Bambong: Make a Bong Out of Bamboo
Introduction: Bambong: Make a Bong Out of Bamboo
I wanted to make a bong from scratch, but didn’t want to go the usual routes. An apple wouldn’t last long enough. A plastic bottle would potentially introduce more toxins into the smoke. And a glass liquor bottle wouldn’t be as EASY a project. So I went with the tried and true method of converting a bamboo stalk into a water bong. A bambong!
Step 1: Gather Your Materials
I began with a piece of black bamboo that cost about $5 for 5 feet (1.5 inch diameter) at a local bamboo garden.
If you plan to make your downstem out of bamboo, too, you’ll want to buy a much thinner stalk in addition to your main piece.
Next, you’ll need the following:
– A drill
– A small drill bit for pilot holes
– Larger spade drill bits for down stem holes (and for breaking through bamboo nodes)
– A wood saw*
– Painter’s tape
– A vice grip*
– Beeswax (or whichever internal coating you prefer)
– Sugru (you can also use beeswax or any sealant of your choice – sugru is foodsafe)
– Rough grit sandpaper*
Step 2: Shorten Bamboo to Preferred Length
Make sure to use painter’s tape to cover any spaces you plan to cut. This prevents splintering.
The nodes on my bamboo were about eight inches apart. I wanted to the bambong to be about a foot, so I ended up with a piece that included two nodes.
Nodes in a bamboo completely separate each section of the bamboo. This is good, because a node can be used as the water tight bottom of the bong – just cut beneath the node.
I chose to cut two inches below the last node – just for aesthetics.
Step 3: Drill Node Holes
If you cut a piece of bamboo that includes multiple nodes, you’ll want to drill a hole through any that separate the mouth of the bong from the bottom where you’ll store the water.
For this, I actually used a Morse 15/16 inch hole saw bit. But a spade bit would work just as well and the ones I own are 12 inches long – perfect for deep nodes. I DID NOT use painter’s tape on the inside of the bamboo.
You’ll notice in the photo that there is a lip left around the walls of the bamboo. I was fine with this, figuring the lip would help prevent water from splashing into my mouth.
Step 4: Drill Downstem Hole
Next, I determined where I wanted to insert the downstem.*.
I eyeballed the future location of the downstem hole by laying my glass stem on top of the cut bamboo and placing it so that the stem ran about an inch or two from the bottom of the last bamboo node.
I then wrapped tape around the chosen spot and drilled a small pilot hole. This not only helps prevent cracking, but also gives my spade bit a hole to bite into.
Then, I placed the bamboo stalk into the vice (wrapped in a towel to prevent scratching) and used the spade bit to drill the final downstem hole. Make sure to angle the hole down towards the floor of the bamboo. This helps the stem to sit inside the hole at an angle.
*I bought a glass stem and bowl specifically for this project and they were the most expensive materials at $40. You can make your downstem and (according to the internet) bowl from the bamboo. I personally prefer any pieces that receive direct heat to be glass.
Step 5: Sand All the Rough Edges
Using a rough grit piece of sandpaper, sand down any rough edges. I sanded the lip of the bong to prevent the bamboo skin from stripping/splintering of during use and to make it smoothly fit to my mouth.
I also sanded the inside node lip to remove any splintered pieces.
Finally, I sanded the downstem hole. This was to enlarge the hole as my stem didn’t yet fit. I figured that sanding the hole bigger would create a tighter fit than moving up to a larger spade bit.
To make this step easier, roll the sandpaper up before slipping it into the hole. You could also wrap the sandpaper around a pencil to make it hold its shape better.
Step 6: Seal the Downstem
I decided to seal my glass stem in place with Sugru. This way, once I shaped and dried the Sugru, I could remove the stem whenever I needed to clean it. It’s food-safe and comes in lots of colors, including black which would blend well with the black bamboo.
Cut open the Sugru packet and roll the sticky putty around in your fingers for a few seconds. This makes it more pliable. Place it between the stem and bamboo until they fit tightly together. Smooth down the edges so that the Sugru is less likely to peal off.
Carefully remove the stem and let the Sugru cure for at least 12 hours.
Step 7: Seal the Inside of the Bong
For some, this step can be optional. I chose to seal the inside of my bong with beeswax to prevent any bamboo fibers from splintering off and being sucked into my mouth. I also chose to seal the bong to extend its life. I don’t plan to store it with water inside, but I still thought this was a good step.
You can buy liquid beeswax coating that’s meant for butcher blocks. That would probably be the easiest route. I went with beeswax pellets, which meant I had to melt the wax in a double boiler (or a metal bowl inside a pot) before use.
Once you have liquid wax, pour it into your bamboo stalk and roll the bamboo around to coat the insides. Be careful, hot wax will pour out of the downstem hole and the mouth of the bong.
Pour out any excess and let the whole project cool down for about an hour. I had a little excess wax drying in rivulets inside the mouth of the bong. I removed that with the flat end of a spoon.
Optionally, you can pour hot water inside and roll it around to smooth out any bumps. I’m actually not 100% sure this step works, but did it anyway.
Step 8: Add Your Downstem
Once everything is dry, place your downstem and bowl into the side of your bong. At this point, you can decorate the outside of the bamboo however you wish. I left it as-is.
Your Bambong is complete!
I know, I know, stop trying to make “bambong” happen. Never.
Bambong: Make a Bong Out of Bamboo: I wanted to make a bong from scratch, but didn't want to go the usual routes. An apple wouldn't last long enough. A plastic bottle would potentially introduce more toxins into the smoke. And a glass liquor bottle wouldn't be as EASY a project. So I …
Everything you need to know about bamboo bongs
While glass bongs are great, beautiful to look at and smooth to hit, there’s an undeniable drawback to the material itself: glass shatters. A mere slip of the hand when cleaning or slip up after a night of drinking, and poof, your bong-vestment is gone, as are the memories attached to it.
Breakable gear is clearly not ideal for getting stoned, but finding better options has proven difficult. Acrylic bongs taste like plastic. Silicone bongs are hard to clean and get gross with resin after a while. Ceramic bongs look cool but are also highly breakable. And if metal bongs exist, they shouldn’t. That sounds terrible.
So what is the next best kind of bong? Bamboo bongs, of course. Unbreakable, durable and relatively simple to build yourself, bamboo bongs take the cake when it comes to glass alternatives, offering a fix to every downside of glass.
Here’s everything you need to know about bamboo bongs — including how to make your own.
What are bamboo bongs?
Bamboo bongs are bongs that are made out of bamboo. The word “bong” actually comes from the Thai and Vietnamese word “baung,” which describes a hollow wooden tube filled with water to smoke herbs. Clearly, they’ve been making bamboo bongs for way longer than we’ve been making glass ones, and with good reason.
Bamboo is a mind-blowingly durable material that is stronger under tension than steel. It’s composed of up to 70 percent silica, which is the same element found in borosilicate glass, the kind of glass high quality bongs are made from. Many bamboo bong brands will temper the bamboo the same way glass blowers temper glass in order to bond the bamboo at a molecular level, making it even stronger.
Whether you’re looking to make your own, or purchase one from the reputable brands listed below, bamboo bongs are generally constructed from a hollow piece of bamboo that is sealed with beeswax. Holes are drilled in to house a downstem, add water, and voila!
Using and cleaning a bamboo bong
You use a bamboo bong just like you would any other bong: simply fill it with water, load flower into the bowl and light up. Cleaning it, however, is another story.
While a normal bong would require hot water, alcohol, and thick grain salt to get back to sparkling, bamboo bongs require a different, altogether softer cleaning ritual. Due to the beeswax lining the inside of most bamboo bongs, it’s important to NEVER use hot water when cleaning. Pipe cleaners, harsh brushes, or anything that will disrupt the wax lining are also on the no-no list.
How to properly clean your bamboo bong:
- Remove downstem, (or leave in if you want)
- Fill bong halfway with isopropyl alcohol
- Add a cup of uncooked rice
- Shake vigorously as you would in cleaning a normal bong
- Repeat until clean
If you need to reattach the downstem, melt a little beeswax in your hand and reseal along the opening.
Some of our favorite bamboo bongs
TokyoTokes BabyBoo Water Pipe
TokyoTokes make high-quality bamboo water pipes at totally doable prices. They’re solid, they hit great and each bong includes free custom laser engraving. Standing 10” tall, the BabyBoo is a compact little friend who is perfect for summer, ready to be thrown in a backpack to get you high on the go.
The Maui Wowie Kahuna Peace Pipe
Maui Wowie takes the organic approach with their Kahuna Peace Pipe. Meaning sorcerer or wizard in Hawaiian, this big boy features all organic materials, with the bamboo cured in limonene to prevent cracking and wear. Each bong includes an all-purpose conditioning salve to keep him looking suave, and a lifetime warranty against cracking or breaking.
How to make a bamboo bong
One of the best parts about a bamboo bong is that it’s relatively simple to make your own. For the DIYer in all of us, here’s a step by step guide on how to construct a totally natural bong out of wood, wax and a little bit of weed.
- Piece of cured bamboo (1.5”-2” diameter)
- Small drill bit (for pilot holes)
- Large drill bit (for downstem holes)
- Downstem and bowl
- Wood saw
- Painter’s tape
- Vice grip
- Rough Grit Sandpaper
Step 1: Cut the bamboo
When cutting the bamboo, it’s all about the nodes.
Nodes have internal plates that can hold the water, so start by figuring out which node you want to make the bottom of the bong. About half an inch below, wrap painter’s tape to ensure an even cut. After cutting, make sure the bong stands straight before moving forward.
Next, pick a height for your bong. Keep in mind that if your bong is tall enough to contain multiple nodes, then you’ll have to drill them out so that the bong remains at least somewhat hollow. Cut the bamboo to form the top of your bong, then drill away any internal node walls if necessary, and sand.
Step 2: Drill the downstem hole
Place your downstem on the bong and position it where you want — roughly a few fingers above the bottom node. Put painters tape over the area, secure bamboo inside the vice grip and drill a hole slightly larger than the size of the downstem. Angle the hole diagonally down towards the bottom when drilling. Be very gentle, as bamboo is prone to cracking during this step.
Step 3: Sand and clean
When it comes to bamboo bongs, quality is everything. To ensure your bong comes out right, sand every cut, drilled hole, as well as the drilled out node walls internally, until all surfaces of the bong have a smooth, luxurious texture.
When you’re done, clean out all the sanding residue. If you use water, leave the bong out to dry. If you have access to compressed air, that works much better.
Step 4: Coat the bong with wax
Go outside — this part is messy. Heat up beeswax on the stove and pour it into the bong slowly and carefully. Roll the bong so the wax coats the inside edges without filling the cavity completely. After waxing, leave it to cool and settle for a couple hours.
Step 5: Seal and insert downstem
Insert the downstem into its hole and seal around the edge with melted beeswax. Let cool and settle.
Step 6: Enjoy!
Fill with water, pack a bowl and enjoy. You’ve successfully made your very own bamboo bong.
All photos provided by Tokyo Tokes
Unbreakable, durable, and relatively simple to build yourself, bamboo bongs take the cake when it comes to glass alternatives.