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Tuesday June 22, 2021

By Paul Barach

420 Culture

If there is a new way to take a hit, pot smokers will find it. This is especially the case when it comes to taking some deep, bubbly rips off a bong. While fresh, cold water is the standard for your bong water (or percolation liquid if you want to get all fancy), there are plenty of alternatives available. After all, smoke will travel through pretty much any liquid, so it all comes down to which ones are going to add some welcome flavor or character to your smoking experience. Adding some extra kick, or a different temperature, can make for a more flavorful, smooth, or unique rip than just water alone. 

Many cannabis consumers may imagine that bongs sprang to life sometime in a 1960’s college dorm room. However, water pipes date back to at least the 500s BC, and it’s not like tobacco was the only thing available back then to light up and inhale. Clean water, on the other hand, could be harder to come by. This means that finding a liquid to percolate through besides water could date back just as far.

Cleanliness is Key

Here in the modern-day, there are plenty of alternatives for water in bongs, but before we get into your options, we should note two things:

  1. You should always clean and empty your bong after using it.
  2. If you use sugary liquids instead of water, it is extra important that you do so.

If left out, bong water can become a breeding ground for bacteria, fungi, and other microbes that you don’t want to inhale into your lungs. Besides sugar crystals sticking to your piece like glue, sugars are like microbes’ steroids. No one wants super-charged germs rampaging through your throat or lungs. 


If soccer (or futbol) is the world’s sport, then tea is the world’s drink. Why not make it “high tea” as the British would say? Some of the same terpenes in your smoke like linalool and caryophyllene will be soaking out of that mesh bag. When you boil up some soothing chamomile, spicy chai, or relaxing lavender, you’ll be complementing the flavor of your flower while adding some class to your bong.

A glass of tea
The flavors from the tea and the cannabis combine very well together in order to create a calming sensation. photo credit

Both temperatures have their benefits. Iced tea will give you the same cooling percolation as regular water while adding some extra flavor, and the steam coming off some hot tea can complement the flavor while making that smoke less harsh on your throat. 


If you’re looking for something less flavorful than tea while sticking to that end of the clear liquid spectrum, try making your own infused water. Fill a pitcher with some fresh water, then add some torn-up mint leaves or slices of cucumber and leave it in the fridge overnight. While this does take some forethought, it’s worth it the next day when that smoke is percolating through some refreshing mentholated or cool water. You can also put some sliced ginger in for a little spice, or citrus rinds to add a sweet kick. 

Soda/Sparkling Water

If you’re thinking of cracking open a can of soda and pouring it into your bong, you’re going to want to go with clear over brown. A crisp, lemony Sprite is going to accent the flavors of your smoke, while a thicker Coke or Dr. Pepper will mask them.

Two glasses of sparkling water
The carbonation from sparkling water and soda adds an extra kick to the bong experience. photo credit

If you’re looking for all the bubbly without the sugar, sparkling water is the cleaner option. The carbonated bubbles add texture to the smoke, which can feel crisp as though they’re popping on your tongue. Plus, carbonated water has a much wider flavor profile to choose from.

Fruit Juice

Apple and grape juice will add plenty of sweetness to your pull. They’re light, delicious flavors that will go with any smoke that isn’t too dank or skunky. However, of all the juices, cranberry will give you the best flavor. Its tartness and acidity help to accent the taste of your smoke, and leave less sugar residue in your bong. Whichever juice you choose, be sure to give your rig an extra-thorough rinse afterward to be sure there’s no stickiness left behind.


Wine and weed pair well together, so why not cut out the middleman and combine the two? Out of all the alcohols, wine is going to give you the most flavorful pull. Whether you’re going with red or white, the pairing of flavors will delight your inner sommelier.

Just remember that THC is alcohol soluble, so pick a lower-alcohol vintage so that the THC ends up in your body and not your bong liquid.

If you’re wondering whether to try it with vodka, gin, or any other liquor, it’s really up to you. But beer won’t add to the flavor as much as you think, and hard liquor has that same burn in your throat that comes with a deep whiff of rubbing alcohol. Also, always remember that alcohol and fire don’t mix. 


Freshly fallen powder isn’t just for skiers and snowboarders. If you’ve got some heavy flakes falling in your winter wonderland, head outside with your bong. Pack some loosely into the neck and head back inside to give it a rip (or stay outside if your neighbors are cool with it.) The smoke will cool as it filters through the crystals, giving you an extra-crisp, clean pull. Be sure to repack it regularly. Once the snow gets slushy, the smoke has a harder time finding its way through that icy mess.

The Wrap Up

If hits from the bong are your jam, there’re plenty of alternatives to fresh water to pick from. Whether you’re looking to flavor your smoke with tea, bubbly, wine, or whatever other liquid you desire, just remember to clean out your bong afterward.

What is your favorite alternative to water for your bong? Share your preferred percolators in the comments below!

Photo Credit: Grav (license)


Paul Barach Paul Barach

Paul Barach is a Seattle-based freelance writer, editor, and author with experience creating well-researched, edited web articles covering cannabis news, culture, history and science. Paul is a regular contributor to PotGuide and has also contributed to publications such as, SlabMechanix, Litro, and The Trek. He prefers to spend his free time outdoors and most recently hiked the Pacific Crest Trail. So far he has only fallen into the La Brea Tarpits once. You can follow him on Instagram @BarachOutdoors and stay up to date professionally through his LinkedIn page.

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