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How did Bongs get their name and why do retailers shy away from the name bong... opting for glass water pipes instead?

How did Bongs get their name and why do retailers shy away from the name bong... opting for glass water pipes instead?

The bong is probably the most popular and beloved smoking device ever used by hippies and avid smokers. We become very intimate, attached and personal about our bongs, in part, for the joy they deliver us.

If you are like me and so many others, you probably think that the bong is a descendant of the hookah, but that’s just not true. The word bong comes from the word “baung” which is actually a Thai word and means 'a cylindrical wooden tube, pipe or container cut from bamboo.'  Now that was a surprise to me!

Also, with dry herbs being native to Central Asia, and always being popular in China, it’s logical to think that the bong was invented in Asia but you’ll be surprised to learn that this also, isn’t true. The bong was actually invented in Africa!  Not only that but African cultures were developing smoking devices long before the arrival of tobacco even! It’s unclear when dry herbs hit  Africa, but pipes found in caves, from way back when, were found to contain dry herb residue! So I guess that means that the Africans are the first true hippies! LOL

You’ll also be surprised to learn that dry herb in Asian Islamic societies was eaten, and not smoked, plus all archaeological evidence indicates that Africans primarily chewed and snuffed tobacco, while they mostly smoked dry herbs. The alternate theory that the tobacco pipe was adapted to natural 7 leaf plant by straightening it out and filtering it through water is also wrong, because of the fact that the 7 leaf natural plant was popular long before tobacco in Africa. 

In countries and states where smoking dry herb is still illegal, retailers claim that bongs are intended for use with tobacco, in an attempt to circumvent laws against selling drug paraphernalia. While technically 'bong' does not mean a device used for smoking only dry herb, drug-related connotations have been formed with the word itself.  So… since smoke shops fear the law and rightfully so, many of the head shops still today will not use the word or serve customers who use the word "bong" or "bongs", or any other word typically associated with illegal drug use.

So now you also know why the vast majority of smoke and head shops instead referred to bongs as glass water pipes! Head shops that sell bongs for legal dry herb, concentrate, and tobacco use still exist and will not be going away until all states make the use of dry herb legal.  Crazy interesting right?

Things are changing though and they're changing fast. Today, glass blown pipes and bongs are a multi-million dollar industry. From local artists to giant factories, there’s no stopping the popularity of the bong. Most are all still made by hand and they have become so amazingly elaborate and cool, that they are some of the most beautiful and expensive works of glass art you can find.

So the next time you reach for your favorite bong to let it rip, take a moment and remember that, that’s not just a bong, it’s a piece of art, history, and culture. 

Bongs available at our Rad Hippie Shop are strictly for legal use and tobacco use only. Legal use is dependent on the state in which you live. That being said, I can tell you that we are super excited about offering you today, one of the best selections of bongs, pipes, vapes, vape parts, smoking accessories, and other rad hippie vibe products online!

So in closing…. let’s set the record straight. 

  1. Bongs didn’t derive from hookahs.
  2. Bongs were not invented in Asia.
  3. Africa was using bongs and pipes for dry herb long before the arrival of tobacco.
  4. Africans created the bong to smoke dry herb, even though the name may have come from Thai word baung.
  5. Smoke and head shops stayed away from the word bong simply due to connotations of the word itself.

Hope you found my bong blog interesting and happy smoking from our Rad Hippie Shop, your one stop hippie smoke and head shop!

Check out these videos for more on the history of the bong, glass water pipe.







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