A bong or water pipe is a device used commonly for smoking, usually tobacco and cannabis. The water in the reservoir helps filter out some of the unhealthy substances found in the smoke. It can also help cool the smoke down before it enters the lungs. Cold water or even ice cubes can be used to cool the smoke.
Bongs can vary greatly in their size, shape, color, and material. They are typically constructed from glass, ceramic, and acrylic. Bongs can also be made from household objects , like a can or a soda bottle. Some people even make bongs out of fruits and vegetables, discarding them when they start to decompose. Many bongs are regarded for their style, distinct vivid colors, or customizations such as stickers, and become a personalized signature of that particular bong owner.
A typical bong is made of few components:
A mouthpiece, where the users mouth is placed over, sealing out air through that hole. If all the smoke isn't removed from the bong in a single hit, the user can place their mouth again over the bong to again inhale, or hover their mouth closely over the bong to slowly inhale the smoke.
A chamber is the part of the bong where smoke collects. When enough smoke has accumulated it is finally inhaled. This is accelerated by using a carb or by removing the bowl, which allows air to enter the chamber when inhalation takes place. The height and width of the chamber can vary, this changes the volume.
A base, which holds the water, is usually wider than the chamber so it can stand-alone without tipping. The bottom of the stem sits in the water. The water temperature will affect the temperature of the smoke inhaled (e.g. a bong with water and crushed ice as a filter will allow the user to inhale cooler smoke, providing a less harsh experience).
A stem (female piece) sits in the base and pokes out of the chamber at a degree higher than the water level. It holds the conepiece/bowl and enables smoke to pass through the water when in use. The stem collects resin over time which can clog the stem, and reduce the air flow through the water.
A bowl (sometimes called a conepiece or a male piece) is usually a removable cup or cone shaped container, where the tobacco or cannabis is packed and ignited. In rare occasions the bowl is not removable. Made of metal, glass or ceramic, a bowl can be joined to the stem, or can just sit in the stem. The bowl forms a seal around the stem so that the only inlet of air is through the bowl. Over time burnt residue will collect on parts of the bowl.
A carb, also called a shotty (from shotgun); choke; or rush (hole) is often a simple hole in the wall of the chamber(covered by a finger or removable seal). When smoke is inhaled through the mouthpiece and the carb is uncovered, air enters through the carb and pushes the present smoke out through the mouthpiece. This extra hole is not usually present in a bong with a removable bowl, as removing the bowl also allows more air to flow in to displace the smoke, eliminating the need for a carb.
A diffuser is a down stem with few small holes at the end. This serves to cool and filter the smoke even more.
An ice catcher serves to hold ice cubes in the chamberof the bong. This ice will further cool the smoke.
When using a bong, one inhales with his or her mouth sealed over an opening at the top. This reduces the air pressure in the chamber of the bong above the water level in the bottom of the bong. To equalize the pressure, the atmosphere pushes air through the combustible matter releasing smoke in the bowl travelling down the stem. The smoke then bubbles through the water, into the chamber and into the users mouth and lungs.