Bong vs. Water Pipe: What’s the Difference?

As the smoking paraphernalia universe continues to expand, the terms ‘bong’ and ‘water pipe’ are now often used interchangeably. A lot of retailers also sell water pipes as bongs or vice versa. However, bongs and water pipes are not the same.

While experienced smokers understand the difference, beginners are often confused between the two. Hopefully, by the end of this post, it won’t be difficult for you to differentiate a bong from a water pipe.

What is a Bong?

Bongs are currently very popular among serious, younger pot smokers. The smoking tool uses a water-based filtration system through which the smoke passes when being used. The filtration system is responsible for filtering the gunk that can be harmful to the body and ensuring that only the good stuff reaches the user. Bongs have a chambered design to avoid ash inhalation.

The general design of a bong typically features a bottle or vertical tube that is filled with water, along with a smaller tube that ends in the bowl. You can now find bongs made from glass, clay, acrylic, silicone, and metal. However, their bigger size makes them difficult to carry. Also, when the bong is filled with water, you’ll always have to keep it upright.

How Does a Bong Work?

While there is no shortage of bong designs, shapes, and sizes, they all work in the same manner. The function of a bong is to filter and provide the user with a cooler smoke when the weed is burned.

The small bowl is where you place the dried weed before lighting it up. As you’ll inhale, water will percolate (bubble). The smoke will rise through this percolating water before moving through the chamber and to your mouth. As compared to smoking weed rolled up in paper, a bong offers a smoother and cooler smoking experience.

Also, compared to water pipes, a bong can quickly get you much higher. As the smoke will percolate through the tube and water, the smoking high is generally more potent. But it is also worth noting that the water filtration system of the bong doesn’t entirely remove all the gunk or bad stuff and could be harmful to your lungs and overall health.

Pros and Cons of a Bong


  • Cooler and smoother smoking as the smoke passes through the water filtration system
  • Quick and potent highs make bong highly cost-effective and efficient as you’ll need a lesser amount of weed
  • Available in various colors, materials, shapes, and sizes
  • Some bongs are works of art and worthy of a collection


  • Larger size is not very practical for carrying
  • Design of some models can be very complex, making them difficult to clean
  • Bong water has a strong stink, and it can be very difficult to remove the odor if you spill the water

What is a Water Pipe?

Water pipes have been a traditional choice among smokers. There is evidence that suggests that people have been using pipes for several centuries. But while pipes are now available in several variations, weed consumers mostly prefer water pipes made from glass.

Water pipes are nothing close to the traditional pipes in terms of their working or design. Compared to a bong, water pipes have a more complex design. They generally feature multiple percolators, tiers, and chambers, either in a beaker, zig-zag, or straight design. Like a bong, a water pipe also uses a water filtration system, but there is a significant difference in how the smoke circulates.

In comparison, bongs have a simpler design with just the straight tube and the stem. The complex design of the water pipe is known to improve the flavor of your weed, and the tokes are smoother than what you experience with a bong. Multiple percolators and chambers also offer improved filtration.

How Does a Water Pipe Work?

Like bongs, all the water pipes work in the same fashion, irrespective of their design, shape, or size. They aim to filter the smoke through the filtration system to provide a cooler and smoother smoking experience.

Weed is placed inside the small bowl of the water pipe. The bowl consists of holes at the bottom. The bowl is placed on top of the tube, which has water at the bottom. The smoke emitted when the weed is ignited moves through the bubbling water as the user inhales through the pipe. From the filtration system, the smoke moves to the chamber and then to the mouth and lungs of the smoker.

But it is worth noting that while bongs are mostly reserved for smoking weed, water pipes are commonly used for smoking tobacco and even flavored concentrates. As for the potency of the high, it depends on the design of the water pipe. Ones with a simpler design often get you high quicker.

Pros and Cons of Water Pipes


  • Improved filtration compared to bongs as the smoke can go through multiple percolators and chambers
  • Smoother and cooler smoking experience compared to bongs
  • Ideal for beginners and casual use in groups
  • Wide range of designs, shapes, and colors to choose from


  • Complex design can make cleaning a time-consuming affair
  • Not the easiest to carry smoking device
  • Like bong, the water from the water pipe reeks

Is One Better Than the Other?

So, are bongs better than water pipes or vice versa? Not really. It all boils down to the preferences of the smoker. As can be seen above, both have their pros and cons. While it is alright to go through articles and videos online that can help you choose between the two, the best way is to use them.

It is only when you smoke through a bong and a water pipe that you’ll be able to decide what suits you best. Alternatively, you can purchase one of each so that you can mix and match things up. You can easily find bongs and water pipes that cost less than $100. Having both will automatically eliminate the need to choose one.

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