How Do Bongs Work Scientifically?
Do you ever wonder how just adding a bit of water to a bong drastically impacts the overall smoothness and coolness of your hits compared to dry hand pipes? The answer is simple—science! Every time your light your herb and take a drag, the principles of chemistry are hard at work. We’ll take you step by step through how your bong works scientifically, which gives you those super smooth hits you love.
Lighting the Product
When you add flame to dry herb, it combusts. You knew that already. You can see that it catches fire, and that’s nothing revolutionary. What is actually happening, though, is that the heat is so strong that it breaks the chemical bonds of the herb and transforms the particles into a gas, which is the smoke you see. All sorts of products are carried through the smoke — some desirable and some not so desirable. The purpose of the bong is to filter out as much of the bad stuff as possible while leaving as much of the good stuff as possible for the user to inhale. This is where the water comes into play.
Passing Through the Water
As the smoke passes through the water, much of the ash and tar filters out by binding to the polarized water molecules. Think of it like a magnet that attracts only to ash and tar, but not the neutral compounds found in your material. Some of these chemicals do get left behind in the water, but it’s usually an insignificant amount that creates little impact on your session. Screens and ash catchers can also help keep the larger ash chunks out of the water so they don’t affect the flavor of your hit.
The water also helps cool the smoke as it passes through. The flame you light your herb with can get as hot as 2000 degrees Fahrenheit. Obviously, that’s not a good temperature for your throat or lungs to be exposed to. However, you don’t want to cool the smoke too much because the active ingredients vaporize between 125 and 500 degrees Fahrenheit. To keep them in the vapor stream, use only enough water to cover the downstem.
Clean water is imperative to experiencing a quality session. Whatever chemicals are in the water may alter the flavor of the hit. Some chemicals, such as chlorine and alcohol, are downright dangerous to inhale. Always make sure you clean your bong with appropriate cleaning solutions such as Formula 420 products and rinse it thoroughly before each use. Read how to properly clean your glass bong here.
Percolators - What They Do
Percolators are designed to efficiently filter out as much ash and tar as possible so that the user inhales only what they’re trying to inhale. Percolators divide the water and smoke mixture, which creates bubbles and more surface area for the smoke to interact with the water molecules. The more they interact, the more amount of ash and tar is removed from the vapor. Some users like to include two different percolators by adding and ash catcher on their water pipes for extra filtration. Keep in mind, however, that percolators can cause a stronger drag with each one you add.
With a bong, users typically experience cooler and smoother sessions, all because of a little bit of water. To understand the history of the bong, check out our article here.