Weed lovers have been thinking up new and exciting ways to consume their favourite plant for generations. From the good old-fashioned joint to edibles and dry herb vaporisers, there are a huge number of ways to consume cannabis. But while smoking in the form of joints and blunts may remain the most popular way of getting high, two other ways of smoking cannabis have long been a favourite thanks to their ease and convenience: bongs and weed pipes.
While some other pieces of cannabis paraphernalia increasingly rely on technology, the bong and weed pipe thrive on simplicity. It’s easy to see why they remain a firm favourite among stoners – but there are doubtless many who have limited or even no experience with these bits of kit. So, we decided to put together a beginner’s guide to bongs and weed pipes.
What are bongs?
Even if you’ve never used a bong before, you likely know what they look like. They feature a central tube, some kind of reservoir, used to hold water, and a smaller stem featuring a bowl where cannabis is placed ready for lighting. While all bongs feature these three components, their designs can vary from ultra-simplistic objects to intricate works of art – and everything in-between.
With such a wide variety of weird and wonderful products available today, it can be surprising to learn of the long history of the bong. While they may now be synonymous with smoke shops and 70s stoner films, there is evidence that bongs may actually have been in use for thousands of years.
Until recently, many experts believed that the use of bongs originated in Africa in the 1100s; however, a 2013 excavation of a 2,400-year-old Russian burial mound yielded an incredible discovery – two solid gold bongs! It’s believed the awe-inspiring objects belonged to a Scythian warrior belonging to an ancient nomadic people who reportedly smoked cannabis and opium before heading into battle. Sure enough, tests revealed that the gold bongs were indeed coated in cannabis and opium residue.
How do bongs work?
As we said earlier, most people know what a conventional bong looks like; you probably also know that they are filled with water. But how do they actually work? What’s the water for and how do you use one?
There are countless bong designs out there but most bongs work in pretty much the same way. They are all designed to cool and filter cannabis smoke to make for a smoother smoking experience. This is achieved by filtering the smoke through the water in the chamber of the bong. Some products feature advanced features such as percolators which further filter the smoke.
Using a bong is relatively easy – particularly when compared to the fiddlier process of rolling a joint. The user simply places their dry herb in the bowl of the bong, lights it up and inhales from the mouthpiece. As they inhale, smoke is drawn from the bowl and into the main chamber of the bong. The water in the chamber begins to bubble, releasing the smoke which is then dragged up toward the mouthpiece, delivering a cool hit or ‘rip’.
What about weed pipes?
Weed pipes also offer a simpler and easier way to smoke weed, with no need for rolling papers and roaches. They were originally adapted from the traditional tobacco smoking pipes and, as such, feature many of the same key components, including a bowl, a chamber, and a mouthpiece. Like bongs, weed pipes can come in all manner of shapes, sizes, and designs, but they all work in the same way. Also, like bongs, cannabis is placed into the bowl of the device where it is then lit. The user then inhales through the mouthpiece, drawing the smoke through the pipe – it’s as simple as that!
However, when it comes to weed pipes, preparation is key. The weed needs to be broken down into a semi-fine consistency to allow for maximum air-flow and an even smoke. This can be done using your hands, a grinder, or any other technique (but don’t over-grind!). Achieving a perfectly packed bowl can take some practice, but the results will be worth it.
Pros and cons of bongs and weed pipes
So, now that we all know what bongs and weed pipes are and how to use them, let’s take a look at some pros and cons when deciding which bit of kit is right for you.
The price points between different styles and specifications of both bongs and weed pipes can vary significantly. But while it is possible to purchase both products at an affordable price, pipes tend to be the cheaper option.
While neither of these products offers perfect discretion, it’s probably safe to say that pipes win out on this one. Bongs are larger, much less portable, and let’s face it, pretty arrogant (in the best possible way). However, if you’re thinking about buying a bong, then discretion isn’t likely to be a requirement for you, anyway.
If the experience is the biggest concern for you when choosing between a pipe or a bong, then most people would agree there is a clear winner. Thanks to the water filtration offered by bongs, the smoke experience is smoother, lighter, and usually more enjoyable.
While they may not be discrete, both products can boast convenience as a selling point – at least if you’re using them at home or in a safe space. Once you have perfected your packing technique, both bongs and pipes are easy to use and require little preparation when compared to making edibles or rolling a traditional joint.
Finding the right bong or weed pipe can take time and money, but with so many options available, your perfect match is sure to be out there somewhere.