How much water do I need to put in my bong is a common question, and one that you may well be asking if you have a trusty new bong or are thinking of buying one for the first time.
The good news is you're in the right place to find out. We will tell you the quickest and easiest way to know just how much water you need to add to get the best performance from your water pipe. After all, if you want to get the full enjoyment from cool water filtered smoke getting the right water level is essential.
Bongs come in many different sizes and designs, so the amount of water isn't the same for every bong. The size, shape, and percolators will make a huge difference but don't worry, be it a standard beaker bong, straight pipe, dab rig or scientific marvel, or percolation goodness, we will tell you just how much water is the right amount.
The simple answer to how much bong water you need is just enough to ensure your downstem is submerged by about a 1/2inch (1 - 1.5cm).
If your pipe has a diffused downstem (a downstream with slits in it to aerate the smoke), then you want the water level to be high enough that all those slits are submerged.
If you don't have all the slits submerged or the opening of the downstream is above the water, then the smoke can bypass the water filtration and cooling, which will result in harsher, hotter hits as you'd get from a hand pipe.
So what if you have one of those huge scientific bongs with more than one chamber and percolator? Well, the basic principle holds- you need to add enough water to cover all those percolator openings. For example, if your bong has an inline percolator and a matrix percolator, then both of them should be submerged in water.
This allows each of the percolators to function correctly and doubles a single perc bong's water filtration.
Suppose you only cover the lower percolator. In that case, the upper one is just moving the smoke around but not percolating it and filtering out any impurities from the smoke or cooling it. Percolation picture of bong and water in action
Now you know just how much water to put in your bong, let us look at the best way to do it. Filling up your bong in the wrong way can lead to spillage, and while that may not matter so much if it's just water, if you are using a bong water alternative, like juice or Gatorade, it can be a pain to clean up.
For these simple bongs that have just a simple downstream, the process is easy. Just pour the water down through the mouthpiece at the top until the downstream in the bottom is submerged. You can also remove the downstream and pour the liquid in through there, but this can make it hard to judge the right amount, and you may have to insert and remove the downstream a few times, filling up water between to get the right amount.
When it comes to percolator bongs or water pipes with several chambers, it can be a little harder to fill them with water. The best way to go about it is to pour water in from the mouthpiece. However, sometimes water may get trapped in the upper percolators or chambers. If this is the case, you can blow through the mouthpiece to force the water into the lower parts of the bong. Lightly tilting the bong can also help the water run down into the bottom of it as well.
Give time for the water to settle and make sure all the percolators are submerged. If not, you can always add in some extra water as needed. If you overfill, then simply tilt the bong, and you can pour the water out from the bottom through the downstream.
If you want to make sure you have the perfect amount of water, there are a couple of extra steps you can follow.
Before putting the bowl of the nail in place, you can take some test drags through the mouthpiece.
If the water level is correct, it should bubble through the percolators.
If you see that the water is barely bubbling or the percolators are not submerged, add more water.
If the water is coming up the neck and touching your lips when taking a test drag, you have too much and should drain out some water.
If you use a bong attachment such as an ash catcher, then you should apply the same principles to the water level in it as well.
The water in a bong has two jobs; the first is that of filtration; the ash, tar, and other particulate matter created when combusting dry herb is captured in the water, which prevents it from being inhaled. This makes the smoke smoother.
The second job is that of an aerator. As smoke is drawn through the water, it is dispersed into tiny bubbles. This increased surface area helps cool the smoke on its way to your lungs, so you don't get the hot blast of smoke that is typical when smoking a hand pipe or blunt.
The reason why the bong level matters are that if you have too much water, then the bong is going to be harder to smoke. Your lungs will have to work harder, creating more suction to pull the smoke through the water. If you have too little, the filtration and aeration won't function desirably, and you'll end up with hasher hits.
If you are putting ice in your bong to further cool the smoke from your bong, then the water level you need is not going to change.
However, as that smoke hits the ice, it is going to melt it because smoke, by its very nature, is going to be hotter than the ice.
So as the ice melts, it will, in turn, increase the water level in your bong. So you need to be aware of that and keep an eye on the level of the water because as the water level increases, you run the risk of the bongs being harder on your lungs. You could also end up accidentally getting some splashback and dirty bong water in your mouth, which isn't so pleasant. So maybe now you've taken a few hits, you'll want to think about cleaning your bong, in which case you can check out our how to clean your bong article.