Bong water might not be an area of prioritization in your smoking regime. However, there are several pertinent reasons as to why users should endeavour to keep on top of replacing it.
While stagnant bong water isn’t likely to seriously harm or injure, it could pose a number of health risks if left unattended for extended periods. This risk is because the water in bongs not only acts as a cooling apparatus for hot cannabis smoke, but it serves as a filter too.
As such, like any other filter, the efficacy drops off quickly if not properly maintained or given the appropriate care.
This article will explore why cannabis users should change their bong water frequently and some of the potential dangers of not doing so.
Why You Need to Change Bong Water
As outlined above, bongs work by using water as a makeshift filter and coolant for hot cannabis smoke. Thus, these smoking devices can deliver a larger dose of weed much more smoothly than more conventional joints and pipes.
Like cigarette smoke, cannabis smoke can contain ash, tar and other undesirable carcinogens and toxins produced during the combustion process.
When cannabis smoke travels through a bong’s downstem and eventually to the mouthpiece to enter the lungs, it first passes through the water in the chamber. This bong water serves to simultaneously cool the smoke and filter out some of the tar and ash that it may have picked up.
Suppose users see their bong water accumulating specks of unidentifiable matter or notice a yellow tinge to the water. In that case, these signs indicate that the bong water is doing an appropriate job of filtering weed smoke to keep it smooth and clean.
However, like any other filter, bong water needs to be replaced regularly to ensure maximum efficacy and safety.
Stagnant bodies of water, such as water in a bong, are the perfect environment for breeding algae and bacteria. Whether through users’ saliva, contaminated nugs of weed or by travelling through the air, microorganisms can slowly accumulate over time in a bong’s water.
Whatsmore, the warm, humid environment of the bong makes it highly desirable for microorganisms to settle down and copulate.
In addition to microorganisms, allergens, dust, and other pollutants can also enter into a bong. If users enjoy sharing their bong with friends, then the number of microorganisms and allergens will be even higher.
Over time, this collection of organic and inorganic matter can form a layer of biofilm.
According to Doctor Rose of the US Water Quality and Health Council, “biofilms can harbour human pathogens that are difficult to kill.” As a result, she continues, they can create “the opportunity for infections to flourish and even facilitate human deaths, for these tough microbial communities can resist antibiotics and evade the immune system.”
In short, leaving bong water to stagnate over time can run the risk of severe harm and injury to both individual users and whoever else with whom they’re sharing their bong.
How Often Should You Replace Your Bong Water?
In order to ensure their bong is performing at maximum efficacy, it’s recommended that users change their bong water once every session. In other words, they should use fresh water at the start of every session.
Once finished smoking, the bong should have its water dumped out, and users should rinse the entire piece with hot water to prevent the buildup of algae, bacteria and tar.
Another viable alternative is to replace the water once you notice it beginning to turn yellow. Furthermore, water should be replaced if there appears to be an abundance of black specks or ash floating on its surface.
If you notice a reflective sheen forming on the surface of your bong’s water, that’s an indication that a biofilm is present. In this case, you should rinse your bong out with boiling water and dry it thoroughly before using it again.
Can You Use Only Water in Your Bong?
While water is the best filtration medium to use in a bong, it isn’t the only one.
Any sugar-free and alcohol-free liquid will be effective as well. Sparkling water, unsweetened beverages and tea serve as creative alternatives. Flavoured liquids can infuse their aroma and fragrance into the smoke, in addition to giving a bong a visually aesthetic touch.
However, if users choose to use a liquid other than water, they must ensure that it is both sugar and alcohol-free. Sugar in a bong can cause it to become extremely sticky. The integration of alcohol, such as beer or spirits, into a bong also has the potential of causing an explosion due to the presence of alcohol fumes and the proximity of the lighter.
Additionally, combining alcohol and cannabis is not recommended in its own right. Combining these two substances can be overwhelming and cause a phenomenon known as cross-fading.
For more information on the crossfaded phenomenon, how it affects your body and how to stop it, check out our comprehensive guide here.
Aromatics, such as flowers and herbs, are another imaginative addition to a bong that can liven up the experience. For example, washed and clean mint leaves, citrus peels and cloves can add a spicy flavour to hits and liken the bong experience to that of a hookah.
Fresh Water, Fresh Smoke
While dirty bong water isn’t an immediate cause for alarm, extended neglect and negligence over time can affect your health negatively.
Spending a few moments each time to replace bong water is quick, easy and benefits users in the long run. While you most likely won’t get sick from using stagnant bong water, it’s still a good practice to uphold.
If you need some extra incentive to change the water, the addition of aromatics, herbs and spices can give you that extra push. If you’re not up to the task of constantly changing your water, alternatives such as THC vape pens provide an accessible, ready-to-go method to medicate without having to change your bong’s water or even load up a bowl.
No matter which method you choose to medicate with, we hope this guide helps you do it safely and effectively.