If you’re a smoker, you probably know what a bong is. Known more famously as a water pipe, the bong is predominantly used as a filtration device for smokers of dry herbal substances, including cannabis and tobacco.
Unlike regular pipes, using a glass, ceramic, or plastic bong will diffuse the smoke into the water, allowing the filtration process to kick in. They come in various shapes, sizes, and make. Some may look like a piece of glass art more than a filtration device.
Whether a cannabis bong connoisseur or a beginner, here are nineteen awesome facts about bongs that you probably didn’t know about.
1. The first water pipes were made more than 2,400 years ago by our ancestors. In 2015, experts who were excavating a Russian kurgan (fortress, embankment, or high grave) found a pair of gold bongs dating back to around 400BC. These bongs were owned by a fierce nomadic group, the Scythians, who ruled the vast Eurasian territories. The bongs tested positive for both opium and cannabis.
2. The second oldest bong, so far, was discovered in Africa. Eleven pipes with cannabis residue were found in the caves of Ethiopia, dating back from 1100 and 1400 CE — or about 1,500 years after the first primitive bongs owned by the Scythians were believed to have existed.
3. Tobacco entrepreneur Alfred Dunhill surveyed the world to know more about the global use of smoking pipes. In 1924, he published the results of the survey, stating the pervasive use of bongs in the eastern and southern portions of the African continent. The uniquely designed bong was believed to have been invented by the San people of Botswana, Namibia, Angola, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Lesotho, and South Africa.
4. In 1945, Mary Leakey, an archaeologist, discovered a water pipe bong in Tanzania. A tube connects the bowl on top to the water chamber in the bottom, while its mouthpiece is situated on the gourd’s curved neck.
5. Asians were found to have used bongs, too. The term ‘bong’ is said to have come from the Thai word ‘baung.’ It pertains to a wooden tube or pipe with a cylindrical shape that’s usually cut from bamboo.
6. One of China’s most powerful female rulers, Empress Dowager Cixi from the Qing Dynasty, was found to have been buried with three of her most prized bongs. Cannabis is said to come from Central Asia, with the Chinese among its avid users.
7. Since antiquity, humans have made bongs from just about anything, much like the bongs sold at Daily High Club. Vintage ones were made from bamboo and dried gourds. There were bongs made from precious stones and metals, too.
8. The modern-day bong is said to have had its roots from the hookah, which is also a filtration device used in ancient Persia and India. In fact, a bong looks like a smaller and more sophisticated version of the hookah.
9. Most bongs are made from glass. However, there are other emerging materials that make good water pipes, too. Like their primitive counterparts, a bong can be made from ceramic, plastic, acrylic, metal, and wood.
10. Artist and cannabis lover Bob Snodgrass is credited for revolutionizing the way bongs were made. He invented a technique called fuming—coating the inside of the pipe with vaporized silver and other stuff that made glass pipe-making an art. He’s also known as the father of borosilicate, aka ‘hard glass’ pipes and smoke ware.
11. Using a water pipe is believed to help filter away harmful substances, like tar and about 90% of the dangerous substances in tobacco. The water in the bong is also thought to trap cytotoxins that impair the immune system.
12. Don’t let their looks fool you. While some bongs may look complicated, they’re relatively easy to set up and use. Unlike vapes, a water pipe doesn’t require batteries, coil replacement, and other materials in order to work.
13. If you haven’t tried using one, you’ll find that using a bong gives a different experience compared to smoking with a pipe because it’s chamber can hold a greater volume of smoke.
14. Using water piper for the first time? Practice caution in filling the water chamber. Excess water in the device may get into your mouth or soak the herbal substance you’re smoking. When this happens, your smoking experience may be dampened, too.
15. Speaking of a more enjoyable smoking experience, using it will allow you to adjust your smoking preferences. For better flavor and smoothness, you may use tea, cranberry juice, mouthwash, any form of liquor, sports drink, among other options.
16. Unlike vape pens which may be damaging to your lungs, water pipes cool the smoke down, making it easier to inhale. This cooling effect prevents intense heat from burning a smoker’s throat and nasal passages.
17. As proof of stoners’ creativity, some newly-released bongs have ice catchers that allow the smoker to use ice cubes and place them on the bong’s neck. This further cools down the smoke, making for a more pleasant hit.
18. Size matters when it comes to bongs. That being said, beginners should use a smaller pipe, allowing them to manage their hits better. On the other hand, a bong veteran may want to get a bigger one for better intake.
19. Water pipes with more percolators generate a smoother hit compared to bogs that don’t have it. The varying numbers of percolators can impact your smoking experience. For instance, fewer percolators will give you less drag. However, this may also depend on the shape of the device.
Our ancestors definitely knew how to make smoking a more enjoyable experience by making use of bongs in all shapes and sizes. More than having this unique experience, water pipes are also believed to trap dangerous substances and chemicals, making this unhealthy practice less damaging.