Quick Stop Smoke Shop - Bongs: What? Why? How? And the types.

All about bongs: The What, How and Materials used to make them.

Do you know what a bong is?

A bong is known to be one of the oldest smoking device types on earth, followed by the pipe and its many derivations. Although, its true origin hasn’t been stetted, many historians still debate the topic. Most people believe that the bong origin is from Thailand. This following is mainly from the evidence that the word ‘’bong” comes from the word “Baung”, which means- type of smoking device created from bamboo.

Parts of a bong infographic showing mouthpiece, bowl, down stem, chamber, perc or carb.

Parts of a bong and how to use it?

First, you want to know what the parts of a bong are. Most bongs have four parts to them.

  • Mouth piece – the part you place mouth, some will place their lips over instead of inside creating an airtight seal.


  • Bowl-The piece that holds what you’re puffing on. Some culture members are calling it a slide for the simple fact that it does what it is named. It will slide in and out of the down stem as a last step before inhaling the camber’s smoke.


  • Down stem- Small tube which has to touch the water in order to give you that smoke experience and it connects to the bottom of the slide or bowl piece allowing the smoke to start its path through the downstream into the cambers. They are a few kinds of down stems but we suggest always getting one with diffusers cut into the lower bottom of it.


  • Chamber: Where the smoke gathers up waiting to be inhaled. Smoking a water pipe (bong) is a two-part process — fill the camber(s) with smoke, then completely empty all smoke with a deep inhalation and always do a second so, you or your friends don’t get your stale unfinished rip.


And sometimes

  • Carb- usually very small hole on one side of the bong. Most of the time your friends don’t tell you where it’s at so you will have to look for it but typically somewhere around the bond above the water level. Once you find it, you will want to keep it covered while you light up the bowl and release before sucking in the smoke from the bong cambers. But you will not have to worry about this on most of the bongs. You will find it though on wooden or porcelain bongs.


So now that you know the parts of the bong and how they work. It’s time to fill the bong up with water.


You want to remember a Few things when filling your bong up with water…




  • Fill the bong up with water with the down stem in the bong. The water level should be just above the bottom of the hole on the down stem and on the diffused down stem have the water be just above the diffuser holes but never higher that the carb or if you don’t have a carb a good rule of thumb would be one inch and a half in above the end of the downstream that is touching the water first.


  • Water temperature is always personal preference. Some may like it warm and some may want it cold, room temperature or even a mixture with ice. Everyone has their way.


  • Water level is crucial. More water doesn’t end in a better experience. Your lungs are going to have to work a lot harder because when you inhale the Air has to be pulled through the water. So, more water equals more effort and possible water to be inhaled and most of us don’t clean our bongs every single day.



  • A quick way to test the water is to inhale before you pack it. If the bubbles come up to your lips or you get it in your mouth. “Bahahaha!” You’ll want to be conservative of the amount of water you dump out because you don’t want to repeat the process again. Less time to enjoy yourself.


You got it filled you are almost there. Do you see any chambers in the top of your bong or the bong you want? Those are call percolators.


Percolators, perc’s are small Additions in the neck of the bong. These small additions come in different styles: branched like trees, notched tubes, rounded domes, circular discs and many others.


Filling the Perc’s or Percolators Is just as simple as filling the bong base.


  • Fill from the top bong mouth piece on most bongs. However, other bongs can be filled at the same time as filling the base.
  • Fill only till the water is above the lines on the perc’s.


Now that you have your bong filled up and perc’s primed. It’s time to:


  • Pack the bowl- This step is very simple, you want to break up your material into almost fine size pieces. I recommend using a small clog to lightly block off the hole so that your material doesn’t fall to its waste and your buzz kill. Remember you don’t want to pack it to the rim or over the edge as the smoke will drift away and you will need to pack another because you didn’t get the result you were smoking for.
  • Place the bowl into the top of the opening on the down stem: When doing this step you will get best use and function of the down stem and bowl by making sure that the bottom of the bow is snuggly in the top of the down stem. Not too sung though, the down-stem is fragile as well as the bowl and has a high potential of break. Be kind to your glass.
  • Take a rip or two maybe three: Here is what you’ve been waiting for. Hold the bong in your non-dominant hand and dominant hand to hold the neck. The bottom often rests in your or on the edge of a table. Please make sure that your bong is placed securely on top of the table and not on the edge as you could hit it a little too hard and easily break it. If you or a friend or family member you are looking to get a bong has a habit of breaking their or your piece make sure that you get a very thick glass or different material than glass. Such as silicone, wood, plastic. If you can’t find a flat surface and your lab is occupied you can use your stomach to rest it on for the duration of your rip or in-between your legs if the water-pipe is large enough.


Now I hope you have a clear idea of what a bong is and how to use it.

The different types of bong materials


Of all the different types of smoking devices, bongs are the most varied when it comes to shape, size, design and composition. Let’s start with composition, and by this we mean the different types of materials that water bongs can be made out of. Today’s most preferred material by smokers for making bongs is glass. The reason for this is twofold. First, glass tends to provide the best performance, considering a bong is subjected to extreme heat and moisture over and over again. Glass doesn’t warp, bend or crack under these conditions, even after long-term use. Second, glass doesn’t alter the flavor of the herb being smoked as other materials (like wood) do. When you smoke from a glass bong, all you taste is herb.



The only drawback that we can see from a glass bong is that it’s breakable. Users have to be very careful how they handle their device to prevent damaging beyond repair. So to reduce the breakage manufactures typically make the lab quality glass between 3mm and 5mm thick. There are some companies that are making them thicker however that is for the smoker that is willing to invest in that type of specialty glass.




Wooden Bongs


However, other materials used to make bongs that some chifers actually prefer. Wood has already be referenced. The wooden bong is a more traditional  construction material for bongs. Some of the world’s oldest bongs were made from hardwoods such as rosewood, oak, and walnut. Wooden bongs tend to infuse their flavors in your mix. Not a bad thing just a little different.



Bamboo Bongs



Still used in modern times, typically in Thailand. There is tons of bamboo and its very cheap in Thailand. As far as flavor goes, the flavor falls somewhere in-between a glass bong and wood bong. Although the flavor is close it doesn’t produce as clean smoke as glass, but nowhere does it leech the flavor that the wooden bongs release. There is many smokers that love the flavor a bamboo bongs.



Plastic/Acrylic Bongs


Another material commonly used for bongs is Acrylic. The acrylic bongs have a couple distinct advantages over glass bongs.

  • Don’t break
  • Cost a lot less than the glass bong
  • Perfect choice for the smoker with shallow pockets. (Saves money.)
  • Choice starter bong- get the hang of a bong before buying quality.
  • Usually equipped with Metal bowl pieces because the plastic will melt with the flame. If you were to melt the plastic it would create a super harsh flavor and ruin your expectation of the freshly packed bowl.


Sure there are great things about plastic bongs. However, there are also some not so great things about them too. Below are a few to think about when deciding.

  • More of a challenge to clean thoroughly.
  • The plastic will retain other flavors over time changing the flavor of the material you are lighting.
  • After you have had enough practice with using a plastic bong and are ready for something of higher quality. Get it. These plastic ones will need to be replaced more often than glass.


Metal Bongs

So we’ve covered the wood, bamboo, and the plastic bongs. Now for a more popular choice metal bongs. Metal bongs maybe made from aluminum or stainless steel. They look cool and are stylish and artistically appealing. The construction of the metal has its own advantages over glass and plastic:

  • biggest advantage is that it doesn’t break when dropped. Perfect for the no so aware of his/her environment smoker.
  • Cheaper than glass
  • Similar in price to plastic making them excellent choice for the broke smoker.


The disadvantages of metal bongs are they:

  • Alter the flavor of whatever you may be smoking, usually a harsh taste occurs and is a little bit metallic. One of the biggest turn offs for the avid smoker.
  • Being a conductor of heat, it causes your bong to get hot to the touch sometimes. Keep the flame as far away from the bongs body as possible as not to overheat it and end up burning yourself.


Ceramic Bongs

Finally there is the ceramic bong. One of the least used of the smokers today. When talking price and performance they would be compared to a plastic and glass device. They also have their advantages and disadvantages.




  • Cheaper than glass
  • Produce a more desired flavor then using plastic.



  • More expensive than plastic
  • Not as desired as the king of bongs… Glass.
  • Equipped with a ceramic bowl piece and more difficult to heat up and will require a torch for quicker results. Add it to the list.
  • Will break like a glass bong
  • ceramic bowl adds small distasteful flavor



Now that you know the types and how to utilize a bong. We want to share with you a few styles of bongs we know will help you develop a better idea of the kind you want to invest into.

Styles of Bongs and percolators that are put on bongs

Styles of bongs.


There are many categories of bongs these days. Most of them will fall under these types.


Tube- tall, Vertical cylinder shape. One end is closed and the bowl is sticking out of the side of the vertical cylinder shape.


Beaker- Similar to the beaker shaped used by scientist but still retain the tube style bong. The only difference is that the bottom is flared. Performance wise they are basically identical.

Advantage over the tube type is, it’s more stable. Consider whether you are going to share this bong with your clumsy friends.


Round Base- Tube style with a rounded base designed to sit flat on a table. Works just like a tube or beaker bong.


Percolator or bubbler- This type is manufactured in different shapes. How is a percolator and bubbler defined? Percolator is the part inside the dissipates the smoke and sends it through the liquid in the area the smoke gathers creating bubbles. Doing this to the smoke provides extra filtering and dissipation of heat, cooling down the smoke.


And Gravity- harnesses the power of gravity, more specifically a vacuum. This vacuum is created when the liquid leaves an enclosed space. The vacuum then pulls in smoke from the bowl and is then inhaled. There is two types of gravity bongs. One is the “buck” or “waterfall’’ type.


Percolator styles used on bongs.


Dome style- As the name states. Shaped like a dome and has slits or holes at the bottom.


Inline style- Horizontal vertical cylinder with slits or holes.


Sprinkler style- Works just like a sprinkler, same as the one that waters your lawn. Really shoots water and makes lots of small bubbles and produces a very clean rip.


Drum- Looks like a drum-shape and many slits to help cool the smoke temperature.


Tree- This type has tree like arms coming out of it. Diffuses the smoke more. The arms come open or closed bottom, both have slits on the sides of them.


UFO- Why is it called Ufo? Well, mainly there is a small shape that looks like a tiny space ship. This shape functions similar to the showered percolator.


Honeycomb-A disc like shape with many small holes. The whole help break up the smoke.



Showered- You might be able to picture the effect of this one. A vertical tube flared on the bottom and has slits or holes just like a shower head in your bathroom.


Swiss- Has many holes similar to Swiss cheese hence its name. The holes pass all the way through so that smoke temperature is lowered around them. Just a little different than other percolators.


Matrix/stereo matrix- a round puck like shape with matrix lines cut into with many little smoke diffusing holes. When you find a matrix bong with more than one matrix stacked upon one another it’s called a Stereo matrix.


Reit- Two tubes, one incrementally smaller in diameter that the other. Smaller tube fits inside other larger tube. Both have diagonal slits and allows smoke to pass through them diffusing the smoke in both tubes.



Helix-allow the water to spiral up the side of the bong and can be found equipped with two helixes in one bong. This is known as a ‘’double helix’’



Turbine/cyclone- Might remind you of the old tornado in a bottle science experience, except much cooler and grown up. It is designed as a disc with angular slits on the side. Being this way forces water to spin in a tornado inside the bong and is entertaining to watch.



Pheww… So now that you know what a bong is, how to use it the types and some additional information about bongs. You should be fulled equipped with all the information required to help you get the best bong set up for your smoking journey.

Customer's Shared Experience

John I
a month ago-
Great experience and great customer service. I Highly recommend to anyone new to come here. Big shout out to Mike for helping me buy my first water pipe!.

Luis Chavez
2 months ago-
First off, I want to give a big shout out to Russ who is the owner of this shop. I want to thank him for taking the time to help me purchase my first water pipe. Super cool shop that also repairs any kind of broken glass smoke wear. The hospitality, the honesty, and most importantly the passion of Russ is bar none. If you live in the city of Orange, you shouldn’t be going anywhere else. No disrespect to other shops, but this is the only one for me.
Thanks Russ!

5 months ago-
best shop in orange. knowledge behind glass & all the products.

david salsbury
a month ago
Cigars And Vaporing Needs and bongs if you’re Into that sort of thing.

Travis Radcliffe
6 months ago-
Always a great experience. Have never once been let down by Quick Stop! Absolutely friendly, knowledgeable, courteous, and economic. I have been visiting quick stop fornwrll over 15 years now. They arent just the local go to spot, quick stop is family. I will drive in from anywhere just to come here. Hell i came in from Rancho Cucamonga today just to see my favorite shop! Hope everyone comes and experiences what a real family feels like.

Thank you Quick Stop for always being there!