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The Leafly Bong Experiment: What Happens When You Replace Bong Water With Other Liquids?

February 7, 2016

It’s one of those “high-deas” that has probably occurred to everyone who’s ever used a bong. What if you replaced the water with something else? Would it taste different? Would it have the same effect?

We now have the answer.

In the interest of science, a team of Leafly researchers recently took the liberty of experimenting with various liquids in lieu of the standard room-temperature water.

The team proposed a variety of different liquids. Some were vetoed due to the gross-out factor (milk, chocolate milk, Milk of Magnesia). A few were declined based on safety concerns (hydrogen peroxide), and some didn’t make the cut because they were just too damned messy (sorry, Mrs. Butterworth). In the end, we came up with a fairly decent, comprehensive list of liquids to be tested and evaluated.

How Does a Bong Work? A Guide to the Water Pipe


Ice Bong Water

using ice in your bong water

In the world of the water pipe, ice water is king. Distilled and chilled, it represents the “control” of this experiment.

Discussion: It cools the smoke and enhances the crisp taste of the flower. Overall, we found it created the ideal experience for smoking cannabis out of a bong.

Conclusion: 10/10 would hit again.


Hot Bong Water

using hot bong water

Stepping in the opposite direction of ice water, we chose hot water from the tap. We don’t recommend using boiling water for the sake of preserving the integrity of your pipe; boiling water can weaken the glass, making it more susceptible to breakage.

Discussion: We were impressed with the visual effect of steam snaking out the bong stem. Our second impression was how warm the bong felt on our hands, also a pleasant experience. Third impression: inhaling hot smoke. Spell broken. The hot water was aesthetically and tactilely pleasing, but harshed the smoke, which burned the throat on the way down, thus undermining the bong’s prime directive (“First, smooth the toke”).

Conclusion: Better in theory than practice.


Fruit Punch Bong Water

using fruit punch as bong water

We used water flavoring drops for this experiment – two drops of generic fruit punch flavoring was plenty to permeate the water.

Discussion: This was the only liquid that actually “flavored” the smoke, making the first few inhales taste exceptionally sweet and fruity. Unfortunately, the taste diminished with each consecutive inhale, particularly when the bowl approached cash-out. As the greens disappeared, so did the fruity deliciousness.

Conclusion: Quite tasty and worth trying. Be warned, though: It did stain the bong pink for a while.


Vodka Bong Water

using vodka as bong water

Awesome idea, right? Combine two of your favorite minor vices. What could go wrong? Answer: Everything.

Discussion: Nope, nope, nope. This was easily the worst experience of the liquids. You can taste the alcohol vapor and it’s TERRIBLE. You know that feeling when you stick your nose into a tumbler of strong whiskey and the alcohol vapor is so strong it feels like it will burn your nose hair off? It’s like that only worse, because you’re actually trying to inhale ALCOHOLIC SMOKE, which is exactly as terrible as it sounds. A scientist we know was mildly aghast that we even tried it. “Not advised, or safe,” he told us. “Huffing alcohol fumes is toxic.”

Conclusion: Learn from our experience. PASS.


Cranberry Juice Bong Water

using cranberry juice as bong water

Cranberry Juice came highly recommended from several sources, mostly notably because it is thought that the acidity in the fruit juice can actually help keep your glass clean longer.

Discussion: In terms of usability, cranberry juice was comparable to standard water. Almost no cranberry flavor came through in the smoke, but using icy cold cranberry juice was pleasant, if indistinguishable from tap water.

Conclusion: Worth the substitution if you’re hoping to prolong the cleanliness of your water pipe.


Gatorade Bong Water

using gatorade as bong water

Gatorade is known in some circles for its sturdy plastic bottle, which historically has been used in a pinch as raw material for a homemade plastic water pipe. We advise against this, of course, as nothing good can ever come from mixing flame, plastic, and your lungs.

Discussion: Unremarkable. Towards the end of the exhale there was the tiniest hint of Gatorade flavoring (we tried Gatorade Frost – Cherry Glacier), which was quite nice.

Conclusion: Meh. Worth trying out of curiosity.


Slurpee Bong Water

using slurpee as bong water

This was by far the most popular medium among bystanders and curious friends. “How’d the Slurpee turn out?” we heard, over and over. All right. Here’s your report.

Discussion: This was a difficult fluid to test, mostly due to the chunky, icy consistency, which made it hard to pour into the bong without spilling (we used the blue raspberry flavor, available at most convenience stores). The bubbles were slow to emerge from the mixture, which made it difficult to inhale, kind of like sucking a really thick milkshake through a really thin straw.

The smoke was cooled significantly by the slushy ice, creating a curious effect. Because the smoke was so much colder and smoother, we ended up taking rips that were much, much bigger than we anticipated. In fact, that first big hit sent one researcher into a coughing fit. After that, though, each consecutive hit was easier as the icy slush concoction melted.

Although the Slurpee flavor wasn’t immediately apparent, the occasional splash-back that grazed our lips during a vigorous hit was surprisingly tasty.

Conclusion: The texture was fun, albeit messy. Plus you can drink the leftover Slurpee when your mouth dries up. (The extra, not the bong water Slurpee! Eww.)


Soda Bong Water (with Lime)

using soda water with lime as bong water

For this round, we went high-class and created a sort of a gin-and-tonic without the gin.

Discussion: This was by far our favorite liquid replacement, the unanimous winner of the Great Bong Experiment of 2016. If you’re hoping to try this one, make sure the seltzer is chilled, fresh, and bubbly for optimal effect.

The first inhale is crisp and fresh. It almost tastes like the smoke has been textured. The carbonation actually changes the smoke to make it tingle in your mouth and throat, almost like inhaling Pop Rocks. We tried it first at room temperature, then added a few ice cubes. The chilled version was far and away the better choice. The ice cooled the smoke and the carbonation altered the consistency in a most pleasing manner.

Note: We consulted with a scientist to ensure the safety of this particular fluid. It was relayed to us that, in moderation, it is highly unlikely that this liquid would be dangerous. However, just for good measure, be safe and proceed with caution.

Conclusion: Winner winner chicken dinner. The only fluid I would consider using on a regular basis and/or recommend to others.

Cannabis Science 101: The Complex Chemistry of the Bong


    Any chance you kids are willing to revisit this one for a few extra options?

    I’d love to see how milk does (and maybe the difference between nonfat and whole milk or cream); the idea of an iced-coffee bong makes me tingle in my funny bits; and, since it’s the holidays, maybe you could try some eggnog, a peppermint mocha, or christmas tree water (or maybe not…).

    Beyond that, maybe try some less-viscous foods for a different flair! A nacho cheese bong hit sounds great for Cinco De Mayo…. Or maybe a mild salsa? Make some thin pudding (chocolate, banana, tapioca….) or some watery jello for a pleasant dessert treat. Feeling sick? How about some chicken soup. That way, it really would be good for the soul!

    I like your initial choices for experimentation, but I think you could do more. The nacho cheese, coffee, and eggnog options are incredibly intriguing to me….

    Also, if you’re interested…. A few drops of peppermint extract in your water will give you a nice, menthol flavor. Add sparingly though. A little goes a long way with that.

    Also, also: If you’re looking for test subjects to try out these bong-coctions, idea men, or just someone with over a dozen years QA experience in multiple forms of software and web sites, I work right next door….. 😀

    • Annie

      Peppermint sounds amazing! Ooooh, spearmint would probably be super tasty too!

      • I tried peppermint…. it was so strong it hurt to inhale it!!

        • Gwen

          If you’re going to do peppermint, go REALLY easy. Like ONE drop of essential oil per cup of water. I experimented with that a lot, and even at concentration it masks the taste of the herb, so I don’t do it usually. Lightly brewed peppermint tea would probably work better.

          • Holly Vaughn

            Mine and my friend’s lungs are extra soft and squishy due to asthma so I regularly use mint to mask the flavor and harshness. I mean flavor is great for the first couple of hits but then it gets that ashtray-in-your-mouth flavor.

            I use peppermint oil (as stated… VERY light. maybe even 1 drop per 2-3 cups) in my bong. But I am also fond of keeping mints around (I use Ice Breakers Spearmint flavor) to suck on while medicating. Due to the lung issues, the mint is actually extra helpful! But I also sometimes use cinnamon, clove, or orange oil; sometimes blended in pleasing scents. (any 2 OR all 3 of those things go well together)

            Sometimes I boil some water, put it in a pyrex measuring cup, then add whole spices like a cinnamon stick, a few allspice berries, one cardamom pod, 2-3 piece of whole cloves (in whatever combo smells good). I also can add a slice of, or the skin of, a lemon, lime, or orange. Wait for the water to cool then remove the whole spices. Add ice to the water and stir for 30s – 1min. Then remove the ice and pour the water into the bong.

    • Fabián

      bad idea to use fatty liquids, since the fat would trap some of the thc molecules

    • Troy Griffith

      Crystal light works great. I do different things like on my YouTube channel faces of stupidity. Subscribe and I will be happy to try almost anything

  • David

    So your scientist didn’t know the dangers of ice water?! Pneumonia … Had someone I know get it from using ice. Cold temps allowed more water than usual to get in….This is pretty commonly known , Come on Leafly you owe the readers more than that people use this as medicine and the reason so many of us read Leafly s your usually a lot closer to facts than High Times etc.

    • Gwen

      Dude, your friend’s an idiot. The only way he could have gotten pneumonia from that is if he INHALED the water. It would have given him pneumonia regardless of temperature.

    • SilentBob420BMFJ

      “More water than usual to get in”? Get in where? Surely not your lungs, because water isn’t going in there from using a bong. In fact, if a tiny amount of water vapor in your lungs is honestly what you’re talking about (you’re crazy), then let me inform you what ice does to water vapor… It pulls it out of the air. It’s like an air conditioner, or when it’s cold in the morning and dew is on the grass. So you must really think hot water is super dangerous then if that’s what you’re talking about.

      So… What in the hell are you talking about?

      • conesmcgee

        yes he means more water in your lungs and hes correct lungs like warm air more than cold air and the heat of the smoke melts the ice and brings water particles into the smoke so youre inhaling water vapour as well as the smoke which after a while can lead fluid in ur lungs and pneumonia

    • Tahtahme The Sacred Bruja

      I am going to be real here, I have never heard of this and EVERYONE I know adds a few cubes of ice if they have an ice catcher. Literally can’t find info on this. I think your worry is misplaced and not based in reality tbh. This is the craziest death by weed situation I have ever seen concocted.

    • SilentBob420BMFJ

      Still waiting on your reply dude, we all are.

  • Annie

    FRESH SNOW PACKED BONG! I’ve been doing this for years and it is hands down my favorite way to use my bong!! Just go find some fresh, untouched snow and pack that powder in. The hits are so smooth and clean, it’s almost as if the ice crystals are filtering the smoke even more than water normally does. If you live where it snows, I highly suggest you try it.

    • Gwen

      I wonder if shaved ice would work as well…

      • Bryan Reavis

        You’ll run into the same issue as with the slurpee. Ice is too dense and when it starts melting together tends to clump up and become a block.

  • lovingc

    Try Kahlua it is a nice flavor and thick enough to keep the ash down.

  • Thomas Sawyer

    crushed ice and Remi Martin

  • Bryan Reavis

    I think Leafley is missing the classic option here; Ripple.

    Any experienced drinker could’ve told you that huffing spirits is a poor idea, but using wine is a whole different critter. Sweet, mellow, fragrant, not enough ABV to dissolve your lung tissue and it has the cachet of being a classic hippy trick.

  • dr.greenthumb

    Try using hemp seed oil in a large bong. The hit was rough but I’m curious to the contents of the oil after use. If someone could maybe find a use for the oils that would be interesting

  • Bob Khan

    Smoke the tonic water one in a dark room, illuminated only by black light. The liquid will glow.

  • JewelSphere

    Went to a Halloween party and a “friend” handed me a bing with clear liquid. I was already high and just figured it was water, so I took a huge hit. Turns out he filled it with vodka! My throat still burned the next day…