Bong Usage and Meaning:
Bongs work very much like hookahs and are built similarly, but are more portable and smaller. You can build a bong from anything that is air- and water-tight; just add some kind of apparatus that serves as a bowl and stem. This is a piece that guides air below the water level so it can bubble upward during use. (This is also the origin of the term “bubbler,” another phrase for this sort of small, portable water pipe.)
Bongs work using a hole of some kind on the lower end of the tube, but above the water level. This is usually called the “carburetor,” or “carb,” “bink,” “choke,” “rush,” “shotty,” or “shotgun hole.” First you cover the carb to allow smoke to collect in the pathway, and then open it to suck fresh air into the bong and draw the remaining smoke into the respiratory system. Bongs without carbs achieve this with a removable stem and/or bowl that allows air to escape the stem.
Etymology of Bong
The word “bong” itself comes from the Thai word baung (Thai: บ้อง, [bɔ̂ŋ]). In Thai, bong refers to a cylindrical bamboo pipe or tube used for smoking.
History of Bong
Bongs have been in use for centuries. The Hmong have used them in Thailand and Laos, and bongs have also been used all over Africa throughout recorded history.
Russia excavations revealed that gold bongs were used 2400 years ago to smoke opium and cannabis. In China, water pipes were used during the 16th century late Ming Dynasty, and this practice spread along with tobacco trade on the Silk Road. By the time of the Qing Dynasty, bongs were among the most popular ways of consuming tobacco, although they faded into obscurity again later. In China, as elsewhere, bongs were often made of ordinary materials such as bamboo or wood, but more upscale versions in precious metals have also been discovered, including brass, bronze, silver, and gold.
The 1944 McFarland Thai-English Dictionary provided one of the earliest recorded uses of the word in western cultures, describing a “bong” in Thai as a bamboo water pipe for smoking the hemp-plant. The Marijuana Review revived the term in January 1971.
How Does a Bong Work?
Typically, a bong consists of a single-piece water pipe, which is the water container, the bowl-stem, and a drawtube that is 3 to 12 inches long. The size of the bowl on a bong is similar to that on a one-hitter—small, typically the width of a thumbnail or less.
The water works as a natural filter, trapping some heavier water-soluble molecules and particles, keeping them out of the smoke and the user’s lungs. Bongs are typically either heat resistant borosilicate glass or heavy duty plastic. These materials enable repeat use and exposure to heat without breakage.
Types of Bongs
Carburetor bongs. These include any bong with a carb hole, which is typically somewhere in the middle where it can easily be covered by a finger.
Straight-tube bongs. These are just straight tubes with bowls and stems.
Round-base bongs. These have sphere-shaped, stabler bottoms that allow the round water chamber to rest on a flat surface.
Beaker bongs. Another more stable alternative, these water chambers are shaped like beakers.
Percolator bongs. Also called bubblers or bubbler bongs, perc bongs can be in any shape that allows enough room for the smoke to filter and bubble through the water. Perc bongs offer tastier, smoother hits, but can be harder to clean.
Recycler bongs. Also called multi-chamber bongs, recycler bongs have multiple chambers connected by a tube or chamber. There is water in both chambers, so the smoke gets filtered twice.
How to Use a Bong
After you pack the bowl and insert water into the bong, light the bowl with the carb covered and inhale. This draws the smoke through water, cooling it and making it smoother. Once enough smoke has built up in the bong, uncover the carb or remove the stem from the bong, and inhale the remaining smoke.
Step 1: Fill the tube with water—not so much that you inhale water, but enough to cover the bottom third of the downstem.
Step 2: Grind your cannabis medium-fine and pack the bowl, leaving just enough room for air to filter through.
Step 3: Light the bowl with your lips around the mouthpiece and the carb hole covered.
Step 4: Release the carb and take the hit.
Improve your bong hits with ice, or use alternatives to water such as tea or fruit juice to change the flavor. For a better experience and to ensure your safety and health, always clean and maintain your bong.
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