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What is a Bong & How Do I Make or Buy One?

For novice smokers and the parents/teachers/cops who aren't happy about their experimenting, there is something intimidating about the first bong you encounter – especially a home made one. Read this guide to make sure you don't look like an idiot.
Beautiful girl smoking cannabis from a bong

Bong! Not just the noise a bell makes, but our favourite way to consume the devil’s lettuce.

Most people initially “puff the magic dragon” through a joint or a spliff, which is cannabis smoked in a piece of rolled up paper, pure or mixed with tobacco (generally either weed or hashish).

However, a bong is a much better method. Smoother, stronger, cleaner.

For novice smokers and the parents/teachers/cops who aren’t happy about their experimenting, there is something intimidating about the first bong you encounter – especially a home made one. When confronted with a scorched smelly object filled with dirty water and containing multiple holes, it’s perfectly acceptable to ask yourself questions like “What does a bong do?”, “How does a bong work?” and “Is this thing dangerous” or even “Does this mean my child is going to be a teenage parent on welfare?”

(spoiler alert: the answer to the final one is “probably”. Nah, we’re joking! They’ll be fine.) (Probably).

What Is A Bong?

Simply speaking, a bong is type of pipe. It’s used for smoking substances from.

Like all pipes, it works by combining a bowl to burn the substance you’re smoking, and a pipe to inhale the smoke through.

Where a bong differs from a pipe is through the inclusion of water, and sometimes even ice or other materials (depending on its construction). This creates a much more pleasant smoking experience, as the water cools the smoke down, making it easier to inhale. This is a great option for those who don’t like the hot burning sensation of smoking a joint or pipe, or those who don’t like smoking tobacco.

What Types of Bong are there?

There are a wide range of bongs out there, from dodgy homemade contraptions to ones that cost over $1000.

Glass Bong

A glass bong is simply a bong made of glass! These ones tend to be nice, and easier to clean than plastic (which is important – they can get filthy). Downsides are that they can easily break and you absolute DO NOT WANT filthy bong water on your nice rug.

Gravity Bong / Bucket Bong

A gravity bong is not for beginners. This is one where you create a reverse vacuum with a body of water (usually a bucket, but I’ve seen hilarious idiots do it using the sea, a river or a sink). You suck the smoke into a receptacle (usually a two liter soda bottle which you gradually remove from the body of water to suck the burning smoke inside). Then you consume the smoke from the receptacle, which gravity slams down your lungs in a way that will make you cough, splutter and often feel crap for the next 15-30 minutes. After that you’ll be so high that you may hallucinate; it’s so intense that it’s almost like you’ve taken a different substance to cannabis. Again: not for beginners.

Apple Bong

Apple bongs are lovely. They’re really simple and appeal to us because we’re massive hippies at heart. All you do is get an apple and make a little tunnel passage into the core of it using a stick or a pen. Then you make another hole which joins up with that one from a right angle. Put a little bit of gauze (or even just a pinch of tobacco) at the top of the hole, and put your cannabis on top. Light and inhale through the other hole. I’ve seen people use the same method to dig a little hole and make an “earth bong”, which is obviously hilarious.  

Which Bong Should I Get?

Personally speaking, I swear by one called The Didge, which I bought online from an Australian bong shop (can’t remember which one) while I was on tour with my band on the West Coast of the USA in 2013. Recreational weed had just been legalised in California and the band we were touring alongside were big smokers, so they led me by the hand through the brave new world of knowing what weed you were actually getting. I’d smoked bongs for years, but smoking actual good weed through bongs was my first step toward becoming a connoisseur. A good bong enables you to taste the pure weed terpenes, flavonoids and cannabinoids without the harshness of paper, tobacco or hot smoke. To finish the story, while I was still on tour I got me Aussie Sheila (AKA “my partner”, just to not annoy the modern people) to buy it online so it’d be there for post-tour recovery when I got home.

If you’re starting out, get one about the size of a small jug. It should only set you back about $30 and will let you figure things out before you go dropping a triple figure spend on the Rolls Royce of smoking technology.

Cannabis: To Bong or To Vape?  

This is truly a matter of personal preference. A vape is far softer and less harsh, which is also the reason why a lot of people don’t like them – they’re purists of the sweet leaf, and want to feel it and taste it in its entirety.

If you’re brand new to the game, and don’t like cigarettes or smoking in general, or find that it hurts your throat – get a vape. It’s a great way to start, and takes away the most commonly unpleasant elements of smoking. If you’re a veteran of the bong wars, get yourself a vape. It’s a fun way to try, and look – let’s be honest – it’s funny AF to walk around the city smoking weed with impunity.

What about a Gatorade Bong?  

We’ve witnessed people swear blind that smoking cannabis through a bong filled with gatorade is the ultimate way to smoke. This is 100% wrong and very very silly – it comes from a misunderstanding where people assume that a “gatorade bong” is one which contains the sticky sugar drink itself, rather than what it truly is: a bong made from a gatorade bottle. Just the same as a bucket bong.

Ganja DIY: How To Make A Bong

Making a bong is super easy. Here’s all you need to make one – the instructions also explain how a bong works.

  • plastic bottle (thick plastic like a gatorade one is best)
  • pen (or other hollow cylinder to be used as a pipe)
  • bowl (it should be metal or clay, something that won’t burn or melt)
  • blutack and/or tape (to seal the gaps)
  • lighter (to make the holes by melting the bottle and poking something through)

1. Grab your bottle. Between roughly 1/3 to 1/2 of the way up, make a hole in it with your pen. If you have a screwdriver available, that’s a great way to do this – just make sure it’s not wider than your pen, or else your pen won’t be flush with the hole. The bigger the bottle, the lower the pen hole. The way to decide where it goes is to fill your bottle between 1/4 and 1/3 of the way up with water, and then make the hole above that so that when your pen is stuck through at a steep downwards angle, it will almost touch the bottom of the bottle. This ensures that your smoke will be as cool and smooth as possible – the more water it goes through, the smoother the smoke.

2. When the hole is made, take your pen and remove everything except the plastic outer tube. Stick it through the side of the bottle at a steep angle. Use tape and blutack to make sure it’s at a nice, secure, airtight, upwards angle.

3. Next you want to affix your bowl to the pipe. Honestly, it’s ten times easier to do this with a purpose made bowl from any variety of pipe, but if that’s not available, you can make one from clay, tinfoil* (not recommended) or any other malleable substance that won’t burn. Use blutack or tape to ensure the bowl is as airtight as possible to the pipe, just as you did to make the pipe airtight to the bottle.

*N.B. – it’s not smart to smoke through tin or aluminum, as it contains particles that can cause serious respiratory problems. There is also research linking aluminium to Alzheimer’s. If you can’t find or create a bowl, make an apple bong instead – or even use an apple for your bowl!       

4. Finally, you need a filter to place your cannabis on, which goes in the bowl you just made. Same concept applies as the apple bong above – use either a bought pipe filter gauze from a smoke shop, or else just use a pinch of tobacco. Put that in or on top of the bowl at the end of your pipe, and put your cannabis on it.

5. Success! Use a lighter or a match to ignite the cannabis and inhale from the mouth of the bottle at the same time.  

6. Optional add-on – make a shotty. This allows air to enter after you’ve ignited the solid cannabis into cannabis smoke, giving you a bigger more satisfying hit. To do this, hold your bong as you would in order to ignite and inhale from it. Under where your thumb or index finger naturally rests while holding the bong to inhale it, make a small circular hole about half a centimetre wide that can easily be made airtight by holding your finger/thumb over it. As you inhale, keep your finger over it. When the cannabis in your bowl has all burnt up and entered the bong, remove your finger and inhale the smoke.  

Where Can I Buy A Bong?

If you don’t want to make one, nowadays it’s real easy to buy them. Places like Melbourne, Sydney or Perth will have a Smoke Dreams or Off Ya Tree where you can find a range of them, so just do a Google search for “bong shop near me”.

There are heaps of places to buy them online. We’ve encountered a whole range of places to buy bongs online in Australia – everything from Ozbongs, The Bong Shop and Oz Smoke to Bongs Online, Smoke Shop or Online Smoke. None of these guys are paying us to list them here, we’ve got nothing to do with them.

As ever, do your research and read reviews – it’s the best way to know what you’re getting.

In the meantime, bong on!  

Have any questions or comments about bongs? Experiences good or bad with the bong shops mentioned? Your own method for creating a home bong which invokes astral wisdom? Let us know with a comment below!

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