In a head shop the classic question of what is a bong used for can get you banned. Legal uses aside this very old method cooling and sanitizing smoke has been around for generations. The water pipe and similar devices have been used since the 16th century satisfying marijuana and tobacco users with a heady, pure smoking experience. Using a water pipe is simple, and the technique is easy to learn. The effort pays off for those using this apparatus with enhance highs usually using less of whatever substance they chose to achieve this effect.
The Start Bong’s
The beginning for this device was in China where tobacco became extremely popular. This apparatus was an answer devised during the Ming Dynasty to hot smoke from other methods of smoking, and it also cleared the smoke of ash that would get on clothing or the skin. The device prevented the yellowing of lips or skin, and didn’t make the user cough as much. So popular was this device at the time both the working class and the rich each had a version of a bong. Examples of these can still be seen in museums and private collections made of ivory, bamboo, and even metal. The name bong is believed derived from the Thai word “baung”, but there’s some argument it might have come from a term or word similar to “bamboo”.
In the U.S. and the U.K. these devices found a popularity quickly since these are easily used, smell less strongly than cigarettes, and enhance the experience of using substances such as cannabis.
Other names for these devices are water pipe, or simply pipe. Most head shops don’t refer to a bong as such because of legalities. In shopping for this apparatus it’s best to take care of using this word, and in not referring to any substance smoked in this device other than tobacco or legal herbs.
Use of Marijuana
Naturally, at some point some unnamed brilliant mind looked at the bong, and looked at a marijuana bud then made a remarkable discovery. Using this substance in such an apparatus offered such remarkable effects the concept spread slowly westward. In the late 1950’s and early 1960’s the bong hit American shores hard become hugely popular quickly.
This apparatus can also be used for herbal remedies, and most substances, which can be smoked in a cigarette. Before smoking any other strongly psychedelic drug it’s recommended to check for effects in this purer form, with it’s faster delivery before using.
Some users enjoy using a mixture of their own creation with herbal plants mixed with tobacco or cannabis.
How it Works
This apparatus looks odd at first site. In most devices the novice operator will find what looks like a jar or pipe with a wide or stylized mouth at the top. On one side midway up this device there is a hole and another opening is found on the opposite side slightly lower then the mid-point. This top opening is for the stem and bowl, while the lower hole is the carburetor.
The stem and bowl is typically made of similar material as the apparatus itself, but these can be made of metal or another material. The bowl holds the substance to be smoked, and once this set alight inhaling lightly at the bong’s mouth will draw the smoke from the bowl into the water at the bottom of this apparatus.
Once the smoke is drawn to the bottom of this device where ash, soot, and tiny pieces of material too small for the eye to see is trapped by the water, while at the same time the smoke is cooled. This makes taking a deep inhalation of smoke inside the chamber of this apparatus much easier than drawing on a cigarette. The taste and smell are improved, and the experience of smoking is enhanced.
Other Fluids Used
Other than water many individuals enjoy using other fluids in a water pipe including vodka or other alcoholic drinks, beer, fruit juice, saltwater, ice cubs, diet soda, or even fruit punch. Some people enjoy using these alternatives while others feel this practice interferes with the effects of the cannabis or other substance being smoked.
When other liquids are used it’s also necessary to be very sure to clean out the device after using as this could affect the stem’s function, and encourage the growth of bacteria in the bong.
The current use of bongs is still in the majority among those who smoke marijuana although other options including vaporizers is offering stiff competition. As American laws are relaxing toward the use of cannabis in some states sellers are finding this is a favorite method among those who use marijuana for medical purposes.