Posted anonymously:

The Art of Making Bongs

Version 2.51

Remember, there's more to marijuana than just smoking pot.

Disclaimer

I have purposely left my name off this piece, for obvious reasons. I don't frequent local BBSes much anymore, so I don't use a handle. All I request is that you don't take credit for my writing by adding your own name to it -- just leave it intact and pass it on.

This phile was written during June, 1993, and updated to v2.51 during May, 1994. As this phile grows larger with each new version, I would increasingly recommend that the reader use a search engine to find particular information s/he may be looking for.

Preface

I didn't start smoking buds till my sophomore year in college. I hadn't even drunk alcohol till college. Since I'm not much of a partier, I had a pretty neutral attitude toward drugs. It's not that I bought the War on Drugs misinformation that the government has been dishing out, but rather that I just thought drugs had no place in my life. I had no inclination towards them, I had a relatively satisfying life, and I didn't care if other people used them or not. In college some of my buddies smoked buds and I was often in the room when it was going on. I was still indifferent until one of them explained to me how he felt about pot. He answered all my questions honestly and I got the sense that it certainly wouldn't hurt to try once.

I suppose the rest is history, since I took a great liking to old delta-9 tetrahydrocannibinol, and I now consider myself a marijuana/hemp enthusiast, as well as a bong artisan.

I urge everyone to inform themselves about the facts of marijuana and about the liesof the "War on Drugs". Whether you smoke or not you should know about the true detriments and benefits of marijuana. You should also know of the wide range of uses of the hemp plant itself, for medicine, paper, clothing, "wood", and food. If you don't know the facts, find out the facts by talking to a lot of smokers. They know. You can also search out marijuana-legalization groups. They know.

With your new knowledge comes responsibility. Pass on the truthful information to friends, co-workers, everybody. The more real information people know about drugs, the less the DEA will be able to bash down doors, confiscate equipment, and deprive people of a perfectly natural experience.

While I would like to get into the topic of drug advocacy, there are many essays already out there (print and electronic text) which do an excellent job of informing the public of the truth about drugs.

This essay seeks to fill a gap in the drug literature by going into detail about bongs, bong-making, and bong-using. I bring my own experiences, experimentations, and reading into the creation of this document. I hope it will enlighten many people. Pass it on!

The Bong Concept

The anatomy of a conventional bong is very simple. It consists of a bowl (and screen), a stem (sometimes optional), a chamber, some liquid, and an opening for the mouth(s).


                    | |  <---"mouthpiece"
                    / \
                   /   \
                  /     \
     chamber--->  |     |
                  |     | \ /  <---bowl
      "carb"--->  O     | //
                  |     |//  <---stem
                  |      /
                  |     /
                  |     |
                  |     |
                  \_____/   
  

The crude diagram above shows a generic bong. Water fills the container and stem just up to the carb. The water level should really be at least an inch below the "carb" ("carburetor," I guess) so that when the bong is tilted the water won't leak. The job of the carb is to regulate where the air will be supplied from. If covered, the air (smoke) will come from the bowl; if uncovered, air will rush through the carb and force out the smoke remaining in the chamber.

I won't go through a boring description of every part of a bong -- if you don't know, ask someone. The point I want to illustrate is that a bong merely forces the smoke to bubble up through water, thereby filtering it. Every bong works with this principle. I've tried many innovations on the generic bong for different effects. [More later.]

Not all bongs work with this method, however. Gravity bongs work on a different concept, but I've never seen one besides from the one I made with a friend [details later].

Why Bongs?

Not everyone uses bongs. New smokers may wonder why anyone bothers with bongs, and I know plenty of stoners who prefer joints to pipes or bongs.

Those who favor joints will wax romantic about the joys of rolling, of passing around a fatty, and of super-potent roaches. While I will not turn down a joint making its way around a room, I have never rolled one myself. I disdain joints mainly because of their wastefulness. Consider: While the joint is being passed around or stalled, it is still burning, losing precious smoke. If you grow your own buds you may be able to afford such carelessness, but that is a luxury. Most stoners must pay astronomical street prices for what is, in essence, a weed.

Bongs have a special advantage. A stoner can control the burning by using the flat side of a lighter to extinguish the bowl after taking a hit. [More on this technique later.] The practice of extinguishing the bowl can save a lot of pot in the long run.

Even those who don't habitually extinguish the bowl will still save more buds, considering the size of a bowl compared with a joint. A bowl holds a smaller amount of bud, so the most you can waste is the quantity a bowl will hold. Stalling a joint, though, will use up a much larger portion, depending on the size of the joint.

A bong burns a smaller surface area of bud than a joint does. It's easy to notice that a joint lets loose a steady stream of smoke into the atmosphere when it's being passed around, while a bowl tends to smother the embers underneath ash and unburnt bud. Stoners may notice that a stalled bong will release a very thin stream of smoke compared to a burning joint. Moreover, bongs pull all the smoke into the chamber while joints still waste smoke even while being toked.

Joints are much harsher on your lungs. While some joint-rollers will use pre-made filters, or a makeshift filter made from a rolled-up paper, nothing compares with the filtration effect of water. Ed Rosenthal of High Times has noted that water not only cools the smoke, but actually removes harmful impurities as well. [Boiling water is a good choice in a bong, too. More later.] Bongs have this advantage over pipes, which, like joints, pass the unfiltered smoke right into your lungs.

Pipes are a little better than joints since they use a bowl the same way bongs do. The burning is more controlled, and the bud will last longer. Pipes can be made out of materials which cool the smoke a little, but they will never cool it as well as a bong. Some commercial brands feature a "resinator," a small chamber in the pipe's midsection which stores a quantity of bud. As bowls are smoked, the smoke must pass through the resinator, over the bud. A lot of THC-laden resin will be despoited on the cache of bud, and when it is finally taken out and smoked it will make for a mind-blowing hit. I have never seen a resinator on a bong, but it would not be difficult to make a bong with one.

Pipes (including hitters) and joints have the distinct advantage of being very concealable and very portable. Hitters are great in crowds because they are the easiest to pack. Some hitters are even painted to look like cigarettes, so no one knows that you are smoking buds, though everyone can smell it!

As far as portability goes, bongs can be made in a variety of sizes. I made myself a portable bong out of a 12-oz. plastic water bottle. It works fine, though the filtration leaves something to be desired. Nevertheless, I prefer it over my corn-cob pipes, which I never use anymore.

Considerations in Bong-Making

When planning a bong, one should aim for specific goals. Should the bong be portable? Fancy? Colorful? Here's a partial list of characteristics which give a bong its individual personality:

What I value

Every stoner has his/her own biases, and I have mine. People who like getting high will not fuck around. They are interested in THC. Period. So they will have no qualms cracking out the rolling papers and getting the job done. Convenience. Portability. Highness!

I must admit that I like stoner culture as a part of getting high. I tend to get ritualistic, going through the trouble to pack a bowl exactly the way I like it. Of course, everyone around me gets high, but they do it my way. That's the fun of owning bud and being able to just pack bowls.

Aesthetics You may opt for a bong that is interesting or even facinating to look at. I have been celebrating my greatest achievement of bong-making since a few months ago, when I made a hooka (multi-user bong with tubes) out of a brass teapot. I found the teapot at a garage sale for $4. The hinge for the lid was damaged, but I didn't need the lid anyway, so I threw it out. I stuck a stem and two thin (3/16") flexible plastic tubes down the top opening and sealed it up with silicone. Voila. The spout serves as the carb, and water can be flowed into or poured out of it.

I have gotten many compliments on it, and for good reason. It's perfectly airtight and gives the best hits with a clean screen. It looks cool -- a brass beauty with two tenacles streaming out and a stem and bowl emerging from the top. It is the best one I have ever used, save for The Monster [more on that later].

The point of my bragging is to emphasize the aesthetics of bong-making. If you take the time to find a container you like, you'll be able to make a bong which is not only functional but also looks great and receives compliments for hits and appearance. Check out garage sales, thrift stores, hardware stores, flea markets, etc.

A couple buddies of mine had a plastic pig's head which was supposed to be a toy bank. Guess what they did with it.... They stuck a stem into the pig's mouth and widened the coin slot to make an excellent bong which has a large chamber for smoke.

Basically, you should have fun planning and making your bong. If you have fun making it and are proud of the finished product you'll certainly enjoy using it. And so will other stoners.

Airtightness What I value first and foremostly in any bong is airtightness. I'm not 100% anal, but I do like to use my lung power to pull in bud, not O2. It's easy enough to dab a bit of silicone over holes to fill in the cracks when needed. For bonding materials together, use Krazy Glue. I've noticed that commercial bongs like Graphix use a very effective method of ensuring airtightness. They drill precise holes, then superglue small, thick rubber washers on the outside to surround the hole. Now, when you jam a tube past the washer into the hole, the washer seals the connection perfectly. Silicone is messier and deteriorates, but is good for filling in irregularly shaped gaps.

Bowl size I have come to find that the bowl size should be roughly proportional to the bong size. If you've got a 20 oz. port-a-bong, you should not be sticking one of those one-square-inch, fuck-you-up bowls on it. Of course, I can't help but get off when I see unsuspecting guests pull in large loads off my hooka and begin to cough. I should be putting notches in my hooka to keep count. . . . {grin}

Chambers/Tubes The chamber is the part of the bong which fills up with smoke when the pot is being burned. The larger the chamber, the more smoke is "stored up" before inhaling it. In my portable bong (12 oz.), the chamber is very small and a stoner will feel the smoke entering his/her lungs seconds after lighting up.

I am personally indifferent to large/small chambers. Since I am fairly athletic, I have a healthy lung capacity and can take very big hits off a bong -- the biggest make me gag and cough, though, so I'm not as gung-ho as I used to be. Big chambers are nice, though, because you can use multiple breaths to burn a lot of bud, filling the large chamber. Once the chamber is filled, you carb it and suck in a mind-numbing amount of smoke. Three-foot bongs are cool because you can watch the "packet" of smoke travel up the bong after it's carbed.

In deciding where to drill the carb, it's necessary to understand that the volume of the container must be split between water and chamber space. I usually drill halfway up or higher for maximum water volume. Remember, though, that the water level cannot be higher that the "bud-line", or else your bowl of bud will get soaked by the water travelling up the stem.

I would also caution against leaving too little a chamber space, because the smoke seems to be harsher when inhaled straight from the water. It's easier to stomach the smoke when inhaled all at once rather than gradually.

Graphix-type bongs have the best physics to them. Sorry if I can't put any equations in this phile, but basically any 1-1/2-inch-diameter chamber is the perfect width for one's mouth and gives the best surface area of breath for pulling bong loads. Too thin a tube and you're pulling in water like a straw. Too wide, and your breath gives way too soon to get a good hit. If you're using tubes, like for a hooka, you should go with 3/8-inch tubes. Trust me on this one.

Draw/Filtration After making a few junky bongs out of the PVC sections [remember, don't use PVC!], I decided that filtraton is an important characteristic for my bongs to have. I swiped a one-gallon institutional-size plastic mayonnaise jar with screw-on lid and washed it out. I stuck some PVC pipe through the lid [remember -- PVC: bad] and poked a hole in the side of the container for a length of plastic tubing. One end of the tubing rested on the bottom of the jar. The tubing came out the side, wrapped around the neck, and ended in a corn-cob pipe. A bent coat hanger encircled the neck and stuck out a few inches to support the tubing and pipe. It looked huge -- it looked weird -- but it worked great.

I always filled up the entire gallon with ice water before packing bowls. While it took a little bit of lung power to initially pull the smoke through the water, it was worth it. The smoke, after passing through the one gallon of ice water as small bubbles, became so cooled that it felt like oxygen when you brought it into your lungs. Stoners passing through my room took enormous hits without realizing it and got baked beyond compare.

While that bong wasn't sophisticated by any account, it definitely gave the coolest hits ever. I miss it for that reason, and I am still trying to find a way to make a bong with optimal filtration and easy draws.

The rule of thumb to keep in mind when considering how much filtration a bong will have is simple. The three characteristics which matter most are the temperature of the liquid, the size of the bubbles, and the time the smoke is in contact with the water. The one-gallon bong I made turned out to have great filtration because 1] I loaded it with ice, then filled it to the top with water; 2] The smoke broke into hundreds of tiny bubbles inside the chamber (maximum surface area!); 3] The bubbles travelled through about nine inches of water to get to the top.

Since the first version of this phile I have become a fan of using hot water in my bongs. Hot water cleans the smoke more (just like washing dishes I guess), and humidifies it, too. Instead of cold, dry smoke from an ice bong, or hot, dry smoke from a pipe, a hot-water bong will bring warm, soothing moisture into your lungs with each hit. You don't have to boil water (it melts pop bottles anyway), just get hot water from the tap -- it's good enough. If you've made your bong out of metals or glass (like chemistry equipment), you might want to try a boiling-water hit. It feels very good -- just go easy at first.

Portability If you like to take care of your lungs or if you smoke often, you should make sure that you're using water filters wherever possible, even if it's on the road. I've found 20-oz. plastic pop bottles to be the best portable bongs. Just find a stem and bowl and put it all together. A bit of plastic tubing at the bottom end of the stem will extend the stem into the back "corner" of the bong so that when you tilt it, the smoke bubbles will have the full height of water to travel through. (This goes for any bong, of course.) I would suggest that if you smoke away from home a lot you should make up a little kit of essential smoking equipment so you're never unprepared. Include your bong, a place for a small quantity of prepared bud, two lighters (one for backup), and a cleaning tool (ideally a jeweler's screwdriver). Add whatever else you like, and keep it all in an airtight, opaque container, possibly Tupperware or whatever.

My first time

The first bong I ever made was with a friend of mine. We were talking on the phone about bud and we suddenly decided to make a bong together. We wound up making two bongs: one fast-n-dirty gravity bong which worked great and a "conventional" bong which sucked. The whole process was a blast, as we were brainstorming and planning out every detail to come up with a kick-ass bong. He dropped by my place at college and we headed off for a nearby Ace Hardware to get supplies for the second bong. We picked up a 10-foot length of PVC (polyvinyl chloride) for five bucks. [Note: Do not use PVC for bongs -- the heat of the smoke reacts with the plastic, releasing small amounts of carcinogens. Ed Rosenthal says so, too.] We had the helpful, but perplexed, hardware man cut it into five two-foot sections and drill a 1/4" hole near the base of each. We bought generous lengths of clear, flexible plastic tubing and some plexiglas squares. By the time we were done, we had a very weird-looking, primitive bong. But it worked (barely), and we were high. Good 'nuff.

Gravity Bong

The gravity bong was much better. They are very easy to make, are hard to fuck up, and give good hits. My friend and I made it entirely out of a one-liter plastic pop bottle, a two-liter plastic pop bottle, electrical tape, and some aluminum foil. After dumping the pop we sliced the neck off the two-liter and sliced the bottom black part off the one- liter (visualize this). The one-liter served as the "top" which fit inside the "bottom" part, the two-liter. We took the plastic bottlecaps and punched several holes in each, put them top-to-top and taped them up (voilá -- the bowl) (silicone would have made a better seal). We put the foil into one of the bottlecaps and punched a few tiny holes in it (the screen).

The concept of a gravity bong is as simple as a conventional bong. The two-liter bottom is filled with water and the one-liter top is inserted inside (both top-up). The cap is filled with bud (of course) and screwed onto the one-liter. The bud is lit and the one-liter is steadily pulled upwards. A vacuum is thus created in the one-liter, drawing in the smoke. The chopped-off bottom of the one-liter must not rise above the water line, or else the vacuum is destroyed and your smoke is lost. Once the one-liter is pulled up as far as possible and is filled with smoke, the bottlecap (bowl) is unscrewed and removed. While still holding the one-liter up (you'll feel a steady pull due to the high pressure of the smoke wanting to escape), wrap your lips around the neck of the one-liter and let go! The one-liter will drop into the water, forcing the smoke out and into your lungs. Cool, huh? Try another bowl!

Obviously, you can always use any container for the bong itself, and any body of water to sink it into. If you like near a stream, lake, or whatever, you could always take your gravity bong out there and take bong hits from the lake!

Back to Basics

You can always make a simple, effective bong in a couple of minutes with a plastic container, a stem and bowl, and some silicone. Finding a good stem and bowl may not always be easy, depending on where you live. There is a head shop in Chicago near where I live which sells all sorts of paraphernalia under-the-counter. Thus, I have been spoiled and don't know much about alternatives. Before I found the head shop, though, I did make a crude stem and bowl from Ace Hardware parts -- namely, a length of copper tubing and a brass fitting glued together. When in doubt of supplies to use, browse a hardware store. You'll be inspired.

[See bong diagram from above....] Anyway, cut a hole about midway up the container (allow for the stem's angle), and shove in the stem. Seal it up with generous amounts of silicone and let dry. Poke a small hole on the side opposite the stem (about 1/4", below the level of the bowl) for the carb. There. You're done. The silicone makes an airtight seal -- very important -- so you don't waste lung power.

The Best Bong

Every so often, I will find myself smoking so much of such good bud that I consider it a milestone. That is, it will be the best high I've ever had, which raises the ceiling once again. Well, the same thing happens with bongs. I've been very happy pulling tubes on my hooka. As much as I love my hooka, I have to say here that I've found a better bong. The guys who live across the hall always smoke their Graphix 3-footer, 2-chambered bong. They've named it "Stella Blue" because it has a blue tint, like many Graphix bongs. Stella Blue is more than a milestone -- it is the shit. I recommend that any stoners who want to get huge hits without tossing up a lung should get one of these.

Being commercially made, it's got everything I value in a bong. It's 100% airtight, it filters the smoke like no other, and you can see the smoke make its way into one chamber, then get pulled up into the top chamber and out. Even though it's so tall and pulls the smoke through two chambers, it still is very easy to pull through, especially with a clean screen.

But wait -- there's more: These guys used to have two of these three-footers, but the bottom part of one broke off (just above the stem-tube intersection). So they went to Ace Hardware and bought a half-foot-long rubber tube that encircled the tube. They fastened it with a metal belt to the bottom of the broken bong. Now, whenever the urge for a six-foot bong hit strikes, they just plop the top bong on top of the bottom one for a triple-filtered hit!

Materials

While there's a wide variety of containers and materials you can use in making a bong, make sure they will be safe. PVC is out (as mentioned above). When deciding whether to use a certain kind of plastic or not, the rule of thumb is to make sure it's safe for food. Otherwise, don't risk it. Plastic tubing is fine. Glass is optimal because it's inert, but many stoner acquaintances of mine have seen their $50 Graphix bongs accidentally shattered. The best materials to use are chemistry supplies. After all, they are designed to be airtight, to withstand high temperatures, etc. Therefore, they're safe to use and they give the best hits. The tradeoff is that they don't look pretty. My friend's bong, "The Monster," is made from a one-liter, heavy-duty Ehrlenmeyer flask with a two-hole stopper (plus stem and bowl) and a length of rubber tubing. It's simple, it's airtight, and you can watch the smoke fill the chamber while your friend is taking a hit.

Metals are fine to use, too. Brass, aluminum, and steel are completely safe. Stay away from copper, though -- it reacts with the smoke and leaches off carcinogenic material.

Clay is great to use for bongs. A friend of mine had a small clay bong made for him. It looks like a little rounded clay jar with a two-inch neck off the top and a flared bowl on the body. It's solid, uncomplicated, airtight, and portable, not to mention that it stays cool and is cute as shit.

Scraping Your Bong

I no longer think that resin is that great for smoking. If you have real buds, smoke those. Resin should be reserved for the truly desperate. Think about it -- when you burn wood in a fireplace, you get soot left over. Resin is basically the soot of bud. It contains all the tar and impurities that you want to get of by using a bong. Don't scrape up that shit to put into your lungs.

Getting rid of resin is important, though. The screen gets caked very easily and should be blown clean after every bowl. I always tap the ash out, then blow a fast lungful through pursed lips into the bottom of the bowl. When you can see through the holes in the screen, you're set. If you let the screen get too caked up, it will be very hard to get good bong hits because it will feel like you're trying to draw smoke through canvas.

When scraping your bowl and stem, you should use a thin, narrow metal object. The awl attachment on a pocket knife works well. I've heard of stoners using an unbent coat hanger, although I am partial towards a jeweler's screwdriver.

If you must smoke resin, here is how to do it: Save some leftover ash, then scrape your bowl. The flakes of resin which come off are very sticky and are hard to roll without smearing them all over your fingers. Resin smells very strongly, too, and won't come off your fingers for a few days. If you roll the resin with the ash, the ash acts as a binder and keeps the resin from sticking to your fingers excessively. After scraping the resin onto a smooth, flat surface, roll it with the ash into a ball. When done, stick it back into the bowl and smoke it.

Changing the Water

Another maintenance tip: Change the bong water often. If you can get into the habit of changing before every new session, that would be the best. Why so often? Just think of it this way: When you clean a wall with a bucket of water and detergent you will see the water get dirty. The dirtier the water gets, the less dirt it can further "absorb." So if you want your bong to filter effectively you should keep the filter clean. Simple.

Length of water = hard pull

The easiest bongs to pull smoke through are those with clean screens and a short distance of water. When I was experimenting with the physics of bongs, I made a Graphix-type bong (cylindrical chamber, open-mouthed hits) with one innovation: Instead of just sticking a stem into the chamber, I used a length of flexible plastic tubing which came out of the bottom of the chamber and coiled around the tube a few times before ending in a corncob pipe. The idea was to create some length of water for the bubbles to travel through, thus cleaning the smoke more.

The guy who introduced me to smoking argued this point with me. He said that it was the volume of water which made a difference in cleaning the smoke, not the *distance* that the smoke travelled. I think he was right, because the one-gallon bong [see above] had much better filtration than the coiled-tubing bong.

The down-side to the coiled-tubing bong was that it took some initial lung power to pull the water from the coils into the chamber, creating the necessary vacuum for the smoke to bubble. Veteran stoners and cigarette smokers (especially) didn't like that part of it because of the lung power it required. I didn't mind so much, because I was used to it, and once the bubbling started it had an easy draw. The one-gallon bong was the same way, but it could have had easier pull if I used a simple stem instead of a long length of plastic tubing.

Liquids

Tap water is not the only liquid that can be used in a bong. I prefer ice water, since it really cools the smoke, depending on how much water you have in the bong. Lately, though, I've tried hot/boiling water in The Monster [see above], and I like that effect a lot. The steam moisturizes the smoke and removes the dryness and harshoess/ If your bong can withstand hot or boiling water, I'd recommend it.

Trying various kinds of liquids in a bong is a lot of fun. Using beer and/or liquor in a bong gives the smoke a tasty flavor, covering over the smoky taste. I'd suggest Lineinkugel's beer, or Jim Beam/Jack Daniels whiskey. The downside to using alcohol in your bongs is that you will lose THC, because it is alcohol-soluble. Feel free to drink the bongwater after for a drunken high, though. {grin}

If you want to fuck around, try a half-and-half solution of water and mouthwash. The mouthwash will give a delightful minty flavor to the smoke, covering over the smoky taste -- every hit will feel like you just brushed your teeth! Also, try using Chloraseptic or some other kind of throat spray in the bong water. The medicine will coat and numb the back of your throat, allowing you to take astonishingly big hits without feeling them. The flipside is that I don't know what the dangers are to smoking through these substances. Try it at your own risk.

Smoking and extinguishing a bowl

Having hung out with many bong-smokers, I've seen many ways of smoking a bong. The simplest way, or course, is to cover the carb, light up, wait till your lungs are 75-90% full, then carb it and inhale the chamber.

There are variations on this basic technique. As mentioned above, one good thing about smoking from a bowl is that you can extinguish the bowl in order to prevent wasting bud. The best technique I've seen is to partialy cover the bowl with the lighter, a few seconds before you carb it. This method will taper down the air flow toward the end, then will completely stop the burning when the bowl is completely covered and the bong is carbed.

For longer bongs, you might want to use several breaths on a covered carb to fill the long chamber with smoke. Carbing it will then pull in the full chamber's worth of smoke.

If the bong you're on gives great big hits, you might consider pacing your lungs on a hit. Bubble some, rest some, bubble some more, rest some. It's really the burn of the smoke on your throat and lungs which makes it necessary to slow down and pace your hit. A variation of this is to take several short hits--on one breath, so you don't violate stoner etiquette. Especially if the bud's burning strong, take a short and big hit and carb it to bring in the smoke. Then cover the carb back up and keep going. You might be able to do this two or three times before running out of lung space.

Etiquette

***Disclaimer: This section on etiquette is meant to be a personal observation of stoner manners. I do not mean to imply that this is how stoners, as a whole, do or should conduct their smoking.

Bong etiquette seems to allow each person one lungful (inhalation) per turn. Every person should get a decent bong hit on his or her turn. The turn-taker is also allowed to finish the chamber of smoke (carbed) on a second breath. If a person doesn't get a good amount of smoke in a hit, they're allowed to smoke first (if going in order) from the new bowl.

The bong and lighter should be smoothly passed onto the next stoner. The veteran stoner will have already extinguished the bowl so that no bud is wasted for the next person.

Etiquette for the host suggests that s/he provide his/her guests with a spittoon (garbage can), water, and munchies (optional, but very generous!). Needless to say, the ambience should be comfortable and inviting. Bud is best enjoyed in company and with entertainment, so bud should be shared with friends.

Bowl packers are subject to a much looser constraints. Since the person packing bowls is in essence doing everyone else a favor, few arguments can be made by the recipients. Bowl packers can be dictators and direct the route of the bong. They can also smoke as much of their own bud as they want, even if they're out of turn or whatever. The kindest bowl packers pack so much bud into a large bowl that the air can barely be sucked through it. They pass the bong around in order and re-pack the bowl liberally. Not everyone has the money to afford this philosophy, but stoners are usually generous people.

Usually the person packing bowls will take the first hit off a new bowl, but not always. When a fresh bowl is passed to someone else, it is a generous gesture towards that stoner.

While stoners can be obnoxious, they are all too often labeled as "bad stoners." This unfarly derisive term means that a stoner acts goofy while stoned. It's very uncool to blame some stoner's goofy behavior on the fact that s/he's stoned because it's too easy to make a stoner self-conscious (and that sucks). It is more polite to allow everyone to enjoy the bud in their own way and not be judgmental of others.

The best attitude to have is to relax and enjoy the company and the surroundings. Bud is finicky that way -- every experienced stoner knows that you should be in a good mood when stoning.

Lighters

Lighters come in a variety of shapes and sizes. Ordinary cigarette lighters are adequate for smoking bud, but they're not the best. If ordinary lighters are used, it's best to make sure the flame is at least 1.5" tall. When lighting, the lighter is best held vertically, with the flame being sucked over the edge of the bowl onto the bud. This method avoids singed fingers. Another advantage to having a large flame is that you can torch the entire surface area of the bud at once, getting a great big hit. If you are using a disposable lighter with the flame-height adjuster slide on front, you can make any flame you want. If, after turning the flame up all the way, it's still not big enough, try this trick: Pop off the metal protector from the top and look at the slide. It's essentially a tiny wrench used to turn a toothed gear. Lift the slide up and move it to the left without turning the gear. Then plop in down into the gear on the left side and slide it to the right. Now torch that bud!

If possible, a pipe lighter should be purchased. Pipe lighters emit a tall flame at a ninety-degree angle, making it easier to light a bowl. The same effect can be achieved with conventional lighters by using a lighter "holster." The only one I've seen was made out of leather and had a "belt strap" on the back. The lighter was put into the holster, and the index and middle fingers fit snugly into the belt strap (with the holster resting on top of the fingers). The thumb could then flick the lighter with all fingers safely away from the flame even if the lighter were held sideways to light the bowl. Even if you don't have a "lighter holster," you can imitate it and save your fingers by placing your middle finger on the bottom of the lighter while lighting it with your thumb. Now by squeezing the lighter lengthwise, you're keeping your whole hand on the backside, away from the flame.

Carb vs. slide

Most bongs use a carb to clear the chamber of smoke, but they're not the only way. Some stems are removable, and they're called "slides." The slide fits into a slightly larger-diameter fixed stem. A little gasket at the base of the stem creates an airtight seal whenever the slide is in the stem. When "carbed," the slide is pulled out of the stem by a little handle, allowing plain air to be sucked through the water, clearing the chamber.

Both slides and carbs are fine, and the choice of one or the other is totally a matter of personal preference.

Wetting the herb

Some time ago a stoner wrote in to High Times that he gets more smoke (up to three times as much) from his bud when he wets the herb. I've tried smoking dry and wet buds in my bongs and have found no difference one way or the other. I may be doing it wrong, but I really doubt that wetting the herb makes any difference.

What I have found out since I first wrote this phile is that wetting the bud dampens the smoke. I keep an eyedropper taped to the side of my water bottle, so I can drop water onto the bud and then suck it through. It takes longer to get the bud lit, but the bud feels mellower on one's lungs. Try it.

Conclusion

I hope this article will be informative and useful to some stoners. I apologize if some of the information is obvious, but I like to err on the verbose side.

In closing I urge all stoners to realize that there is no reason for marijuana/hemp to be illegal. Mainstream drugs like alcohol and nicotine are much more dangerous.

If marijuana is ever to be legal, it will require that stoners come out of the closet and talk openly about the benefits of pot smoking with everyone. Tell non-stoning friends, relatives, colleagues, co-workers, teachers, parents, etc., as much as possible. Be informed and answer questions honestly. Although it can be difficult to tell people you've known all your life that you smoke pot and think it should be legalized, it is easier than you think. If you follow up your admission with good arguments, your friends (etc.) will be forced to seriously wonder why marijuana is illegal at all. Happy stoning!


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