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Marijuana Science 101: How Does a Bong Work 

Marijuana Science 101: How Does a Bong Work

Bongs can get you higher than several other similar means of smoking. Read on to discover the science behind how does a bong work here.

As of now, 11 states and Washington D.C. legalized the recreational use of marijuana. There are many ways to consume marijuana and the bong is a favorite method.

Bongs are the casual term for a water pipe. These look like a traditional pipe but are bigger in order to hold water or ice.

The water cools down the smoke, helping the user take a comfortable hit. Bongs are used all over the world and come in many shapes, sizes, materials, and even offer intricate artwork.

Have you ever wondered, how does a bong work? Continue reading and find out how!

The Essential Parts of a Bong

To a newbie, a bong looks pretty intimidating. When you break down each part of the bong, it’s easier to understand the mechanism.


This part is pretty easy. This is where your mouth goes! This is usually a circular piece attached to the chamber (we’ll go over this part next). Don’t confuse this part with the bowl.

The mouthpiece is the larger hole, usually at the very top of the bong.


The chamber is the part attached to bong’s body. When you light the marijuana, the smoke goes through the chamber. You inhale the smoke from the mouthpiece.


Not all bongs have this piece. A downstem connects the bowl to the body of the bong. When filling your bong with water, make sure the downstem is completely submerged.


This is where the marijuana goes. The bowl looks like a little bowl jutting out of the side of the bong. There’s usually a downstem but this isn’t always the case.

If there’s no carb (we will get to that next) you will have to remove the stem each time you take a hit. This will bring fresh air into the bong.


The carb is a little hole at the side of the bong. Not all bongs have this. If your bong has a carb, hold the carb with your finger while inhaling. You remove your finger when smoke fills the chamber, also called “pulling the carb.”

How Does a Bong Work?

When you light marijuana, smoke forms. The bowl is connected to the bong (either by the downstem or not) and the smoke is stored in the bowl.

A strong enough inhale will guide the smoke up through the chamber and through the mouthpiece, into your mouth, throat, and lungs.

The water helps this process, as well. Your inhale causes the water to bubble.

This process helps direct the smoke to the chamber even faster. The water also serves as a cooling mechanism. This is why users can inhale more smoke with a bong compared to a joint or a dry bowl.

We already mentioned the role of the carb/stem, but it’s important to emphasize the importance of pulling the carb. Pulling the carb brings fresh air into the bong and the pressure clears out the marijuana smoke quickly.

How to Use a Bong

Bongs make more sense now, right? You’re ready to use a bong!

First, pour the water in through the mouthpiece.

Pour enough until the water covers the opening of the downstem or bowl. Next, pack your bowl. You can use your fingers to break apart a fresh nug. Or, you can use a grinder to break up the nug in small pieces.

It’s recommended you sit down when using a bong.

If the bong is smaller, set it on your lap. Larger bongs will need to be on the floor. Put your mouth on the mouthpiece. Your lips will have to be cupped inside the bowl to ensure no smoke escapes.

With your mouth on the mouthpiece, light the bowl. Start inhaling. You’ll see the water bubbling as the smoke enters the chamber. Inhale. Pull the carb when smoke fills the chamber or when you start feeling the smoke.

Common Bong Myths

Bongs are commonly used and many myths surfaced about these devices. Here are a few myths we’re debunking.

Bongs Get You Higher

Yes and no. Bongs get you higher than traditional marijuana consumption methods, such as smoking a joint. If a bong has a huge chamber, more smoke enters the chamber.

If you inhale all of that smoke, that one hit will get you extremely high.

But will it get you higher than any other consumption method? This is challenged with edibles and concentrates. Your body absorbs more THC and other psychoactive cannabinoids through the digestive system.

Modern concentrates extract potent amounts of THC. One tiny dab or hit of a vape pen will knock you on the couch for the rest of the night.

Bongs Are Better for Your Lungs

The smoke from a bong feels smoother than a hit of a joint or dry bong.

Unfortunately, it’s no better for your lungs. Any smoke entering your lungs isn’t healthy. Vaping is technically the healthiest option. If lung health is what you’re after, avoid smoking any type of marijuana and consume edibles instead.

They’re Dirtier Than a Toilet Seat

This is a common myth. Bongs are no less sanitary than any marijuana consumption method. The biggest risk marijuana users face is sharing their pieces among friends and other users, which spreads germs.

The only best practice to remember is to regularly change out the water and clean your bong. Dirty water in your bong can make you sick and is terrible for your lungs.

You should also use filtered water or water from a water bottle — in other words, avoid tap water.

Expensive Bongs Are the Best Option

A slight price increase can mean the bong is sturdier, made of stronger materials, better construction, or are made with a percolator (filters the smoke and cools it down even more). But a price increase usually only dictates the size and artistry.

A cheap bong can work just as well as an expensive one. It’s best you do your research and weigh out different price options before buying a bong.

Have a Lazy Hazy Day With Your New Bong

Bongs are a favorite marijuana consumption method. But how does a bong work? Just a little bit of craftsmanship and some water will improve the smoking experience!

Continue reading our blog for more interesting information.

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