelling through the water, and starting to gather inside the chamber.
Now this is a somewhat tricky part. While you’re gathering smoke inside the chamber, you need to make sure that you still have enough breath for the final inhalation.
This will probably require some trial and error, but the best way to do this (at least for the first couple of times) is to pull the bowl out of the downstem as soon as you start feeling that you’re about to run out of breath.
Once you’ve removed the bowl, this will allow the air to pass freely through the chamber and into your lungs. Take a deep quick breath through the mouthpiece as soon as you’ve removed the bowl, and exhale immediately.
Avoiding to hold the smoke in your lungs for an extended period of time will greatly diminish the risk of coughing, and since THC and other cannabinoids are absorbed instantaneously, there’s really no need to hold the smoke.
When you’re exhaling, make sure not to do it back into the mouthpiece, as this will make the water inside the chamber go running in the opposite direction, wetting the bowl and ruining your weed.
Once you’ve finished the first hit, place the bowl back into the downstem, and repeat the entire process.
How to Smoke a Bong With Other People
Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, sharing a bong with other people can definitely be considered irresponsible and reckless, and we don’t condone or advise it in any shape or form.
But, if everyone in your smoking circle tested negative, here are a couple of tips regarding bong etiquette.
When you’re lighting the bowl, make sure to ignite only a fraction of the top’s surface, so that other people can also enjoy a fresh hit.
This technique is known as cornering, and it’s executed by bringing the flame of the lighter very close to the edge of the bowl.
Also, once you’ve taken a hit, make sure to blow out any lingering smoke from the bong’s chamber before passing it to someone else.
When you’re finished with the exhale, gently blow into the mouthpiece (without bringing your lips too close to it) to make the remaining smoke in the chamber disperse.
Another thing to avoid is drooling into the mouthpiece. For the first couple of attempts it might be a bit difficult to keep the spit inside your mouth while your lips are pursed in the mouthpiece of the bong, but this can definitely be avoided if you make a conscious effort.
Once you’ve taken a hit, make sure to wipe the mouthpiece with a handkerchief before passing the bong to someone else.
Finally, you should change the water inside the bong when you finish the session. Since the smoke passes through it, the water collects various impurities and will quickly turn murky and give off an unpleasant odour.
How to Clean Your Bong
To keep your bong in mint condition and prevent the build-up of large pieces of resin, it’s very important to periodically clean it.
If you’re using your bong on a daily basis a weekly clean is more than adequate, and if you use it less frequently than that, give your bong a good scrubbing every two weeks or so.
You’ll be needing isopropyl alcohol (it’s best to use 91%), large grain salt, and a couple of ziplock bags.
The first thing you need to do is to disassemble your bong, separately rinse all of the pieces in water, and dry them off.
You can use a paper towel to pat the pieces dry, and while you’re at it, you can try removing any pieces of resin that are easily reachable.
While you’re rinsing the chamber, make sure not to dump the water through the mouthpiece. Spilling the water through the mouthpiece could bring some of the residue towards the top of the bong, which is something you want to avoid.
The next step is to place the bowl and the downstem into separate ziplock bags, and fill them with 91% isopropyl alcohol.
Make sure you’ve poured enough alcohol so that both of the pieces are completely submerged, and once you’re done, leave them to soak while you’re cleaning the rest of the bong.
If your bowl and downstem are very filthy, it’s a good idea to leave them overnight in the ziplock bags. But, if you regularly clean your bong, this measure isn’t really necessary.
As for the main chamber of the bong, you need to pour ½ cup of isopropyl alcohol, and about 2 tablespoons of large grain salt. Close both openings of the bong with your hands, and give it a good shake. The salt will act as an abrasive, allowing you to scrub the inside of the bong without the hassle of reaching into it.
Once you’re finished shaking, leave the bong to soak in the salt/alcohol mixture while you deal with the bowl and the downstem.
Since you left both the bowl and the downstem to soak in alcohol, it is now time to put some salt in their ziploc bags, and give them a shake.
The main premise is to try and get the salt to pass through the pieces, and remove any residual resin that might be sticking to them.
Get the pieces out of the bags when you’re done, and you can use a couple of q-tips to wipe off any lingering residue (it should be easily removed after you’ve soaked the pieces in alcohol).
For the finishing touch, rinse all of the pieces of the bong with warm water, and leave them to dry.
Also, if water stains start to plague your bong from frequent cleaning, you can remedy this by washing it with a mixture of lemon juice and hot water.