Cannabis legalization is so close, the entire world can almost…well, smoke it. And with it, is a whole host of cool and innovative ways to enjoy it — rolling joints, eating a few delectable edibles, or maybe vaping some flower on-the-go. However, if you are an active participant in smoking herbal substances, the thought of using a glass bong has probably entered your mind a time or two. You might ask, what are they? And, where did they come from anyway? We get it, the curiosity is getting out of hand but we’ve got you covered. In this article, you can read on to find out a little more about the basics of a glass bong and how using one can add a little something extra to your smoking experience.
Glass Bongs: What Exactly Are They Anyway?
A glass bong is a device that can be defined as a water pipe that is used for smoking tobacco,
cannabis, or and other various herbal substances. They have a cylindrical shape and a very simple design, as they usually consist of the water chamber at the base, a stem, a neck, and a mouthpiece. Bongs use ice or water as a filtration system. Bongs are typically made of a glass that is more durable than normal glass, known as borosilicate glass. They offer personal style and choice, as the designs, colors, styles, and sizes vary. Hemper says, “Glass bongs are considered to be the masterpieces of the smoker’s toolkit” because they offer an artistic style and are often considered irreplaceable by the owner.
While not extremely durable, glass bongs are reusable, easy to clean, and offer an enjoyable experience for any smoker, making them a great device to use time and time again. If you are one who likes nice things and are a stickler for their upkeep, you should have no problem keeping your glass bong around for the long ride.
A Quick History of Glass Bongs
In providing a quick history of the glass bong, it’s hard to identify just where they originated, as they have shown up in various cultures throughout history. Many believe they originated in the Middle East, as most modern bongs resemble hookah pipes. Evidence also shows that they may have originated in Asia, as the word “bong” is derived from the Thai word “baung,” which is a wooden tube crafted from bamboo. To further add to all of the uncertainty, there is also historical evidence that shows connections to bongs showing up in China, Africa, and Russia.
Interestingly enough, bongs made an appearance in Western culture around the same time of World War II. In 1944, the McFarland Thai-English Dictionary listed the word “bong” as “smoking kancha, tree, hashish, or the hemp-plant.” Eventually, the first shop in America opened in San Francisco in 1966. “A few years later,” according to Smokesmith Gear, “a man named Bob Snodgrass began designing bongs to fund his touring with the Grateful Dead.” The bongs that Snodgrass designed became the model for bongs we presently see.
Snodgrass eventually settled in Oregon to start perfecting his expertise. Using hippie culture to guide his designs, he created pieces that were vibrant in color and provided unique designs. Snodgrass’ work continues to influence glass bong artists today.
What Do Glass Bongs Consist Of?
You might be thinking, “Why glass?” Glass is usually considered extremely fragile, which doesn’t sound like a useful material for something that potentially gets daily use. However, it is made more durable in the creation process. The action of annealing is a slow cooling practice, greatly increasing the strength and durability of the glass. For greater durability, the glass must be cooled more slowly. Also using glass provides the artist with an opportunity to more easily mold and shape the glass bong. As was briefly mentioned above, a glass bong consists of the water chamber at the base, a stem, neck, and a mouthpiece. That sounds pretty simple, but it’s more complex than you might think. So, let’s start at the bowl.
The bowl is where you pack your cannabis, tobacco, or other herbal substance. Bowls can come in many different sizes and shapes, but they are often just an opening to push in your substance of choice. Your glass bong will also have a part that catches the ash, as you don’t want this getting into your mouth or your bong. The down stem is one of the most important parts of your bong as it is the point of connection for your water chamber and your bowl.
While there are various types, the most common down stem consists of a straw followed by a hole at the end for bubbling. The joint is the part of the bong that holds your down stem. The joints usually come in sizes 10 mm, 14 mm, and 18 mm sized holes to suit your personal preference. Your glass bong will also have a percolator. This piece filters out the smoke, passing it by the water at the end of the stem. A splash guard might be present in your glass bong. This piece prevents the water from bubbling upwards into your mouthpiece. Finally, the mouthpiece is the final stop in the bong before the smoke makes its way into your mouth and lungs. Of course, the only thing left to do is wait for marijuana’s psychoactivity to take into effect.
Glass Bongs: The Mechanics
The mechanics behind how a glass bong works is quite fascinating, and it can be explained pretty well scientifically. Upon lighting your dry herbs, the heat from the fire causes the herbal particles to break down and change into a gas. At this point, smoke is created. The bong’s purpose is to filter out unwanted particles that are carried in the smoke. You only want to breathe in the smoke, not those extra particles, after all. The water becomes particularly helpful because as the smoke passes through the water, the water acts as a net, catching all of the tar and ash.
Another example of using a glass bong can be exhibited in using a gravity bong. Gravity bongs provide an alternate route of smoking herbal substances without the price tag of a glass bong. The mechanics are a bit different, however. Leafly describes as gravity bong as a “method that uses two empty plastic water bottles to funnel smoke through water and push it into the consumer’s lungs.” With this method, you would have to submerge a smaller water bottle with the bowl of your favorite herb on top, into a larger water bottle or a bucket of water.
Immediately after lighting up your cannabis, you would take the smaller water bottle out of the water, unscrew the lid, and place your mouth over the bottle opening to allow gravity to send the smoke into your lungs.
Benefits of Using A Glass Bong
There are many benefits of using a glass bong. One advantage that many people consider is the use of the water filtration system, which provides the opportunity for the majority of the ash and tar to be filtered out as opposed to making its way into your lungs. Bongs are also helpful in aiding to filter out potentially harmful toxins or carcinogens from herbal substances that are often unavoidable when smoking from a traditional pipe. Also, worth mentioning is the fact that the water filtration system is once again used to provide an opportunity for the smoke to cool before entering your mouth and lungs. This provides a much smoother and better-tasting experience.
An added benefit is that a bong is easy to use and reuse all over again. In using your bong, you will notice that the water turns brown and sticky. Be sure to clean out your bong thoroughly after each use to be able to return for a top-notch experience time and time again.
Selecting the Best Glass Bong for You
Selecting the best glass bong for you can seem a bit overwhelming, as there are so many options to consider, such as colors, sizes, shapes, and styles — especially if you are a newbie to the cannabis smoking game. There’s even the decision to purchase one or to take things a step further and craft up your own little creation. But, this is really just the start of something great, and like anything, trying something new can be confusing in the beginning. Although a glass bong has many important parts, they all come together for an experience like no other — after all, there’s a reason these awesome works of cannabis genius have been around for centuries. You might find that it will be to your advantage to do some research before choosing a glass bong, as this will provide you with the opportunity of becoming familiar with your personal preferences.
Ultimately, enjoy the process of learning more and shopping around; your perfect glass bong awaits for accompanying you on your next smoking session. Just don’t forget to puff and pass!