The bong is often under appreciated. This is a device used for smoking tobacco, cannabis or a number of other herbal substances, and has been around for hundreds of years. The first water pipe as these devices are also called was developed in China during the late Ming Dynasty meaning people have used bongs since the 16th century. These were used by the rich and poor to smoke tobacco and medical herbs, and were made of everything from bamboo to metal. Typically working class individuals used the bamboo variety, while those with more money used metal ironically.
A Clever Use of Water
What made the first person decide to create a pipe is unknown, but chances are good he or she was aware of the pain caused by a lungful of strong, thick black smoke. Carbons from cigarettes when smoked have always caused coughing, choking, and red watery eyes. It’s also not healthy for the skin and the lining of the throat. In the last few generations, smokers are warned about the dangerous chemicals they are inhaling with every puff. While fluid can’t draw out all these impurities it’s easy to see by the white puffy clouds that fill a bong most fumes are purified through the use of water.
The fluid at the bottom of a bong will trap heavier particles along with water-soluble molecules preventing them from being inhaled. This is the reason that by the late 1960’s the bong became very popular in the U.S. and the U.K. as those who enjoyed recreational marijuana use looked for a healthier way to use the substance. The clearer burning fumes also helped to keep the use of cannabis a private matter rather than signaling the use of a herb to anyone nearby.
Some studies have found that the pipe will also filter out THC along with tars and other substances, and this will result in those using them to have to inhale more to have the same effect. Those who routine use bongs however, state they tend to use less for the same effect since they are more able to inhale the vapors that aren’t heavily tainted with tar.
The mechanics of a water pipe haven’t changed much since the 16th century since it relies on very simple mechanics much the same as a scrubber system is used today. The big change is the use of glass or plastic. Many people prefer the use of glass since this material doesn’t become imbued with impurities easily, and won’t take on a smoldering aroma over repeated uses.
Along with the bowl, stem and carburetor found with older bongs, many newer models of pipes use more complicated filters and gas-dispersion frits. Diffusers allow a denser, but purer inhale.
The Difference With Percolators
Some use the term bong for any type device with a stem, bowl, chamber and mouthpiece, but the some are very different. The plain Jane version will work when the person using it places the substances being used in the bowl and lights it. The user of this device will then inhale or suck at the top of this bong at the mouthpiece. Some will be drawn from the material in the bowl down the stem to water. Bubbles will form in the liquid and direct a white, puffy smoke upward to the mid-portion of the water pipe. This portion is called the chamber, and from here the individual using the pipe can inhale the fumes containing all the active ingredients of marijuana.
The percolator type bongs work in a similar method, but with added diffuser and a separate chamber with more liquid in between the other chamber. This will mean the results of a burning substance will pass through water twice. This increases the number of times the results are purified, and it further cools it making it easier to inhale.
Some people have found they increase their experience of using cannabis and the purity of the results by using a water filtration system along with other methods. Some who create their own bongs will simply take rolling paper and put this in the stem of a homemade bong to diffuse the substance rather than smoking it “raw”.
Conversely, while the smoke from a vaporizer is purer many will further diffuse with a bong like apparatus. The reason behind this is of course to improve the experience with less irritation to the tissue of the mouth, nose, and lungs. It also reduces the risk of carcinogens.
For others less considered by the filtration the enjoyment is in the bubbles, the soft sounds produced by the water pipe, and the ability to use the device in places where a cigarette wouldn’t be appropriate.