Smoking a joint is the most common way of consuming cannabis, following closely by the use of a bong. Most people are familiar with modern glass or ceramic bongs. However, these devices for consuming cannabis predate modern society. There’s evidence that various ancient societies using contraptions similar to the bong to consume cannabis.
Water Pipes — The Bong’s Predecessor
Researchers found two smoking pipe bowls in a Lalibela Cave in Ethiopia’s Begemeder province. Likewise, the excavation of the Russian kurgan also unearthed a gold water pipe, which they believe Scythian tribal chiefs used to smoke opium and cannabis about 2400 years ago.
However, it was China’s Ming Dynasty that introduced water pipes into the world through the Silk Road and Persia. Later, the Qing Dynasty preferred to consume tobacco using water pipes. Commoners used homemade bamboo pipes while Chinese nobility, merchants, and urbanites used the bejeweled metal pipes.
The Emergence and Growth of Bong Culture
The use of water pipes quickly spread throughout Asia, where the name “bong” emerged. The word “bong” originated from “bang,” a Thai term that refers directly to the bamboo water pipes common in Central Asia during the 16th century. The use of the bong spread to Europe and then to America via European settlers.
The bong became increasingly popular in America due to the prominence of tobacco as an economic driver and the rise of the glass industry. During this period, an engineer named Bob Snodgrass designed the glass bong. Later, he pioneered a process known as fuming, in which he colored borosilicate glass with silver and gold to achieve the classic aesthetic of the bong that persists to this day.
The borosilicate glass technique continues to be the standard in modern bong designs because it creates bongs that are highly resistant to heat. Bongs made through this technique are also non-toxic; they’re hypoallergenic, BPA-free, and lead-free. Even as the smoking culture evolves into vaping, borosilicate glass still features in the design of modern vaporizers.
Bong Remain Popular in the Face of Cannabis Consumption Methods
The methods and mediums by which people consume cannabis have come a long way — from underground pipes in ancient Africa to the glass bongs and vapes we see today. New incarnations of the bong are now emerging. One such apparatus is the dab rig, a cannabis consumption method that involved dabbing concentrated marijuana is a bong-like rig.
Perhaps the most popular evolution of the use of bongs is vaping, a method of cannabis consumption that involves the vaporization of oil-based cannabis products. Even as new, exciting ways of consuming cannabis continue to emerge, many longtime cannabis purists and beginners alike prefer to use the bong.
Get Your Preferred Bong Design
The history of the bong spans the globe and millennia. However, thanks to the numerous bong designs and colors available, using a bong today can be as exciting as more recent methods. Whether you’re a new member of the global cannabis community or you’re an OG cannabis enthusiast, many online headshops have several bongs for sale to help you get your preferred cannabis experience.