The Evolution of Bongs and Water Pipes




In today’s smoking culture, it is very unlikely to find a person who is unaware about the use of a bong or water pipe. A bong or a water pipe is a glass made and water-filled filtration device used in the smoking of cannabis, tobacco, CBD products, or any other herbal substances. These filtration devices are used by smokers to cool and filter smoke before inhalation. Bongs and water pipes come in a variety of designs, shapes and percolators.

In recent times, smokers have favored them because they provide a more comfortable smoke. Moreover, many smokers want to achieve a smoother rip which bongs and water pipes offer. This can be attributed to their structure, smoke is drawn through the water, filtering unwanted carcinogens and ash thus cooling the smoke. Consequently, the smoke is purer than that of a typical smoking pipe or cigarette.

The smoking culture

Smoking culture has evolved from being done in secret to the depiction on the big screens. TV shows and movies are now including activities around smoking bongs in some episodes and scenes which has shone a light on the ever-growing smoking culture. For some parents, these have not been good news. Shows such as “Knocked up”, “Half-baked” and “Silicon Valley” are among those that have incorporated the culture of smoking bongs and water pipes to the enjoyment or envy of others.

The reasons behind the inclusion of such scenes varies from one production company to the next. However, one thing is certain, the culture of smoking bongs and water pipes will grow in leaps and bounds with more dissemination of information. One good example is the “Cooking On High” show in Canada which is the first ever cannabis cooking competition show after the country legalized the recreational use of marijuana

Frankly speaking, watching people consume pot is not as enjoyable as consuming it yourself. In coming years, more people will become more familiar with using bongs and water pipes fuelled by the big screens and TV advertisements that have been becoming way more rampant.

The origin of bongs

The use of bongs and water pipes is not a result of modern culture. On the contrary, the use of bongs emerged years ago from Asia. During the Ming dynasty of the 16th century, there was widespread use of water in smoking devices which were known as the ‘hookah pipes’. As a matter of fact, the bongs resemble these hookah pipes and draw their name from the translation of the Thai word “baung”, another smoking pipe type device. Afterwards, the water pipe became very popular in the Qing dynasty for smoking tobacco. There existed two types of bongs:

  1. The homemade bamboo bong, made and used by country people
  2. The more elegant version used by Chinese merchants, urbanites and nobilities

The use of water pipes was not reserved only to China. In 2013, the excavation of a kurgan in Russia revealed that Scythian tribal chiefs utilized gold bongs to smoke cannabis and opium. This was around 2400 years ago.

There are also those who claim that water pipes were first used in Africa because evidence of earth pipes have been discovered in remote parts of Africa. Earth pipe applies the same principles as other smoking devices, the only difference is the former are built into the ground. Therefore, Africa makes a point for itself as the origin of the bong pipe. However, the smoking culture has been around for centuries and it would be unfair to credit any one culture with the sole invention of our now favorite toking companion.

Growth of the bong industry

Bongs have made their mark on the world. From Thailand to Ethiopia to America. Bongs also made their way to Europe in the 18th and 19th century. During this period, the Victorian water pipes were popularly made of ceramic and elaborately decorated. Afterwards, the movement moved to America and the first patents for a glass bong was filed in the 1970s. It is not surprising that bongs have become populated in America.

In the 21st century, glassblowing artists came into fruition due to the demand for their intricate artwork growing exponentially.

From simple bamboo or metal materials, bongs are now made from strong borosilicate glass especially hand-blown glass that usually comes in different colors. Alternative materials include:

  • Translucent acrylics
  • Wooden tubes
  • Detailed ceramic versions
  • Unbreakable Silicone

The structure and features of today’s bongs have significantly changed. Today, they come in different sizes from portable mini bongs to massive water pipes which sometimes stand at 15 feet tall! The smaller and plainer the model, the less expensive it is. The thickness of the glass, the styling artwork and the intricacy of the piece itself are the main distinguishing factors when determining prices. Prices increase as each feature becomes more detailed.

The modern era bongs are affected by the size, shape, and height. The most popular versions are the:

  • Percolator bongs which incorporates a suspended glass filter into the water chamber. As a result, it breaks up and spreads out the bubbles evenly thus efficiently filtering toxic substance and cooling the smoke. There are different types of percolator bongs available.
  • Bubbler bongs are handheld hybrids of a bong and pipe. They are lighter, more portable and horizontal like with a drop down water chamber that filters and cools the smoke.
  • Mini bongs are portable, easy to hold and lightweight but they may increase the chances of inhaling water.
  • Scientific bongs are made from laboratory-grade borosilicate glass. They are stronger and heat resistant
  • Homemade bongs are constructed from plastic or glass bottles and at times fruits are used for extra flavor.
  • Dabbing bongs or oil rigs which are smaller in size and equipped with a nail and dome or a domeless nail, such as a banger.

The future of bongs

The legalization of marijuana in certain states and countries is still a touchy issue but which is expected to take a positive step forward. The time for legalization is quickly approaching thus increasing the need for bongs. So far, technology has been quite essential in creating new and better versions of bongs. In the future, manufacturers are expected to leverage more on technology in order to give smokers the best smoking experiences. Just maybe 3D printing will also be used. New designs will be developed.

Bongs and water pipes are here to stay. It will become necessary for every smoker to own one.

If you are interested in some affordable yet premium quality bongs for sale, we suggest you check out KING’s Pipe, a US based and trusted online headshop that offers free ground shipping within the continental United States! ​

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