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A Beginner's Guide to Using and Setting Up a Bong

Posted: July 20, 2023 | Author: Blog Upload

In this beginner's guide, we'll cover everything from the various types of bongs and how to use a bong. A bong is a vase-like device that filters smoke as it is inhaled through water. The water cools the smoke and provides a smooth and cool hit. Bongs come in many different shapes and sizes, and with many different features that can alter the smoking experience to suit your personal preferences.

Bong smoking is a fast and effective way of smoking your herbs of choice, often effects are felt very quickly. Many users report using less herbs when smoking bongs compared to smoking traditional methods, and did you know that bongs have been used for thousands of years? Evidence suggests that people have been using versions of these devices for the use of smoking herbs and herbal concoctions for things like rituals, ceremonious activities, and recreational purposes.

At ICE Headshop we stock a huge range of high quality bongs at fantastic prices. Discover the best bongs and accessories for your needs and get in touch with us for any more information.

The basics of a bong

There are many different types of bong and ways to use them. With hundreds of different designs and shapes and sizes you really can pick something that matches your needs, whether you want a little "pocket rocket" for your adventures, a behemoth for your living room, an ice bong for a cool smooth hit, or one with a big bowl for consuming plenty of herbal mixes at once.

Most bongs are made up of a few different components. Typically these are:

  • The mouthpiece - This is the part where you place your lips inside and draw the smoke through. Mouthpieces come in many different widths so be sure to choose a bong with a mouthpiece that suits you.
  • Smoke chamber - Often referred to as the 'bong's chamber', this is the part where the smoke collects before you inhale. As you inhale slowly the bong's chamber fills with smoke from bottom to top. The larger the chamber, the more smoke it holds. This means that a larger bong will give you a heavier and bigger bong rip. The smoke chamber also holds the bong water which the smoke is drawn through when you inhale the smoke.
  • Downpipe or bong tube - This is the part that connects the bowl piece (the part which contains your ground herb to get lit) to the chamber and mouthpiece where you gently inhale the smoke. Some down tubes are made of glass, others can be made of metal and sometimes ceramics. Some users prefer certain materials over others. Glass and ceramics remain cooler for longer than metals for example, resulting in a smoother hit for longer.
  • Bowl piece - This sits on the top of the water pipe or bong tube and is where you load your ground herb of choice. Some bowl pieces require a gauze to prevent the ash and waste material dropping into the water. Some bowl pieces double up as a "rush hole", this means they are lifted out to allow air to rush into the bong so that you can inhale the smoke very quickly. Again these can be made of different materials so a bit of experimenting can help to find your preferred bong smoking method.
  • Rush hole - This is the part, found most often on the smoke chamber, which you use a finger or thumb to cover while inhaling to fill the bong chamber with smoke. Some bongs don't have a rush, rather you lift or pull out the bowl (often specifically designed for this) and this allows air into the bong so that you get the full hit at once.
    Many bong designs have extra features such as percolator sections or an ice catcher which hold ice cubes to help cool the smoke further. You have a choice of many creative and elaborate designs with impressive and genius filtration and cooling methods - it really is up to what you want your smoking experience to be like.

Different bong materials

Bongs are made using a number of materials that each have their own pros and cons. Your personal preference in smoking experience and your intended usage will both be a factor in which material best suits you.

For example, if you are looking to travel with your bong, then a silicone or acrylic bong is the way to go as they are more difficult to break than glass or ceramics. If you would like a nice bong to smoke at home or have on display, then a ceramic or glass bong might be preferable for its cooling effects and classy look.

Let us take a look at the main types of bong material:

Glass bongs

Probably the most popular among experienced smokers and collectors alike, glass bongs offer a superior smoking experience with a great look and feel. Glass bongs are easy to clean (when done at regular intervals with proper cleaning tablets or solution) and provide a cool smoking experience. The glass along with the water help maintain a cool smoking experience throughout many bong hits so that you can enjoy a real session without the water getting too warm. Glass bongs also make wonderful mantlepiece decorations or funky shelf pieces.

The downside to glass bongs is the delicate nature of the material sometimes results in damage or breakages. Although often made with strong art-glass and other high quality glass, a drop from a height is not going to be good news for your favourite bong.

Ceramics bongs

A popular material among experienced users and new users alike, ceramic bongs come in wonderful designs and offer a clean smooth bong hit while looking incredible. Due to the heat resistant nature of ceramics, they stay cool for a long time meaning that you get many hits before the water starts to warm.

The downsides of ceramics is that they are breakable, they can be damaged if dropped or knocked so be careful with these beauties. Better suited for the at home collection and a wonderful addition to any living room shelf. Another thing to consider is that, much like other bongs, ceramic bongs also need cleaning. The difficulty is that they aren't transparent like some other materials so it's a good idea to do a thorough job.

Silicone bongs

Silicone is one of the most diverse bong materials as it is easily transported and stored without the worry of damages like you might get with glass or ceramics. Silicone bongs are moulded to classic and new and inventive shapes, big and small, so that you can find something that matches your needs. Silicone versions come in many colours, look great and have a very usable and comfortable feel to them - highly recommended for those that move around a lot or have a clumsy tendency.

However, silicone doesn't have the same cooling properties as a glass or ceramic bong, but it makes up for it with a great feel and durability.

Acrylic bongs

A classic and hardy bong material, every experienced bong smoker will have smoked from and enjoyed a quality acrylic bong. Acrylic bongs are easy to take apart, clean and use. They come in any colour and shape imaginable and are pretty hardy, so you won't break one very easily. You will certainly be able to find an acrylic bong that suits your smoking style.

Acrylic bongs don't have many cons, the only thing is that they don't remain as cool as a glass or ceramic bong because the material is more easily heated. All this means is that a water change every now and again will help keep it cool. Remember, many bongs come with an ice catcher where you can place ice cubes to cool the smoke.

How to choose the right bong

If you're thinking about starting smoking a bong then there are a few things that you should consider before making your first purchase.

Bong smoking is different to smoking a cigarette and it can be intense at first and requires some practice. Starting with a smaller bong that holds less herbs is a great way to begin. As you start getting used to bong smoking you might want to get a slightly bigger bong as your tolerance will become higher and your capacity for the amount of smoke will grow.

Small bongs are perfect for starting out as they are easy to get used to, discreet and easily stored away. Bigger bongs mean more smoke in a condensed form, so take it easy and start smaller. 15-25cm is a good size to try out; there are smaller ones if you don't feel too confident and big behemoths if you do.

We don't recommend complicated bongs or things like dab rigs and vaporisers for beginners. This is only because they take a lot of delicate and difficult preparation. A traditional bong is very straightforward and they work brilliantly.

You can also think about the design that you would like, you can choose from materials like silicone, glass, plastic and ceramics as well as shape, colour and size. Take time to browse our bong shop so you can find a product that suits your individual requirements.

How to set up your bong

Once you've chosen the right one for you, you need to set it up and know how to use a bong.

As you set up your bong, you should ensure that you have all of the necessary components otherwise your smoking experience may be difficult. As mentioned, there are a few key components of a bong. While most bongs come ready to use, some require additional purchases like a bowl piece or bong tube so be sure to double-check before making a purchase.

Once you are sure that you have a complete bong you can prepare it for its first use:

Step 1 - Check your bong

Take your bong and have a good look at it. Does it have a down-tube and bowl piece? Does it have a rush-hole? Take note of where your rush hole is as you will have to cover it to begin creaming the bong.

If you don't have a down-tube or bowl piece then it's time to get to our online store, we offer fast and discreet delivery as well as discounts on multi-buys, points and free delivery for orders over £35.

Step 2 - Fill your bong with water

Now you have a complete bong that is almost ready to use. Be sure to fill the bong with fresh water. The water acts as your filtration and cooling component. Without this your bong is going to be very dry and harsh to smoke and most likely an unpleasant experience.

Step 3 - Load the bowl piece

Once you're happy that you have all of the components, that there is water in your bong and you are ready for a hit, now is the time to load the bowl piece with the herbs of your choice. Begin with a small hit and try to not compress the herb or overload the bowl piece as this will make it difficult to smoke. Loosely pack it.

Step 4 - Inhale

A common practice here is to take a few deep breaths before exhaling all of the air in your lungs, covering the rush hole (if your bong has one) and putting your lips to the mouthpiece. When your lips have created a tight seal inside the mouthpiece, you can light the bowl piece and begin to gently inhale. This part of bong smoking is often referred to as "creaming" the bong. You will notice the chamber start to fill with smoke - keep going - the idea is to fill the chamber to the top. Remember to hold your bong firmly.

Step 5 - Release the rush hole

Once your chamber is full it is time to release the rush hole and take a big deep breath into your lungs. This can be quite intense and often on the first few attempts makes you cough or feel breathless. Don't worry though as you will soon be accustomed to taking a hit on your bong.

What is important to remember is that bongs take some maintenance. It is important to clean your bong, change the bong water as well as check the bong over for damages (unless it's silicone or plastic which are difficult to damage).

Make sure that you check that the downpipe and bowl piece are inserted correctly to ensure you get the best smoking experience.

Tips for a smooth bong experience

Once you know how to use a bong, it's likely you'll want to aim for a smooth bong hit. Here we have a few top tips to share with you:

Purchase a quality bong

There are many bongs out there and the materials and durability can vary drastically, meaning not all bongs are going to have the quality you're looking for. At ICE Headshop we only stock the best bongs available today, so go ahead and browse many high quality options all in one place.

Keep your bong clean

Cleaning your bong properly and changing your bong water regularly is essential. If your bong is covered in sticky resin and has ash and other herb matter in the water it is not going to be as good an experience as it can be. Regular cleaning and water changes ensure you get a smooth hit with every blast. It is also good bong etiquette to keep it clean if you plan on sharing. Always check the water chamber, the downpipe, the mouthpiece, and every different element that makes up your bong.

Choose a glass, ceramic or ice bong

Both ceramic and glass bongs are great at keeping the water cool for longer. These heat resistant materials are ideal for bong users that get plenty of continuous use because they don't warm very quickly keeping your smoke smoother for longer. If your bong has an ice catcher section then definitely pop a few cubes in there. The ice cools the smoke and gives you a very unique smoking experience.

Clear your bong

Bong users will tell you its best when you get all of the smoke in one single hit. Once you have hit it, if you have failed to clear all of the smoke, the remaining smoke can become stale smoke and much more harsh than the initial hit would have been. You can avoid this by loading the appropriate amount into the bowl.

Use quality herbs

Whether you smoke tobacco, weed or other herbal blends it is a good idea to use a trusted and quality product. Herbs like tobacco and cannabis when not cured properly can be more damaging to your lungs and difficult to smoke. Also knowing the strength of your herb of choice is a good idea as bongs can pack quite a punch. Start with a little hit and build up to your preferred dose.

Take controlled hits

Don't rush smoking your bong, it is an enjoyable and relaxing process. Start by slowly creaming up the smoke. If you need to take a breath or let some air out, cover the bong with your hand and give a big exhale.

Bong maintenance and care

If you are looking to get into smoking bongs then maintenance and care is going to be an integral part of your bong experience as it keeps things smoking well and tasting great.

Keep it clean

We have already spoken about keeping a clean bong for longevity and smoothness of your bong hit. We have bong cleaner at our online store that is worth purchasing when you get your bong to keep it in top condition. Cleaning maintains a good taste, smooth hit and improves the longevity of your bong.

Store it away

Once you have cleaned and used your bong it can be difficult to know what to do next. Store your bong back on its shelf or in a cupboard somewhere essentially out of reach. Spilt bong-water will always smell unpleasant and it can be difficult to get out of carpets, sofas, trousers and other fabrics.


It is normal, if you don't regularly clean your bong to get blockages in the downpipe. This is usually a buildup of resin from the smoke. Don't start ramming things down the delicate downpipe or other bong tubes - there are many simple methods for cleaning downpipes using bong cleaner or household ingredients like vinegar, alcohol, citrus and salts.

Damages or cracks

There are many changeable parts of a bong and it is relatively cheap and simple to get replacements. Downpipes, bowls and even rubber washers can break or get damaged so it is handy to be able to find these components in our online store.

Glass bongs that get cracked will probably need professional restoration as glass is difficult to repair. Ceramic and acrylic bongs can be difficult to repair too, so look after your bong and store it somewhere safe.

Bong accessories

You can enhance your bong experience with many different accessories and attachments, you can find all manner of things from giant bowls, extra long tubes to ash catchers and percolator attachments.

When starting out with a bong we recommend to keep it simple while you are getting used to it and slowly customise your favourite bong as time goes on to suit your smoking ability and style.

We stock lots of universal size replacements as well as modifications for particular brands or style of bong, and have everything you could need.

Advanced smoking equipment

There are more advanced smoking apparatus for experienced users, things like dab rigs and vaporisers.

Dab rigs are used by advanced smokers for the consumption of concentrates like THC concentrate, CBD concentrate and other extracts and concentrates. Often the effects work almost instantaneously and the products used in dab rigs are very potent and not for first timers.

Vaporisers use an electronically powered heating chamber that vaporises herbs very quickly at high temperatures. Some look like bongs or bags and others are handheld devices much like a vape cigarette. Again the effects from vaporisers can be felt very quickly and be quite powerful.

Shop bongs with ICE Headshop

If you are ready to start your bong journey, get to our online store where we stock top brands and our favourite high quality bongs. Our expert team is available 24/7 to help with any queries you have about any of our products and can guide you toward the right product for you. Don't hesitate to visit our store or get in touch with us today.