Using ice to cool your bong hits makes smoke sessions feel much easier on the throat and lungs, but these same frosty rips can be even more harmful than just using cold water.
While ice bongs are designed to give you a break from the heat of toking, these same frosty rips can be much more harmful than just using a classic water percolator or even nothing at all.
What is an Ice Bong?
Ice bongs are water pipes that feature ice notches that hold cubes of ice.
I can speak from experience when I say that there is a noticeable temperature difference between ripping a bong with vs without ice.
We’ll go over whether or not ice notches are a must-have in all bongs and bubblers later, but for now:
How Does an Ice Bong Cool Smoke?
This is all about the simple rules of contact, and the drastic temperature difference between hot milky smoke and frozen water.
When hot smoke passes through the neck of a bong, it comes in contact with that loaded ice stack on the notches; a last-second battle between hot and cold leaves you with much cooler hits.
This interaction decreases the temperature of smoke because of the freezing conditions inside the chamber.
What is an Ice Catcher?
An ice catcher (also called ice notches) is a group of indents that are usually welded into the neck of an ice bong that can hold and suspend ice.
These indents can be designed in many different ways, but the main purpose is to create a platform for ice without restricting the airflow when smoking.
Another practical benefit to ice notches is the ergonomic grip that they can provide.
Aside from functional use, some ice notches are designed to give a piece a better aesthetic look.
You can find ice catchers in bongs made from different materials like glass, silicone, acrylic, or even bamboo.
They all have the same purpose though: to catch ice and cool smoke as it passes through the neck of a bong.
Do You Need Ice Notches in a Bong?
Definitely not, you’d be fine without them.
Ice notches are 100% a matter of preference, some stoners swear by them, while others are completely opposed.
It seems that most modern-day bongs come equipped with an ice catcher, but we’re not totally on board yet.
Now that we’ve gone over some of the pros of using ice bongs, let’s delve into the potential negatives.
Is Smoking From an Ice Bong Dangerous?
According to reports, it actually can be! We’ve found multiple cases of serious respiratory problems after use of an ice bong.
There have even been instances of hospitalization in people smoking with a full ice catcher.
However, we’ve foud that a lot of the risk of damage is easily avoidable with a tactic later discussed.
Can Smoking out of Ice Bongs Cause Bronchitis?
Unfortunately, there are links between ripping bongs with loaded ice catchers and bronchitis.
How to avoid some of the damage:
So, when an ice cube is first pulled out of the freezer there is a noticeable amount of loose frost along the surface of the cube.
If immediately dropped into ice notches, these cubes will shed those loose frost shards as you inhale, sending them directly into your throat and lungs.
As you can imagine, inhaling daggers of water can be very irritating to the human body, which can contribute to the cause of bronchitis if the irritation is serious enough.
There are two things you can do to avoid damaging your lungs while smoking out of ice bongs:
1. Just wait a few minutes for the frost to melt. Once you notice that the surface of the cubes is smooth and wet, load ‘em up!
2. Give them a quick rinse with medium temp water; soaking melts the frost right off as well.
Is it Bad to Put Ice in Your Bong?
Even with our tips above, there is no complete avoidance of inhaling particles of water while ice using ice notches.
From what we’re saying, you’d think we want you to stop smoking with ice. But fuck that, right?
A bonghead sacrificing icy rips to save their lungs should be a stoner sin - we just have a better way to go about it.
That being said, we know how important it is to have smoother rips daily, so here are some alternatives to cooling your bong smoke.
Smoking Bongs Without Ice Notches
No worries if your pipe doesn’t have Ice Nothches, dropping ice directly into your bong water is just as cooling and isn’t as risky.
Besides, the process of bong percolation alone does more than most realize. In fact, smoking out of a maple syrup bottle with a pen downstem and socket bowl piece was one of the smoothest and tastiest inhales I’ve come across.
Not because of the syrup (we rinsed it out of course) but because of the ice that we packed it full of.
The natural percolation process combined with icy tempratures is smooth enough to make you forget you inhaled smoke. Add a slitted downstem to your piece for additional diffusion and even smoother hits.
If aren’t familiar with the concepts of percolation or diffusion, we’ve made a scientific guide that delves into what you need to know as a stoner.
A Better Way to Smoke With Ice Notches
While using ice catchers can lead to lung damage, so can smoking cannabis in the first place.
We made this page to inform you, but we also understand that people have their own ways to enjoy a bong.
If rocking an ice catcher is more your style, there is a design that is less likely to cause damage.
Low-Neck Ice Catcher
Grasscity Glass Beaker Base Ice Bong
Bongs like this beaker with low-neck ice catchers are more likely to splash you ice and eliminate loose frost that you could otherwise inhale. This one from Grasscity also comes with a slitted downstem for diffusion.
Using an Ice Catcher vs. Putting Ice in Bong Water
The main benefit of leaving your cubes to soak is that you completely avoid the risk of inhaling ice shards.
It’s also worth mentioning that ice water makes just as much, if not more of a difference in cooling your smoke compared to using dry ice-notches.
If ice notches or a narrow bong neck prevents you from inserting ice, just soak some cubes in your water before pouring.
After either leaving cubes in your water or just leaving the water in the freezer, you can fill your bong appropriately and start smoking.
The water won’t stay cold for quite as long, but it will still be much better than room temperature, or even cool water.
Although the great debate between whether ice notches are dangerous and worth the risk is an age-old discussion between stoners in forums and rotation — the decision is yours — but whatever you do, keep informed on the facts and stay Smokephisticated.