MONSTERS OF SMOKE Bongs What is a bong?

What is a bong?

A bong is a device that is used to smoke herb or tobacco by filtering and cooling the smoke through water. Bongs are also known by other names, such as water pipes, bubblers, bingers, or billys. Bongs have been around for centuries, and they come in different shapes, sizes, and materials. In this blog post, we will explore the history, design, and function of bongs, as well as some of the benefits and risks of using them.

The history of bongs

The word bong is derived from the Thai word “baung” (บ้อง), which means a cylindrical wooden tube or container cut from bamboo and used for smoking. Bongs have been used by various cultures across Asia and Africa for smoking cannabis, weed, or marijuana, as well as other substances.

One of the earliest recorded uses of bongs in the West was in the McFarland Thai-English Dictionary, published in 1944, which described one of the meanings of bong in the Thai language as “a bamboo waterpipe for smoking kancha, tree, hashish, or the hemp-plant”. A January 1971 issue of the Marijuana Review also used the term.

Some of the oldest evidence of bong use dates back to 2400 years ago, when Scythian tribal chiefs in Russia used gold vessels to smoke cannabis and opium. The vessels were discovered during an excavation of a kurgan (a type of burial mound) in 2013.

Another origin story of bongs traces back to India, where physician Hakim Abul Fath invented the waterpipe during the reign of Emperor Akbar in the 16th century. He suggested that tobacco “smoke should be first passed through a small receptacle of water so that it would be rendered harmless”. The waterpipe then spread to China through Persia and the Silk Road, where it became the most popular method to smoke tobacco during the Qing Dynasty.

The design and function of bongs

Bongs generally feature a small bowl that holds dried herb or tobacco. When you light the herb or tobacco, it combusts and produces smoke. Meanwhile, as you inhale through the mouthpiece at the top of the tube, the smoke flows from the bowl through a stem or a slide into a chamber filled with water at the bottom of the bong. The water acts as a filter and a cooler, removing some of the impurities and tar from the smoke and making it smoother and less harsh on your throat and lungs. The smoke then rises up through the tube and enters your mouth and lungs when you inhale.

Bongs can have different shapes and sizes, depending on your preference and budget. Some common types of bongs are:

  • Straight tube bongs: These are simple bongs that consist of a straight tube with a base, a bowl, and a mouthpiece.
  • Beaker bongs: These are similar to straight tube bongs, but have a wider base that resembles a beaker. They are more stable and can hold more water than straight tube bongs.
  • Bubbler bongs: These are smaller and more portable bongs that have a built-in bowl and a carburetor (a hole that allows air to flow into the chamber). They are easy to use and discreet.
  • Percolator bongs: These are more complex bongs that have one or more additional chambers or devices that further filter and cool the smoke. Percolators can come in various shapes and designs, such as honeycomb, tree, showerhead, or spiral.
  • Gravity bongs: These are homemade bongs that use gravity to force the smoke into a container. They are usually made from plastic bottles or buckets with holes cut at the bottom. They are not recommended for regular use as they can produce very potent hits and expose you to harmful chemicals from plastic.

Bongs can also be made from different materials, such as glass, acrylic, ceramic, metal, wood, or bamboo. Glass is the most popular material for bongs because it is transparent, easy to clean, and does not affect the flavor of the smoke. However, glass is also fragile and expensive. Acrylic is a cheaper and more durable alternative, but it can also leach chemicals into the smoke and affect the taste. Ceramic, metal, wood, and bamboo are other options that can offer aesthetic appeal and durability, but they are also harder to clean and maintain.

The benefits and risks of bongs

Bongs are often preferred by smokers who want a smoother and more enjoyable experience. Some of the benefits of bongs are:

  • They cool the smoke, making it less irritating and more comfortable to inhale.
  • They filter some of the toxins and carcinogens from the smoke, reducing the harm to your health.
  • They conserve your herb or tobacco, as you need less material to get the same effect.
  • They enhance the flavor and aroma of your herb or tobacco, as they do not burn it as much as other methods.
  • They offer a variety of styles and designs to suit your personality and preference.

However, bongs are not without risks. Some of the drawbacks of bongs are:

  • They can still cause lung damage, as smoke is harmful to lung health regardless of what you are smoking or how you are smoking it.
  • They can increase your tolerance and dependence, as they can deliver more potent hits and more THC (the psychoactive compound in cannabis) than other methods.
  • They can harbor bacteria and mold, especially if you do not clean them regularly and properly. This can lead to infections and illnesses.
  • They can be illegal, depending on where you live and what you are smoking. You may face legal consequences if you are caught with a bong or any illegal substances.
  • They can be expensive, especially if you opt for high-quality glass or percolator bongs. They can also break easily if you are not careful.


Bongs are devices that are used to smoke herb or tobacco by filtering and cooling the smoke through water. They have a long history and a diverse range of shapes, sizes, and materials. Bongs can offer a smoother and more flavorful smoking experience, but they can also pose some health and legal risks. If you decide to use a bong, make sure you do so responsibly and safely.


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  3. What Is a Bong? Weed Bong Definition | Weedmaps

  4. Scythian Gold Bongs Discovered in Russia – NBC News

  5. Hookah | smoking device | Britannica