* MAKE AND TOKE YOUR OWN BONGS! *
BY TONY MARX
==> A guide for everyone on the art of making bongs, from the
simple to the sublime.
==> Remember, there's more to marijuana than just smoking pot.
Why Bongs? / The Bong Concept
Making a bong is very simple, because the concept of a bong is
simple. When you toke, you are bubbling the smoke through water
before inhaling it. This text phile will take you through various
aspects of bongs and bong-making. I hope you will find it valuable
and I hope it inspires you to make your own bongs.
The reason for using a bong is mostly for health reasons, though
people love using bongs for many more reasons. The active part of
marijuana, THC, is *not* water-soluble, so you will not lose any
of your high by hitting a bong instead of a joint or pipe. The
water does filter out many of the impurities (the resinous tar),
thus saving your lungs from inhaling crud. Very hot water will
remove the most impurities, and very cold water will cool the
smoke for a smoother hit.
The anatomy of a conventional bong is *very* simple. It consists
of a bowl (with a screen), a stem, a chamber, some liquid, and an
opening for the mouth.
| | <==="mouthpiece"
/ / / chamber===> | |
| | \ / <===bowl
"carb"===> O | //
water level ===> |^^^^^|// <===stem
The crude diagram above shows a generic bong. All you need for a
simple bong is a platic pop bottle (12-ounce or larger
recommended), some kind of stem (a metal tube, plastic tubing, or
whatever), and a bowl (use aluminum foil if you can't find
anything else). I suggest investing in a tube of silicone--it's
the best sealant for plastic, and satisfactory for metal-plastic
After you've constructed the bong and let the sealant cure, don't
forget to drill (knife) a 1/4" hole for the carb (short for
"carburetor", I guess). Water fills the container and stem just up
to the carb . The water level should really be at least an inch
below the carb so that when the bong is tilted the water won't
leak. The job of the carb is to regulate where the air will be
supplied from. If covered, the air (smoke) will come from the
burning weed; if uncovered, air will be pulled in through the carb
to force out the standing smoke from the chamber.
Do a "water test" before you pack a bowl. Pull a lungful through
the bong with the carb covered. If you get an biting, chemical
flavor, then you haven't let the silicone cure long enough--it's
toxic to inhale until it's fully cured--then it's harmless. The
water test will also let you determine how airtight your bong
Smoking a conventional bong means that you have water in your
bong, you have a packed bowl, and a lighter. Cover the carb with
your thumb and light the bowl and pull air through the bong until
you get a steady bubbling of smoke through the water. When your
lungs start to hurt a little, let go of the carb and gently pull
in the trapped smoke. If your lungs feel fine as you inhale, then
save a little lung space for the trapped smoke--let go of the carb
and pull it in!
Not all bongs work with this method, however. Gravity bongs work
on a different concept, which will be explained later.
Bongs vs. Joints & Pipes
Not everyone uses bongs. New smokers may wonder why anyone bothers
with bongs, and I know plenty of stoners who *prefer* joints to
pipes or bongs.
Those who favor joints will wax romantic about the joys of
rolling, of passing around a fatty, and of super-potent roaches.
While I will not turn down a joint making its way around a room, I
have never rolled one myself. I disdain joints mainly because of
their wastefulness. Consider: While the joint is being passed
around or stalled, it is still burning, losing precious smoke. If
you grow your own buds you can afford to be carefree, but that is
a luxury. Most stoners must pay astronomical street prices for
what is just a WEED.
Bongs have a special advantage. A stoner can control the burning
by using the flat side of a lighter to extinguish the bowl after
taking a hit. The practice of extinguishing the bowl can save a
lot of pot in the long run.
Even those who don't habitually extinguish the bowl will still
save more buds, considering the size of a bowl compared with a
joint. A bowl holds a smaller amount of bud, so the most you can
waste is the quantity a bowl will hold. Stalling a joint, though,
will use up a much larger portion, depending on the size of the
Joints are *much* harsher on your lungs. While some joint-rollers
will use pre-made filters, or a makeshift filter made from a
rolled-up paper, nothing compares with the filtration effect of
water. Ed Rosenthal of _High Times_ has noted that water not only
cools the smoke, but actually removes harmful impurities as well.
Bongs have this advantage over pipes, which, like joints, pass the
unfiltered smoke right into your lungs.
As far as portability goes, bongs can be made in a variety of
sizes. I made myself a portable bong out of a 12-ounce plastic
water bottle. It works fine, though the filtration leaves
something to be desired. Nevertheless, I prefer it over my corn-
cob pipes, which I never use anymore.
Considerations in Bong-Making
When planning a bong, one should aim for specific goals. Should
the bong be portable? Fancy? Colorful? Here's a partial list of
characteristics which give a bong its individual personality:
airtightness/ease of drawing smoke
choice of chamber/tube(s)
I will not discuss every possible characteristic of a bong, but I
will stress that no matter what kind of bong you make, you should
strive for airtightness. When in doubt, just dab and smooth some
silicone around the joints where materials meet and leave gaps. An
airtight bong means that you will not be wasting lung power. This
quality becomes progressively important with more chambers added
to the bong, because there are more possible gaps.
While there's a wide variety of containers and materials you can
use in making a bong, make sure they will be safe. PVC IS OUT! DO
NOT USE ANY TUBES MADE WITH POLYVINYL CHLORIDE BECAUSE THEY LEACH
OUT CARCINOGENIC PARTICLES OVER TIME. When deciding whether to use
a certain kind of plastic or not, the rule of thumb is to make
sure it's safe for food. If it's meant to store food, it's okay.
Otherwise, don't risk it. Plastic tubing is fine. Glass is optimal
because it's inert.
My friend's bong, "The Monster", is made from a 1-liter, heavy-
duty Ehrlenmeyer flask with a two-hole stopper (+ stem & bowl) and
a length of rubber tubing. It's simple, it's airtight, and you can
watch the smoke fill the chamber while your friend is taking a
Metals are fine to use, too. STAY AWAY FROM COPPER BECAUSE IT
LEACHES INTO THE SMOKE. Stems and bowls made from aluminum and
brass are the best. Stay away from any metal which could leach
into the water, and especially stay away from lead (duh).
Clay is great for bongs. The same friend who owns The Monster had
a buddy of his make him a small clay bong. It's only about 6"
high, with a round chamber, a stout neck and a fixed bowl. It
wasn't glazed or fired, but it's airtight and very portable, not
to mention cute as shit.
More water = better filtration & harder pull
Being the health-nut stoner that I am, I have decided that
filtration is the most important charatceristic for my bongs to
have. I figure that I'll be smoking buds all my life, and since I
have asthma I want to be as kind to my lungs as possible.
The best filtrating bong I've ever smoked is my most recent
creation--the triple-chambered bong. Yes, it is smooth as shit--I
blow out huge clouds without feeling any irritation on my lungs.
Do it yourself: use three Mickey's Malt Liquor (wide-mouth)
bottles and some 1/4" clear plastic tubing (hardware store). I
strung my bottles together in series, meaning that the bowl on the
first one is connected to a stem (3/8" plastic tubing) that
plunges down to the bottom. Another hole in the cap lets a second
tube draw the smoke out of the first chamber and channel it to the
bottom of the second bottle. The same thing again--another tube
draws smoke out of the second chamber and pulls it down to the
bottom of the third chamber. A fourth tube is the sipping tube to
inhale the smoke from the third chamber.
The tradeoff is that it is a little harder to pull the smoke
through this bong that through a standard Graphix, especially if
all the bottles are more than half-filled with water. I sealed all
the joints with silicone, so it's surprisingly tight and easy to
pull, given the length of the draw and the weight of the water.
The bonus is that I usually put boiling-hot water in the first
chamber, with iced water in the second and third chambers. Don't
try this with plastic chambers!
If filtration is not that important to you, just make sure the
smoke bubbles up through at least a half-inch of water.
If you like to experiment with bong design like I do, you may try
using different liquids in your bong. Here are some things I've
found: Carbonated liquids (seltzer, pop) really scrub the smoke
well, because of the agitation of the bubbles. Different pop/juice
flavors really don't do anything to the flavor of the smoke. Beer
and hard liquor add excellent flavor to the smoke, but they cost
hit power, since THC is soluble in alcohol. Chloraseptic (throat
spray) will numb your throat as you smoke, eliminating all smoke
irritation on your throat--kinda scary and I wouldn't advise it.
Mouthwash covers the smoky taste with a great mint flavor, but I
don't know what hazards it holds--again, not recommended.
Hot water is excellent for scrubbing the smoke--use boiling water,
if possible. The tradeoff is that the heat of the steam can be
more irritating that the heat of the smoke. At the right
temperature the steam will soothe your throat by humidifying the
smoke. Cold (ice) water is excellent for cooling the smoke and
giving you great big bong hits that you thought impossible with
your tender little lungs.
My first phile was called "The Art of Making Bongs" for good
reason. There is indeed an ART to it, and you should open up your
creativity to your project. Impress yourself, and impress fellow
stoners by using materials that please the eye as much as that
killer skunk weed pleases your state of being. Sure you can make a
quickie portable with a 12=ounce water bottle, but what about your
home/party bong? Take the time to explore garage sales, flea
markets, thrift stores, and basements to find some cool container
that screams "BONG!" The rest is up to you.
I made a hooka (multi-user bong with sipping tubes) out of a brass
"pitcher". I found it at a garage sale for $4. The hinge for the
lid was damaged, but I didn't need the lid anyway, so I threw it
out. I thrust a stem and two thin (3/16") flexible plastic tubes
down the top opening and sealed it up with silicone. I plugged the
spout with silicone, and *voila*--a romantic, two-person hooka
that is interesting to look at.
A couple buddies of mine had a plastic pig's head which was
supposed to be a toy bank. Guess what they did with it.... They
stuck a stem into the pig's mouth and widened the coin slot to
make an excellent bong which has a large chamber for smoke.
|| <===bowl attached to bottlecap
/ / \ <===1=liter (smaller) bottle
/ |^^|^^^^^^^|^^| <=== water level
| | | |
| | | |
| | | | <===2=liter (larger) bottle
| | | |
| | | |
| | | |
| | | |
Gravity bongs work on an entirely different principle than most of
the bongs you'll see in your travels. They are very easy to make,
are hard to fuck up, and give great hits with decent filtration.
The quickest way is to use a 1-liter plastic pop bottle, a 2-liter
plastic pop bottle, and a bowl. Drink or dump the pop, then slice
the neck off the 2-liter and slice the bottom black part off the
1-liter. The 1-liter serves as the "top" which fits inside the
"bottom" part, the 2-liter. Use a knife to carve a hole into the
bottlecap of the 1-liter, and screw in the bowl. (Make sure it's
A gravity bong works by using a vacuum to pull in the smoke. One
you've filled your 2-liter to the top edge with water, and
inserted the 1-liter, THEN screw on the bowl and pack it. Light
the bowl and SLOWLY pull the 1-liter up to create a vacuum that
steadily pulls in the smoke. Make sure you don't pull the 1-liter
all the way out of the water, because that will destroy the vacuum
and you will lose your smoke. When you've pulled up all the way,
unscrew the bottlecap and wrap your lips around the top. Let go
(don't push)--the pressure of the smoke and gravity will pull the
1-liter down, pushing the smoke out and into your lungs.
I still don't know how it works, but there is some filtration
effect with gravity bongs. Try using water with a lot of ice.
Notice that the 2-liter component can be any large body of water--
a pot, a bathtub, a river, a lake....
Clean your screen!
***Quick tip: After finishing a bowl, dump the ashes, then purse
your lips and blow a quick lungful through the bottom of the bowl
to refresh the screen. You can hold the bowl up to the light to
see if it's clean or not. Too many stoners will pack bowl after
bowl without blowing out the screen--after a few bowls your hits
will feel like trying to suck a golf ball through a garden hose.
Scraping Your Bong
After a lot of use your bowl and stem will get caked with resin
(tar). Besides clogging up the bong's works like arteriosclerosis,
the buildup of resin will be partially smoked every time you hit a
bowl. The idea of bongs is to save your lungs from that tar crap,
but if you are desperate for a high and you're out of bud, you can
always smoke that resin after you scrape it out.
When scraping your bowl and stem, you should use a thin, narrow
metal object. The awl attachment on a pocket knife works well.
I've heard of stoners using an unbent coat hanger, although I
prefer a jeweler's screwdriver.
I recommend throwing out the resin, but if you want to smoke it,
it will give a powerful hit, similar to hash. The best thing to do
is to save some leftover ash, then scrape your bowl. The flakes of
resin which come off are very sticky and are hard to roll without
smearing them all over your fingers. Resin smells very strongly,
too, and won't come off your fingers for a few days. If you roll
the resin with the ash, the ash acts as a binder and keeps the
resin from sticking to your fingers excessively. After scraping
the resin onto a smooth, flat surface, roll it with the ash into a
ball. When done, stick it back into the bowl and smoke it.
Lighters come in a variety of shapes and sizes. Ordinary cigarette
lighters are adequate for smoking bud, but they're not the best.
If ordinary lighters are used, it's best to make sure the flame is
at least 1.5" tall. When lighting, the lighter is best held as
vertically as possible, with the flame being sucked over the edge
of the bowl onto the bud. This method avoids singed fingers.
If the flame doesn't get tall enough, here's a trick to really
kick it up: The flame-height slide is really a tiny wrench that
turns a tiny gear. Pull the metal guard so it's wider, then remove
it. Now lift that slide up and out of the gear, then move it to
the left and plop it back down into the gear. Now you can turn the
gear even more to the right for a higher flame.
My lighter of choice is the barbecue lighter. It's red and white
and has a 4-inch square square barrel that extends away from the
trigger. Yes, it's overkill, but it has everything I look for in a
bong lighter: big flame, safe finger position, no flints (it's
piezoelectric), and refillable butane tank.
If you can't find the barbecue lighter, try to find a pipe
lighter. Pipe lighters emit a tall flame at a 90- or 45-degree
angle, making it easier to light a bowl.
If you're using a regular disposable lighter, keep your fingers
safe by holding the bottom with your middle finger and flicking
the roller with your thumb.
Above all else, though, the most important characteristic to look
for in a lighter is reliability. It's depressing to be holding a
packed bong, ready for a hit, and flicking the lighter over and
over without getting a flame.
Wetting the herb
Some time ago a stoner wrote in to _High Times_ that he gets more
smoke (up to three times as much) from his bud when he wets the
I used to be skeptical of this claim, but now I wet the bud
whenever possible. I think it not only makes the bud burn more
efficiently, but it also dampens the harshness of the smoke. Try
your own tests....
this was brought to you by tony marx