Percolator bongs have additional percs beyond a diffused downstem that deliver enhanced filtration for cleaner, cooler and smoother hits. They are becoming more and more popular, if not the standard. So naturally you might be asking yourself, what do bong percolators do?
In short, perc bongs diffuse smoke through water by creating more surface area. As smoke travels through bong percolators it creates bubbles that cool the smoke down and remove debris.
Whether it’s a honeycomb, jellyfish or faberge egg perc, the experience between a bong with percolator vs without is monumental.
Most bongs have a slitted downstem by default so cannabis enthusiasts are familiar with the additional diffusion that it produces. A diffused downstem has small slits along the bottom third. These openings allow water and smoke to pass through, cooling the vapor.
Similarly, glass bong percolators diffuse and cool smoke, however, their shape, placement and number will affect their efficiency, visual effect and aesthetics.
Bongs with percolators produce a hit that is much smoother overall for two main reasons. In short, bongs with percs force cannabis smoke to travel through more bubbles within the water. Because of the increased surface area, the smoke has more time to cool and more harmful contaminants are removed.
How many percolators is ideal?
Novices assume that the more percs the better. Yet too many percolators can increase drag making it harder to rip, so it’s really about striking a balance. A triple or quadruple perc bong may be good for people with lungs of steel but for most of us it’s excessive. That is to say, it will increase drag significantly and take away from the experience.
Also, pieces with lots of percs stacked one over the other tend to be more difficult to light, handle and clean. So if you’re just starting out with your first percolator bong or are looking for ultimate comfort, it’s best to start with a piece with fewer percolators. You can always work your way up to more complex pieces over time as your lung capacity increases.
These larger pieces are also less travel-friendly. So if you’re looking for a portable percolator bong, go for one made from thick borosilicate glass with just one to two percs.
Do percolator bongs get you higher?
Actually, since percolator bongs have an extra layer of filtration, a small amount of THC is lost compared to bongs without percs. Most stoners do not mind this though because they choose perc bongs for the experience. They prefer cooler, filtered hits because it’s easier on the throat and removes more impurities from the smoke.
What’s more, because the smoke is condensed as it travels through the percs and chambers, you’re able to take fatter rips. So the loss in THC is essentially counterbalanced with the bigger silky smooth hits you can take in one go.
Bong percolators 101
There are many different types of percolators for bongs. They all work to filter and cool smoke but their unique shape produces a slightly different effect. Here are the most common:
The honeycomb percolator is a type of disc perc and is perhaps the simplest style. It offers a good level of diffusion with minimal resistance. Its circular shape fits perfectly in the neck of most straight tube bongs, integrating seamlessly. Each disc features honeycomb perforations throughout which maximizes the amount of smoke that can pass through, delivering solid filtration with almost no drag. Since this style doesn’t provide as much diffusion as more complex styles like the tree or matrix perc, honeycombs tend to be stacked one on top of another to compensate. Honeycomb percs are also one of the easiest styles to clean given their flat pancake shape.
Turbine percs, also known as cyclone percs or vortex percs, look a lot like honeycombs but deliver a completely different effect, especially when it comes to the visuals. Their circular shape features angled slits along the edge of the disc. These openings direct water and smoke, creating a whirlpool. To illustrate, as smoke is pulled through the mouthpiece, water and smoke converge towards the middle forming a vortex. Interestingly, the effect is multiplied the more turbine percs you have. That is to say, soon enough you have your very own mini tornado in your water pipe.
While cannabis connoisseurs define tree and jellyfish percs as distinct styles, many stoners use the terms interchangeably. This style of bong perc resembles a tree or jellyfish. The top looks like the head of a jellyfish followed by tentacles or branches beneath. Tree percolators offer the best diffusion of all bong percs since the smoke has to travel up through each arm before it can pass through the bong’s neck to the mouthpiece. And while tree percolators offer second to none filtration, they require significantly more maintenance than most styles.
This style bong perc is shaped like a treaded tire turned on its side. Matrix percs offer great diffusion yet are much easier to clean than tree percs since they aren’t nearly as intricate or fragile. While they offer slightly less filtration than tree percs, they have roughly the same resistance. Their straightforward design also makes them more robust and less prone to damage when removing residue. This style bong perc is ideal for stoners who want optimal diffusion with less maintenance. The only catch is that the grid style is more susceptible to extremely small bits of ash and debris getting trapped. It’s just the nature of the beast. Nothing in life is perfect.
Showerhead percolators are essentially a simplified version of the matrix style. They have the similar tire shape of matrix percs but do not feature an intricate grid. Instead, they are smooth with radial slits or holes along the bottom. This means that they don’t offer as good diffusion but are easier to clean. However, the real difference has to do with the fact that they have significantly less holes. So naturally there’s increased resistance and with that, more drag.
Inline percs often vary in size but generally have a tube-like shape with slits along the sides. It’s another simple style that’s easy to clean. They offer similar diffusion power to the showerhead perc, and comparable drag too.
Spiral percolators, also known as coil percs, offer a unique visual effect compared to other styles. As water travels through the spiral, larger bubbles emerge between the loops of the coil. This subsequently creates puffy clouds of smoke that rise and mushroom above.
Fab egg rigs started out exclusively as dab rigs but expanded to bongs in part for their unique aesthetic. Originally known as faberge egg rigs, this style bong consists of two chambers, one for diffusing smoke and another for percolation. Most commonly, the fab egg perc is paired with the Swiss perc because the larger holes create tons of diffusion.
Most water pipes feature a diffused downstem. The downstem is the piece that slides into the joint of a bong. It’s what directs the smoke from the bong bowl into the chamber at the base. Above all, the multiple slits along the bottom edge break up the smoke particles so it comes into more contact with water.
Percolator bongs for sale
Here are a few of the most popular percolator bongs in our online headshop:
Glow-in-the-dark Jellyfish Percolator Bong – One of our absolute favorites, this glass percolator bong features a single tree perc and hand painted jellyfish that glow in the dark.
Jellyfish Double Percolator Bong – Often the best things come in pairs and that’s definitely the case with this piece. This glass percolator bong features two jellyfish percs in a pint sized package. Measuring just 8 inches, this piece has a bent neck which acts as a splashguard and a stable base.
Double Matrix Percolator Bong – Another double percolator bong, this piece has a similarly curved neck and sturdy base except it features two matrix percs instead.
Lavender Honeycomb Percolator Bong – This single percolator bong features one honeycomb disc at the base available in blue or green. Above all, it’s in a class by itself with its rare gold lace detailing.
Fab Egg Multi Chamber Percolator Bong – This fab egg rig can be used as a dab rig or bong since it includes a banger, bowl and slick. You get the best of both worlds. Just swap out the banger for the bowl to instantly spice up the smoke sesh.
Ball Small Percolator Bong – Measuring just eight inches, this small percolator bong is a stunner with its unique ball perc and heady mushroom embellishment.
Lava Glass Percolator Bong – Another unique piece this, lava lamp bong features a showerhead perc at the base that extends upwards to hand blown green and charcoal lava glass accents.
How to fill a bong with a percolator
Figuring out how to fill a percolator bong can be a challenge early on, especially since every piece is different. Some percolated bongs are itty bitty with just a single perc while others are huge with multiple percs and chambers. Each percolator is unique and so is your preference but the most important thing is not to get dirty bong water in your mouth.
How to fill percolator bong
You can fill your percolated bong through the joint or the mouthpiece. We recommend the joint because you have a bit more control over how much water you put. Naturally have to pour it more slowly so you’re less prone to overfilling. We also recommend using a cold water bottle from the fridge since it’s easy to pour and will cool the smoke further.
How to fill up a honeycomb percolator bong
In general, you want to submerge the percolator fully. For instance, if you have a single honeycomb percolator bong, the water should be filled slightly above the disc. Some people prefer it slightly below. You’ll just have to try it out for yourself to see what works best for you.
Ideal percolator bong water level for multiple percs
Bongs with multiple percs tend to be a bit more complicated. To put an example, a triple percolator bong spread out evenly followed by an ice catcher and the neck leading to the mouthpiece will require a different level. In this case, you’ll want the water level to be just above the second perc.
Still, test it out. the water should reach the third percolator without splashing into your mouth when you take a test hit. If you get anything in your mouth, pour it out. Then, test it out again, so you know if the level is correct before taking a real hit.
How to clean a percolator bong
Cleaning a percolator bong is much like cleaning any other water pipe, except more time consuming since you have to give extra care to the percolators. Some percs are robust, while others are more fragile. For instance, tree percs are notoriously difficult to clean, while honeycombs are a cinch.
Regardless of the style you have, these steps will keep it sparkly clean with minimal effort.
- Disassemble your perc bong.
- Pour isopropyl alcohol through the joint until it’s about to spill out from the bottom of the joint.
- Put a few spoonfuls of epsom salt through the joint
- Close off the joint securely with a few layers of plastic wrap and rubber bands so that the isopropyl alcohol doesn’t spill out.
- Continue to pour isopropyl alcohol through the mouthpiece. Leave a little bit of space for air at the top that way the liquid has room to move.
- Add a few more spoonfuls of salt through the mouthpiece.
- Close the mouthpiece with a few layers of plastic wrap and rubber bands so all of the holes are capped off and nothing leaks out.
- Turn the piece upside down, rotating it a few times slowly so that the salt gets evenly distributed.
- Let the mixture soak for a while. Everyone says something different but our rule of thumb is 30 minutes.
- Place one hand over the mouthpiece. Place the other under base with your thumb covering the joint. Shake softly to break off any caked ash and resin. Remember, this is your baby after all.
- Once you see most of the resin has become dislodged and is floating around instead, dump out the mixture.
- Rinse thoroughly with warm water until you no longer smell the isopropyl alcohol.
Percolator attachment for bongs
Bong percolator attachments, more commonly known as ash catchers, are becoming more and more popular. They are one of the best ways to remove debris while keeping your water pipe clean. Essentially, since smoke travels through the ash catcher first, it “catches” the ash and other contaminants before it even reaches your bong.
This list of glass bong percolators and tips is just the tip of the iceberg. There are also swiss percs, dome percs, barrel percs, UFO percs, donut percs, fritted disc percolators, among many other styles. We’re looking forward to seeing the next iteration that comes along to impress us in functionality and design alike.