With a bong, also known as a water pipe, a wide variety of smokable substances are consumed, usually cannabis, cannabis-tobacco mixes, or just tobacco.

Term Origin

In German, there are several synonyms for “bong,” including Blubber, Flasch, Pief, Öck, or Rohr. The word came from Thai and was initially derived from “Baung,” which was used for a type of pipe made of bamboo.

It is not entirely clear where the bong came from; some sources speak of Thailand, Indonesia, New Guinea, and the Philippines as countries of origin. Others note that the bong for smoking tobacco was invented in the Middle East several thousand years ago.

What is certain is that this type of hookah was used in many parts of Asia and is still widespread in Africa as well. They seem to be a descendant of the so-called shisha, which are primarily non-mobile hookahs with a hose.

Structure and content

Although there are more complex variants, the construction of a bong is usually straightforward.

The essential parts of a bong are as follows:

  • head
  • carb hole
  • chillum
  • base
  • pipe

The head is a device in the shape of a funnel. This is where you stuff the material to smoke. In some versions, one can replace it.

Carb hole
Some bong styles have this small hole, while others don’t. It allows you to suck the smoke out of the chamber.

Also called chillum or chilam is a small pipe that carries smoke from the head to the base. In this area, the water filters the smoke.

There are many different bong base shapes- most commonly in the form of a bubble or cup. This is the bottom part of the bong.

The tube of the bong also acts as a mouthpiece. It performs the function of a small chamber where smoke accumulates, previously filtered it.


Many bongs have additional accessories or extensions. Some have a so-called pre-cooler. This is filled with water, which cools the smoke and makes it less scratchy. You can also find bongs with a built-in diffuser (so the smoke is filtered more). A possible extension is also the catalyst: this ensures the filtration of residues. Bongs also often feature multiple mouthpieces so multiple people can smoke simultaneously.

Smoking process

You can divide the smoking process into two phases:

  • intake phase
  • inhalation phase

In the suction phase, the carb hole (if the bong has one) is closed, the mouth is placed on the upper part of the pipe (the mouthpiece), and the bowl is lit and then drawn for a long time. As a result, the negative pressure that forms ensures that air flows out of the chillum. This heats the head further, and smoke is drawn through the water into the cavity provided for this purpose. This is how one creates the specific bubbling.

The actual inhalation phase begins when the cavity is completely filled with smoke. Now the bong is tightened again. If the bowl is empty, you open the carb hole to allow all the smoke to enter the lungs.

If one smokes the entire bowl in a single puff without taking it off, smokers speak of “hitting” or “shooting through” in the smoker’s jargon.


There are differences in the intensity of the effects of cannabis when smoking it with a bong or with a joint. When smoking a bong with the same amount of marijuana, the effects are usually much more potent and come on faster. Tetrahydrocannabinol (the psychoactive substance in cannabis) exerts specific mechanisms of action on the human body.

Bong Types

One can make a bong from any material which is both airtight and watertight. Glass is one of the preferred materials, as it has a long service life, is easy to clean, and is airtight and watertight. Materials one also often uses are acrylic, ceramics, wood, and metal. These bong variants and other common ones are the following:

  • Glass bong
  • Holland bong
  • Bamboo bong
  • Metal bong
  • Ice Bong
  • Acrylic bong

Glass Bong

A conventional glass bong is mainly made of borosilicate glass. As a rule, similar to laboratory glass, these have standardized cut sizes, and one can use it with a chillum, a so-called pre-cooler, or a bong bowl. The cut sizes usually have a length of 14.5 mm or 18.8 mm (for larger specimens). The advantage of the glass bong is that hardly any cold smoke is absorbed.

Holland Bong

A Holland bong is a short variant mostly made of ceramic, less often made of glass. The colorful blue or red color of the smoking device is responsible for the naming and reminds of a flower vase. Usually, these have a base of about 15 cm (diameter); at 2/3 of the height, the circumference halves; towards the end of the mouth, this becomes a little wider again. This type of bong often uses simple aluminum chillum.

Bamboo Bong

Bamboo bongs are very common, especially in Asia. You can often find these with coconut as a cavity. One uses putty and wax for waterproofing. There is no kick hole (flash hole) in this variant.

Metal Bong

Metal bongs are water pipes made of stainless steel or aluminum. The body and the downpipe are metal. However, you often see variants in which the mouthpiece and the base are different materials (e.g., rubber or acrylic).

Ice Bong

The ice bong, often made of glass, has the unique feature of a constriction below the mouthpiece (ice twist). So you can fill ice cubes in it. The reason for using the ice is to cool the smoke down enough so that it scratches as little as possible when inhaled.

Acrylic Bong

Commercially available bongs made of acrylic are inexpensive to produce but still have a long service life due to the stable material. One can find acrylic bongs in many shapes, colors, and sizes. In terms of its structure, it is very reminiscent of a glass bong; however, the acrylic specimen does not have a coupling through which the downpipe could be held but only has a small hole with a sealing ring on the tube. There you can insert the downhill – the carb hole is available here.