Consider this your beginner’s introduction to Smoking Bongs and Pipes. Not a novice? Read on, and you may learn something too. The two main types of glass devices used for Smoking Cannabis will be discussed below. Following that, I will look at a couple of non-glass varieties less frequently used. This post is directed at Medicinal Cannabis users who are hoping to overcome some initial anxiety around using a new tool.
It’s All In The Name
One last thing before we get into the details here. Most stoners I know have a tradition of naming their smoking devices (but not all). If you are smoking someone else glass, ask them if it has one. If you buy one yourself, it needs a name. Do not rush this process, however. I would say smoke the device at least a few times and wait for a name to lodge itself into your brain. You’ll know when it’s the right one.
A pipe will usually have a ‘choke’ or extra air-intake that is covered while burning the cannabis and filling the internal chamber, then released as you inhale the majority of the smoke into one’s mouth then lungs. This involves lighting the cannabis, slowly sucking the smoke into one’s mouth, then releasing the ‘choke’ and breathing in. I would advise a very slow inhale, kind of like sucking a liquid slowly up a straw to fill it up, then releasing the choke and inhaling what has filled up the chamber (like filling up a straw, pulling it out of the liquid, then sucking up the rest.
I always use a filter with my pipes (and bong bowls). This prevents cannabis from entering the chamber and making the whole thing get dirty much faster. Also, it reduces accidental inhaling of Cannabis pieces. These come in several forms and types; I hope to review them individually in a future post! If you buy a pipe or bong, ask the store clerk if they can throw in some filters for you to try. Usually, they will gladly supply you some samples, so you come back and buy more (as they do need replacing over time).
Bongs range from small to huge, and the inside chamber and size of the bowl vary from product to product. Bongs are sometimes called water bongs or bubblers. Many bongs have a percolator that is submerged in water when the main chamber with H2O. The size and quality of this perculator, which breaks up the smoke as it passed through the water, is essential. The water is intended to filter out particles in the Cannabis smoke to make it smoother. And it sure does have its effect. The second and separate component of a bong is the stem, which has a bowl on one end and the stem opening on the other. When I refer to ‘stem’ I am describing this entire piece, I will say bowl when I want to talk about that part specifically.
Some bongs have a ‘catcher’ inside the main tower so that ice can be put inside to cool out the smoke. The chamber has a more narrow portion that the ice will not fall through. Both of these processes help make the smoke more smooth and less rough. As the ice melts the chamber of the bong will acquire extra water, so you will need to pour out some excess from time to time. The ice does help ease up the effects on your throat. I would not buy a bong without an ice-catcher.
Want A Bowl?
The bowl is the portion of the bong that cannabis is put into. It is connected to a stem which is inserted into the opening of the main bong portion. The bowl is lit and burned while inhaling from the main opening of the bong. This causes the internal chamber to fill up. Once the cannabis is all burned or the smoker is sufficiently happy with the amount of smoke inside, the stem is pulled out (literally). This action creates an open airway (similar to removing your finger on the pipe choke). At this point one inhales all the smoke inside the chamber (if possible) as fresh air rushes in.
Can You See Inside?
Be wary of non-transparent bongs. If you cannot see the smoke as it enters the chamber, it makes it harder to know when to pull the stem out. If you use a product like this, just pull out the quickly (or as soon as you taste the cannabis smoke in your mouth). Without seeing how much smoke is inside the chamber, it can be hard to determine when the pull the bowl out (without taking a hit way too big for your tolerance). Remember, if you are being pressured to smoke beyond what you are comfortable with, politely but sternly decline and explain that you have a lower tolerance and they should respect that. Start small but use as much effort as needed to ensure they get the idea, walk away if you have must.
Size Does Matter
The bowl size matters, along with how full it is. The easiest way to avoid smoking too much is limiting the amount in the bowl. Instead of filling it up completely and passing it around a group, just fill it up a little. (or ask your stoner buddy to do it, I am sure they would love to make it easier for you). Noone wants giant coughing fit (while some friends may pressure this, just like those idiot friends who push alcohol shots onto others). If there is only a little cannabis in the bowl, you can burn it all up while filling the chamber, then inhale without worrying. Remember, you don’t have to take a shot, just ask for a sip.
Bongs Get Real Dirty
A Clean bong or pipe will be smoother than a dirty one (I’ll get into cleaning these and the smell issue another day). Proper maintenance and cleaning will help the bong hit stay more smooth and increase the lifespan of the bong. The stem and bowl may get replaced from time to time, but the main chamber of the bong can last indefinitely if cared for well.
Them Big Bong Hits
Generally there is more potential for overconsuming cannabis (especially in short periods of time) with pipes and bongs. But with anything and everything, how much we consume and how fast are the more important factors. Start slow, stay within your tolerance. Tell your friends to shut up if they are pressuring you, just like you would do if they asked you to do alcohol shots when you know you cannot tolerate that quantity and pace of alcohol intake.
Keep a cold beverage nearby when you are Smoking Bongs and Pipes. Coughing is normal but can be minimized through proper dosing. The best way to do this is by limiting the amount of Cannabis in the bowl (of the bong or the pipe). You can’t inhale too much if there isn’t enough Marijuana in the bowl to do. Cleaning is vital and should be done often. I tend to clean the bowl and stem more often than the main chamber (cleaning the bowl seems to help slow down the buildup in the chamber).
Smoking bongs and pipes can be an efective and quick way to consume Cannabis. If you plan on taking your glassware outside the house, buy a good case to carry it in. Glass products are not always cheap, but paying for a good quality one can pay off in the years of use possible. The important variables (based on your needs) are the size of the chamber, the presence of an ice-catcher, the type of perculator, and the diameter of the stem.
Just Right For You
The bowl and stem that came with your bong may not be right for you (but buy a product that has the right chamber for you first and foremost). After that, you can buy a new stem. Look around for other products that may have larger or smaller bowl sizes and stem lengths (Just made sure it is the correct type and diameter for your bong). Which one will suit you is something that will come from experience.
I hope you have learned a thing or two about Smoking Bongs and Pipes, becoming a more informed consumer. As with all Cannabis Smoking, start slow and don’t be afraid to say ‘no!’