Navigating a bong for the first time can be tricky. It’s not easy figuring out the mechanics and how everything works together to deliver the notoriously smooth, yet strong hits that water pipes are known for. It can be even more frustrating trying to figure out how to hit a bong just right between coughing fits with everyone at the sesh laughing at you as you hack up a lung.

From selecting the right water pipe to how much water you should use, there are a couple of things you’ll need to learn to prep and perfect your technique. If it all seems a bit daunting but don’t fret – you’ll get the hang of it in no time with a bit of practice! Here’s our guide on how to hit a bong just right for a silky smooth hit that packs a punch and lands you on Mars, beyond stoned.

Photo: Unsplash

Prepping your Bong

First, you’ll need to make sure you’ve set up your water pipe with a nicely packed bowl and just the right amount of water.

How Much Water do you Put in a Bong

Too much water and you’ll get splashback. Too little and you won’t have enough for good percolation. It’s really about striking a balance. All you really need is to have enough water to fully submerge the downstem’s slits. It should be filled with water nearly ½ inch from the base.

How to Avoid Splashback 

There are also specific styles of bongs that have built in splashguards. For instance, bongs with a bent neck, ice catchers and percolators all reduce splashback naturally. Also, just don’t rip too strong because then you’re simply asking for it.

Steps to Set Up your Piece

  1. Fill with water – Fill the bong with water through the mouthpiece until it covers the downstem by about 1/2 inch. If you overfill it, you may get splashback. It’s always better to start there and add more later if needed. Splashback is when bong water splashes up through mouthpiece into your mouth.
  2. Pack the bowl – Grind your herb with a few twists of a weed grinder and pack the bowl. Just make sure to pack it loose enough so that air can pass through.
  3. Set the stage – Grab a lighter and a glass of water in good measure for if you start coughing.

How to Hit a Bong with Technique

  1. Breathe – Once your bong is prepped and the bowl is packed take in a few deep breaths before officially lighting. The more oxygen in your body before you take the hit the better as the hit will be smoother. You also won’t cough nearly as much.
  2. Place your mouth on the mouthpiece – The rim of the mouthpiece should actually go around your lips, not the other way around. Form a seal with the mouthpiece so that air cannot escape. You wouldn’t want to let a good bong hit go to waste, after all!
  3. Light the bowl – Hold the bong with one hand and light the bowl along its edge that way your herb will last longer between hits.
  4. Inhale – Inhale smooth and slow and watch as the chamber fills with smoke. If you want to take a smaller hit, just draw enough smoke so it fills about halfway. At this point, you’re just breathing in to bring the smoke into the chamber without actually taking the hit.
  5. Put down your lighter – Once you’ve filled the bong to your liking, put down your lighter, slide the bowl out of the downstem and inhale.
  6. Hold in the smoke for 2-3 seconds – While the length you should hold in is in perpetual debate, 2-3 seconds is really all you need to get high.
  7. Cup the mouthpiece with your hand – If you aren’t able to clear the chamber fully the first hit, that’s no problem! Many assume that you have to take the full hit at one go when really you can 100% go at your own pace. Simply cup the mouthpiece with the palm of your hand once you’ve taken in your first hit so that the smoke doesn’t escape.
  8. Clear the chamber – When you’re ready to clear the chamber so as not to leave stale smoke for the next person, remove your hand and place your mouth inside the mouthpiece again, inhaling smoothly.
  9. Exhale – Exhale smoothly. And if you still coughed a bit no worries, that’s just the nature of the ganja!
A woman demonstrating how to hit a bong correctly
A woman hitting a bong (Source: Pexels)

How Long to Hold in a Bong Hit, Actually

After you’ve inhaled, you should hold in the hit for about 2-3 seconds. After that, there’s diminishing returns and oxygen deprivation to think about. Many stoners boast about how long they can hold in a hit. They’ll often attest that the length you hold it in corresponds to how long the high lasts. But really, it’s hard to say because holding in a bong hit can also make you feel higher simply because you’re depriving your brain of oxygen. Nonetheless, holding the hit for roughly three seconds is the standard, common practice and perfectly safe to do.

Choosing the Right Bong

A huge part of the art of hitting a bong has to do with the setup. If you’re looking to get a silky smooth hit, getting a bong with percolators, an ice pinch or a glycerin coil probably your best bet, especially if you’re just starting out.

Percolator bongs are a style of water pipe that have additional percs which filter smoke even further so that it’s even smoother before it reaches your lips. Percolators are a world of their own but the most common ones are the honeycomb, jellyfish, and matrix percs. 

Many perc bongs are also ice catcher bongs. Ice bongs feature a three-pinch toward the base or middle of the neck of the bong. The ice catcher generally accommodate 2-3 ice cubes and serve an extremely important purpose of cooling your hits even further. 

Glow in the dark Monster Bong


Other bongs feature a glycerin coil like the one featured in the photo below. The glycerin coil can be removed from the bong, placed into the freezer and then fit back into the bong for an. extra icy cool hit.

So once you’ve packed your bowl and light it, the smoke will travel through the water at the base, through the percolators, and the ice cubes or glycerin coil, becoming smoother and cooler every step of the way.

A woman hits a bong in bed
A smooth, relaxing hit (Source: Unsplash)

Opt for a Bubbler First

A man hits a bubbler
A smaller, smoother hit (Source: Unsplash)

While classic bongs like beakers and straight tubes tend to be a more popular choice, bubblers may actually be more up your alley. This is especially the case if you are looking for something that doesn’t deliver as intense of a hit or are just starting out.

The bubbler is essentially the smaller cousin to the classic water bong. They are often described as the lovechild of a bong and a pipe. This is because bubblers deliver the filtration power of a bong and yet are small and portable like a pipe. While bubblers are not necessarily as portable as a pipe, they do offer smooth, bubbly hits that are ideal for novice stoners.

Looking for a more powerful high?

On the other hand, if you’re actually looking for a more powerful hit a gravity bong may be just the thing for you because it forces heavily concentrated smoke from one bowl in one massive hit. Our fair warning is that only experienced stoners should hit a gravity bong.  These are extremely popular among stoners who have built up a tolerance, because it delivers an intense high all at one go. Just make sure to pick a bong that works best for you personally.

Let ‘Er Rip

A woman hits a bong in a field of sunflowers
A woman hits a bong in a flower field (Source: Unsplash)

Getting high is all about letting go. It is designed to help you unwind, escape your daily woes and live in the present moment. So while all this talk about the art of hitting a bong might seem intimidating, just go at your own pace. It’s really all about finding what works for you and enjoying the ride!

Do you have more burning questions around cannabis?

Email us at [email protected] with your questions/topic suggestions and we will get back to you! 

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