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Friday August 27, 2021

By Paul Barach


For many who are new to weed, there’s a big difference between knowing what a bong is and how one works. There’s no need to be embarrassed about that. Bongs can be a little complicated at first, and not everyone has an experienced friend to walk them through their first bubbly rip of liquid-cooled smoke. 

However, bongs are a snap once someone walks you through them and are a fun part of the cannabis experience. The percolation sounds cool, the hit is deep, potent, and tastes great. 

If you’re curious about taking your first bong toke and don’t have a friend or loved one who can show you the ropes, PotGuide is here with some tips and tricks for how to smoke a bong.

Parts of a Bong:

First off, let's go over some basic bong terminology to get familiar with. 

An infographic showing the parts of a bong: Mouthpiece, Neck, Water Chamber, Downstem, Bowl, Carp.


This is the hole in the top that you will inhale the smoke through (it shouldn’t need to be said, but just in case: you put your lips inside the mouthpiece and not around it). This is also where you pour your water into to fill most bongs. 

Neck/Water Chamber

The neck of the bong is the circular tube that extends from the mouthpiece down to the chamber, which is where the water sits and where the bubbles happen.


This thin tube with a rubber or plastic collar is angled into the chamber pointing towards the bottom. You slide your bowl into the downstem when you’re drawing smoke into the chamber and slide it back out to take your hit


This is what you pack your weed into. It will have a bowl on one end that’s connected to a thin tube. The tube is what slides in and out of the downstem. 


Some bongs - especially plastic ones - will have a small hole near the top of the rounded base. This is the carb, which you cover with your finger to control the amount of air you’re pulling along with the smoke. If you’re smoking from a glass piece, it probably doesn’t have one. 

You will also need: Some marijuana (obviously), a grinder, and a lighter.

How To Smoke A Bong

Follow along for a step-by-step walkthrough of how to use a bong. And don’t be worried if it takes a few tries to get comfortable with the process. Learning is part of the fun!

Step One: Fill your bong

Fill a pitcher with clean, cool water and pour it carefully through the mouthpiece into the water chamber. You can also just run it under your faucet as long as the bong fits in your sink.

A bong showing how high to fill your bong with water
There should be just enough water to where your downstem is slightly submerged.

Ideally, the water in the chamber should be sitting just above the bottom third of the downstem. If it’s too high, the water can travel up your downstem, soaking your weed. If this is happening, or the water is splashing into your mouth when you draw, pour out some of the water. 

Step Two: Load the bowl

Take your marijuana and grind it up. Grinding your weed will give it more surface area to burn, a better pull, and the bowl will burn more evenly. If you don’t have a grinder, just try to break up your flower the best you can before packing it in. Putting whole buds into the bowl can restrict the airflow. 

Fill the bowl to the rim and gently tamp it down with either your finger or the base of your lighter. Don’t pack it too tightly. This can also restrict your airflow, making it harder to pull. (If it’s just you partaking, use your judgment on the amount of flower you pack). Finally, slide your packed bowl into the downstem. If you find that you’re having trouble pulling through your bowl, tap out your flower and repack it.

Step Three: Light it up and draw

Flick your lighter and apply the flame to a corner of the flower in your bowl. Put your lips to the mouthpiece and inhale in one smooth, steady pull (it should take a little effort). This will draw the smoke from the lit bowl through the downstem. The smoke will then bubble through the water, filling the chamber and neck. Don’t pull too hard. You could either suck your flower through the downstem, or get some bong water splashing into your mouth. Trust us, you do not want bong water in your mouth. 

Someone lighting up a bong and smoking out of it
The moment you have been waiting for, the bong rip!

If your bong has a carb in the water chamber, cover it with your finger while you’re inhaling. Otherwise, you’ll be drawing in too much air and not enough smoke.  

Step Four: Let ‘er rip (Inhale)

If your lungs are full from drawing the smoke, take a quick exhalation. If you’ve got lung capacity to spare, either take your finger off the carb cap or slide the bowl out of the downstem. Then breath deep. The smoke will clear quickly from the bong and into your lungs in one big cloud so get ready. A good method is to go slow and light on your first couple of attempts to make sure you’re not taking in more than you’re comfortable with. Hold your hit for a moment, and exhale.

Step Five: Pour It Out

Pour out your bong water when you’re finished and leave it tipped up to dry. If you leave bong water sitting out, it can become a breeding ground for bacteria and other germs. Plus, it’ll start to smell and no one needs that. 

The Wrap Up

Bongs are one of the most pleasant ways to smoke marijuana and should be tried at least once by any cannabis consumer. While they may seem complicated to the uninitiated, as long as you follow our simple tips and tricks, you’ll be pulling deep, bubbly rips in no time. Then you can be the experienced friend that other novices come to.

Does smoking a bong get you higher?

Technically, water from your bong will trap a negligible amount of THC in it. However, it’s such a small portion that you’re unlikely to be able to tell. Bongs allow the user to take larger tokes more smoothly, and in doing so, get more THC into their lungs at a time, which can in turn potentially get someone higher quicker. However, the real determining factor of how high you get from your experience will be determined by how much cannabis is consumed. 

Can you smoke a bong without water?

You can smoke a bong without water, though it is likely to be less smooth if you do. Without water, the bong will still operate like a large pipe. Be careful though, because, without the cooling effect of the water, those big rips will still be relatively hot. You can also use things other than water to fill your bong.

Do you have to change bong water every time?

It’s a good practice to change your bong water after every session of use. You don’t need to dump it out in between bowls or hits (unless you really want to), but leaving the bong with water in it for longer periods of time will increase the likelihood of contamination.

How much water should I put in a bong?

You want at least enough to cover the bottom end of the downstem by about a third. The exact amount of water will vary depending on the size of the bong being used.

Do you enjoy smoking out of a bong?


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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