Gurgle Gurgle: The History of Bongs and Waterpipes

Bongs have been one of the favorite forms for smoking cannabis and other herbs for millennia. They are also one of the oldest modes, factoring into different parts of history, in different cultures, throughout time. Today we might prize our beautiful glassware that doubles as art, but this was not how the world of bongs actually started. Read on to learn more about the general history of bongs and waterpipes.

The history of bongs is rather impressive and long, just like the history of cannabis itself. Whether a bong smoker or not, there are tons of ways of taking advantage of the cannabis plant, and all its great compounds, from delta-8 THC (a half brother to delta-9 which causes less anxiety and couch locking), to THCA (what THC is before it becomes THC), to THCV, a possible answer to the issue of diabetes. We’ve got a great selection of products, and an array of deals to take advantage of on delta-8 THC and many more. So check out our stock, and pick out your perfect product. Check out our selection of products in The Delta 8 Weekly Newsletter. And save big on Delta 8Delta 9 THCDelta-10THCOTHCVTHCP & HHC products by checking out our “Best-of” lists!

What are waterpipes?

A waterpipe is a smoking device that uses water to filter the smoke being inhaled. The size and design can vary extensively, going from pocket-sized to three-feet high plus. The design can vary as well. A waterpipe requires an air and water tight chamber, and this is achieved when the user puts their mouth on the mouthpiece, closing off air to the chamber where the water is. The chamber requires a stem leading out to a bowl where something can be burned/vaporized for smoke/vapor, and another opening leading to a mouthpiece, or that functions as a mouthpiece.

Some waterpipes have a third opening, which can go by many different names. I know it as the ‘carb’, but it’s also called a ‘choke’, ‘hole’, or ‘turbo’ among other names. This is used to clear the smoke that builds in the chamber. The hole is blocked while lighting the herbs and inhaling the smoke, and then released to inhale the built-up smoke in the chamber. Conversely, waterpipes that don’t have this, generally have a bowl that can be removed from the stem, which functions the same way. Cheaper home-made waterpipes sometimes have neither.

The term ‘waterpipe’ can refer to a standard bong of today, or a dab which uses a bong-like structure to vaporize concentrates, or a bubbler which looks like a regular pipe but with a water chamber, or one of the most popular versions the world over, the hookah. Many bongs and other waterpipes also make use of a percolator, which is a glass piece used to cool down the air to produce a smoother hit.


The water used in bongs and waterpipes helps to filter the smoke being inhaled, and can make smoking bongs less harsh on a smoker than a standard waterless pipe. This happens because the water is able to trap heavier particles, which keeps them from being inhaled by the smoker. One of the most popular forms of a waterpipe is the hookah, which has historically been used for smoking tobacco and opium, although it can be used for cannabis as well. The hookah originates from India, an invention of a doctor by the name of Hakim Aboul Futteh Ghilani, who had been treating Emporor Akbar the Great in the 1500s, which led to his invention.

When the air moves through the water of a waterpipe, it creates the gurgling sound that bongs are known for. The user puts their mouth on the mouthpiece, covers the carb (if there is one), while lighting the herbs in the bowl and inhaling to bring air through the water chamber, and then up through the mouthpiece. Waterpipes like bongs are known for providing very large hits, and making users very high.

History of bongs in the world

The history of bongs – or at least from what we’ve found thus far – goes back to the Iranian-Eurasian Scyth tribes from what is now Russia. Approximately 2,400 years ago, tribal leaders were using bongs to smoke herbs, and these bongs were made of gold. The next oldest artifacts date back to around 1100-1400 CE, and relate to the finding of 11 bongs dated to that time period, in an Ethiopian cave. They were made of animal horns and primitive pottery from the time.

In written history, bongs start appearing in the 16th century in Central Asia, with the word ‘bong’ coming from the Thai word ‘buang’, which was used to designate smoking devices made out of bamboo. One of the most famous bong stories comes from Chinese history, during the Qing Dynasty. According to the story, Empress Dowager Cixi, who was a Chinese reagent, was found buried with three of her favorite bongs. Some of her bong collection can even be seen in the Palace Museum today.

It is unknown when exactly water began being used with pipes, as prior to water being used, herbs were smoked dry, from a regular pipe. It’s believed that the use of water also came from China during the Ming Dynasty, with the design spreading via the Silk Road thereafter. Though waterpipes were often associated with commoners, Empress Cixi demonstrates how they were sometimes the choice of royalty as well.

After the Qing Dynasty, waterpipes could generally be found in one of two fashions in Asia: one used by country folk, made of bamboo. And a more glamorous metal version used by the upper echelons of society. Using glass didn’t become an aspect of waterpipes until much later, and that came out of America.

History of bongs in America


Historical findings indicate that glass production on some level began in the coastal areas of Mesopotamia in 1500-2500 BC, where glass blowing techniques were used to make beads and jewelry. It grew in Ancient Rome during the Hellenistic Period, when glass was used for pottery and beads, employing a specific mosaic technique, called ‘millefiori’. This technique itself went out of style in the 18th century, but came back in the 19th, and can often be found adorning glass bongs today as implosion style marbles.

The glass industry – pushed in part by glass lamp shades made by Louis Comfort Tiffany, of Tiffany & Co. – was gaining in momentum. The bong industry was also doing very well in North America as tobacco had become a huge cash crop after the European settlement of America. These two factors coincided beautifully in the 1960-70s, with the invention of the glass bong.

The US bong industry was spearheaded by a guy named Bob Snodgrass, who spent time following a Grateful Dead tour, and making glass bongs along the way. Following his time as a dead head, Snodgrass took up in Eugene, Oregon, and began working with an apprentice. Snodgrass used borosilicate glass to create stronger bongs that could be used repeatedly without breaking. He also came up with the technique of ‘fuming’ whereby gold and silver are used to put coloring in borosilicate glass.

Of course, though this started an actual industry, the beauty of bongs is that they can be made from virtually anything. I’ve smoked out of an aluminum can, an apple, and a watermelon, just to name a few bong-ready objects. The ability to create a bong out of so many different materials was probably also integral in helping the popularity of the smoking method grow, even if it spurred on the industry in a non-brand name market way.

The bong take-down of 2003, and a recent resurgence

Regardless of whether they can be made at home, bongs became huge in the US, with a place in every head shop. By the 1990’s, other brand name bongs were entering the market, like Tommy Chong, who started ‘Chong’s Bongs’. Then, at the height of the industry (speculated at being worth one billion at the time), the US government did what it does best, got in the way. In 2003, the US government invested around $12 million in snuffing out the bong industry.

During that time, at least 55 retailers were put out of business, including the majority of ‘Chong’s Bongs’. Internet vendors were also stifled as well. This aggressive campaign was meant to stop sales in general, and, of course, ignored the fact that at the time (pre-dry herb vapes), using water actually created the safer method of smoking.

kinds of bongs

Though bongs aren’t demonized in the same way anymore (and are often left out of the conversation entirely), they are still not a part of an organized or brand name market. Killing the industry at the turn of the century did well to level the burgeoning name brands of the time.

Bongs can be difficult as products, especially when made of glass. This is because they can easily break, which generally renders them useless. Most people are more likely to buy a pretty glass piece, or whatever is at their local smoke shop, rather than caring about brands. This is wildly different than shopping for vapes, rolling papers, or weed itself, where the brand name, and product specificity, are incredibly important.

The recent resurgence in bongs can be seen in the beginnings of an actual products market, spurred on by companies like Thicket, which puts out the Thicket Waterpipe bong. This cleverly designed bong is meant as a travel bong, and transforms from a leak-proof canister which can hold the water in the bong while traveling, to its bong form where it provides incredibly smooth hits. Not only can the bong be stowed with water still inside, but the water doesn’t need to be changed for days at a time, as the bong contains an internal ash-catcher which keeps the water clean. The company does well to understand the breaking of glass parts, offering replacement pieces for all which is breakable.


As a bong smoker myself, I was excited to see Thicket enter the market with a name brand bong. The company did so, leveraging a great design that actually offers something above standard bong smoking, and outside of what a home-made bong can provide. If the history of bongs tells us anything, its that this popular method of smoking is not likely to go away quickly, no matter how many dabs and vapes are invented. It will be interesting to see if the years to come will bring with them a more established name brand bong market.

Hello and welcome to, the internet’s one-stop-shop for the most up-to-date and relevant cannabis and psychedelics-related news from around the world. Read-thru the site on a regular basis to stay in-the-know on the quickly-changing landscape of legal drugs and industrial hemp, and check out The Delta 8 Weekly Newsletter, so you’re sure to get all the news first.

DisclaimerHi, I’m a researcher and writer. I’m not a doctor, lawyer, or businessperson. All information in my articles is sourced and referenced, and all opinions stated are mine. I am not giving anyone advise, and though I am more than happy to discuss topics, should someone have a further question or concern, they should seek guidance from a relevant professional.

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Smoking Cannabis in Public is not easy for Calgarians

Calgary is one of the only provinces left in Canada that does not allow smoking cannabis in public. Just next door, Edmonton allows smoking of cannabis, recreational or medicinal, anywhere cigarette smoking is permitted. So why is smoking cannabis treated so differently than smoking cigarettes? When it comes to smoking cannabis, far more negative attitudes […]

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CBD For Anxiety: How CBD Helps Anxiety and Panic Attacks

You may have heard, “CBD helps anxiety.” With the impact of Covid-19 and beyond, stress is climbing at an alarming rate. Stress affects our mental state, leading to other health concerns like anxiety and depression. CBD use is on the rise, yet many are still unaware of how CBD can help anxiety and depression. When […]

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What Makes a Great Vaporizer?

Vaporizers are a much healthier way of smoking marijuana and they provide a cleaner way to inhale THC which is the active ingredient in cannabis that produces psychoactive effects, aka makes you high. Depending on your preference, vaporization can be done with or without nicotine products. One of the benefits of vaporization is that you […]

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How One Hitters Have Changed Over The Years

One hitter is a small, slender pipe with a narrow bowl made for a single hit or inhalation of a smokable drug, usually cannabis or weed. One hitters are used by filling the narrow bowl with your weed tightly packed, then lighting it up and taking a puff. Apparently, a one hitter is very convenient […]

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Top 6 Tobacco-Free Blunt Wraps in 2021

There’s nothing wrong with wanting things on the more natural side. More and more nowadays, people are starting to stray from tobacco-based products due to the complications they’ve been known to bring. While smoking anything, arguably, isn’t great for the lungs, there are various cleaner alternatives that your body will definitely appreciate much more.  Today, […]

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A Guide To The Basic Cannabis Consumption Methods

There are a handful of different ways you can choose to consume your cannabis. To help you choose, here’s a guide to the basic cannabis consumption methods. Cannabis Consumption via Smoking Smoking is easily the most well-known and most common method for cannabis consumption. Smoking cannabis involves lighting the actual cannabis flower and inhaling the […]

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The Cannabis Now Guide to Camping & Cannabis

Whether you already have your social group’s annual camping trip written into your calendar or want to gather your favorite people together for some time outdoors, summer is a good time to get out in nature and soak up the sun before the seasons start to change. Plus, camping with friends and family is a fun way to recharge when you need to take a break and escape the daily grind. Think of it as a mental health holiday designed to calm the spirit and ease the mind — especially if you bring cannabis along to deepen the relaxation.

Smoking or vaping cannabis is one of the easiest ways to incorporate weed into a weekend of rejuvenation. You can bring your favorite go-to strains to enjoy while chilling out or being active. A calming strain can help to decrease stress and anxiety, ease insomnia or enjoy a lazy time around the fire. An invigorating strain can increase your energy, enhance your senses or improve your mood. If you plan on smoking, make sure you have an alternative plan in case it’s way too windy, it spontaneously rains or the environment doesn’t allow you to carry out your original plan. Vapers need to remember to bring a charger to keep their device functioning throughout the camping trip.

Edibles are also a quick, convenient and take up virtually no room when it comes to packing. Plus, since they are usually non-perishable, you don’t have to worry about keeping it cold or the heat making them go bad before you can enjoy them. You can also make your own cannabis-infused food at home to bring with you or bring what you might need with you to make it while you’re there. Try spreading some canna-butter on bread, frying an egg in canna-oil or put a few drops of tincture in some iced tea or flavored sparkling water.

Infused topicals can help relieve post-hike soreness, skin discomfort from too much time in the sun or relieve tense muscles from an uncomfortable sleeping situation for those that are roughing it. If you plan to be out in the elements or exerting yourself, consider mixing your preferred topical into sunscreen or regular lotion. You’ll thank yourself later.

There a number of things to take into consideration if cannabis is going to a part of the camping equation, though. Even in legal states, there are sites that may prohibit smoking altogether or on certain parts of the grounds like where families may be. It’s important to find out the laws where you live and specific consumption regulations for the campsite you plan to attend. It’s in your best interest to be informed. National parks are considered outside of the boundaries of U.S. states, which means smoking in them — even in legal cannabis states — is always forbidden.

For people who will be smoking, safety is the number one issue. Please be certain to pay special attention if it’s a windy day or if there is a lot of dry grass and foliage around. Keep some water near in case of emergencies or even minor incidents where you may need a quick way to extinguish a lit joint or smoldering bowl. Also, be mindful of where you are ashing or discarding your joints, blunts, etc. Embers can easily catch fire and the last thing you want is to endanger others and burn down a forest because you were just trying to have a good time.

Lastly, be careful if you plan on hiking or camping at high altitudes. The drop in air pressure can cause a range of symptoms including shortness of breath when exerting yourself, increased heart rate, fatigue, dizziness or lightheadedness and headaches. Consuming cannabis while adjusting to high altitudes might be too much for those who have low tolerances or are unfamiliar with how the symptoms will affect them. To be in the clear, stay hydrated and take it easy while you check in with how you feel before going all out with the weed.

TELL US, have you ever taken cannabis along on a camping trip?

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Vapor Central Re-opens Cannabis Lounge to the Public

On August 14th, 2020, Toronto’s Vapor Central re-opened their cannabis lounge, providing a cannabis-friendly event center and safe public smoking space… despite this pandemic. How? The measures they are taking are pretty extensive. It’s a bold move forward but for the stoner community in Toronto, this reopening offers a breath of fresh air. At first, […]

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When, Why & How to Take a Tolerance Break

It’s no secret that when you smoke weed day after day, for months or years at a time, your habit starts to affect your cannabinoid receptors’ ability to absorb THC. Soon, it takes more and more cannabis to get your body and mind to that sweet spot — and sometimes, it might feel like nothing can get you there anymore.

When that happens, it’s a clear sign that it’s time for a tolerance break.

Okay, So What Is a ‘Tolerance Break’?

A tolerance break is just a term for taking some time away from consuming cannabis so that your body can regulate, readjust and reduce its need for such high amounts of THC.

If you think taking a tolerance break means cutting yourself off cold turkey, it may seem like a drastic turn in the other direction, especially if you are a consistent or heavy smoker. But you can also ease yourself into a tolerance break so that the sudden departure from your beloved pastime doesn’t seem so severe and jarring.

How you guide yourself into a tolerance break is really dependent on your personal smoking habits. For example, if you smoke all day every day — let’s say a blunt in the morning, midday and evening — then you can try eliminating one of your seshes, then two of them and then finally the last one until you aren’t smoking any weed at all.

You also can choose whether you’d like to do this over the course of a few days or a couple weeks. The most important thing is that once you stop smoking, you shouldn’t have any weed at all for a set period of time. Even one puff will disturb the process and you will have to start from scratch.

During your break, you will need to have a plan for how you’re going to allocate your newfound free time. Consider picking up that book you’ve been meaning to check out, reintroducing that old hobby that went by the wayside or trying a new activity that has been on your to-do list. Staying busy during times you would normally be rolling up and chilling will be important in helping you stay committed.

What to Expect When You’re Abstaining

You might also observe some differences in your sleeping and eating habits, particularly if you are a heavy daily smoker. You might have trouble falling or staying asleep or notice that your appetite is not as voracious as it once seemed. Be patient with yourself and your body as they both adjust to the new change you’ve put into place.

It’s up to you how long you would like your tolerance break to last, but in order to notice any real results, it’s probably a good idea to plan for at least a week-long break. Everyone is different, though, so the amount of time you need to abstain will vary.

According to one study, it may only take about two days for the body’s cannabinoid receptors to replenish, but keep in mind that the benefits increase over time. So, essentially, the longer you curb your use, the better the outcome will be.

To be clear, tolerance breaks are designed for heavy smokers who feel like they are not getting the same psychotropic experience as they are used to with their normal amount of weed intake. Tolerance breaks are not for patients who use cannabis to treat chronic symptoms or terminal illnesses.

If you are using cannabis as an alternative treatment and find that you are not experiencing the same relief, consult with a medical marijuana professional to figure out what needs to be done.

TELL US, have you ever taken a tolerance break?

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