What is in My Bong Water?
Published on 2/26/21
There is perhaps no piece of paraphernalia or cannabis accessory more associated with the marijuana subculture than the bong. From ancient civilizations to 2020, through multiple waves of criminalization, stoners have been inseparable from bongs of all shapes and sizes. So what makes the water bong so popular and how do they actually work? What about all the urban legends about drinking bong water getting you extra high? In this piece, we'll cover the ins and outs of weed's most mysterious cauldron and answer any and all questions about bong water alternatives and water pipe mysteries.
How Does a Bong Work?
First, let's get to the basics of what a bong is and how it works. Like any pipe, a bong's main purpose is to safely burn your weed, concentrate the smoke, and allow you to easily inhale the combusted cannabis. Instead of a spoon pipe or a Sherlock, bongs use a removable bowl piece and chamber of water to cool and filter the smoke as it travels from the bud to your lungs. So if you've been wondering "what is bong water?" now you know, it's the water that goes in your bong!
In addition to a removable bowl and a chamber for water, all have a downstem that connects to the bowl and stays partially submerged in the water. When you inhale, the smoke travels directly through the water to create a smoother, lower temperature hit and filter out tar, loose bud and other unwanted particles before the smoke enters your body. Because cannabinoids and terpenes are not water-soluble, the good stuff stays in the smoke, while the excess resin is left behind in the water and on the walls of your piece.
When you remove the bowl and continue to inhale, a rush of air clears the chamber, pushing any lingering smoke out of the bong and into your lungs. If your water pipe has a carb like a traditional pipe, you have a bubbler, not a bong. However, the rest of the filtration mechanics are the same.
What Is Left Over in Your Bong Water After Smoking?
Because bong water filters your smoke, it should come as no surprise that the H2O in your piece will quickly get dirty. So what makes bong water so dirty? Whether you typically smoke out of a pipe, bong, joint or blunt, you've probably noticed thick, viscous, black resin build up in your bowl. Sure, that gooey black muck still has some THC left in it and can help you scrape by in a pinch, but if you're using a bong, that gross resin will filter into the water chamber.
Similar to cigarettes, smoking cannabis creates a lot of tar. And while that tar is far less carcinogenic than the nicotine and additives found in a pack of Marlboros, it still isn't something you want to inhale.
In addition to resin and tar, any loose bits of weed or ash (scooby snacks) that you suck through a pipe will no longer leave a terrible taste in your mouth. Instead, those stray leftovers stay in the water, where they will aid in the discoloration and dirtying of your water.
And as you will quickly notice once your bong water does get dirty, the cleanliness of the water has a huge influence on the smoking experience. While new, cold, crisp water will help you taste all your weed's terps, a bong full of weeks old water will have every strain tasting like, well, weeks old bong water. Not to mention, leaving bong water to sit for extended periods of time will cause mold and other fungi to grow, and you definitely don't want to be inhaling that. So is it bad to leave water in your bong? Yes! It is best to change your bong water every single day, but some dedicated water pipe smokers and dabbers change their water after every session.
Bong Water Uses and Myths
With all of that info about dirty bong water fresh in your mind, let's dispel some common myths about your weed's filter water. First, let's start with the most widespread rumor with the most obvious answer; no, drinking dirty bong water will not get you higher. As we mentioned earlier, THC and other cannabinoids do not break down and infuse in water, no matter how much potent smoke has passed through it. Besides, didn't you read about the mold and fungus in the last section?
Next, let's look at watering your house plants with your used bong water. After all, bong water is just water with added plant material, right? That must be perfect to help your plants thrive. Wrong. In addition to the high bacterial and mold contents that can harm your plants, old bong water is typically acidic and will eventually kill your plants. Bong water only has one use and it is to filter your weed smoke and nothing else. Don't pour bong water in plants!
What about filling your bong with booze? Will hitting a bong filtered with vodka or tequila make your smoke stronger? The answer to this one is a little more complicated. Sure, you might get a little more loopy than normal, but that's not because you're getting stoned off superweed. Alcohol fumes are incredibly toxic, and when you stick your face into a bong full of hooch and inhale as hard as possible, you are rapidly filling your lungs with poison.
Bong Water Alternatives
Just because you can't fill your bong with rum - let us repeat ourselves for clarity, absolutely do not fill your bong with alcohol - doesn't mean that water is your only option for water pipe filtration.
If you've already taste-tested tap, bottled and distilled water but still want to shake up your bong experience, you can safely substitute sparkling water in bong for an added jolt of carbonation to your smoking experience. For even more flavor, grab some juice for cranberry bong water or even fill your water chamber with slushie, but make sure you're careful. It will take a hefty amount of elbow grease to get soda or juice stains out of your glass piece.
Do you have a favorite type of water substitute for your bong? Let us know in the comments below!