Stoner Science: Bong Biology 101- The Basics


For all of the veteran smokers out there, these deceptively simple pieces of cannabis hardware will seem very familiar. Many of us can think back to those early days of getting hazed and remember (maybe a little dimly) that one friend whose mom let them keep a bong hidden away under their stairwell.

‘Take it all in, honey’.

Not everyone is fortunate enough to be so educated, however. With cannabis legalization just around the corner, plenty of law-abiding Canadians (bless them) are waiting for the perfect opportunity to take their first adventure down the bong-tastic highway.

We wish them luck, these marvels of stoner engineering can pack quite the punch.

Pictured: The hazards of too many bong rips.

Regardless of whether you are Cheech and Chong’s long lost cousin, Edwin, or have yet to indulge in the magic sensations that sensimilla has to offer, it is important to be educated in all bong related matters. While the simple downstem/tube arrangement is essentially universal, there in fact exist a wide variety of bongs, each fulfilling a different purpose.

Anyhow, enough talk, let’s chop. Time to learn about one of our favourite topics…the wonderful world of bongs.



Weed is cool.

Generally speaking, bongs share similarities in terms of their structure. As pictured above, they are composed of a glass tube, the bottom of which is filled with some type of liquid (generally water). A ‘downstem’ or small glass tube is inserted into the side of the piece, typically through some sort of airtight sealed hole or ‘grommet’.

Not this one.

At the end of the downstem rests one of the most essential pieces of weed-ware: the bowl. This is where the magic happens. This small glass (we do not recommend plastic for this one) piece is filled with delicious, delicious marijuana and promptly lit by the user. Once lit, the ‘chamber’ or, interior of the main hollow tube, will gradually fill up with smoke. Thanks to the power of science, the user’s mouth and the airtight seal around the downstem will form an airtight seal, allowing the burning plant matter to gradually build up within the chamber.


Once the weed is burnt to a crisp, or if the smoker feels ready to chop away, they will remove the bowl, allowing the smoke to quickly be inhaled through the mouth of the bong into their lungs. Trips to 7/11 or yoga class may potentially follow.

Please note that the aforementioned steps apply generally to your standard bong piece pictured above. It is not a universal arrangement, as there in fact exist a variety of other bongs, as explained below.



Gravity Bong:

Rumour has it this was invented by Albert Einstein himself.

These unconventional bongs use the power of engineering and other smart sciences in order to get the user absolutely wrecked. They rely on the vacuum that is left behind as water leaves an enclosed space.

Sad, lonely vacuum.

Although types can differ, the most simple gravity bongs are constructed by cutting a bottle in half, affixing a bowl to the top, and submerging the majority of the apparatus within a bucket of water. Just, uh, don’t let the weed get wet.

Once the bowl has been packed, the pioneering smoker may spark up. In order for gravity to do its work, the bud must be lit while the bottle is simultaneously being slowly pulled out from the water. The suction generated will allow the bottle to fill up with smoke.

Once ready, all one must do to enter Earth’s orbit is unscrew the lid, and inhale away. For those looking for a little extra kick, they may push the bottle back down into the water, thus forcing the smoke up into the user’s lungs.

They work really well.

We want to say don’t try this at home, but hey, most people are making these at home anyhow and we aren’t your parents, so do what you want.

Percolator Bong:

Perc me up!

Percolators can take on a variety of shapes and sizes, but are generally defined as being attachments or components that are contained within standard tube-shaped bongs. Percolators are pieces of glass that help dissipate the smoke before it passes through another water chamber.

This mechanical process helps filter the smoke and also allows it to cool faster. Users will experience a more clean hit, but, be warned, pieces with build in percolators can be very difficult to clean and may be easier to break.

Waterfall Bong:

Glamorous? Perhaps no. Effective? Absolutely.

These handy dandy pieces of equipment share similar attributes to the gravity bong, but are… different. Rather than using a bucket of water, these bongs are constructed using an empty container or bottle. As with the gravity bong, the bowl is affixed to the top with some type of airtight seal. At the bottom of the container a small hole is drilled or cut into place.

With a standard, home-made waterfall, the bong-ist (that’s a word, ask Webster’s) fills up the bottle with water, ensuring the plug the hole beforehand. Once full, the bowl may be lit and the water drained. As the H2O trickles away, the chamber will fill up with smoke. After it is ready to go, all one must do is unscrew the bowl and drag away.


Tips For The Aspiring Bong-Ologist

Sign me up for this class.

The world of bongs is a complex one, and there are many subtle nuances behind the craft of chopping bowls. Since we want to help novice bong apprentices, and also give old timers some new tricks to practice, we have tossed together some handy dandy tips to take the rip that gets you ripped:

-Finely grind your herb: If you are using scissors to cut apart your marijuana, well, please stop. Nothing makes bonging harder than trying to light up chunky pieces of weed. As a general rule, the finer ground the bud, the better. The increased surface area permits a much more consistent burn and you need not worry about rendering yourself unconscious while trying to torch up a slow-burning bowl.

-Breath of fresh air: This technique may not be for everyone, but we strongly endorse following up a bong rip with a supplementary breath of air. Prior to exhaling, try to take in an extra breath of oxygen. This propels the smoke into your lungs and will also help prevent you from coughing.

-Bowl size is important: While it may not seem particularly intuitive, bowls with small holes generally allow for larger, more potent hoots. This is because they are more airtight and allow the smoke to concentrate better. A key way of measuring how this will work is to check the size of the hole that the smoke travels through- obviously, larger bowls allow for more bud to be packed in.

-Remove the bowl gradually: Sure, removing the bowl in a dramatic faction may contribute to the coolness factor of your recreational marijuana use, but in reality it isn’t doing much for the smoothness of your rip. For beginners or those looking to ease the smoke into the lungs, we recommend removing the bowl slowly but steadily. The gradual release of pressure will allow the vapours to rise up in a much more gentle fashion.

Real news.



Bongs have stood as a potent and affordable way of maximizing stoner’s stoned-ness for centuries now, and we are forever in the debt of whichever mad scientist invented the first one. Water filtration and the ability to control the size of your toke are but a few of the benefits that these marvels have to offer.

For now, we bid you a good day. Take the knowledge that you have acquired, share it with your friend and family, and, if you feel up to the task, pack yourself a big ol’ bowl.

This article was long, you’ve earned it.


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