If you’re part of the 64% majority mainstream of law-abiding citizens in Australia who don’t take illicit substances, then you might have wondered what bongs are? Bongs are either home-made or glass manufactured water pipes used mainly for the smoking of cannabis or hashish. In Australia the colloquial or slang terminology for a bong is a billy, as in “billabong”.
Bongs and Cone Pieces
Bongs are composed of three main parts and a cone piece in which the cannabis is burnt with a lighter or match flame. The first part of the traditional marijuana water pipe is the glass shaft which is held in the user’s hand. It is sealed off at the bottom with a rubber base and has an open-top where the mouth is placed to inhale the filtered smoke.
The second part is the metal stem which is a smaller pipe inserted into the side of the shaft and protrudes at an angle from the bong and is sealed with rubber at the connection. The cone piece then fits nicely into the outside opening of the stem and the user’s free hand brings the lighter to the cannabis in the cone. The final part of most traditional bongs is the ‘shoddy’, or small hole in the shaft where the thumb of the holding hand is placed to seal the water pipe and form more of a vacuum for the initial ‘toke’ or inhalation of the burning hemp. Of course, bongs are filled with water to a point not beyond the level of the shoddy but enough to cover the lower part of the stem so it can act as a filter for the smoke.
Do Users Prefer Bongs to Joints?
Joints, or marijuana cigarettes, are generally good for a small ‘hit’ of THC, the chemical component that gives the cannabis ‘hit’. Because a joint is small you can carry it around and smoke it somewhere outside in public. Smoking bongs gives the user a bigger rush and initial high and usually becomes part of a ritual of cannabis smoking for regular hemp smokers.
You can make your own bong from an empty drink bottle, and in the 1970s bongs were sometimes called “orchys” because of the brand of orange juice bottle used as the main shaft. Home-made cannabis water-pipes still require a stem, which is usually cut from a garden hose and even a shoddy can be made with a knife or scissors. Sometimes users will form an extra seal on the hose pipe by heating the plastic so it sets a firm seal around the entry point of the garden hose.
The Best Bongs to Buy in Australia?
Apart from The ACT and Victoria, it is illegal to even own a bong in Australia. A person can be charged with possession of drug paraphernalia according to most states laws if found with a cannabis water pipe in their home. Cannabis itself too, and the sale and distribution of bongs is still illegal throughout Australia, however, first time offenders are mostly given a caution or diversion depending on amount and context the seizure.
Having said this, well-designed and beautifully crafted bongs are available online, and even under-the-counter at some tobacconists. If you want to purchase bongs from a tobacco store you have to ask discreetly and depend on the owner’s charity at whether he or she will sell you a glass cannabis water-pipe.
Ancient Bongs Around the World
The first known bongs to be used by mankind were attributed to ancient Russians over two thousand years ago, and since then discoveries in Africa have found bongs made from horns and wood during the medieval period of history. Today, bongs are made from glass and rubber seals and metal, with the middle eastern Hookah being the most elaborate type of hemp water pipe.
Using bongs is synonymous with smoking cannabis and is a choice made by individuals for any number of reasons. The fact that Australia now provides legal cannabis for medicinal purposes, and seems to be moving towards greater decriminalisation of marijuana, could see the eventual sale of bongs on the open market in a much more enlightened country.