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After years of resisting the suggestions and endorsements of friends, you've finally given in, and for the first time, tried a bong. And, like 99% of all bong newcomers, your first reaction is probably something like, "Why did I wait so long?" Welcome to the 21st Century and the wild, wonderful world of bongs. This brave new world is evolving almost daily, from the device itself to accompanying new techniques and terminology. Now that you've decided to take the plunge into BongWorld, you'll quickly realize that your knowledge of the subject is woefully lacking, so (as any smart consumer should know) it's time to do some homework to best determine which bong is best suited for your purposes. Luckily, we can provide you with the basic fundamentals, providing you with a better starting point before you make a purchase.

What IS a Bong?

Simply put, a bong is a device/tool used during the consumption of cannabis that's designed specifically to lessen (or 'cool') the harshness of smoke prior to being inhaled into the lungs. The bong's internal construction (one or more liquid-filled chambers) is responsible for the procedure, and depending on the design of the bong (of which there are many), the chamber(s) can even provide additional cooling by creating a continuous circulation of smoke.

How To Use a Bong

Although bong design can vary widely, the fundamental 'how-to-use' guidelines are fairly basic, regardless of the design. Once the bowl is filled, apply a lighter or match to the contents while inhaling. Once sufficiently lit, remove the fire source and inhale as deeply as you can. Tip for new bong users: As you're no doubt accustomed to, and perhaps subconsciously anticipating 'old way' harshness, it's not unusual to feel as if you're not receiving as much smoke as you expected. Not to worry. The 'cooler' smoke can be very deceptive. Just give it a few minutes....Trust us.

The Bong Versus Other Methods

Whether your preferred delivery method is via blunt, bong, bowl, paper or vaporizer, it's entirely up to the individual. While a lot of 'old school' practitioners remain committed and loyal to the classic 'joint' or standard bowl, there are no rules. Both of these methods are significantly harsher (as is the blunt, although its slower burn isn't extremely so), while a bong provides a much smoother experience. On the other hand, the vaporizer's cleaner, lighter experience is totally unique from the other methods. Again, it's all a matter of personal preference.

What is a Perc (or 'perk')?

In simple terms, 'Perc' is a cute little abbreviation for percolator, which is the 'bubbling' process created in a container when water (or most liquids) passes through it. In this instance, the 'container' refers to the internal chamber(s) of a bong. Percs can vary in design (14 different types are offered at Grasscity, an online smoking accessory/headshop). Perc types can range from the most basic to ornately-designed glass creations. Perc lingo includes such terms as 'circ', 'honeycomb' and 'tree', but they all perform the same function; disassembling the smoke, filtering the smoke through water and delivering a smoother, less harsh 'hit' to the user.

The Bowl

Perhaps the most indispensable part of a bong is the bowl, the container that's filled with cannabis in preparation for smoking. Their are slight variations in bowl design (standard and concentrate, for example), but they serve the same purpose. The bowl is connected to the downstem, which leads to the perc, where the smoke 'bubbles' before it travels up the stem and into its recipient's lungs.

What is a Downstem?

The downstem is a glass tube of varying lengths that attaches to the bong's base and connects to the primary chamber. Although most downstems are relatively uncomplicated, serving a rudimental (yet essential) purpose, some are outfitted with a series of small slits which give the bong an extra additional stage of percolation.

What in an Ice Notch?

An ice notch (or ice catch) is a specialized feature that gives the user the option of using ice in their bong. The ice notch is generally located close to the bowl, just above the uppermost perc chamber. Many bongs with multiple perc chambers also utilize an ice catch to provide an added element of cooling to the experience.

Is Ice Recommended When Using a Bong?

Just as in determining which particular cannabis delivery method best suits a specific individual, the question of whether or not to use ice in your bong is purely a matter of personal preference. Some users will invariably find that using a bong is still too harsh for their tastes, and while adding ice will definitely produce less harshness, it comes with a trade-off; some users discover that ice-cooled smoke also produces an unpleasant 'dry' sensation. Experimentation is the best method in determining whether or not the 'ice' approach is for you.

Does Filtering Cannabis Through Water Make Using a Bong Healthier?

Despite the general perception, cooling and minimizing harshness are the only effects resulting from filtering cannabis smoke through a water bong. Those features certainly make for a more pleasant smoking experience, but otherwise the benefits (other than needing less cannabis to achieve your purpose .... always a good thing), are once again, primarily a personal preference issue. To the best of our considerable knowledge -- and extensive trial and error research -- the only reliable method that genuinely filters cannabis smoke is by using a vaporizer, but that's an entirely different topic for another day.

So now (hopefully) you have some idea of the basic workings of the bong, or at least enough that you should be able to 'appear' to know what you're talking about when you walk into your local smoke shop. In future articles we'll dig deeper into such mysterious-sounding terms such as 'genders,' 'whacky glass' and 'nails,' but for the moment, just focus on the basic fundamentals that we've presented, and if you should have any questions that haven't been addressed, please don't hesitate to ask.
After years of resisting the suggestions and endorsements of friends, you've finally given in, and for the first time, tried a bong. And, like 99% of all bong newcomers, your first reaction is probably something like, "Why did I wait so long?" Welcome to the 21st Century and the wild, wonderful world of bongs. This brave new world is evolving almost daily, from the device itself to accompanying new techniques and terminology. Now that you've decided to take the plunge into BongWorld, you'll quickly realize that your knowledge of the subject is woefully lacking, so (as any smart consumer should know) it's time to do some homework to best determine which bong is best suited for your purposes. Luckily, we can provide you with the basic fundamentals, providing you with a better starting point before you make a purchase.

What IS a Bong?

Simply put, a bong is a device/tool used during the consumption of cannabis that's designed specifically to lessen (or 'cool') the harshness of smoke prior to being inhaled into the lungs. The bong's internal construction (one or more liquid-filled chambers) is responsible for the procedure, and depending on the design of the bong (of which there are many), the chamber(s) can even provide additional cooling by creating a continuous circulation of smoke.

How To Use a Bong

Although bong design can vary widely, the fundamental 'how-to-use' guidelines are fairly basic, regardless of the design. Once the bowl is filled, apply a lighter or match to the contents while inhaling. Once sufficiently lit, remove the fire source and inhale as deeply as you can. Tip for new bong users: As you're no doubt accustomed to, and perhaps subconsciously anticipating 'old way' harshness, it's not unusual to feel as if you're not receiving as much smoke as you expected. Not to worry. The 'cooler' smoke can be very deceptive. Just give it a few minutes....Trust us.

The Bong Versus Other Methods

Whether your preferred delivery method is via blunt, bong, bowl, paper or vaporizer, it's entirely up to the individual. While a lot of 'old school' practitioners remain committed and loyal to the classic 'joint' or standard bowl, there are no rules. Both of these methods are significantly harsher (as is the blunt, although its slower burn isn't extremely so), while a bong provides a much smoother experience. On the other hand, the vaporizer's cleaner, lighter experience is totally unique from the other methods. Again, it's all a matter of personal preference.

What is a Perc (or 'perk')?

In simple terms, 'Perc' is a cute little abbreviation for percolator, which is the 'bubbling' process created in a container when water (or most liquids) passes through it. In this instance, the 'container' refers to the internal chamber(s) of a bong. Percs can vary in design (14 different types are offered at Grasscity, an online smoking accessory/headshop). Perc types can range from the most basic to ornately-designed glass creations. Perc lingo includes such terms as 'circ', 'honeycomb' and 'tree', but they all perform the same function; disassembling the smoke, filtering the smoke through water and delivering a smoother, less harsh 'hit' to the user.

The Bowl

Perhaps the most indispensable part of a bong is the bowl, the container that's filled with cannabis in preparation for smoking. Their are slight variations in bowl design (standard and concentrate, for example), but they serve the same purpose. The bowl is connected to the downstem, which leads to the perc, where the smoke 'bubbles' before it travels up the stem and into its recipient's lungs.

What is a Downstem?

The downstem is a glass tube of varying lengths that attaches to the bong's base and connects to the primary chamber. Although most downstems are relatively uncomplicated, serving a rudimental (yet essential) purpose, some are outfitted with a series of small slits which give the bong an extra additional stage of percolation.

What in an Ice Notch?

An ice notch (or ice catch) is a specialized feature that gives the user the option of using ice in their bong. The ice notch is generally located close to the bowl, just above the uppermost perc chamber. Many bongs with multiple perc chambers also utilize an ice catch to provide an added element of cooling to the experience.

Is Ice Recommended When Using a Bong?

Just as in determining which particular cannabis delivery method best suits a specific individual, the question of whether or not to use ice in your bong is purely a matter of personal preference. Some users will invariably find that using a bong is still too harsh for their tastes, and while adding ice will definitely produce less harshness, it comes with a trade-off; some users discover that ice-cooled smoke also produces an unpleasant 'dry' sensation. Experimentation is the best method in determining whether or not the 'ice' approach is for you.

Does Filtering Cannabis Through Water Make Using a Bong Healthier?

Despite the general perception, cooling and minimizing harshness are the only effects resulting from filtering cannabis smoke through a water bong. Those features certainly make for a more pleasant smoking experience, but otherwise the benefits (other than needing less cannabis to achieve your purpose .... always a good thing), are once again, primarily a personal preference issue. To the best of our considerable knowledge -- and extensive trial and error research -- the only reliable method that genuinely filters cannabis smoke is by using a vaporizer, but that's an entirely different topic for another day.

So now (hopefully) you have some idea of the basic workings of the bong, or at least enough that you should be able to 'appear' to know what you're talking about when you walk into your local smoke shop. In future articles we'll dig deeper into such mysterious-sounding terms such as 'genders,' 'whacky glass' and 'nails,' but for the moment, just focus on the basic fundamentals that we've presented, and if you should have any questions that haven't been addressed, please don't hesitate to ask.

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