How Does a Bong Work?

3 min read
A guy holding a small green water pipe and a cellphone, questioning look on his face and question marks on the sides

Bubble, bubble, toil and trouble! If you’ve ever used a bong before, you’ll know that the ridiculously big, smooth hits that you can get from them are truly magical. But the bong’s capability for creating massive, cloudlike hits isn’t magic, it actually comes down to a simple process of filtration powered by Earth’s greatest resource: water. So,

If you’ve ever wondered how a bong works, we made a guide that breaks it down to basics

Straight shooter clear glass bong with arrows explaining its parts

The OG Straight Shooter Bong is ideal if you want to watch the basic filtration process in action

Bongs are just one kind of water pipes

Water pipes are any kind of piece that use water to diffuse smoke, but bongs are one of the most popular types due to their ability to create giant rips as they diffuse. Here are just a few reasons why bongs are so effective at filtering tar and ash and creating clean, pillowy hits:

  1. Water is a cleaning agent: Each bubble in your bong removes large ash and tar particles, trapping them in the liquid. That’s why your bongwater looks and smells so nasty, but remember that what goes in the water >doesn’t> go into your mouth, throat, and lungs. This makes bongs comparatively healthier than pipes and joints.
  2. Water is a cooling agent: The bubbling action also helps cool down smoke so that it’s easier on your throat.
  3. The bong’s long neck also gives smoke more time to cool in the air as it passes through to the mouthpiece.

The basic straight-shooter bong is simple, classic, and effective - making it many people’s go-to smoking accessory. But there are a few different styles of bong that change the process slightly to create even better filtration, diffusion, and cooling. Here’s how the different kind of bongs affect the basic process:

  • Beaker-bottom/bubble-bottom bongs have a wider chamber base where smoke can accumulate and concentrate, resulting in bigger, stronger hits for you that hit less directly than a straight-shooter.
  • Multi-chamber bongs have two or more chambers inside rather than one. You add water to each chamber, so multi-chamber bongs actually have twice (or more) the filtration and cooling power, since the whole process is happening in each chamber simultaneously.
  • Recycler bongs have multiple chambers which are connected by tubes. This lets water and smoke cycler through, creating even more bubbles (which means more filtration) and a fresher flavor. These are also very fun to watch in action.
  • Percolator bongs have features called percs that use tiny holes to create even more bubbles. And you may know what that means by now! Smoother, bigger, better hits. Remember, when it comes to bongs, the more bubbles the better.
    Carb bongs work just like standard bongs, but are normally much smaller and more portable (most of our carb bongs are mini bongs). Rather than pulling out the slide to let air flow in, these use a small hole to control airflow, kind of like a pipe.
  • Ice catcher bongs have glass indents in the chamber neck where a few cubes of that cold stuff can be suspended and cool smoke way, way down before it hits the mouthpiece, for icy fresh hits.

TL;DR - Water bubbles = filtration and cooling = giant, fluffy, delicious bong rips.

Now that you understand how bongs work their magic, check out our collection of bongs curated by expert smokers who understand how our pieces work and want to bring you only the highest quality bongs, regardless of your budget.
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