A Bong is a hose-less Hookah or Hubbly Bubbly that is preferred for the smoking of marijuana, hashish or extracts thereof. In the first part of the Bong Academy we concern ourselves with the history, advantages and different construction types of this smoking device. In later articles we will concern ourselves with its accessories and also give some servicing tips.
Bongs – Who invented them?
There are several false assumptions made about its origin. Although its name comes from Thailand from the word ‘Baung’ that means roughly ‘Pipe made of Bamboo’. The hippies brought it back to North America and Europe in the 60’s. However, the Bong was invented in Africa.
The assumption that the Bong comes from South-East Asian island culture and spread from there to Africa and the rest of the world is false. It is based upon the false assumption that Bongs arrived after the introduction of tobacco. The oldest Water pipe discovered so far was found by Archaeologists in Ethiopia and dates back to the 11 century AD. These gourd based pipes showed traces of cannabis use.
It seems that from this point the bong was indeed widely distributed by Asian traders throughout, but the South-East Asians definitely made it into a common household item.
It is at this point that the Hippies enter the story. It is accepted that the Flower Power People came upon these archaic smoking devices during their journeys trying to ‘find themselves’ in South and South-East Asia. The inventor of the modern glass Bong is often regarded to be Bob Snodgrass, a Deadhead (Follower of the ‘Grateful Dead’ a famous hippy band). He along with many others followed the band around the USA while touring. What was different was that he was a glass blower and sold his products from the back of his car, at concerts. He also taught Glassblowing and was still doing so in 2017. When one looks at these pipes they are however anything but modern and useful. These might be called today ‘Holland Bongs’ a somewhat artistic glass vase in which a chillum is inserted. (They smoked pure in those days).
Modern Bongs, as we know them today have been developed in Heidelberg by cannabis smokers that repurposed laboratory glassware. For this reason glass bongs come readily equipped with fine ground friction fitting ‘Standard Ground Joints’. The use of this normative glassware fitting has made it possible to adapt extra devices and to multiply the amount of available accessories to the level we now know today. The Americans first joined up with the concept of a universal glass connector in 2005 as a development of globalisation and American bong production commencing in China. It should be noted that in the USA beautiful, expensive & artistically hand crafted bongs can still find a buyer.
Which advantages does the Bong offer?
A bong cools and filters the smoke that may contain ash, herb or tobacco that might enter the lungs. It will also filter out some of the noxious pollutants in the smoke. It is undisputed that smoking a Hookah is more comfortable than a pipe. This is independent of what one might smoke, Tobacco, scented herbs or marijuana. The reason why a bong is so popular amongst its fans is because of its function. No other smoking device has an effect like a bong. The reason lies in its construction. The bong chamber is similar to the volume of our lungs. This means that with one inhalation the lungs can be filled with the complete contents of the bong.
Bong Types and Materials
Glass is the most popular material from which bongs are manufactured. It enables very precise manufacture, conducts heat inefficiently (which is good) and is taste neutral. Acrylic and Silicon bongs are very good for mobile use as they are light and stable. Bongs from natural materials such as wood or bamboo are not so often used and tend to be for the purists looking for a more natural experience.
Bong type classification:
- Standard Bong
- Percolator and Diffuser Bong, Honeycomb
- Ice Bong
- Holland Bong
- Dabbing Bong
The Standard Bong is the simplest bong without accoutrements. As a tube, bent tube, with belly shaped water reservoir or in the form of a conical flask. These may come with or without a kick-hole.
Percolator Bongs have in the water reservoir an air percolator, this allows bubbles to pass through the liquid which enhances the cooling effect. It also looks nice. Diffusers have the same effect as a percolator except a diffuser is usually attached to the vertical down-pipe of the chillum. Honeycombs are diffusers in the shape of a honeycomb. They are built in single or multi storey form.
Ice Bongs have nodules (indents) in the interior inhalation pipe where ice can be placed to provide additional cooling & flavours.
The Holland Bong (Hollander) is a vase shaped glass bong without the glass fitting. It usually has a plastic pipe into the reservoir. At the other end of the down-pipe is a bowl either from wood or stone, screwed on.
The Bubbler is a small hand-size bong for portability. Ideal for beginners and for those whom a large volume of smoke is not necessary.
The Dabbing Bong is designed for smoking of extracts such as oil, wax or shatter. It has, instead of a bowl for the herb, rather a Pan or Nail. This is heated before the concentrate is smeared upon it and the resulting vapour (not smoke) is inhaled. Dabbing Bongs are clearly smaller than conventional bongs. With Dabbing less vapour is produced than smoke is with conventional smoking bongs.
Besides these bong types are also Mini Bongs, Party Bongs (with several mouthpieces), Suitcase Bongs (in a carrying case) or fully configurable ‘Mix & Match’ Bongs.