Odd Culture

What Do the Percolators Do in a Bong? All of Your Questions Answered

posted by Chris Valentine

So you’ve been dabbling in the world of recreational smoking: sharing joints with friends, eyeing that new head shop downtown. Maybe you’ve even had an edible or two.

Now it’s time to invest in your first piece of glass. You may be looking at all your options and asking: what is a percolator bong? 

Water bongs offer the best bang for your buck. They offer you smoother, larger hits, and bongs are possibly a healthier way to smoke. To make your smoking experience even better, get a percolator bong. 

What Is A Percolator Bong?

A percolator, or perc, bong is a water pipe that filters your smoke twice: once through the water, and once through the perc itself.

Essentially, a percolator diffuses your smoke into smaller and smaller particles. This creates more surface area in the smoke and makes for a smoother and cooler hit. 

Benefits of Percolators

Water bongs filter your smoke through water in order to catch pieces of carbon, tar, and other toxins. The percolator also filters your smoke, ensuring that any remaining carbon or other matter stick to the perc instead of going into your lungs.

Smoke that has been filtered twice does lose some of its potency. However, since percolators make it easier to take in smoke, you’re able to up your intake considerably. 

There are many different types of percolators you can find, some of which we’ll discuss later on. Though perc bongs usually cost more than their plain counterparts, the benefits make it worth the investment. 

What to Look for in a Perc Bong

Though the price tag on a plastic bong may be appealing, go for a glass one. They’re better for you and for your smoking experience. Plastic bongs can contain chemicals that you do not want to ingest. 

The array of styles and designs may be overwhelming at first. You can find water pipes that look like they belong in a museum next to purely utilitarian pieces. Whether or not to buy a heavily decorated bong is up to you.

Lastly, make sure your bong is made of durable glass and the percolator is secure inside. If you drop your perc bong, the outer glass may stay intact while the percolator shatters. 

Keeping Your Bong Clean

Due to the way they trap larger particles, percolator bongs need to be cleaned regularly. The shape of most percolators make them difficult to clean with pipe cleaners or Q-Tips.

Your best bet is to run isopropyl alcohol through the piece, swirling it gently through the percolator. Add a pinch of kosher salt if there are stubborn stains or patches of carbon.

Know that intricate percolators with many nooks and crannies may be difficult to clean if you use them regularly. They may always have a slight yellow tinge or pieces of carbon buildup in the corners. Your percolator will still function well, it just won’t look at pretty. 

Different Kinds Of Percolators

Though all percolators perform the same basic job, some do it more efficiently than others. If you don’t want to sacrifice function for style, you’ll need to know your options.

Since smoke can be filtered in a variety of ways, glass artists love to explore new ways to make a perc. These are some of the most common ones you’ll find. 

Honeycomb Percolator 

By far the simplest of the percolators, honeycombs are simply horizontal disks inside of the bong that filter your smoke through small holes. Honeycomb percolators are unobtrusive and minimalist. They’re a great choice if you want maximum efficiency. 

Another benefit of honeycomb percs is that they don’t slow down the smoke at all. Some percolators trap smoke in their chambers, and you have to pull harder to bring it out. That’s not a problem even with stacked honeycombs.

Tree Percolator

This is the most common percolator, and likely the one you have a mental image of. A few tubes with slits in the bottom hang downward in the bong, reaching into the water. These tubes funnel the smoke from the water into the neck of the bong, filtering it through the slits. 

The main downside to tree percs is that they are fragile. The multiple thin glass tubes add breaking points to your piece, but they look fantastic. 

Inline Percolator

These often take the place of a down stem in a percolator bong. These horizontal pieces of glass reach into the water and filter the smoke through several small holes or slits. They function very similarly to a down stem diffuser but filter the smoke more effectively. 

Inline percs are often seen as the first percolator in a multi-perc bong. However, since they replace the down stem, if the inline breaks it renders the entire bong unusable. You may decide to get a high-diffusing down stem instead. 

Spiral Or Coil Percolator

Spiral percolators function similarly to a down stem and add quite a bit of visual interest to your piece. They’re often blown in a vibrant or contrasting glass color, or are the centerpiece of the bong. 

However, spiral percolators are better at cooling the smoke than actually filtering it. Their purpose is to hold the smoke in the water for longer, and on their own, they don’t catch and filter. These are often used in conjunction with stronger percolators. 

Showerhead Percolator

Also called a UFO perc, this percolator uses similar mechanics as the tree and inline percs. It forces the smoke through a round disk with slats cut into it, then funnels the smoke through another tube into the neck of the bong. 

Showerhead percs are fun to watch and do a great job of filtering and cooling the smoke. They’re sturdier than trees and spirals and stand a better chance of surviving a fall. 

Now You Know the Perks of Percs!

Buying a percolator bong without knowing what to look for is difficult. Hopefully, this guide armed you with the tools you need to pick your perfect bong, and you’re no longer asking yourself “what is a percolator bong, anyway?”

Whether you smoke for relaxation, pain relief, or just to have fun, upgrade your sessions by buying a high-quality bong. You deserve to find out just how good smoking a bong can feel. 

And pro stoner tip: put a few ice cubes in your bong right before smoking. It’s heavenly. Check back soon for our latest articles!

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