How to build a water bottle bong

What is a water bottle bong?

Far from embodying the braindead “stoner” stereotype, the cannabis community is actually quite ingenious—especially when it comes to throwing together makeshift smoking devices. The water bottle bong is one of the best examples of this ingenuity.

A water bottle bong is exactly what it sounds like: a bong fashioned out of an old water bottle. A water bottle bong should not be your primary smoking tool. In fact, it should probably not even be a piece you use more than once. Instead, a water bottle bong is a last-ditch effort when you find yourself in a pinch and have no other way to smoke. If you find yourself in this situation, making a water bottle bong will serve as a quick, easy, and incredibly effective solution. Here's everything you need to know to build a water bottle bong from scratch.

What you need to build a water bottle bong

  • A plastic water bottle. Use one of the standard 17-ounce bottles, and avoid the smaller ones. You can also use soda bottles, but you'll want to wash out the sticky residue first.
  • Scissors, razor blade, or a sharp knife
  • A pen, marker, or highlighter that you don't mind taking apart
  • Aluminum foil, the thicker the better, or a small metal pipe bowl that can fit inside the cylindrical body of your pen, marker, or highlighter
  • A needle or toothpick
  • Water
  • A lighter, match, or hemp wick
  • Your favorite cannabis strain

Step-by-step instructions to build a water bottle bong

Time needed: 20 minutes.

  1. Prepare the plastic bottle

    Find a plastic water bottle; the standard 17-ounce size works best. If you can't find a plastic water bottle, you can also use a soda bottle. Just be sure you take some extra time to clean the inside thoroughly — you don't want all that sticky residue from the soda getting in the way of your smoking experience. Once you've got a clean bottle, remove the wrapper to make it easier to work with.

  2. Prepare the downstem

    Next, you need to make a downstem that can house some sort of bowl. To make a downstem, you'll need to use either a regular ballpoint pen, a marker, or a highlighter. A slightly fatter marker (think the fat Crayola Magic Markers) or a thicker highlighter tend to work the best, but a normal pen is doable, too. Take apart the pen, marker, or highlighter and remove all the insides; you only need the empty cylindrical body of the pen, marker or highlighter. This empty plastic tube will serve as your downstem. Now you need to pair your downstem with a bowl. 

  3. Make a bowl

    If you happen to have a metal pipe bowl on hand, see if it fits inside the plastic cylinder from your pen, marker, or highlighter. If it fits, you're good to go.
    If the metal pipe bowl doesn't fit, or if you don't have a metal pipe bowl handy, use aluminum foil. Tear off a medium to large piece of foil. Fold the foil over a couple of times to make it a bit thicker and more substantial. Now place the foil over the bottom end of the cylinder from your pen, marker, or highlighter. Fold the edges of the foil down to hold it in place. Next, use a fingertip to gently press down on the foil, creating a slight indentation without tearing the foil. Use a needle or toothpick to poke three to five tiny holes in the foil. This is the bowl that will hold your herb, so make sure the holes aren't too big, otherwise your cannabis might fall through.

  4. Insert the downstem

    Use either scissors, a razor blade, or a knife to cut a small hole in the side of the water bottle, roughly an inch or so below the midway point. You can also use a lighter to melt a hole into the bottle; just don't breathe in the fumes. Make the hole barely big enough for your downstem to fit inside. Once you establish a fit, insert the downstem into the bottle, at a downward angle, so that it almost reaches the bottom of the bottle.

  5. Make a carb hole

    Rotate the bottle 90° from the downstem and make another small hole in the side of the bottle, using whatever method you used in Step 4. This will be your carb hole, so be sure it's in a position that will let you hold the bottle comfortably with your finger placed on top of this new opening.

  6. Add water

    With the downstem inserted down into the bottle, hold the entire device upright and carefully pour in enough water to submerge the bottom of the downstem. Once the bottom of the downstem is underwater, you're all set.

  7. Pack the bowl

    Grind up your bud and gently pack it into your bowl. Insert the bowl into the downstem and get ready to smoke.

  8. Spark up

    To smoke your water bottle bong, use the regular mouth of the bottle as your mouthpiece. Hold the bottle sideways with the downstem and bowl sticking up but away from your face. Place your thumb or finger over the carb hole. Use a lighter, match, or hemp wick to ignite the marijuana. Use your lungs to pull in through the mouthpiece. As you do, the smoke will get sucked down into the bottle and begin bubbling up through the water.

  9. Clear the bong

    When you're ready to take a hit, remove your thumb or finger from the carb hole and pull the smoke up through the bottle and into your lungs.

Why people smoke out of water bottle bongs

The only real reason people smoke out of water bottle bongs is because they have no other — or better — smoking device on hand. A water bottle bong is a stopgap solution, not a tool for regular repeated use. You should only make and smoke out of a water bottle bong when you're in a pinch. Otherwise, use a real glass bong.

Why people avoid water bottle bongs

Water bottle bongs are not intended to be permanent, repeat-use smoking tools for several reasons. For starters, water bottle bongs are not all that sturdy; they're simply handmade, thrown-together smoking tools. Further, smoking out of plastic and aluminum foil is far from ideal, especially since both substances can create highly toxic fumes when burned or melted. 

Bottom line

Smoking out of a real glass bong will always be a better, safer, cleaner, and more enjoyable way to smoke cannabis, but when you have no other options, go ahead and have fun making a water bottle bong.

Photo by Steve Johnson on Unsplash

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The information contained in this site is provided for informational purposes only, and should not be construed as medical or legal advice. This page was last updated on April 20, 2022.