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Bongs 101: The Ultimate Guide to Bongs

4 min read

Bongs 101: The Ultimate Guide to Bongs

What is a bong?

A bong is a type of water pipe typically used to smoke cannabis. They come in all kinds of shapes and sizes, often from artists who blow glass by hand to create the beautiful and functional bongs you see at places like Dank Riot. Bongs aren’t just restricted to glass, however. You can find bongs made from a variety of materials including wood, plastic, and even bamboo. In reality, a bong can be created out of a lot of different things if you’re creative and handy enough. A personal favorite of ours is a Coke bottle bong!

What are the different parts of a bong?

There are 4 elements to your typical bong: the downstem, the bowl, the neck, and the water chamber. Quality bongs are designed to get the most out of your smoke.

Your average bong is usually pretty simple with a base to store water, a bowl to hold your dry herb, a downstem that connects the base to the bowl, and finally mouthpiece to inhale some flavorful smoke. Smokers may choose a water bong over a hand pipe for a number of reasons, but mainly due to its superior filtration. The water that sits in the base chamber will remove a lot of the impurities in the smoke, leaving you with a clean, tasty hit. Much better than what a spoon can offer.

How does a bong work?

It’s a pretty simple process. Once the bowl is loaded with dry herbs and heated, smoke will start to form and travel from the bowl through the downstem into the water chamber. The smoke gathers in the body of the bong, where it is then drawn out through the neck and mouthpiece as you inhale.

How to use a water bong

Interested in smoking from a bong, but not sure how they actually work? We’ve all been there. The sometimes unique and intricate designs of bongs can be intimidating if you don’t have experience with them. 

The first step to using a bong is adding water. You’ll need to make sure water is covering the downstem and that the holes in the downstem are completely in the water. We recommend adding water until it’s about an inch above the downstem.

Now you’re ready to add your herbs. Take your ground bud and place it into the bowl, then insert the bowl into the downstem. Do so gently to avoid breaking the piece. Make sure the seal is airtight. 

Now it’s time to light the bowl!

After packing your bowl with herbs and placing it in the downstem, put your lips on the mouthpiece - forming a seal. Do this before lighting the bowl so you’re prepared to inhale the smoke quickly.

When lighting the bowl, place your lighter right above your packed bowl and light the herb while you inhale simultaneously. The chamber will fill with smoke, signaling it’s time for you to release it by carefully removing the bowl and inhaling quickly to get the remaining smoke through the mouthpiece.

What to look for when buying water bongs


Yes, sizedoes matter...for bongs at least. How and where you’ll be using your bong will dictate the size of the one you’ll want to buy. If you’re traveling a lot or just enjoy smoking outdoors, smaller bongs are a better fit since they pack well and are easy to store. Naturally smaller bongs are cheaper as well.

Larger bongs are good for home use and typically offer more customization options. These will have a higher price tag, but it’s worth the investment.

We recommend new smokers start out with a small or medium-sized piece until their more comfortable taking bigger pulls from the bong. 


Almost every smoker has at least one story about a bong being broken. Whether it’s knocked over by a nosey pet or dropped by that friend who you regret inviting to the sesh, you want to consider durability and stability when shopping for a new bong. Nothing worse than spending a pretty penny on a new piece and having it break down on you the next day.

The three characteristics of a durable and stable bong are:

Borosilicate glass
Stable, wide bases
Reinforced joints

The glass used to make your bong will determine if it’s a one-hit wonder or a piece you’ll love for years to come. Borosilicate glass is a key element used in high-quality glass blowing. It’s naturally more resistant to shock and temperature changes than common glass is. 

Wide-base bongs are also very durable for new and experienced smokers. Beaker and flared bases help keep the piece level, even if the surface it sits on is wobbly. An added bonus is that wide base bongs extend the surface area of the water your smoke bubbles through, increasing water filtration for a cleaner, smoother hit.

Reinforced joints also add protection against breakage. If your bong falls, the force of impact is distributed between two points and lessened due to the second bar (reinforced joint) between the main chamber and slide. 

Consider buying a bong that has all three characteristics if you or someone you smoke with is prone to drop stuff.


Having a clean bong is necessary if you want to maximize the life of your piece. It’s highly recommended that you clean your bong on a regular basis and change out the water after every use. 

If you’re someone who just doesn’t want to clean after every smoke, be sure to get a bong that’s at least easy to clean and rub down. Features that will make it easier to clean are a simple shape, removable downstem, and a maneuverable size.

Final Note

Bongs are a staple of any stoner's piece collection. If you're just starting out, don't feel pressured to spend a check on a complex bong. Small to medium sized bongs are best for beginner's. Be sure to take care of your piece to maximize it's life. 

Stay Dank.

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