How much water to put in a bong for the best hit
If you’ve just bought your first ever bong, it’s probably a pretty exciting time in your life! Bongs, or water pipes, are an absolute favourite smoking method around the world and have been for centuries. Whether used for ceremonial use in times gone, medicinally, or for fun with friends, Weed Republic loves the good old bong!
Although they’re nothing new, the complexity of modern bongs, like this scientific double perc ice bong by Glasscity, can leave users guessing as to how to actually use them properly. Perhaps most pressing of their concerns relates to the water itself.
Newbies to the herb are often unsure how much water should go into a bong and who could blame them?! It’s not like we learned about this stuff in primary school and not all of us took part in more illicit extra-curricular activities!
With all that in mind, WeedRepublic has produced this article to show you exactly how much water to put in a bong. By the end of it, you’ll be a veritable expert on the correct bong water level. We’ll be covering the following:
- Why bong water is so important.
- How to actually fill a bong with water.
- How much water to actually use.
- Why the water level actually matters.
- If you should ever consider using an alternative to water.
After all that, we’re confident you’ll know how much water to put in your bong and a whole lot more besides. Introductions out of the way, let’s begin this deep dive into all things bong water - eww!
Why is Bong Water so Important?
Smoke, being the product of combustion, is naturally hot. Hot smoke burns! It burns your throat and it burns your lungs. It will also probably make you cough, which is certainly not part of the perfect smoking experience. Small hand pipes, with only a short distance between the bowl and the smoker, lacking any additional cooling features, are infamously harsh on the lungs.
Bongs, by contrast, provide a much smoother hit. The water in a bong acts to cool the smoke before it reaches the lungs. This smoother hit makes for bigger rips.
When using a bong, the smoker inhales from the mouthpiece, causing the pressure in the chamber to drop. This pressure drop drags smoke from the burning bowl along the pipe and through the water. It then travels up the chamber to an increasingly happy user.
Bong manufacturers have really started to get creative in recent years. Whereas once a simple downpipe would distribute smoke into the water, today there is all manner of different systems that increase the efficiency of this centuries-old smoke cooling technique.
- Multiple chambers - Kind of like a double bong. A second pipe will lead smoke through water in a second chamber.
- Diffuser - Slits at the end of a downstem to break smoke up before it enters the water. They dramatically increase smoke cooling. Dankstop, for example, sells a range of its own no-nonsense diffusers at reasonable prices.
- Percolator - Percolators are used to break smoke up again before it enters the water and reaches the user. They will divide two distinct chambers and will incorporate a second water filter. Percolators come in many different styles. These include tree perks, like UPC’s Percolator Beaker Bong, and honeycomb perc, as seen on this triple-disc percolator bong by Black Leaf.
How to Actually Fill a Bong
Filling a bong with water is straightforward enough. However, with many of the more modern glass pieces that might have percolators or multiple chambers, it might be a little trickier.
With a straight tube or beaker bong, like this 18” Genie, first, remove the bowl and/or downpipe (if you can). Then slowly pour water into the chamber to the required right level (more on this momentarily).
When filling a percolator or multiple chamber bong, things aren’t as simple. You may need to help the water through the system to reach the lower chambers. This isn’t a herculean task though. Just slowly rotate the bong side to side slightly being careful not to spill any water from the pipe or strike hole.
If this doesn’t work, form a seal with your mouth around the mouthpiece (like you’re hitting the bong) and exhale slowly. This should force the water through the percolator system and into the lower chambers.
How Much Water Should I Use?
There is no set amount of water to use in a bong. We can’t tell you to use 250ml as we might in an edibles recipe!
How much water you need to put in a bong will depend on the size of it. You want enough so that it provides complete smoke filtration but not so much that the water splashes your mouth from the bubbling or it becomes a challenge to take a hit.
When filling your bong, make sure to do it slowly and take test tokes along the way to check your levels. Once you get to the point that the entire end of the downpipe (and any diffuser) is submerged with no water hitting your lips or going into your mouth (gross!) and you’ve checked it pulls nicely, you’re ready to smoke. Stick your bowl back on, load up some bud, and enjoy!
If you’re using a percolator of any form, the advice is similar. You want to make sure every one of the tiny holes in it is submerged in at least a small amount of water when the piece is positioned at the angle required to smoke. This will create the cleanest possible hit from your water pipe.
Again, make sure you don’t use so much water that you get splashed in the mouth when smoking. Also, check that there isn’t so much that it causes a lot of drag when hitting the water bong. Once you’ve got your water level sorted, you’re ready to load that thing up!
A Note About Ice Bongs
In the interest of an even smoother hit, some ingenious bong manufacturer years ago decided to add what’s sometimes called an ice trap or ice pinch to their bongs. On such bongs, the straight tube leading up to the mouthpiece will have a section where it narrows.
The point is to load the ice via the mouthpiece after you put the water in. However, we all know that ice melts. You should take this into account when deciding how much water to put in your bong.
If you’re using a lot of ice, use a touch less water. It’s important to still make sure you use enough water to cover the downpipe and any diffuser slits fully. The layer of ice should help stop any annoying splashbacks later in the session when the bong water is less than fresh!
Thanks to the obvious cooling effect of ice on the smoke, it’s ok to use a little less water. If using a traditional downpipe, you still want the entire submerged end underwater. With a multi-percolator system, like Zob’s Rasta Circ Perc, however, you can get away with a few bits of the system being out of the water at first. The melt will top it up anyway since ice getting blasted with smoke doesn’t last long!
Why Does Water Level Matter?
Bongs have been designed to provide a creamy smooth hit when filled correctly. If you don’t use enough water, you will find that some of the smoke you inhale will be hotter than usual. This means it’ll be harsh and you might find it unpleasant. Just add a splash more and back to it!
Overfilled bongs can cause a poor user experience too. Rather than giving a rough hit, they can be difficult to smoke for a number of reasons. Firstly, the volume of water can provide too much resistance, making it more of a chore than a pleasure to take.
Secondly, the bubbling water can splash up so high as to splash the bowl from underneath. Getting the bowl wet will mean whatever buds you had loaded up need drying out before you can put them to use. You’ll also need to make sure the bowl is bone dry before starting again.
Other issues can arise from using too much water in the bong as well. If you have a toke or strike hole that’s particularly low down, water might spill out of it when you tilt the bong back for use.
Finally, and definitely the worst thing of all about overfilling a bong, is you end up with bong water in your mouth. Granted, it’s likely freshwater (since you probably just refilled it) but we still don’t recommend getting a mouthful of bong water ever!
Can I Use Another Liquid Instead of Water in my Bong?
There really is no better liquid to use in a bong than water. With water being abundant, cheap, and the best, why would you want to use anything else?
Novice smokers might think it’s a good idea to experiment with other liquids though. WeedRepublic can tell you categorically that’s not.
One suggestion we constantly hear is what if you use some form of alcohol in place of water. People often mistakenly believe it will get them more stoned, or drunk and stoned, or something else. In fact, it will get you less stoned, unless you’re prepared to actually drink the “bong vodka” or “bong beer” or whatever it is!
THC and the other important cannabinoids responsible for that oh-so-sweet buzz and host of medicinal effects are actually alcohol soluble. This means that as they travel through the booze in the smoke, some will bind with the alcohol and not reach the smoker. The end hit they feel will be noticeably weaker.
The same is also true about fats too. Using milk in a bong instead of water will produce exactly the same outcome. Your hit will be weaker and you won’t end up as stoned!
Meanwhile, sugary drinks might seem harmless since they have neither fat nor alcohol content. Whilst they won’t necessarily be detrimental to the smoking experience, do you really want a load of fizzy pop sloshing around in your prized piece? Water is the correct thing to put in a bong so make sure you keep it traditional.
Filing Your Bong with Water Really Isn’t Rocket Science!
Gauging how much water to put in a bong might seem daunting to the absolute novice smoker. However, once you’ve done it once, maybe made a mess of it a few times, and realised that it’s really not that big a deal, you’ll wonder what all the fuss was about.
The important things to remember as you put water in the bong is to use enough water that it entirely covers all smoke outlets. In a traditional water pipe design, this might just be a single downpipe. In a more outlandish percolator design, like this frankly epic showerhead perc from Tsunami Glass, it could be many different components of the system.
Of course, you can overfill it too. It’s best to give your water bong a good few hard tokes before you start using it with the real herb. Make sure that no splashes reach either your mouth or the bowl and that it feels like it’ll hit well. Then, load that thing up!
Written by Megan Medeiros (BA)
Megan Medeiros has a bachelor’s degree in English and is currently working on a master’s in English at James Madison University. She's the owner and operator of Medeiros Writing, and has been working as a cannabis writer for the past three years, mostly following the legal climate of marijuana, especially in areas like California, Colorado, Oregon, Canada, and other legal areas.
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