Ask any experienced smoker, and they’ll tell you that the best way to smoke nature’s favorite botanical is with a well-made bong and a group of friends. But if you’re looking to take your smoke session to the next level, you’ll need to use a herbal accessory with a few upgrades.
Intricate percolators in your bong’s chambers filter smoke to offer smooth and complex-tasting hits. Depending on your style and smoking preferences, you can find bongs with any number of complex percolators—like a honeycomb version or even a showerhead feature.
Once you’ve chosen your favorite design, the next challenge is filling the piece. Unlike a normal bong, it’s crucial to add water slowly and carefully to make a percolator bong work correctly.
It’s not uncommon to get overwhelmed when handling an unfamiliar smoking accessory. So, use this guide to find all the information you need to fill even the most complex percolators confidently.
The Benefits of Percolator Bongs
Percolator bongs are becoming the new norm in the smoking community. And with good reason: Percolators offer many benefits, like enhancing the smoking experience and adding style to your accessories.
1) Increases Filtration
Percolators provide an extra layer of filtration that cools harsh smoke with water before it enters the lungs. This soothes the tendency to cough during a smoke session.
Added water filtration is one of the main ways percolators refine smoke, but they also create bubbles in your bong. The extra bubbles work to filter and cool vapor. So, the more slits or holes your percolator has, the easier the vapor will be on your throat.
2) Enhances Flavor
Filtering intense herbal smoke allows you to take fuller, deeper hits. You’ll also experience a flavorful explosion of terpenes as you inhale more smoke.
For herbal enthusiasts who experiment with rare or unique strains, smoking with multi-perc bongs is the ultimate way to appreciate herb’s many delicious aromas.
3) Adds Your Personal Flair
Apart from cooling smoke to offer smoother, tastier hits, percolators also add an extra dose of personal flair to your piece. After all, regular smokers take as much pride in their accessories as much as their preferred herb.
While the most basic percolators look like miniature domes inside the water chamber, they can come in various patterns, shapes, and sizes. The most popular percolators are honeycomb percolators, showerhead percs, tree percs, and inline percs.
When faced with the sheer number of percolator bong options, it’s easy to become overwhelmed. Luckily, navigating the shelves is a breeze once you understand the basic types of percs.
The 5 Most Common Types of Percs
At first glance, a complicated percolator bong can appear as a mass of glass tubing within the main chamber. But, each unique design feature is intentionally created to enhance filtration.
There are dozens of perc types featuring intricate designs. But these nine are the most common ones you’ll come across when shopping for a new herbal accessory.
Type #1: Diffused Down Stem Percolator
Diffused down stem percolators are most commonly found in glass bongs. Their simple design features one small glass tube extending from the downstem into the water chamber.
At the bottom of the glass pipe are several small holes and slits that produce a bevy of bubbles. While tiny in size, each individual bubble enhances filtration and your smoke session.
The diffused down stem percolator is also easy to remove and replace as needed. So first-timers or accident-prone smokers don’t have to worry about exchanging their entire multi-perc bong.
Type #2: Disc/Puck Percolator
Sleek and simple in design, a circ perc is a small bulb-like structure that connects to the down stem through a glass tube. Although most circ percs feature one ring, some versions combine up to three rings that are stacked parallel.
Circ percolators are excellent for diffusing smoke, using small slits on the outside of the bulb to produce plenty of bubbles.
Type #3: Honeycomb Percolator
A honeycomb bong features a small flat disc at the very bottom of the water chamber. In some multi-percolator bongs, the honeycombs are stacked on top of each other to create multiple chambers.
Each disc features several holes on the top and bottom that filter smoke straight up from the base of the bong.
Honeycomb bongs are well-known for their efficient filtration. Those featuring four or more honeycombs offer the smoothest smoking experience.
Type #4: Donut Percolator
Donut percolators function much like swiss percolators. However, they have only one hole in the middle. When smoke enters the chamber, it filters up and around the hole to cool and diffuse harsh vapor.
The unique design offers a two-for-one function as a splash guard and an ice catcher. The donut percolator is also convenient to hold in your hand for generous smokers who like to share the wealth.
Type #5: Base-Connected Perc
Featuring a half-egg shape, the base-connected perc provides a thorough cooling sensation to your smoke session. The simple design also ensures even bubble dispersion to enhance the flavor in your herbal product.
The percolator sits right at the base of the down stem, which makes clean-up a breeze. Simply rinse the perc with isopropyl alcohol or apply mild heat to restore your perc to pristine status.
The Age-Old Argument of Hot vs. Cold Water for Bongs
Now that you know how to identify the most common percolator bongs, it’s time to fill your herbal accessory with water. But don’t just grab that glass of stale water on your bedside table. The temperature of the water that fills your perc can greatly impact your smoke session.
Hot or cold: that is the question. Some smokers swear by warm water, while others religiously reach for chilled. So, what’s the difference?
The Pros of Hot Water
In terms of temperature, hot water should be about the same as a cup of comfortable tea so as not to burn your throat. Advocates of warm water say that the temperature is cool enough to chill burning herb, but still deliver a warm and soothing hit.
Warm smoke is easier on the throat, much like inhaling the heated air inside a relaxing sauna. Some smokers even claim they are able to take bigger hits of the pleasant steam-like vapor.
So if you’re looking to intensify your smoke session, warm water just might be your ticket to deeper and longer inhales.
The Cons of Hot Water
Of course, too hot vapor can irritate the throat.
Apart from the possibility of a burn, hot water also fails to harden resin that burnt flower produces. When resin doesn’t solidify, it travels with the smoke straight into your lungs.
Smokers that aren’t a fan of inhaling (or tasting) the oily byproduct could be in for rude awakening when using warm bong water.
The Pros of Cold Water
Filling your percolator bong with cold water helps to cool smoke, almost as if inhaling a breath of fresh winter air. Both refreshing and energizing, a cool hit is essential for many smokers.
Cold air also condenses smoke, making each bong hit thick and milky. Many users claim the heavier sensation of the smoke allows them to fully enjoy their smoke session..
Lastly, cold smoke hardens resin and traps the substance inside the main chamber. So you won’t be inhaling the unpleasant oil.
The Cons of Cold Water
While inhaling cool air might be invigorating, ice cold vapor can also be equally as abrasive on the throat as too-warm water. Ice cold hits are generally harsher than warm ones when combined with the thicker vapor.
Because resin hardens before it has the chance to be inhaled, the sticky material adheres to the sides of your precious herbal accessory. And as every herbal enthusiast knows all too well, layers of resin in your water pipe require an intense cleaning session to remove.
How to Fill Your Bong with a Percolator
You’ve chosen your preferred percolator bong and picked your preference between hot v.s. cold—now the real fun begins. When it comes to filling your percolator bong, precision is key.
Follow a simple step-by-step process to fill your bong with water to perfection each time:
Step 1: Place Your Water Pipe on a Solid Surface
The first step to making your percolator bong work is to find an even surface like a table or kitchen counter.
Make sure to check the surface for sturdiness. Then, carefully place your percolator bong so the mouthpiece is within reach at hip level.
Step 2: Pour Water Slowly
Once your bong is safely situated, grab a container to fill with water. With a pitcher or large cup in hand, fill with clean water. The water can be warm or cold, depending on your preference.
Now, it’s time to start pouring water into the mouthpiece. Continue slowly as the water passes through all the percs. This process might take longer if you have a bong with two or three percolators.
Step 3: Fill Lower Percolators
When you see the lowest level percolator fill with water, blow into the mouthpiece to force water into the bottom chamber.
Continue this process until all the slits and holes in your percolator are properly submerged in water, about two-thirds full. Keep in mind this might take longer if you have a triple perc bong.
Step 4: Fill the Main Water Chamber
Once all percolators are properly filled, remove the down stem from the water chamber. Steadily pour water through the stem opening into the lower chamber.
Fill until the chamber is two-thirds full or until two inches of the down stem are fully submerged.
Step 5: Check the Water Level
If this is your first time filling a percolator bong, there’s a good chance you’ve overfilled or underfilled the bong.
Avoid this beginner’s blunder by checking for both with a simple, 3-step pull test:
- Make sure the down stem is inserted, place your lips inside the mouthpiece, and take an even inhale.
- If the water bubbles over the percolators and touches your lips, it’s a sign you have too much water. Remove the down stem and blow into the bong to push water out of the second perc. Then, tip the bong and pour a few inches out through the opening.
- If you notice the bubbling sound is too quiet, fill the mouthpiece with a bit more water and try again.
You might have to repeat the pull test a few times before getting the water levels right. But after a few times filling your percolator bong, you’ll soon become an expert.
Although percolator bongs add an extra layer of intricacy to your smoke session, they are well worth the trouble.
Percolator bongs offer smooth filtration and enhance the flavor of your favorite green herb. Intricate variations like the showerhead perc and tree perc also add personal flair to your favorite accessory.
After choosing a percolator bong style that tickles your fancy, it’s time to get to business.
Grab a pitcher of water, either warm or cold, and follow the step-by-step process. Remember to add water slowly and watch for each percolator to fill about two-thirds of the way. While tedious at first, filling your perc will soon become second nature with practice and patience.
Once your double percolator bong is filled to perfection, it’s time to congratulate yourself. With this guide, you’ve grown from a hesitant beginner to a certified expert.
Now all that’s left to do is load your favorite MJA piece and enjoy the fruits of your labor.