The Bong Manual – How to Use a Bong

Which one is right for you? Well, it all comes down to your personal preference.

When it comes to consuming cannabis, most people start with smoking. However, all that joint-rolling can get tiring and some consumers prefer using alternative methods. If you’re looking for an easier way to get the effects of your product, it’s time to embrace the bong. Smoking with a bong cools the smoke for the cleanest, healthiest, smoothest experience you can get.

Bongs can be a little intimidating; they look complicated, but they’re actually pretty simple to use. They are also, let’s face it, beautiful! Water bongs come in all shapes and sizes, in glass, ceramic or plastic.

If you’ve been wondering how they work and how to use them, here is a quick guide.


Bong parts

Let’s start with an overview of the parts that make up your bong.

Mouthpiece: Like the name suggests, this is the place where you put your mouth. It’s an opening at the end of the tube, and it’s important to remember that when you inhale, you want to place your lips inside (not over) the hole. Purse your lips like you’re going in for a kiss and gently force them into the hole so that the outside of your lips forms an airtight seal (the more airtight, the less smoke will leak out).

Chamber: This is the main tube or “neck” where the smoke accumulates before it’s inhaled. Two things are necessary to smoke a bong: filling the chamber with smoke, and quickly inhaling it through the mouthpiece.

Bowl (or slide): This is where you insert your smoking material.

Downstem: This small tube connects the water sitting at the bottom of the bong to the bowl. It might be notched at the bottom or just be a simple tube. The smoke moves through the downstem and into the water; the water should always be higher than the downstem.

Step 1: Prep the Bong

Fill the bong with water until it just covers the downstem (aim for ½-1” above the downstem). The water temperature is a personal preference; some like it cold, hot or room temperature. Don’t put in too much water or you’ll have to work very hard to inhale.

If you want, you can add an ice cube into the chamber of the bong to cool the smoke even further. Always make sure to remove the downstem before adding the ice so it doesn’t break.

Now, test it out. With an empty bowl and just the water, inhale from the mouthpiece for a test drag. If you inhale any water, pour some out; your bong is too full.


Step 2: Pack the Bowl

Remove the bowl before packing. Remove any ash or debris that could be blocking the airflow to the downstem. A good test is to blow into the bowl and see if you can feel air coming through the other side. If nothing is flowing, you need to clean it out well to restore optimal airflow.

Break up your smoking material. Remove any seeds, stems or leaves from your smoking material, as they will compromise the purity of your smoke. The same applies if you use a grinder: remove any stems, seeds or leaves before giving it a quick, coarse grinding. Avoid grinding it too finely; you want to aim for your smoking material to be about the size of big crumbs.

Loosely pack the bowl, and don’t overfill it (the smoke will float out of the bowl instead of into the downstem). Since airflow is of the utmost importance, make sure you don’t pack your bowl too tightly. Next, insert the bowl into the downstem of the bong (no need to shove it in there, just make it snug).

Step 3: Take a Hit

Using your non-dominant hand, hold the bong securely by the neck. Careful: keep the bong on a flat surface, especially if you’re a beginner, so avoid dropping it (you’d be surprised how often bongs fall and break during use).

Purse your lips and insert them inside the mouthpiece to form a seal. Bong Etiquette 101 dictates that you should wipe your mouth first and never put your mouth around the outside of the mouthpiece.

To start, simultaneously light the smoking material in the bowl (using a lighter or match) and inhale so that you pull the flame toward the material, creating smoke.Once the material in the bowl has caught (it should start glowing), remove the flame–but keep inhaling. Inhale so long as you have breath. You want to stop while you still have a quick, big breath left in your lungs.

Now it’s time to take a big, deep, and fast breath while removing the bowl, so that fresh air flows in and pushes the smoke into your lungs. Exhale immediately (retaining the smoke won’t make a difference in the effects).

Step 4: Finish up

When you are done, clear out any remaining smoke by gently blowing into the downstem until all the smoke flows out of the mouthpiece. Most people prefer a smoke-free bong (leftover smoke can be stale and unpleasant).

If you drooled on the mouthpiece and planned on sharing the bong, give it a good clean before passing it on.


We hope this little guide has encouraged you to discover the joys of smoking a bong as an alternative to smoking.

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