You’ve all seen and probably smoked out of one, but what’s the actual science behind how a bong works?
A bong is essentially a filtration device, similar to a hookah. It is a single piece construct, consisting of a watertight bowl-stem a water container and a ‘draw tube’ or pipe.
Etymology and Beginnings:
The word ‘bong; comes from the Thai word bong or baung, which refers to a cylindrical wooden tube, or pipe cut from bamboo. A bong is also known as a water pipe. Other slang names for a bong that you might recognize are bing, binger, pipe or hookah.
The earliest water pipe discovered is thought to have been used by tribes who lived in and around the area that is now known as Russia. The bong came through Persia to China along the famous Silk Road and soon became the most popular way for Chinese royalty to smoke tobacco, preferring it to snuff bottles or other intake methods.
How Do Bongs Work Scientifically?
When you light dry herb, it catches fire or combusts. The heat breaks down the chemical bonds of the herb and changes the particles into a gas, which takes the form of smoke. The purpose of the bong is to filter out the undesirable particles that are carried in this smoke, so you’re just breathing in the good stuff. We all know what the good stuff is: the cannabinoids that bring the high and relief. Water in your bong helps with this process of separation.
When the smoke passes through the water, much of the ash and tar is filtered out as it binds to the water molecules. Water is a bit like a net – it traps the ash and tar but it isn’t fine enough to catch the neutral compounds you want to smoke. Of course, a small amount of the compounds are left in the water but it’s an insignificant amount.
Another benefit of the water is that it cools the smoke before it reaches your mouth and lungs. Some of you might put ice in your bong. This is so the ice cools the smoke down to cause a smoother inhale to the lungs. We want to caution that it’s important not to cool the smoke too much though. The active ingredients you really want, will vapourize between 125 and 50 degrees Fahrenheit, so you want to keep them in the vapour stream. To do this, make sure you use enough water to cover the downstem.
Keep Your Water Clean
You’ll also want to keep your water clean to improve the quality of your smoking experience. Any chemicals in the water will affect the taste of your hit and some chemicals – such as chlorine – can be dangerous if inhaled. Be sure to clean your bong before use — bacteria becomes present in used bong water roughly 22 hours after sitting in your bong. Hitting a bong with overnight bong water in it will give the bacteria in your water a direct line to your lungs, increasing your risk of infections. Keep your bong clean before each use.