What is a bong?

what is a bong history of bongs


First off, a “bong” is the common name for a water pipe used to smoke.

Needless to say, you’re not the first to take a rip (bong rip) from this wonderful creation.

The term bong actually comes from the Thai word “Baung” – a cylindrical smoking tube made of wood or bamboo.


Surprisingly, during the Vietnam War era American soldiers discovered the “Baung”.  The water pipe concept migrated back to the US with the soldiers.

However, the native dialect of the word “Baung” (pronounced bah-owng) was difficult to grasp. So, the word was simplified to “bong” and everyone rolled with it.


What’s the difference between smoking blunts, pipes, or bongs?

The short answer: HEAT.

There are obvious physical differences of blunts and bongs. The primary variation is the temperature of the smoke being inhaled.

While blunts and joints offer an easy smoke session, it is at the hottest smoke temperature. Whereas, handheld glass pipes offer similar convenience but with slightly cooler smoke. Finally, bongs offer the coolest smoking temperatures of all with less portability.

In conclusion, the temperature of smoke has a significant affect on your overall smoking experience.


Most commonly, cause discomfort, coughing and damage to the lungs at the most extreme temperatures.

Thankfully, cool hits of smoke offer a more refreshing and uplifting experience.

Take a look at the temperatures of the most popular smoking preferences below!


Smoke temperature variations are primarily caused by the amount of surrounding air (or water) that blends with the smoke on it’s journey from combustion to your lips.

Your final smoke temperature will depend on:

  • Environmental conditions of where you’re smoking
  • How you’re smoking (blunt, bong, pipe)
  • Total distance the smoke travels

Water pipes offer the coolest smoke because of the total distance smoke travels. The increased airflow and circulation cool down the hit.

On the other hand, blunts and joints maintain a steady stream of smoke that travels a short distance. This makes the smoke retain more heat.

Ways To Smoke

Blunts & joints


Burning Temperature: 1500°F

Final Smoke Temperature: 150-200°F

  • Portable, convenient, and discreet
  • No paraphernalia or accessories to hide
  • Hottest smoking temperatures

Blunts and joints offer a completely different smoking experience than glass water pipes or bongs.

Hand-rolled methods of smoking are popular because of the portable convenience. In addition, there is no paraphernalia to stash after smoking.

This convenience trades off for a much higher smoking temperature. In addition to a slightly less efficiency for conserving your material.

Glass Hand Pipes


Burning Temperature: 1000-2000° F

Final Smoke Temperature: 125-150° F

  • Portable, convenient, and semi-discreet
  • Popular for smoking on-the-go (hiking, traveling, concerts, etc)
  • Cooler smoking temperatures than

Hand pipes are the medium point between glass water pipes a hand-rolled smoking.

Glass bowls offer a portable, quick smoking experience. They come with a slightly smoother and cooler finish than blunts or joints.

Glass smoking pipes are usually equipped with a carb. A carb gives you better control of the airflow and temperature of your smoke.

The bonus points here are awarded for the portability. You can take hand pipes just about anywhere to smoke. Smaller smoking pipes are often the preferred choice for beginner smokers. Primarily because of their simplicity compared to using a bong for the first time.

Water Pipes - Bongs

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Some connoisseurs defend the notion that a “bong” has very distinctive features.

This specific opinion/definition of a bong has the following features:

  • Glass water pipe to smoke
  • Upright vertical smoke tube (must be straight)
  • Medium or larger in size

A less concerned  population follows the simple notion that any water pipe for smoking is a bong.

This keeps things simple and nobody has to get lost in the details or definitions.

As with many cultural concepts – no one opinion is right or wrong. It’s important to recognize and respect the various thoughts

Burning Temperature: 1000-2000° F
Final Smoke Temperature: 100-125° F (cooler with ice)
  • Smoothest and most unique smoking experience
  • Most popular for smoking at home
  • Coolest smoking temperatures

Welcome to the main event!

Water pipes are the most popular smoking choice among seasoned smokers.

These bubbling beauties offer a fun, strong and smooth smoke session. Using bongs for smoking is arguably better than most other ways of smoking.

Smoking a bong is the coolest way to smoke. Literally.

The average smoke temperatures of a water pipe are much lower than other methods of consumption.These temperatures drop even lower for bongs that utilize heavy percolation or ice chambers.

A glass bong is the go-to choice for any smoker comfortable in their home. The only down-side to most water pipes is the lack of portability.

How to Smoke a Bong

Anatomy & Types

Keeping up with all the types of glass water pipes on the market can be a chore sometimes. Does this sound familiar?

I know what type of smoking experience I want. But it can be difficult to know what type of glass is best for me.

Say no more, friend!  The answer for everything you need to know is here. This unit will guide you through:

  • Bong Types
  • Parts of a Bong
  • Base Shapes
  • Percolator Types
  • Downstem Types
  • Bong Bowl Sizes & Bong Stem Sizes
  • Bong Sizes

Types of Bongs

The general size and shape of your bong directly affects your overall experience in several ways. From the drag (total resistance level while inhaling) to the comfort level. Each element of the bong offers a slightly different benefit. You can then custom-tailor to your preferences and enjoy smoking even more!

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The legendary classic. Straight-tube bongs are such a popular choice among smokers that it has become an iconic image used to represent the culture.

The function and feel of the classic upright bong is a legitimately unique experience. The definitive chugging, rumbling, bubbling of a bong can’t be replicated by any other type of smoking. You’ll most likely find one, or more, of these classic upright bongs in the stash of every connoisseur.

Buy Classic Bongs

Perfect For:

  • Glass Collectors – If you’re after a truly one-of-a-kind piece, then finding a non-traditional bong from these categories is definitely the best place to start. This is where glass artists release their full creativity.
  • Smoking Selfies and Pictures – Okay, you don’t have to admit it. But IF you want to take some badass smoking selfies showing off your next-level bong game, this is your first stop. These innovative glass bong designs will elevate your smoking game.
  • The Social Smokers – Your unique water bong will be the epicenter of a fun, memorable smoke session that will keep every one asking, “who’s loading the next bowl?”

Meet the new kid on the block.

Angled water pipes are a more modern glass bong design that is rising in popularity. This is because artists are getting more creative with forward-thinking designs.a

The angled bong experience is usually more casual than the eventful process of smoking an upright bong. Instead of a chugging feeling, you enjoy a lighter bubbly smoke session.

Similarly to just sipping from something sitting on the table. Some claim that the angled glass bubblers offer a more comfortable smoking experience overall.  You’ll find these types of pieces decked out with some fashion of percolators, more on them coming later. Forward-thinking smokers looking for an extra smooth smoke sesh will be in heaven here.

Perfect For:

  • Multi-Task Smokers – Enjoy a tabletop smoke sesh within arms reach at any time while you’re working or playing. Smoke some, set it aside, work some, repeat.
  • Smooth Sailors – Anyone looking for the smoothest smoke possible? You’ll discover these angled water pipes are usually loaded up with a nice set of percolators. These innovative percs and modern glass designs combine for a cloudy white ship of smooth sailing.
  • Innovators – The new generation of smokers have developed a favorable taste for these sleek glass pipes. Innovation meets functionality when you find your favorite.

Custom Bongs:

These are the kids that beat up the new kid on the block, from the paragraph before. As innovation rises, the limitless creativity of glass artists is emerging. Coming to the marketplace in the form of elegant, complex, beautiful, and outright crazy glass pipes.

Recyclers are one of the most popular designs emerging. This creative glass water pipe utilizes two separate, but connected chambers. The chambers recycle smoke through one another for an ultra-refined finish.

Heady glass dominates the artistic and creative side of glass water pipes. These are the intricate $200-$20,000 pieces you see tucked away safely in the glass cases at your local head shop. The creative minds of stoners are unleashing beautiful glass bongs of every shape, color and design, you could imagine.

Perfect For:

  • Glass Collectors – If you’re after a truly one-of-a-kind piece, then finding a non-traditional bong from these categories is definitely the best place to start. This is where glass artists release their full creativity.
  • Smoking Selfies and Pictures – Okay, you don’t have to admit it. But IF you want to take some badass smoking selfies showing off your next-level bong game, this is your first stop. These innovative glass bong designs will elevate your smoking game.
  • The Social Smokers – Your unique water bong will be the epicenter of a fun, memorable smoke session that will keep every one asking, “who’s loading the next bowl?”


What does a bong perc do?

Water pipes with percolators offer a smoother, cooler smoke session. Bong percolators work based around the concept of diffusion.

Diffusion – the spreading of something more widely

Percolators, often called Percs, spread your smoke out to a wider volume.

The smoke from your bong rip disperses and combines with fresh air and water to cool it down and smooth it out.


The downstem of a bong affects your smoke session as well.

Different setups change the level of diffusion, mentioned above, and can even help keep your favorite bong clean. Bong slide or bong slider are other terms people may use for downstems.

The classic “slide” downstem is one of the most popular styles.

You’ll see this original setup in many bongs and water pipes. The bottom of this downstem submerges slightly below the surface level of the water within your bong.

As a precaution, beware of resin clogs in the tube. You can clear these out with a small toothpick, paperclip, or any other item of your choice.

Diffused downstems offer similar function to the standard downstem, but with enhanced diffusion.
Diffused downstems disperse your smoke to a wider volume.
Meaning, bongs with a diffused downstem have an extra layer of percolation right from the start.

Direct-inject style bongs are growing in popularity.

These modern-style pieces don’t use a traditional downstem tube that submerges into the water. This means NO resin clogs!

Quick cleaning and easy-to-switch bowls and fittings have made direct-inject style bongs a modern classic.

If you ever have a dirty bong on your hands check out the complete guide How To Clean Your Bong (in 5 simple steps)

bong bowl sizes what is a bong


First off, bongs, bowls and fitting sizes are actually a simple concept. The easiest way to understand them is if if you think of them in 3 standard sizes.

Almost all bong fittings are standardized into  3 sizes. Small, Medium, and Large

The exact terms and numbers used for these 3 sizes vary in the community.

Here is the most popular general consensus:

  • 10mm Bowl (Small) – AKA; 9.9mm, micro joint
  • 14mm Bowl (Medium) – AKA; 14.4mm, 14.5 mm, standard joint
  • 19mm (Large) – AKA; 18.8mm, 18mm bowl, large joint
  • Custom Sizes – Most glass bongs fall into these 3 standard sizes. However, some artists choose the use custom fitting sizes. Often times they are usually accompanied with a matching pre-fitted bowl.

bong sizes bong heights what is a bong

Bong Sizes

  • Around 8 inches or less
  • Best for semi-portable, convenient smoking
  • Easiest to hide or stash
  • Least amount of drag – easy to hit
  • About 8 to 14 inches tall
  • Best for casual or repetitive smoking
  • Easiest to hold, load, and smoke
  • The most popular size range
  • 14 inches and taller
  • Best for eventful or social smoking
  • Most often stored in a visible location
  • Recommended for seasoned smokers

The Future of Bongs

A new generation of culture is emerging.

The social, legal and even physical ways of smoking will be in consistent progression year-after-year.

Bong Buddy is currently researching and developing 3D-printing technologies, poly-carbonate materials, and hybrid glass water pipe designs.

The arrival of 3D-Printing and traditional glass bong design has begun. Although first-model designs are being produced, 3D-printed bongs are currently expensive. However, a few years of Moore’s law and progressive cost reduction will soon be opening up a whole new world of smoking possibilities.

Beyond the initial design of the bong, new materials are emerging to actually produce the water pipes.

Poly-Carbonates are a clear, durable plexiglass-like material that is more brake-resistant than both glass and plastic.

Lay-Ceramic is a clay-based 3D-printing material that turns into a smooth ceramic material that can be used for classic water pipes or bongs with modern design.

Reactive Glass is exactly what is sounds like. Glass that is reactive to your touch, the environment, and even smoking conditions.

Imagine dropping a beautiful glass-like bong and it does NOT break. Or, a chromatic color-changing bong that adjusts to temperature!

Our traditional glass bongs aren’t going to be gone anytime soon.

You’ll see a wave of hybrid-style bongs and attachments. Most likely they’ll utilize the above technologies combined with your current water pipe.

Imagine a temperature-controlled bowl with no lighter needed. Or, a vaporizer chamber that maximizes efficiency of your material and attaches to any bong or water pipe.

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Now that you know all about bongs, you need to know how to keep them clean. This is our step by step guide on how to clean a bong!

How to clean a bong
how to clean a bong all natural