Background image of a glass bong chamber and bowl with the text 'explained, what is a bong?'

In short; a bong is a tool used to filter and cool smoke that comes from burning marijuana, weed or Cannabis. Bongs work their magic in a whole plethora of different shapes, sizes and materials and generally speaking there are different types of bongs that suit different types of smokers.

Most of the time a bong will also have a bowl attached that holds your weed and a drop pipe that connects the bowl to the bong. These are detachable so that they can be cleaned easily.

Basically if you're planning on smoking cannabis, one of the main and preferred techniques from stoners all around the world is to use a bong.

Although the definition of what defines a bong is quite simple there is a large amount of science behind what makes certain bongs more suitable for specific types of smoking and different user's tastes. A few examples would be; a bong smoker who likes a smoother smoke with a cooler hit will prefer a large bong that has an extended smoke path and traps ice cubes, whereas a bong smoker who much prefers a hot and harsh hit will prefer a smaller piece without any percolators.

What is a bong used for?

The aim of using a bong is to smoke weed or cannabis but in a manner that is quick and efficient. Generally speaking bongs result in a smoother smoke compared to blunts and joints due to them being able to filter the smoke through water filtration, this also cools down the smoke and lends to a enhanced experience when smoking marijuana.

Some smokers say that whilst bongs with percolators and water filtration can be a really enjoyable way to consume cannabis, they can also filter out some cannabinoids including THC, mainly through water filtration but what must be taken into account is that it is a negligible amount and is extremely unlikely to affect your high. The same could be said about smoking marijuana in joints or blunts where lots of THC is lost to combustion and smoke that isn't inhaled.

Glass bongs with the classic bong shapesGlass bongs with the classic bong shapes

How do bongs work?

Using a bong is really easy whether you're using a glass bong, a plastic bong, or even a percolator bong, they can all be used in the same simple way.

How a bong works

  1. Fill your bong with water so that it sits just above where the drop pipe (or downstem) sits inside the bong. If your bong has an ice catcher be sure to add some ice cubes.
  2. Pack your bowl with some weed. If you're a beginner be sure not to be too ambitious (if you know what we mean!).
  3. Place your lips on the mouthpiece of the bong and be ready to inhale.
  4. Place your finger over the carb hole.
  5. Light the bowl, try to get an even burn and slowly inhale, this will create lots of smoke inside the central chamber, you know you're doing it right if the water has bubbles.
  6. After the whole bowl has been burned, release your finger from the carb hole and inhale the remaining smoke.

Using a bong is really simple, it may be difficult at first but it is something that takes time and practice.

Are bongs illegal in the UK?

No, bongs are completely legal to purchase, own and use in the UK. The only time using a bong becomes illegal is when the user puts illegal substances in it, but simply owning a bong is not illegal, in the same way that owning a pack of extra large king skins, a or baggies is also legal.

Different parts of a bong

Each part of the bong has a different name. If you've never used glass water pipes before it may come across as quite confusing but with a bit of basic knowledge you'll soon come to realise that bongs are actually really simple instruments used to get hits of cooler smoke. Here are all the different parts of a bong, starting from the top:-

  • Mouthpiece: Found at the top of the bong, the mouthpiece is where you'll inhale from by placing your lips inside the hole making a tight seal.
  • Central Chamber: This is the main body of the bong and where the smoke builds up and travels through. This is also where you'll add your water for water filtration.
  • Bowl: The bowl holds your weed and is usually of a conical shape for optimal performance. Some smokers call bowls a slide, which makes sense because the bowl 'slides' in and out of the drop pipe.
  • Drop Pipe: The drop pipe slides into the central chamber of the bong and the end should sit just below the water line, the other end of the drop pipe will hold the bowl. A drop pipe is basically the middleman between the bong and the bowl. Some bongs don't actually use a detachable downstem but instead have one built in, like the Phoenix Star Honey I Shrunk The Percs Glass Bong
  • Carb Hole: Used for air control and for 'clearing' the bong after the user is ready to inhale. The carb hole (sometimes referred to as a kick hole) is a small hole found on some bongs, but the majority do not have them.

What is a bong accessory?

Along with there being a multitude of different bongs available to buy, there are an equal amount of accessories available to enhance your smoking experience to reach the desired effect. Bong accessories can have a large range of uses when using your water pipe, from reducing tar and harmful effects, to giving bigger hits and completely changing the way the smoke travels around your water bong, so it's definitely worth while checking out the list of accessories below.

Bong Bowls

3 bowls in green, blue and clear showing the shape and size3 bowls in green, blue and clear showing the shape and size

A bowl is absolutely essential for your bong, whether you're using glass bongs or acrylic bongs, you won't be able to smoke cannabis through your bong without one. A bowl holds your dry herb which you'll burn to get smoke.

Drop Pipes

3 different colours drop pipes3 different colours drop pipes

A Drop Pipe is another essential for water pipes, the drop pipe will filter smoke from the bowl into the central chamber of the bong, without a drop pipe your bong won't work!

Ash Catchers and Pre Coolers

The phoenix star pre cooler ash catcher from the sideThe phoenix star pre cooler ash catcher from the side

Ash Catchers (or Pre Coolers as some smokers call them) are a really useful accessory for your bong. An ash catcher connects to your drop pipe and works as filter and of course catches ash, if you use an ash catcher you'll straight away notice how much smoother the hits are now that your smoke passes through a whole extra chamber of filtration.

An ash catcher will also keep the inside of your bong clean which can only be a plus.

Gauze and Screens

large image of a steel mesh screen and a group image of 5 smaller gauzeslarge image of a steel mesh screen and a group image of 5 smaller gauzes

A Gauze (or a screen as some bong users call them) sit in your bowl and ensures that your dried flower doesn't fall down into your bowl. Sometimes a gauze isn't 100% necessary if your bowl has a really small hole at the bottom but it will always help with airflow due to it elevating your weed slightly so that a bigger surface area is showing underneath.

Adaptors, Converters and Reducers

an increaser, reducer and an adaptor in a group increaser, reducer and an adaptor in a group image.

All bongs have what is called a 'Gauge', this is the size of the hole the drop pipe slides into, drop pipes also have a gauge and this is what the bowl slides into. Converters, adaptors and reducers basically allow your drop pipes and bowls to fit into gauges they usually wouldn't be able to. For example, if you have a bong with an 18.8mm female gauge, but a bowl with a 14.5mm male gauge you would need an 18.8mm male - 14.5mm female converter.

Having a selection of these around is super useful especially if you have a big collection of different bongs, bowls, drop pipes and ash catchers.

How much do Bongs cost?

Bongs can range from as little as £5 and as much as thousands and thousands. The best thing you can do as an aspiring bong purchaser is to set a budget and figure out what you want to get out of your bong.

Bongs come in many different materials and have different costs associated with them; glass bongs are generally considered to be the best material and bong and for good reason. Most glass pieces are made from borosilicate glass which is highly heat resistant and they have the most features such as diffusers, percolators, recyclers, ice traps to hold ice and more. They also have the best taste generally speaking.

What is a good bong for a beginner?

Honestly, for a beginner we would recommend a simple bong with some ice pinches. Until you build up your lung capacity and tolerance it's best to pick a smaller bong without a percolator.

We would recommend ice traps for a beginner's bong because the ice cubes cool down those bigger hits and make them much smoother, you'd be best to earn your stripes with something small and simple.

Beaker base bongs are worth considering because they have a large space for water which helps to filter and disperse the smoke.

Acrylic Bongs and Ceramic Bongs are perfect for when you're buying a bong on a budget.

Advice on buying a bong

If you're getting confused and stuck with purchasing a bong, whether you're a bong virgin or you already have an arsenal of glass pieces, here at Ali Bongo we're always happy to help with over 30 years experience and expert staff, so we're really well placed to look after your needs!

Get in touch

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  • Instagram: @alibongoofficial
  • Facebook: @alibongoheadshop

We also have guides on how to clean your bong and every type of bong.