Who Invented The Bong?


Was the bong a fancy upgrade of paper joints? That is what a lot of people tend to think. Many people believe that the bong was a step up from the rolled cigarettes that you often saw a lot during the hippie era of the 1960s and early 1970s. However, even though bongs became popular during the Vietnam war, they date much further than that. That means the first bong did not arrive in the hippie era. It is hard to believe, but discoveries happened in Russia, and there were signs that one of the first bongs was there 2400 years ago. These bongs consisted of solid gold and were used by the Scythian tribal chiefs in modern-day Russia.

However, as further research made its way, other findings were that bongs go back to Africa as early as 1100 to 1400 BC. So let’s now talk more about the history of bongs.

Bongs In History

The oldest bongs in history may have been in the caves in Ethiopia, and researchers discovered 11 bongs in those caves, and the bongs consisted of pottery and animal horns. Then shortly after that, in modern-day Russia, there was the discovery of bongs used by the Scythians that consisted of gold in the Russian kurgan excavation. The tribes smoked opium and cannabis in those golden bongs.

That was not all regarding the history of bongs as in Persia; the Silk Road water pipes were introduced, which became the preference for smoking tobacco. Moreover, the discovery had a tie to the burial of Empress Dowager Cixi as she had three bongs in the early 1900s. That meant during the Qing dynasty. Many people smoked bongs consisting of bamboo material. However, the ones who were higher up in rankings smoked bongs consisting of metal surrounded by jewels. You may be thinking, why are those instruments called “bongs” since that is a funny name. Let’s go over that.

Where Does The Term ‘Bong’ Come From?

As you read, the discovery of the first bongs was in Africa, old Russia, and other parts of Asia, including Persia. However, those who discovered the first set of bongs in the 16th century were those in Central Asia, and the term “bang” is a Thai term that refers to bamboo bongs. Therefore, these individuals called bamboo bongs “bangs,” and that is how this term emerged. Thus, the term “bong” applies not only to old-style bongs but to those instruments that consist of any material in the modern-day. Now, let’s talk about the bongs that became popular after Europeans settled in North America during the hippie movement.

History Of Bongs After The European Settlement In North America

The bong industry began to boom after the Europeans settled in North America as it grew on the Silk Road. That is because the tobacco industry was hot at that time, which caused the bong to become very popular during the hippie era of the 1960s or early 1970s. Simultaneously, the glass industry was also beginning to boom during that era. Thus, a modern-day bongioneer with the name of Bob Snodgrass began creating glass bongs.

Snodgrass settled in Eugene, Oregon, and he also established the fuming process. He used silver and gold to color the borosilicate glass, which created a psychedelic appearance. That appearance is trendy among cannabis users today. The bongs that you see today consist of borosilicate glass because they are heat-resistant and protect the glass from breaking.

The other thing about borosilicate glass is that it is not toxic as it is free of lead and BPA and is also hypoallergenic. The material is also resistant to corrosion, and it is also easy to clean. Because this material has medical-grade quality, modern vaporizer designs utilize it. The popularity of bongs only revolutionized the glass industry, and it caused glass blowers to emerge in various metropolitan cities throughout North America.

Bong sales were high, and the industry was booming until 2003; unfortunately, there were many challenges until recently. Bong sales are beginning to increase again.

What Happened To The Bong Sales In 2003?

The US Government wanted to end the bong sales because, firstly, it was not legal at the time, and secondly, the belief was that pot was interfering with productivity and health. That is why they funded a $12,000,000 campaign to ban bongs and remove businesses that sold bongs. But, unfortunately, the same applied to online bong vendors, and as a result, a one-billion-dollar industry died. That may have contributed to the overwhelming requests to legalize marijuana in North America and other parts of the world.

Since there are discoveries of how cannabis can treat many medical conditions, countries such as Canada and many states in the USA began to legalize pot. It was not long ago when governments in various jurisdictions legalized pot not only for medical purposes but also for recreational purposes. That became good news for the bong industry because there was a resurgence in the business since then.

Not only do you see more businesses selling bongs in jurisdictions where cannabis is legal, but there are plenty of vendors in areas where it is not legal. Vendors who sell bongs in places where pot is not legal call them water pipes for tobacco, so they do not end up with any penalties. However, it is likely one day that almost every jurisdiction will legalize weed.

Additional information on the history of bong:

  1. Ancient Origins: Some of the earliest evidence of water pipe use comes from ancient Persia and Central Asia. These early versions were likely used for smoking various substances, including cannabis and opium.
  2. Spread to Africa and Asia: The use of water pipes spread to different parts of Africa and Asia over the centuries. In Africa, particularly in Ethiopia and the eastern regions, there is historical evidence of water pipe use. In Asia, it became popular in places like China and India.
  3. Variations and Evolution: Over time, the design and materials of the bong evolved. In some cultures, they were made from bamboo or ceramic, while in others, metal or glass was used.
  4. Modern Bong: The modern bong, as it is known today, particularly those made of glass and featuring a more sophisticated filtration system, evolved significantly during the 20th century. This evolution was partly driven by the counterculture movements of the 1960s and 1970s in the United States and Europe.
  5. No Single Inventor: Given its ancient origins and gradual evolution over centuries, it is not accurate to attribute the invention of the bong to a single person or a specific time period. Instead, it is a product of a long historical process involving various cultures and innovations.
  6. Cultural Significance: The bong has not only been a smoking device but also a cultural artifact, reflecting the customs, art, and practices of the societies that used it.


If you want to know who invented the bong, there is no clear-cut answer for that since there were discoveries of bongs going back to the BC era in Asia, Africa, and what is now Russia. However, when pot and glass were popular during the hippie era, a modern-day bongioneer named Bob Snodgrass invented the glass bong. The establishment of the fuming process happened because of Snodgrass too. For many decades, bong sales boomed in many jurisdictions until 2003, when the US Government ended them. That killed the bong industry, and it started returning once many areas in North America especially legalized pot. It is one of the best businesses to enter.