As a cannabis lover, I have to say that I genuinely love bongs. If you want to get the ultimate hit out of your cannabis, then this is the way to go. However, if you’re new to the world of weed, you might have just now realized that bongs are relatively customizable.
If you’re into upping your bong game, one of your new vocabulary words needs to be “percolator,” also known as percs. All the best bongs have them. But what are the best percolators for bongs? Well, I’m glad you asked! Let’s have a look, shall we?
What Is a Percolator Bong?
A percolator bong is a fancy version of a regular bong. Just like every other bong, it has a water chamber. But unlike a traditional bong, It also has at least one of these nifty little things called percolators, which make the bong better! Why? Because it makes your hit better, which makes your experience better. In this article, I will show you all the best percolators for your bong.
How a Percolator Bong Works
So how does a percolator bong work? The key here is pressure. As some of you may already know, when you inhale through a bong, it forces the smoke to enter the water, which forms bubbles because of water pressure, and that cools the smoke and filters impurities out of it. A percolator furthers this process by adding more pathways through which the smoke must separate, increasing the surface area of the smoke. Why is this helpful? I’m glad you asked!
Benefits of Percolators
- Filtration. Smoke is filtered when it passes through water and creates bubbles. Water, or H2O, is a polar molecule which magnetically attracts polar contaminants. That means, when you see the pretty bubbles, the water pulls those filthy polar contaminants out of the smoke. It doesn’t work as well for smaller or non-polar contaminants, but it still gives you a cleaner, safer hit. In general, the more surface area of smoke bubbles, and the smaller the bubbles, the better the filtration. Percolators boost filtration by increasing the surface area of the bubbles while decreasing their size.
- Cooling. If you’ve been smoking long, you’ve probably been exposed to a moment or two of the burnt throat feeling from inhaling hot smoke. When you’re smoking dry herbs, you are using combustion to create smoke. You take a lighter, create heat, light the herb, and inhale the smoke produced. Unfortunately, a lot of times, you’re also inhaling the heat from combustion. Lighters, which are the source of heat when you’re smoking, can reach up to 2,000℃ (3,600℉). That’s pretty hot! While the smoke you inhale isn’t quite that same temperature, sometimes it can still be too hot. This is the reason for longer chambers in pipes and bongs, because the further smoke travels, the more it cools. When you pass the smoke through water, a lot of the heat dissipates, cooling the smoke to more tolerable temperatures. Add a percolator, and you get the best of both worlds, adding travel distance to the smoke, and making it pass through the water some more, creating very cool smoke.
- Moisture. A lot of the harshness of your average hit, when there’s no water, comes from the dryness of the smoke you’re inhaling. But when you’re using water, it turns a lot of that smoke into vapour and adds humidity. This creates a far more gentle hit that won’t do nearly as much damage to your respiratory system. Percolators force smoke through the water, even more, giving you a nice, moist hit.
When you use a percolator, all of the benefits of water are increased. Percolator bongs force the smoke to separate and diffuse, create more surface area for the bubbles, and force the smoke through the water even more than a regular bong. The best bong percolator will take all of these effects to the max, without creating too much drag so that it’s not too difficult to inhale. You can even get multiple percolators in the same bong! All of this means that you are in for one smooth hit, and your throat and lungs won’t suffer nearly as much. Yay, science!
Types of Percolators
There are so many awesome kinds of percolators, I couldn’t possibly fit them all in one article! A lot of them are fixed onto the water pipe itself, while others are built into the downstem. Remember, no matter what perc you get, the best percolator for bongs will have smaller holes and/or slits because that means smaller bubbles and better filtration. But if you get holes that are too small, it will increase the drag of your hits, so keep that in mind.
The diffused down stem, or straight percolator, is the simplest percolator on the market. It’s basically just a down stem with slits cut into the bottom for extra filtration purposes.
This is a flared percolator, with partial rings revolving around it. The name “circ perc” has a nice, funny ring to it!
These are also referred to as “barrel” percs. They’re horizontal tubes with gridded lines cut around them.
Believe it or not, this perc is actually shaped like a tongue. It has holes or slits on top that look like little taste buds. It’s specifically designed for upward airflow and taste preservation. So… the tongue perc helps your taste buds taste your buds.
These are probably the most common percs out there. They’ve got multiple arms, and each arm has slits in the bottom, with the base being either open-ended or closed. There can be anywhere from three or four arms, all the way up to sixty-four! Of course, the more arms, the better it gets the job done. Be careful, because the arms have weak points at the joints, and have a tendency to break off over time. Be sure you’re getting one that’s high quality.
These percs, also called spiral percolators, are kind of like the tree perc, but the tubes are coiled like a spring. They kind of resemble those new-fangled energy-efficient light bulbs. It looks awesome, but the drag might be longer on these, so be sure you’re willing to deal with that. You also may run into performance issues if you buy a cheap one. However, because the spiralled tube allows for a longer passageway, the cooling powers of these percs are pretty great.
Also known as a halo perc, the ring is another variation of the tree. It’s a U-bend that’s wrapped around the single bent upstem and has a lot of holes or slits. It’s got a long drag, so it’s normally used on shorter bongs.
As the name suggests, these percolators are dome-shaped, with holes or slits at the bottom. The diffusion happens when the smoke enters the dome and must separate through the slits or holes.
This is the upgraded version of the dome perc. Domes often have an issue with pack pressure created by the vacuum, which causes water to be pushed back into the bushing. The dewar solves this problem by simply jacketing the dome.
Multiple Action Dewar
The next tier of dewar percs is the multiple action dewar. It has spheres inside, at the top of the dome. These spheres have holes or slits where the smoke goes through. After that, the smoke must travel to the bottom of the dewar jacket to exit out of the percolator through the slits or holes down there. This double action turns it into an air diffuser and a water percolator all in one.
This is an extremely rare type of percolator; very few have ever been made. It’s a Dewar, but it has a low set of arms in a swirl pattern. So it’s basically a reengineered ring perc, but they still have a really slow drag.
Also called the UFO or tire perc, this is a vertical tube that flairs out at the bottom, resembling that piece of metal you stare at in the shower every morning. It has a tube up the middle, covered by another tube that guides the smoke to a set of slits or holes at the bottom. Sometimes, you’ll find a few of them stacked on top of each other.
Think of a hockey puck with holes in it. That’s a matrix perc. It basically functions about the same way as showerhead perc, but with a more modern look.
A stereo matrix is two smaller matrix percs stacked on top of each other. It’s ok if the bottom one doesn’t bubble; it’s still important for water displacement.
Yep, you guessed it. This is a kind of disc perc that looks like a honeycomb, hence the name. It’s got better filtration than your average disc perc, because there are so many holes for the smoke to be separated through. They also have no weak points, so they’re hard to break. The only drawback is that all those holes require regular cleaning, but it’s so worth it for that sweet level of filtration.
This is another disc perc, like the honeycomb, but it’s made of glass fragments with super small spaces between them. The amount of tiny holes in these makes them just about the best perc for filtration you can get, but it also increases the drag. Just like its cousin the honeycomb, it will require frequent cleaning.
Also known as a tornado or cyclone perc, this is one of my favourite styles of percolator. It’s shaped like a disc, with slits in the sides cut at an angle, which forces the water to spin into a mini-hurricane inside your bong! So cool! They act as a good splash guard, too!
Think of the concept of turbine perc, but with air. The helix perc sits right under the mouthpiece and is shaped in such a way that makes the smoke swirl after it has already passed through the water. It makes the smoke look kind of like a Texas tornado.
Made exclusively by JM Flow, these percolators spray water, just like a sprinkler! They have a reputation of being very smooth, with great airflow.
If you want a really cool-looking perc, check out the propeller. It’s got at least three tubes, and it actually spins while you take a hit, spewing bubbles the whole time!
Is that… Swiss cheese? Wow, these people actually did it. They made a vertical disc percolator with holes in it that looks like that dairy product that we all know and love. These are best used when placed above another percolator. The first percolator does most of the work, and then the swiss perc separates the bubbles, even more, thus creating more surface area and filtration for the smoke.
This is almost like a double percolator. It’s got two cylinders, one inside of the other. They have diagonal slits, each cylinder with the slits facing opposite directions.
Seed of Life
The seed of life perc by Mothership Glass is incredibly hard to replicate for most other artists. It’s laser-etched, making 18 perfectly symmetrical holes for diffusion. It’s known to be one of the best and most innovative percolators out there.
I got pretty excited when I learned of the awesome engineering of the pillar perc. First, the smoke makes its way through a dry chamber and enters the perc through a hole in the middle of several pillars. Then, it travels up the pillars, stacking bubbles all the way to the top of the upper chamber. When you remove the bowl and take your hit, you get pure bliss. This perc makes it easy to take a huge hit due to the design and reduced overall volume in the bong.
These are pretty cool. They take the smoke from the original chamber into a second chamber, then “recycle” it back into the original chamber, forcing it to start the filtration process over. This filters the smoke over and over again, which will give you some amazing smoke quality, as well as a bigger hit.
Whole Piece Percolator
Yep, that’s right. There are bongs that actually are percolators. The artists who create them use the whole entire bong as a percolator, making for some extremely thorough filtration! The most common of these is the Faberge egg style, which features Swiss holes. But there are several different whole-piece percs out there.
Myths About Percolators
For whatever reason, there are people who will fuss and moan, and besmirch the good name of the percolator. Have no fear! I will scientifically put a stop to these rumours here and now.
Filtered Out THC
A common worry is that, with the excellent filtration that comes with percolators, all of your precious THC will be filtered out of the smoke as well. This is completely untrue. Do you remember the science section of this article? We learned there that water is really only good for filtering out polar compounds from smoke. Fortunately for us, most cannabinoids, including THC, are non-polar.
There has only ever been one study done on this. It stated that water can filter out a minute amount of THC, but that study is said to have had sketchy methods and was never repeated. What’s more, anyone who makes cannabutter throws out the water, and we all know that cannabutter has plenty of THC. You, too, may throw out your bong water when you’re done with it because it is pretty much useless.
THC dissolves well in fats and oils because those are non-polar substances. But water? Let’s just say that even if you wanted to filter out the THC using water, you’d have a super tough time of it. For the sake of believing that anything is possible, I will not say that this is impossible… but I will say that it would be very difficult.
Too Much Percolation
Another common myth is that it is possible to have too much percolation. Well, I say, lies! There is truly no such thing as too much percolation unless you’re going for a dirty, harmful, hot, harsh smoke. In which case, don’t even use a bong!
Cooling and moisturization of the smoke do go down after the first percolator or two, but the filtration is still there. Filtration happens when the smoke makes contact with the water. In order to get 100% water filtration, the surface area of the bubbles would have to be equal to, or greater than, the surface area of the smoke. In a bong, no matter how many percolators you have, the surface area of the smoke is much greater than that of the bubbles. So really, if you’re going for cleanliness, you should spring for as many percolators as you can afford. You can never have a hit that is too clean.
I couldn’t just sit here and talk about percolators without doing a little window shopping, now, could I? Of course not! So, I went out and found a list of my favourite percolator bongs, so that I could come here and share them with you. Don’t you just love me?
The White Monster by Grace Glass is so cool looking! It’s got awesome spike accents, to go with its already cool ice notches, drum diffuser, and honeycomb perc! As if that’s not enough, you can also convert it for use with dabs! The only downside is that it’s a limited edition, so you’ll have to act fast if you want it!
Sesh Supply’s Atlas is a really sweet setup. It’s got a propeller perc that spins the bubbles right up into its Faberge egg design, and it’s a recycler! Not only does it look really cool as it is, but it comes in different colours, so you can really amp up the style of this one.
This Old School bong by Weed Star is totally my dream bong. Sporting coloured ice notches, and three stacked honeycomb percolators, it’s sure to have an ultra-clean hit. Plus, the huge chamber and sturdy base make it the perfect bong to share with a group of friends!
Here’s a little extra wisdom for when you decide to go bong shopping:
- Pay attention to the price. In general, when it comes to bongs, you get what you pay for. If you buy a really cheap bong, it may be ok to start with, but you could have performance issues after just a little while of using it.
- Sample the goods. If you have a friend who has a percolator bong, ask if you can have a smoke session together, so that you can check out their bong. If you have more than one friend with a perc bong, that’s even better! As you try out your friends’ bongs, you can decide which ones you like best. You can also check out reviews for bongs that are sold online, and learn from the experiences of others.
- Consider an ash catcher. Ash catchers are external pieces you can buy for your bong. When ashes fall through the bowl, the ash catcher catches them, instead of allowing them to fall into the water. This keeps the ashes out of the rest of your bong and makes cleaning a whole lot easier.
- Upgrade as you go. It’s perfectly ok to start small and simple! Dip your toes in the water, learn at your own pace, and do what makes you comfortable! As you get more and more comfortable and gain more knowledge, you can always upgrade to bigger, better, more intricate bongs later!
- Keep the bong level. Smoke travels the path of least resistance. If you tilt your bong while using it, half the percolator won’t be as effective, because most of the smoke will be rushing out of the other half.
Wow, this has been fun! Who knew bong percolators could be so cool? It makes your bong experience so much more customizable! You can go for cool looks, high functionality, and even stack percs on top of each other! No matter what percolator bong you decide to get, I just know you’ll have fun with it! Besides, that’s the most important part!
This is also a great conversation to have with your friends! You can toss around ideas while you’re on your toke break! I just love dreaming up my perfect bong. It makes me happy all the way down to my toes. Now get out there and find yours!