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Is Cannabis Smoke Less Harmful when Inhaled through a Bong?

By Emily Ledger

Although cannabis has been found to have some medicinal potential for a variety of conditions, the most popular method of administering the drug – smoking – carries a number of significant health risks. Some consumers believe that cannabis smoke, when passed through water, like in a bong, isn’t as harmful as when inhaled directly from a ‘joint’. But, how true is this?

Though cannabis smoke may not contain as many harmful toxins as tobacco smoke, inhaling it is far from risk-free. Burning any kind of plant matter will always produce a number of chemicals and toxins that are harmful to health. However, there may be ways to reduce the risks. Some believe that smoking cannabis through a bong is one of these ways.

What is a Bong?

Bongs have been crafted by humans for centuries, though modern bongs may look very different from the original ones. The first bongs were crafted from bamboo tubes, compared to the array of manmade materials that form the objects today.

A bong is usually simply made up of a bowl and chamber, though they can be extremely elaborate in form. The function of a bong is to cool and partially filter the cannabis smoke. The bowl is usually filled with water which helps to cool and filter out some chemicals in the smoke. But, the question is, how much is actually filtered through the water?

Glass Bowl bong

Well, the water does help to cool down cannabis smoke, making it feel smoother and less irritable in the lungs and airways. However, although smoother smoke may make it feel less harmful, there is little evidence that smoke that has passed through a bong contains significantly less harmful ingredients.

Cannabis smoke can still cause harm to lung tissues and lead to other health complications, even when passed through a bong. In addition, using plastic bongs may carry the risk of inhaling other chemicals such as BPA and phthalates.

To conclude, there is little evidence to support the theory that smoking cannabis through a bong significantly reduces the risks associated with smoke inhalation.

Some consumers believe that cannabis smoke, when passed through a bong, isn't as harmful as when inhaled directly from a 'joint'. But, how true is this?

How to use a bong

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Contents

  1. What is a bong?
  2. What you need to smoke a bong
  3. Step-by-step instructions on how to smoke a bong

What is a bong?

A bong is a marijuana pipe that uses water to cool and filter the smoke, producing an especially smooth, clean-tasting, and potentially healthier smoking experience. The physics behind a bong are fairly straightforward: smoke is pulled through a chamber filled with water, and as the smoke bubbles up through the liquid, the water simultaneously cools down the temperature of the smoke and pulls out fine particulate matter including tar and ash.

A bong is a marijuana pipe that uses water to cool and filter the smoke, producing an especially smooth, clean-tasting, and potentially healthier smoking experience. Photo by: Gina Coleman/Weedmaps

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Interestingly, there are a number of scientific studies showing the efficacy of water filtration. According to a literature review published by researcher Nicholas V. Cozzi, a study in 1963 found that “water filtration reduces both the amount of particulate matter and the number and quantity of toxic substances in the smoke that passes through it.” Similarly,a number of studies throughout the 1970s found that THC tends to pass through water while a number of other, potentially harmful substances are filtered out and stay behind in the water. Further supporting these findings, a study published in 1991 concluded that when smoke passes through water or some other wet surface, a number of toxic substances are removed.

What you need to smoke a bong

Here’s everything you need to smoke a bong:

  • Your favorite strain of marijuana
  • A bong. Be sure your bong has a downstem and bowl.
  • A lighter or hemp wick
  • Water
  • A grinder
  • For cleaning your bong you will need zipper-top plastic bags, plugs that fit the holes in your bong, and a cleaning solution (either one designed specifically for bongs or a combination of rubbing alcohol and coarse salt).
First, gather everything that you will need to smoke a bong. Photo by: Gina Coleman/Weedmaps

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Step-by-step instructions on how to smoke a bong

Bongs are a staple of cannabis culture. Knowing how to use a bong is important for anyone who wants to enjoy the full range of cannabis consumption methods. Here’s a step-by-step guide for smoking a bong.

Step 1: Prep your bong

Before doing anything else, be sure your bong is ready to go. Insert the downstem while checking that your bowl slides smoothly in and is cleared of any ash.

Put enough water into the water chamber so that the bottom of the downstem is fully submerged. Photo by: Gina Coleman/Weedmaps

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Next, pour water into the water chamber. Typically, the water goes through the mouthpiece, which is the large opening at the top of the bong. Put enough water into the water chamber so that the bottom of the downstem is fully submerged—you don’t need any more than that. Finally, if you are using any additional components such as an ice catch, be sure everything is in its proper place inside the bong.

Step 2: Grind your marijuana

The best way to do this is with a grinder, as the device will give you the most uniform grind. Place a medium-sized nug into the part of the grinder that contains the grinding teeth. Replace the cap and twist it back and forth until your weed is fully ground.

Place a medium-sized nug into the grinder. Replace the cap and twist it back and forth until your weed is fully ground. Photo by: Gina Coleman/Weedmaps

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If you do not have a grinder, you can use a sharp pair of scissors or even your fingers. Whatever method you use, the goal is to break the nug down into small chunks of more or less the same size.

Step 3: Pack the bowl

When your weed is ground, use your fingertips to pick up a pinch of marijuana. Carefully place the pinch of weed into the bowl. Then use your finger, the flat end of a lighter, or a tamping tool to gently tamp the marijuana down into the bowl. Don’t pack the bowl too tightly, though, otherwise you could have problems pulling smoke through the bowl. Add enough marijuana to fill the bowl to the top, then slide the bowl into the downstem.

Use your fingertips to pick up a pinch of marijuana and carefully place it into the bowl. Photo by: Gina Coleman/Weedmaps

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Step 4: Ignite the marijuana

At this point, you’re ready to start smoking your bong. Use a lighter or hemp wick to ignite a corner of the bowl. As you do this, put your mouth to the mouthpiece and start pulling in with your lungs. There is no need to be too aggressive with your pull; give it a smooth and steady drag. You will see the smoke travel from the bowl through the downstem, and start bubbling up through the water.

As you ignite a corner of the bowl, put your mouth to the mouthpiece and start pulling in with your lungs. Photo by: Gina Coleman/Weedmaps

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Step 5: Clear the chamber

When the chamber has filled with smoke and you’re ready to take a hit, you need to clear the chamber. To clear the chamber, slide the bowl out of the dowstem. Be sure to continue pulling in with your lungs. By removing the bowl, you open the flow of air moving through the bong, which pushes the smoke up the mouthpiece and into your lungs.

To clear the chamber, slide the bowl out of the dowstem. Be sure to continue pulling in with your lungs. Photo by: Gina Coleman/Weedmaps

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Step 6: Clean your bong

Bongs can quickly become dirty, smelly, and gunked up with resin. To keep your bong in pristine working condition, clean it after each session.

Begin by emptying out all the ash from the bowl. Then, remove the bowl and place it in a zipper-top plastic bag with some coarse salt and rubbing alcohol (or simply use a cleaning solution designed for bongs and other glass smoking pieces). Gently shake the bag and use your hands to scrub the bowl. The idea is to let the alcohol break apart the sticky resin while the salt acts as an exfoliator. Work the bowl around inside the bag until it is clean. Then remove the bowl from the bag and rinse it in clean water.

Next, repeat this step with the downstem. If the salt/alcohol solution isn’t too dirty, you can simply drop the downstem into the exact same zipper-top bag.

When the bong is clean, dump out the cleaning solution and rinse the entire thing with clean water. Photo by: Gina Coleman/Weedmaps

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Now that the downstem and bowl are clean, it’s time to focus on the bong itself. Start by pouring out the water in the water chamber. Now pour in some rubbing alcohol and coarse salt. Alternatively, you can use a cleaning solution designed specifically for bongs. Either way, once you’ve added a cleaning mixture, use rubber stoppers to plug all holes. Give your bong a good shake. As with the bowl and downstem, the alcohol will help break apart the sticky resin and the salt will exfoliate away any residue. When the bong is clean, dump out the cleaning solution and rinse the entire thing with clean water.

How to use a bong Copy article link to clipboard. Link copied to clipboard. Contents What is a bong? What you need to smoke a bong Step-by-step instructions on how to ]]>