Are Bongs Healthier?
Bongs have been around for centuries. For most of their existence, they have been a tool used for leisure. Recently, a hotly contested debate has surrounded various vaping tools, including bongs and vaporizers, on whether they (especially bongs) are the healthier option.
Whether you’re a newbie to bongs or a smoker looking for the best alternative, this is a subject that you will also seriously consider, before making the transition from smoking to using bongs.
What is A Bong?
For those that are new to bongs, the best place to start the conversation would be understanding what bongs are, how they work and how their functionality affects health implications.
The bong is a water filtration device. It consists of a watertight bowl-stem, a pipe and a water container. Bongs are a tool used in smoking cannabis and other herbs. They come in a virtually endless array of styles and designs. They might differ slightly in how they function depending on the type but, the basic principle is the same.
Bongs come in various colours, shapes, sizes and materials. The most common ones are those made from hand-blown glass. Although the concept of bongs seems complicated, they are easy to use.
Once you place your herb of choice on top of the stem and light it up, you put your mouth over the pipe to inhale. The bong does the rest.
How a Bong Works?
Besides combusting cannabis into smoke, the other primary function of a bong is to filter the smoke. This process aims to get rid of the other contaminants you don't want in your lungs. These include tar, impurities and other particulates.
Once you light up your herb and it combusts, the particles in the herb break down into a gaseous smoke packed with everything you want from the herb, as well as some things that you would prefer not to inhale.
When you inhale from the pipe, the smoke goes through the water inside the bong. The water acts as a screen that filters out all the unwanted contaminants like ash and tar.
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This process of filtration delivers smoother smoke packed with more flavour and a better smoking experience.
How is Smoking from a Bong Healthier?
Most bong lovers believe that smoking from a bong is healthier. Admittedly, there's some debate on the subject, and the answer is not that simple.
It’s vital to note that any form of filtration is superior to any alternative that is not filtered. It’s also important to note that any form of smoking comes with some risks. You have to weigh these risks for yourself to choose the best form of smoking for you. If you’re keen on not inhaling any smoke, there are other alternatives like oils, tinctures and dry herb vaping that you can try.
The subject of whether bongs are a healthier alternative has attracted not only the attention of bong lovers and those transitioning but also scientists. Fortunately, some research has been conducted on the same to give more conclusive results.
Are Bongs healthier – The Scientific Perspective
Several studies and research have been conducted to assess the impact of smoking using bongs. While the “smoking” aspect is still in the air, the studies have shown that bong filtration is effective as a healthy filtration process.
Some studies have also shown that using a bong is much better than smoking without a filter. Some bong lovers believe that the water inside the bong can trap up to 90% of the harmful toxins. However, this percentage isn't verified.
The three most notable studies that have been conducted on this matter and shed more light include:
Dr. Gary Huber from the University of Texas, together with colleagues from the Harvard School of Public Health, conducted a study on the toxicity of marijuana smoke.
The study found that water effectively eliminated several contaminants like acrolein and acetaldehyde, both highly toxic to some of the cells in the lungs called alveolar macrophages, which are one of the major defence cells of the lung.
Further, the conclusion of the study showed that water filtration was not only effective in removing harmful components from marijuana smoke but also allowed the useful substances to pass through intact.
Another study was conducted earlier by Hoffman on the same subject and published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute. Like the first study, this second study also demonstrated that water filtration reduced the quality and number of toxic substances in the smoke when passed through it.
Another study also showed that when some smoke components known to have carcinogenic properties were passed through a water pipe, they only showed minor hyperplasic reaction with no sebaceous gland destruction when they were painted on the skin of a mouse.
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Applying substances to the mouse’s skin is a method used to assess the carcinogenic potential of the substances and is a classic toxicology test.
The University of Athens Medical School also conducted a related study in the 1970s. The study involved testing marijuana smoke that was passed through a water pipe. The results of the tests found that the filtration process left behind substantial amounts of helpful compounds but captured other toxins and impurities to a higher degree.
The three studies all came to the same conclusion. Using a bong helped to capture impurities and toxins. Although they did not mention the percentage of toxins captured, water filtration was found effective in all three studies.
How You Can Improve the Quality of Your Bong Hits
According to the three studies, bongs are a healthier alternative. They provide natural filtration using water that helps to remove some of the contaminants from the smoke you inhale.
However, you can also take precautions like using glass bongs and keeping the water in your bong clean to enhance the effectiveness of the bong and also improve your smoking experience. Also, ensure you keep your bong clean before each use.
Plastic and metal bongs, though cheaper, can release harmful toxins when heated, which is then transmitted to your lungs when you inhale.