What are bong percolators?
If you’ve never heard of a percolator bong; percolators make use of an extra filtration chamber that is usually located within the main chamber or inside the tube leading to the mouthpiece. The design forces the smoke through the percolator as you inhale. Some percolators are built into bongs or oil rigs, while others are used in add-ons like stems or tar catchers.
Why use a bong with a percolator?
By forcing the smoke through the percolator as you inhale, this speeds up the cooling process and gives the smoke a far more pleasurable temperature as you take the hit. Forcing the smoke to interact with water gives it a chance to dissipate its heat into the water.
On top of that, it provides additional filtration to help remove carcinogens and other particles. Filtration of the smoke occurs when the smoke makes contact with the water. The more surface area of bubbles you have, the greater the filtration.
Finally, forcing the smoke to interact with the water allows some of the heated water to turn into vapour; thereby moisturising the hit and making the smoke less harsh compared to that from a joint, pipe or a bong without a percolator.
All percolator bongs provide a smoother, more enjoyable smoking experience, because they offer an additional layer of filtration. However, each percolator achieves this goal in its own way, and moreover adds a unique aesthetic element to each piece. The result? The smoothest, coolest toke you can possibly imagine!
Different types of percolators
Downstems are the most common type of percolators. A downstem is simply a tube that sits in the main water chamber of a bong, allowing air to enter the chamber which creates an improved airflow. This simple design works by the air travelling through the stem tube and when reaching the water, it comes out as bubbles. Those downstems with slits, holes or mini-percolators at the end of the stem increases the amount of bubbles created, thereby increasing percolation. These stems are easy to handle, to remove from a bong and to clean. They are also easy to replace if you break it. If you still prefer to use a simple bong without a percolator, we recommend adding one to your set up to retain the additional percolation.
Tree percolators feature a tube that goes up through the middle, which attaches to a number of arms. These arms descend from that attachment point into the water. Air comes from below and is forced up through the central tube and down into the arms of the percolator where it enters the water as bubbles. Tree percolators generally feature 6 - 12 arms, and are typically diffused with at least 2 - 3 slits per arm.
The showerhead percolator is also referred to in many cases as a UFO percolator or a dome percolator. As the names suggest, this percolator features a tube that comes up through the middle from the chamber below, that is covered by a larger domed tube reaching down to the percolator where air and smoke exits into the water as bubbles.There are many different designs, ranging from four slits to multiple tiers of 50-slit showerheads.
As a type of disc percolator, honeycomb percolators pack a lot of punch in terms of percolator power. These percs feature flat discs that have several holes, which usually appear in pairs within a stacked design to create multiple chambers. The bubbles have a direct path through the chambers so you can consistently get a perfect hit without being slowed down. For cooler and more highly filtered smoke, choose more discs that will create additional chambers for the smoke to pass through. Depending on the size of the holes of the perc, water may sit on top, or fall through just to pull water up through the perc when you hit the piece. As long as water flows through it, it doesn’t matter if water is sitting on top of it or below it.
The disc percolator is also referred to in many cases as a circle percolator. Disc percolators come in a variety of shapes and combinations. Some might be domed while others are stacked, though many are located at the bottom of a downstem percolator. They are however usually circular perculators that are popular for their percolation power as they produce lots of bubbles, through various tiny holes or slits. Each of which diffuses the smoke. They are typically attached to the bowl’s joint at the bottom of a downstem.
Fritted Disc Percolator
Fritted Disc Percolators have incredible percolation power. There’s simply no other percolator that comes close to what a fritted disc can do. The number of bubbles, and therefore surface area of those bubbles is uncomparable. It also has the durability and stackability advantages that all disc percolators have. The downsides that come with fritted disc percs are that its microscopic holes can be difficult to draw through because they create a lot of drag. Additionally, all those little pores can easily get clogged, meaning you’ll have to clean them more often.
Inline percolators are simple, horizontal, slitted tube percolators, similar to downstems. They tend to sit facing into the water. Much like showerhead percs, they are often used in stemless pieces as the first minor percolator which then leads to the first main percolator in the chamber above it.
Matrix percolators basically function as a stack of showerhead percolators. Matrix percs are usually cylindral in shape and have both vertical and horizontal slits that result in ultimate smoke diffusion. The slits on a matrix perc can vary in direction, size, and number. They work by drawing the smoke through the many slits creating a huge amount of smaller bubbles that then travel through the water to cool it down. The visual aesthetic of matrix percolators also generally makes them desirable.
Stereo Matrix Percolator
This variation of a matrix percolator simply includes a second matrix percolator stacked on top of the first to create a second chamber. These can be directly stacked or separated by a downstem or glass disc. Again, the additional layer provides additional filtering and cooling time for the smoke to travel through.
Also referred to as a spiral percolator, coil percs are simply a coiled tube with a hole at either end. Not only do they provide an aesthetically pleasing display, they also offer a longer length of tubing. As the tube is coiled, you can fit a longer length of tubing into a smaller, vertical space. This forces the smoke to travel a longer path, increasing the cooling effect of the percolator. If your bong has other percolators and you want to add something different to your smoking setup with a coil percolator ash catcher. There are also glycerin coil percolators. While both diffuse smoke well, the glycerin coil can provide a cooler hit by freezing it.
Barrel percolators have a straight, cylindrical design with gridded slots that make them look like a barrel. These slots allow for ultimate diffusion. While usually upright, the barrels are occasionally turned sideways in rigs and bongs that connect the perc directly to the downstem.
Sprinkler Percolators work like upside-down Tree Percs. Multiple arms extend upwards and outwards from a base. Each arm has a hole at the end. Like Tree Percs, air comes into it and is forced through the central tube and down into the arms of the percolator where it enters the water as bubbles. Again, these percs generally feature 6-12 arms, and are typically diffused with at least 2-3 slits per arm.
The design of the swiss perc is unmistakable. This percolator is made with are flat sections of glass with large holes like swiss cheese. Forcing the air to move around the holes in the body, the drag on the pull is lessened while the style of the glass breaks down and cools the smoke.
Faberge Egg Percolator
The faberge egg percolators are very similar to swiss percs which are flat sections of glass with large holes like swiss cheese. They don’t do anything on their own, however do serve a functional purpose. They rely on being coupled with another percolator to work. When the bubbles rise up out of the main percolator, the indentations on the glass split up the bubbles, thereby increasing their surface area and thereby the filtration of the smoke. Swiss percs work the exact same way. Besides filtration, they are definitely meant to be decorative. It’s hard to compare to their style and elegance while also maintaining a functional purpose. This makes them an appealing option to anyone who places a real value on the aesthetics of their glass smoking collection.
Similar to honeycomb percs, ratchet percolators feature a more intricate design of discs, but instead of having holes scattered across the entire disc, the holes are deliberately placed along the perimeter of the discs. This leaves space at the center for a downstem to pass through the filter, making it an ideal design for small water pipes like bubblers and dab rigs.
Turbine percolators are another great type of disc percolator. A single disc with angled slits allows water to pass through and create a whirlpool within the next chamber. As the water moves through it, it also works to cool and diffuse smoke. As they are one solid piece, this makes them incredibly durable. The percolation power is similar to honeycomb percolators, however with larger and fewer holes, they provide a bit less percolation power. If you pull through them at the right speed you get beautiful cyclone effect. This effect throws the water up along the edges of the piece rather than up through the middle, making turbine percolators function as effective splash guards.
Cross percolators take a downstem filtration system and combine it with a series of cross-shaped tubes branching off the center. They divert the smoke and water sideways and away from the center of the bong to encourage airflow and avoid splashback.
Another aptly named percolator, donut percolators are similar to the swiss percs but instead only have one hole. This singular hole pushes water and smoke around it, creating diffusion and acts as a splash guard. By pulling the smoke through the space around the hole this allows it to cool before it is inhaled.
Crystal Ball Percolator
A combination of a turbine and a UFO perc, the ball percolator is basically a dome with slits running around the outside in a pattern. A crystal ball perc can be found at the end of a downstem or leading into another chamber.