Nothing is as embarrassing as sitting around with buddies for a smoke session and not knowing how to use a bong. Even if you've been around the block a few times, maybe it's time to learn how to use a bong the right way — for a perfectly smooth hit each and every time.
Old-timers and total newbies can use a few tips for their next session with the bong, including the anatomy of a bong, how to pack a perfect bowl, and the logistics of the inhale. Plus, this bong-smokers guide will finish with a few hot bong-ripping tips to avoid disaster.
How To Set Up a Bong Before Smoking
It all begins with a perfect set up. Yes, you can throw in a nug and put a lighter to the bowl, but you'll find the smoke harsh and inconsistent. Get the set up right, and you'll find the ride much more enjoyable.
1. Add Water to the Base
Bongs benefit from a smoother smoking experience thanks to water filtration. While you can always smoke a bong without added water, this defeats the entire purpose. Bongs serve better hits than pipes because the smoke flows through the water, removing some of the fine smoke particulates. Therefore, for the best bong experience, you'll always fill it with water.
Under most circumstances, you'll fill the bong with water through the mouthpiece. Use clean, cold water — distilled and unchlorinated if you have it. Fill it up until the water covers the opening of the downstem and well before the water hits any carb or choke.
The downstem is the long chamber that travels from the bowl into the body of the bong. Smoke flows through this tube into the water, and it then bubbles up into the chamber before filling your lungs.
2. Add Ice to Bongs With Ice Catchers
Some bongs have a special feature called an ice catcher. An ice catcher usually looks like a pinched point on the device's main chamber, between the water and the mouthpiece.
Filled with ice, your next bong rip is exponentially smoother and cooler than without. While it's not necessary to use the ice catcher every time, it does improve the inhale.
Just like with water, fill the ice catcher with ice through the mouthpiece. The cubes will need to be small enough to fit into the mouthpiece but large enough to 'catch' in the trap. Break apart if necessary.
3. Prepare The Bud
Now comes a crucial step in your lesson on how to use a bong the right way: preparing the flower. Getting the grind right is pivotal to guaranteeing a consistent, smooth, and efficient burn.
Grinding with a weed grinder is the best method because these are specially designed tools built to rapidly grind down a nug into a consistent texture. If you don't have a grinder, scissors, fine-chopping, or a few other grinding tricks will work in a pinch.
Whatever tool you use, aim for a fine, fluffy consistency. Remove any stems of seeds you find before packing the bowl.
4. Pack the Bowl Properly
Do you know how to pack a bowl properly? If you don't have time for a full explainer on proper bowl-packing, here are a few quick tips:
- A fine grind is better than a coarse one.
- Fill the bowl and use your fingers to spread it even.
- Tamp the flower down lightly so that it stays in place, but you preserve a bit of loft.
It's imperative to keep air pockets open between the ground weed because this helps with airflow and consistent burn throughout the bowl. If you have packed it too hard, you'll find it difficult to light and fill the chamber.
5. Prepare a Post Inhale Drink
Big bongs translate into big hits. Which means, if you are drawing the entire chamber in with one go, you may need a refreshing drink afterwards. Before you take that first inhale, do yourself a favour and head to the kitchen to grab a cold glass of water.
How To Take A Bong Hit
Although learning how to use a bong seems like a lot of preparation, the set up should only take a few minutes at most. Because bong rips can lean on the harsher side, taking the time to get clean water and fresh ice makes all the difference. But with the set up out of the way, it's time to take a bong hit.
1. Choose Your Weapon (Flame) of Choice
These days, there is more than one way to skin a cat, as they say. While cheap gas station lighters are still the most popular, some smokers want to move away from disposables. This may mean getting a refillable and stylish Zippo lighter or an intense butane torch. Others want to move away from butane and lighter fluid altogether and choose either matches or hemp wicks.
The only elements that you'll want to pay attention to are the precision of the flame and the temperature. Lower burning options (hemp wicks, matches) may be better suited to preserving the volatile cannabinoids and terpenes.
2. Light it Up!
Place your mouth to the mouthpiece and your finger over the carb. Flick the lighter away from the bowl, then slowly move it towards the edge. Remember, precision is essential here.
If you have a smaller, one-hit-wonder, dip the flame over the lip of the bowl as you start to inhale. You'll see the flame get pulled down over and into the flower. Keep the flame going until a bright red cherry forms. You should keep it going by inhaling alone as it burns through the bowl and fills the chamber.
3. Cornering the Bowl
If you have a larger bong, and especially if you are sharing with friends, you'll want to corner the bowl. Cornering aims to burn through only a small section (a corner) of the bowl on each hit. This technique preserves fresh bud for the next in line (or for your next rip). Fresh bud always tastes better than re-hitting the ashes.
4. Keep Inhaling
The longer you inhale, the more smoke percolates through the water to fill the holding chamber. The bigger your lung capacity, the bigger the hit! As soon as you reach the end of your breath, it's okay to take a break. Keep your thumb over the carb, and place your other hand over the mouthpiece. Clear out those lungs, and get ready to the rip.
5. Take a Rip!
Place your mouth back to the mouthpiece, release the carb or choke and inhale. All the smoke from within the chamber will flood into your lungs. Of course, you can take this step as fast or as slow as you want. Some people even pause in the middle (hand over the mouthpiece) before going back for seconds.
If you are unfamiliar with big hits of THC, you may wish to take this step a bit slower than your friends. An enormous rush of THC into your body may not be a fun experience if you are a beginner.
6. Hold Your Breath
A final and often forgotten step when taking a rip from a bong is the hold at the end. It's in the initial few seconds that your lungs absorb all the valuable compounds. If you hold your breath after a big inhale, you give your lungs that much longer to squeeze the last molecules of THC from the smoke.
Tips for the Perfect Bong Rip
- Frequently Change the Bong Water: Nothing is more disgusting than old bong water. After every session, drain the water and let the bong dry out. Old bong water is the ideal environment for dangerous pathogens to take hold.
- Routine Cleaning is Essential: Even if you change the water frequently, bongs need routine cleaning. Resin and smoke particles will cover the inside of the downstem and chamber. With the added moisture, this is the perfect breeding ground for microbes. Keep your lungs safe with deep weekly cleans.
- Less Water Reduces Splash: If you find that water is splashing up through the mouthpiece as you inhale, you likely have too much. Next session, add a little less water to reduce this unpleasant splashback.
- Coughing is Okay! Don't let anyone shame you for coughing. It's a natural bodily reaction you can have from inhaling a big rip of smoke. Plus, coughing is often reported to speed up the onset and make the high more intense. Just have that glass of water ready.
- Rookies Can Take it Slow: Don't let peer pressure fore you into a massive bong rip. It's not uncommon for a beginner to get slammed by an unexpected hit. The beauty of the bong is you can inhale as much or as little as you want. Take it slow, and don't follow anyone's lead but your own.
How to Use a Bong: The Setup and the Inhale
For old time bong rippers, a how-to guide on smoking a bong seems like overkill. But even chronics may not know how to make the smoke smoother and the hit better. Part of the lesson here is properly setting up before taking a big rip. That means taking the time to add clean water and ice, as well as a proper grind.
The other lesson for how to use a bong correctly is a slow and steady hand while lighting. An excellent clean burn delivers a delicious chamber filled with potent smoke. Take your time with this step, and your next session with the bong will be a truly memorable one.