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image of how to use a bong; Photo by Grav on Unsplash
Smoking a bong is a personal preference, but one with a few excellent benefits. By smoking through a basic water filtration system, the hit is not only smoother but also cleaner than smoking with papers or traditional pipes. No one knows for certain how long the bong has been around, but various historians guess that its invention came somewhere between 800-600 years ago in Africa and Asia.

The bong hasn’t changed too much from then to now. Today they come in a wide variety of shapes, colors, and sizes. No matter how old or oddly shaped your bong is, I’m going to tell you what you need to know to smoke with it. Let’s take this in baby steps.

Before we get started, it’s important to understand the anatomy of your bong. If you don’t know which end is what, you won’t be able to follow our instructions! So let’s dive right in and get to know the parts of this water pipe.


This is the opening at the top of your bong. You will want to put your lips inside of it, not wrap your whole mouth around it. Do not eat the bong, smoke the bong.


The tube extending down from the mouthpiece is known as the chamber. This is where water and ice descend during setup and where smoke will ascend as you smoke.


The chamber opens up into the base. This is where the water will sit.


From the base protrudes a small tube known as the stem. The stem that resides inside of the bowl is called the downstem. At the top of this tube is our next part.


The bowl is a small cup that sits on the stem outside of the bong. This bowl is packed with cannabis. It’s best if you use one with an ash catcher or screen for less waste and a cleaner hit.

image of a man smoking a bong; demonstrating how to use a bong properly; Photo by Grav on Unsplash

What you need to smoke a bong:

  • Bud of cannabis
  • Lighter, hemp wick or matches
  • Bong (water pipe)
  • Grinder
  • Water – Preferably water free of chlorine and other chemical additives
  • Ice cubes (optional)


  1. Clean your bong. Even if it’s straight from the store, a little suds never hurt anybody. If you think a dirty bong isn’t a big deal, think again! In 2017, a man was admitted to the hospital with necrotizing pneumonia. The bacteria responsible for his illness was found in his bong!
  2. Check for cracks, chips, or any other damage that might ruin your smoking session.
  3. Get it wet. Fill the bong’s base with water, an inch above the downstem (the tube that sticks down into the bowl).
  4. With just the water in the bong, suck air in through the mouthpiece to test your water level. If you did it right, your inhalations should make the bong water appear to be boiling. If there are no bubbles or not enough, add more water. If the water is splashing you in the mouth, remove some.
  5. (Optional) For a cooler hit, add 6-8 ice cubes through the mouthpiece into the chamber of the bong. If your ice cubes don’t fit, water them down a little. Don’t worry if they are stuck in the neck, that’s where they should be! The pinched area at the base of the chamber is called an ice pinch, specifically for this purpose.
  6. Make sure your ash catcher and screen are in place and ready to go. You don’t want the burning material to fall into the water and ruin your experience.
  7. Remove any seeds, stems, or leaves from your bud. They can make the cannabis taste unpleasant. Grind up the flowers or break it into small pieces with your fingers. Some people like to incorporate dry, safe herbs like peppermint or basil for flavor. Others use a mixture of cannabis and tobacco.
  8. Pack the largest pieces of herb into the bowl first, then add the rest. The bowl is located at the top of the stem on the side of a bong’s base.
  9. Wet your gullet. Take a sip or two of water. This might seem like a stupid step, but when your mouth is hydrated, you will be less likely to cough. A dry throat will easily be irritated by smoke. So give some attention to your body first.
  10. Open a window and sit down in a comfortable place away from flammable material. Practice a few belly breaths to get your lungs ready.
  11. Light the herb with a lighter or match, creating a small circular motion with the flame to heat and ignite evenly. As you light it, draw air through the mouthpiece. It’s important that you pull air while lighting the herb to ignite it properly and create smoke in the chamber.
  12. Clear the chamber by removing the bowl from the stem to open up air flow. Inhale the smoke inside of the bong to take your hit.
  13. Enjoy!
  14. Clean your bong with a solution of salt and rubbing alcohol to remove the resin and disinfect it.

Things to Remember

  • Smoke should be flowing up the chamber in a visible cloud. If this is not your result, adjust your bowl and check that your herb is ignited. You should have at least half the bowl loaded up for personal use. If smoking with friends, the entire bowl should be packed.
  • If it’s your first time, fill your lungs less than halfway when you inhale a hit. You can always take in more as you become used to it, but it’s better to take it slow.
  • Never hold a hit in. Always inhale and exhale right away. You will not get a stronger dose of THC by holding it in, only more tar sticking to your lungs.
  • Never exhale into the bong. This will force water up the stem and soak your herbs, destroying your precious cannabis.

Contact us if you have any other questions.


“Effects of Water Filtration on Marijuana Smoke.” MAPS, 1993,
“How to Properly Smoke from a Bong.” Grasscity Magazine, 13 Dec. 2018,
“How to Use a Bong.” Weedmaps, 27 Apr. 2020,

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