Dropping a few ice cubes down the neck of a bong before lighting up is a not-so-secret stoner trick that’s been used for years to theoretically create larger, smoother hits.
But does smoking with ice in your bong make a difference? Can it really get you higher- and is it even good for you?
Why add ice to a bong?
Adding ice to your bong can make a big difference in the feel and taste of your rips. Bongs are known for creating big, hot, harsh hits of smoke that can do a number on the back of your throat.
Many bongs have a built-in ice catch for this purpose. If your bong has three inward facing prongs about halfway up the neck, you have an ice catch. If your bong doesn’t have an ice catch, the ice will sit in the bong water and that’s fine too.
Adding ice to your bong hit has a few benefits:
- Cools down the smoke before it reaches your throat
- Provides an additional layer of filtration
Smoking with a water pipe such as a bong provides an additional physical layer of filtration that joints and dry pipes do not. There is some weak evidence to suggest adding ice may reduce the amount of inhaled carcinogens which are created during combustion.1
Is it safe to put ice in your bong?
While putting ice in your bong isn’t dangerous, there are some health concerns that come with it.
Hitting a bong is still a form of smoking. Any time you smoke, you’re inhaling carcinogens, chemical byproducts of the combustion process. Smoking a bong indoors may expose you to high levels of harmful particles, even potentially higher than those found in cigarette smoking homes. 2
Considering the fact that icing your bong can cool smoke, it’s reasonable to believe you could take larger, deeper rips and that could be the reason for these internet reports. There is also speculation about the tar content delivered via bongs, but data is limited.
There are plenty of unconfirmed reports online that suggest using an ice bong can cause bronchitis. While there are no studies to support this, repeated exposure to any smoke can cause bronchitis. Considering this in the context of cooler smoke and bigger hits, it’s not hard to believe.
Lastly, there have been rare reports of lung infections after regular bong use. While there could be other factors at play, like this patient’s cigarette smoking, it was noted that the bacteria in the lungs has also been found to be present in the bong water. Another good reminder to clean your bong regularly.3
Pros and cons of adding ice cubes to your bong
|Adds additional filter for the smoke||Ice can cause your bong to sweat, be sure to use a coaster|
|Cools the smoke so it’s less harsh on your throat||Not all bongs can hold ice; consider icing your water instead|
|Can create a visual effect of smoke swirling around the ice||Melting ice can change your water level; avoid overfilling your bong to prevent spillage|
Does adding ice to your bong make you feel higher?
There is no science to support that adding ice to bongs gets you higher, but it is a prevalent stoner belief.
Adding ice cools the smoke which typically allows people to take larger hits. Larger hits can definitely get you higher, which is likely where this belief came from. Of course, larger rips also means burning through more weed and creating a higher tolerance.
How to add ice to your bong
- Confirm you have an ice catch. Before you throw a few cubes down the neck of your bong, verify if you have an ice catch. It’s easy to tell – ice catches are made of three small indentations in the neck of your bong that come together to create a shelf for the ice to sit on.
- Add the ice. If you have an ice catch, you can stack as few or as many ice cubes as your bong can fit. Most bongs can fit ice cubes from the freezer, but any specialty sizes, like squares or cubes may not fit. Ice cubes don’t fit? Fear not, just toss them in some water and let them shrink, add to the bong once they’re small enough.
- Go slow. If you don’t have an ice catch, you add the ice directly to your bong water to cool it down. Start with a few cubes and see how it goes – the ice will make the water move more as you pull so less is more unless you want to taste bong water.
If you love using ice in your bongs, nothing we say can change that. But if you’re nervous about the adverse effects of inhaling the water vapor, fill the bong with cold water instead of adding ice. The temperature difference between the water and the smoke will still provide noticeable cooling effects that save your throat from harsh, hot hits.
- Ribeiro, L. I., & Ind, P. W. (2016). Effect of cannabis smoking on lung function and respiratory symptoms: a structured literature review. NPJ primary care respiratory medicine, 26, 16071. https://doi.org/10.1038/npjpcrm.2016.71
- Nguyen PK, Hammond SK. Fine Particulate Matter Exposure From Secondhand Cannabis Bong Smoking. JAMA Netw Open. 2022;5(3):e224744. doi:10.1001/jamanetworkopen.2022.4744
- Kumar AN, Soo CI, Ng BH, Hassan T, Ban AY, Manap RA. Marijuana “bong” pseudomonas lung infection: a detrimental recreational experience. Respirol Case Rep. 2017;6(2):e00293. Published 2017 Dec 22. doi:10.1002/rcr2.293
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