(Part One of a four-part article)
Regular readers of this site know that I never actually smoke my medical marijuana. Instead, I prefer vaporizers, like my ever-present little MFLB (Magic-Flight Launch Box), because smoke tends to have extra chemicals you don’t want, and if you need your medicine daily like most patients, all that smoke adds up to health problems in the long run.
All that changed when I walked into Sam’s Club a week or two ago and spotted a large display stacked with these wine bottles for something like $8.47 each. There was only one thing it made me think of, and I realized that I’ve never even owned a bong, despite smoking my first joint in 1967.
I really like making things myself, and the sheer beauty and practicality of this bottle design made me decide it was time for a new project. And then I suddenly remembered the wise words of the late philosopher Rodney King:
Why Can’t We All Just Get A Bong?
And now we can, and for just about the price of an ordinary glass pipe! And that’s using high quality, glass-on-glass components. Best of all, as long as you know exactly what to buy (and where), you can put this all together yourself in less than half an hour!
Bongs are essentially water pipes intended specifically for smoking cannabis (that’s why you should only talk about “water pipes” in smoke shops or head shops, because otherwise in many backwards places that’s considered “drug paraphernalia”). The basic purpose of a water pipe is to filter and cool the smoke through water, which makes it easier on your throat and lungs. Bongs can be as simple as a bowl poked through the side of a Gatorade bottle or as complex and expensive as you like.
The basic parts of a bong are the body and the bowl; everything else is optional. Back in the 60s, nobody really even had bongs, but every head shop around sold Indian brass water pipes for $5. In the 70s, I think, someone came up with acrylic bongs with aluminum bowls, and then someone invented the “carburetor” (a little hole in the back so you could get all the smoke out).
At some point, one of the chemists making LSD probably took a good look at some of their own laboratory glassware and invented the glass bong. Along with that came the now-popular glass-on-glass joint that lets people not only “clear” the bong just by pulling the bowl out, but also mix and match components like ash catchers, percolators, and even hash oil and joint smoking accessories!
Today, most people buy glass bongs, and the cheaper ones (up to $75 or so) come with cheap, thin glass downstems and little bowls that look like perfume funnels and will fall on the floor and break if you so much as look at them crosseyed. The bong you’ll build with these instructions uses standard 14mm glass-on-glass fittings, so you can add parts to it later, and reuse everything in the future if you like!