Bongs and waterpipes are the most popular choice for a great smoking experience. However, adding a percolator to the bong takes that experience to another level. They help get rid of the backsplash, and the smoke is cooler and better filtered.
The trouble is finding a suitable percolator. When I started looking for percolators, there were so many options. To be frank, it was somewhat overwhelming. But, once I knew my options, I had an easier time getting the results I wanted from my bong.
These days, it’s easier to find a bong with percolator because they’ve become a standard. Still, you need to choose the right percolator for the best results. I’ll make the selection easier for you by sharing my research here. Let’s start with the basics!
What Is a Perc or Percolator?
Percolators filter the smoke to remove any impurities. Thus, you can get smoother and cleaner hits. These percolators may be built-in or removable. They also help cool the smoke by breaking it up and passing it through the water.
Types of Percs
Okay, I’ll start by putting this out there: there are a lot of percolators on the market. But, I’ll talk about the major ones because once you have the basics, it’s easier to experiment with different perc types.
Honeycomb percolators are circular percolators with a lot of holes. These holes give them a honeycomb-like appearance, hence the name. Some percolators have up to thirty holes. Honeycomb percolators are sometimes in stacks of up to six percolators.
Honeycomb percolators are one of the most common percolator types. That’s because they offer better diffusion without much drag. Smoke breaks into smaller bubbles as it enters the numerous holes, thus getting cooler.
Diffused Downstem Percolator
Diffused downstem percolators probably have the most uncomplicated percolator design out there. It’s just one long tube with slits at the end. You place the slitted part in the water, so the smoke cools down before entering the lungs.
These percolators can be fixed or detachable. Diffused downstem percolators don’t have the fanciest design, but they do the job. The slits can break the smoke into bubbles while the water cools it.
Diffused downstem percs tend to have the most variety. That’s because the manufacturers can play around with the design of the slits. They can change the placement, number, and sizes of the slits. They’re great for beginners since they’re easy to operate and replaceable.
Disc percolators are discs with tiny little holes. These create many bubbles so you can inhale cool, filtered smoke. The problem is the holes are hard to clean and clog very quickly because of their small size.
The additional holes make it harder to draw the smoke, but it’s not a problem for experienced smokers. Sometimes the discs are frittered, meaning the disc is made from glass particles. When fused together, these rough particles leave tiny spaces acting as diffusing holes. However, these models may prove harder to clean.
Inline percolators are favorite among weed smokers because of how well-diffused the smoke is. The percolator is basically just a horizontally positioned tube with slits along it. Some manufacturers place slits on either side of the tube, while others put them on both sides.
Perc with more slits creates more bubbles which means bigger hits. Inline percolators are up there with downstem percolators in terms of popularity. Inline percs go with other percolator types, so it’s easy to pair them.
Otherwise known as cyclone percs, turbine percs are disc-shaped percs with slanted holes. The smoke enters the water through the downstem and passes through the percolator.
When passing through the turbine perc, the water creates a cyclone-like effect. As the perc swirls everything around, it cools the smoke while diffusing it. So, you can smoke in style. Turbine percs go with other disc-shaped percs though honeycomb and turbine percs are a common combination.
Tree percolators have multiple branches. There can be six to eight vertical hanging tubes with slits at the end. The smoke goes into these tubes and up to the central base at the top.
These percs create a lot of bubbles, and the smoke’s well-diffused, so you get smooth hits. Unfortunately, this perc type is fragile, so cleaning may be difficult. Try to get one made from sturdier material like borosilicate glass.
Swiss percs may take the top spot regarding fancy percolators. These percs are built into the bong and look like simple holes in the middle. However, they force the smoke to break up and decrease its intensity when it passes through the perc.
Since the smoke doesn’t have to pass through a barricade of closely placed holes, the drag is significantly less. However, it’s still cool and easy to inhale. Bigger swiss pec bong models give bigger, smoother hits.
UFO percolators have a flared base with slits and a center tube in the middle. The centerpiece is like an upside-down downstem. The smoke passes through the downstem into the bowl and goes into the center tube. Here, the smoke bubbles out through the slitted base.
The numerous slits diffuse the smoke and give a very smooth hit with minimal drag. The UFO percs are pretty efficient, plus they are easy to clean.
Showerhead percs are connected to the downstream and feature a showerhead-like base. The base has slits that open into the water bowl. The smoke passes through the downstem and out the slits in the bottom.
As a result, showerhead percs give off some smooth hits with plenty of diffusion from the base. Some showerhead percs are fused to the bottom of the bong via a stem, which makes the design more durable.
Matrix percolators are cylindrical with multiple slits around the body. Some of these slits are sideways, and others are vertical. The different orientations mean there the smoke will go in a lot of different directions and create a lot of bubbles.
The perc is nestled in the water. The smoke travels through the downstem into the matrix perc, creating many bubbles and overall diffusion. The resulting hits are big but smooth. The additional filtrations mean the final hit isn’t harsh on the lungs.
Matrix percs have another variation called a stereo matrix. These percs are just two more matrix perc stacked on each other. Since the smoke passes through two chambers, the hits are more filtered and easier to take.
Coil percolators get their name from their coil-like appearance. Some percs only have the slits at the bottom, while others can have them on every spiral. The smoke enters the coils from the downstem and goes into the water via the slits.
Coil percolators have another variation called glycerin coil percolator. The glycerin coil percolator has two chambers. The outer chamber is filled with glycerin, while the inner chamber is the actual coil. These percs deliver cooler hits, especially if placed into the refrigerator before use.
Coil percolators are stackable and give smoother and bigger hits. However, if the coil’s tubes are too narrow, they may produce some drag. Opt for larger rings to avoid that problem. Given the coil percolator’s aesthetic and functional abilities, it’s no wonder they’re so popular.
The barrel percolators look like cylindrical barrels. These percolators are usually upright. However, some manufacturers connect the perc with the downstem, so they may place the percolator sideways.
Barrel percolators have more holes than most other percolators, so they offer thorough filtration. They are a bit similar to matrix percolators, but all the holes have a similar orientation, and some are girded.
Do Percolator Styles Affect the Actual Hit?
Yes, percolator types do influence the kind of hits you get off your bong. The number of slits and holes determines how many bubbles you get, ultimately affecting the overall diffusion.
The greater the number of holes, the greater filtration you get. Plus, the slits tend to become clogged after a few hits. Smaller holes tend to get clogged more quickly.
The high is different for different percs, but not by that much. Every layer of filtration takes away a bit of the THC, so the more slits your perc has, the more THC you’ll lose.
That winds up my piece on different percolator types. Of course, there may be other designs of percs, but I’ve covered all the basics.
Everyone has their own preferences when it comes to percolators. The trick is to find a percolator that offers optimal diffusion while decreasing the drags. Such diffusers offer big smooth hits that are cool to inhale. Percolators are stackable, but the drag will increase if there are too many percs in one bong. Plus, the cleaning process becomes that much harder.
I recommend downstem, matrix, or honeycomb percolators for beginners because they’re easy to operate and clean. Plus, they’re not as fragile as something like a tree perc, so there’s no need to be constantly alert. For more experienced smokers, swiss or fritted disc percolators may be more fun.