The debates about the proper way to use a bong have raged as long as this device has been popular. Considering the bong pipe was invented in the 16th century, and became the favorite method of choice for marijuana users as of the 1960’s it would seem a clear approach to their use would have been arrived at by this point. Still, when simple questions are asked novices are often greeted with conflicting information. The best way then to arrive at real answers is to understand how a pipe or bong works.
What Does the Liquid Do?
The liquid in the apparatus is used not only to cool it down, as many believe, but also to remove the small particles from the smoke before it’s inhaled. Usually when someone smokes whether this is tobacco, cannabis, or another substance a small amount of ash, tar, and tiny pieces of burned material are drawn into mouth, nose and lungs. While very small these pieces coat the throat, the windpipe, and the lungs of a smoker. The immediate reaction is coughing, sputtering, and feeling a burning sensation associated with the throat, lungs, and sometimes even the stomach. The skin exposed to smoke is also affected, as are the eyes.
Even before understanding the long-term risks of smoking the idea of purifying the smoke was motivated by these immediate reactions. In effort to smoke without having watery eyes and a cough inventive minds during China’s Ming Dynasty took the idea of purifying smoke, and created an easy to use device based on this principle.
The smoke is drawn from pipe’s bowl through the stem and into the water. Since the particulates are heavier than the fluid these sink to the bottom. What’s left will bubble up to the top and into the bong’s chamber as either invisible fumes or white puffy smoke. This is an easy difference to observer. All one has to do is place a marijuana or tobacco cigarette near the apparatus and watch both in action. The smoke from the rolled cigarette is darker, and danker than what’s seen inside the bong.
Filling the Bong
While it seem that since water is a good thing more would do even better, but this isn’t the reality. The liquid an apparatus should be enough to well cover the stem, but not to the point the fluid will either climb up the stem or splash around. As long as the bottom part of the stem’s tube is covered the heavily particulates will be trapped. Too much will cause the fluid to climb up the stem when suction is applied to pipe. To see this in another setting take a drinking straw and place it in side a glass or can of soda. Take a few sips and then take a sip bringing the fluid only midway then quickly place a finger on the drinking end of this straw and hold it. Usually some of this liquid will be trapped inside the straw. When the pressure is released the fluid will frequently “climb” up the straw.
The reason for this is the pressure in the straw is equal to or greater than the weight of this fluid. Because air pressure is active in the pipe the liquid shouldn’t be too high over the stem. The fluid can climb the tube and soak the bowl. The other issue with too much fluid is this will reduce the size of the chamber where the smoke will go after leaving the water.
Many people use ice inside this device because it cools the smoke faster, and also inside a glass or clear apparatus the ice is attractive. The only problem with adding ice is the user could keep in mind this water table in the device is changed as the ice melts. Too much ice and water can result in too much water over the tube for the bowl.
Given that the liquid once used is filled with impurities, ash, and carcinogens there seems little reason to keep it inside the pipe for too long. Unless the situation mandates rationing dumping this water after a session makes sense. Another factor here regards the smell. An odor is usually also trapped inside the fluid, and time will not make this aroma get any better. Dumping bong water will prevent the apparatus from taking on a funky smell.
Drinking the Water?
There’s always one person who asks if it’s possible drink the water. This individual’s thought is of the wasted THC, which can also be trapped in liquid. Again, since this is now a fluid form of an ashtray drinking the water isn’t recommended.