If you’ve ever been at a party and they’ve been talking about bongs and downpipes, you may have been a bit puzzled over this terminology. Almost everyone knows what a bong is, but what exactly is a downpipe or downstem? This is the long tube-like piece that fits into the bong and may be replaceable if broken.
There’s a lot of terminology to learn when you’re starting out with bongs. Often they’re also called water pipe, billy, bing, or moof.
A bong is usually a long wide tube-like shape, made from glass or acrylic plastic. It’s filled with water before usage. The glass downpipe or downstem for bong, is that long piece off to the side that fits inside a bong. It takes the smoke and sends it into the bong. The cannabis fits into the end of the downpipe. The smoke will travel down the stem and into the water. Because the water’s being heated, there will be bubbles at the bottom of the bong.
That’s why many people like to have clear glass bongs, so they can see the action inside. The smoke drifts through the water, and is lifted above. The smoke enters the top of the bong, near the mouthpiece, where you can inhale it. It’s believed that the water removes some of the harmful toxins from the smoke, and that smoking with a bong is a safer experience than smoking cigarettes.
The downpipe also contains what is called a diffuser or frits, tiny holes along the end of the downstem that help to diffuse the smoke as it exits the downstem and enters the bong.
Since downpipes stick out from the side, they’re prone to breaking. For the cheaper bongs you’re going to need to replace the entire unit, but for glass bongs that cost more money, fortunately, the downpipes are easily replaceable.
When searching for replacement downpipes, you’re going to need to do some measuring. Most manufacturers include the following information, so you can find an exact match to the one that you broke. The downpipe is measured from the slide join fitting, and the outside ground joint fitting in millimeters. For example 14/18 mm. You’ll need to also measure the length from top of ground join to the bottom of the downstem, and then the complete length of downstem. This is usually in inches: 5.50/6.00 inches. Downpipes come in a few different widths and lengths so it shouldn’t be too hard to find what you need.
You may wish to buy downpipes that are made in the USA, to support nationally made products, rather than other countries.
Downpipe and downstem are terms that can be used interchangeably. Don’t panic if your downpipe breaks. Most of the time you can remove the broken piece and buy a new replacement downstem. You’ll have to measure the old one carefully to ensure that the new one will fit your bong. You may even wish to purchase a few extras to have on hand, in case you get too clumsy one weekend.