Bong downstem sizes

Bong Downstem Sizes: How To Measure & Buy The Right One for Your Bong

Posted by VITAE GLASS on

Downstems are a very important part of a bong. Without them, there would be no way for smoke to be pulled from the bowl into the bong's chamber base. But you can just add any old downstem to your bong. You need to know the right downstem sizes.


We're going to demystify downstem dimensions and explain their significance on your puffing sessions. We'll walk you through understanding basic bong downstem sizes, measuring for a perfect fit, and picking materials that enhance durability and ease of cleaning.


Plus, we dive into custom features like diffusers that can seriously upgrade your sessions.

Understanding Downstem Sizes and Their Importance

Bong base with downstem

A downstem is a long tubular piece of glass that connects your bong bowl piece to the main water chamber of your glass bong. It plays a vital role in your bong's function, creating an airtight seal between the glass pieces, which facilitates the suction pressure required to pull the smoke from your bowl piece down into the water chamber as you inhale.


Having the correct downstem size can significantly enhance your smoking experience, whilst also maintaining the function and quality of your custom bong.


Every downstem dimension tweaks your bong's performance, from the way air whistles through it to how thoroughly it cleanses each puff.


The right downstem size ensures a snug fit, preventing any unwanted air leakage that can dilute smoke quality. An incorrectly sized downstem might not fit your piece, resulting in a less than optimal smoking experience.

Downstem Sizes For Bongs & Joint Sizes

Joint sizes

Bong stem sizes are typically measured in millimeters, with the most common sizes being 10mm , 14mm , and 18mm . The size refers to the width or diameter of the downstem and the corresponding joint on the bong where the downstem is inserted.


  • 14mm: This is the most popular downstem joint width for many medium to large-size bongs. It works well for most users, and creates a smooth smoking experience, having sufficient room to filter and circulate the smoke when you inhale.

  • 18/19mm: Generally used by smokers who prefer bigger, more potent hits, this is the largest downstem size available on the market.

  • 10mm: The smallest standard size, these downstems are commonly used for mini rigs or small bongs such as dab rigs. 

How to Measure a Downstem Size

It's important to accurately measure your downstem, so you can ensure you're buying the right size. There are two important measurements you need to take: the downstem joint size and the downstem length.

How to measure and buy a downstem
via Dankstop

Downstem Joint Size

To measure bong joint size, you need to find out the inner diameter of your female ground joint, which is the end that fits into your bong. This size will typically be one of the standard sizes measured above (10mm, 14mm, or 18mm).


You can simply measure across the opening with a ruler OR use the penny trick! A penny measures almost exactly 19mm across its diameter – so if it fits in about halfway, then you’ve got an 18mm joint.


If your penny fits in about a quarter of the way, you can go for a 14mm, and if your penny can’t get into the joint at all, then it is probably a 10mm.

Measuring Downstem Length

The easiest method of downstem measuring is using a pencil. Simply insert the pencil into the opening of the female joint, up until it is hovering around 1/2 inch from the bottom, which is where it would theoretically hit the water if the pipe was full. Make a mark on the side of the pencil where it comes out of the joint.


Then, measure the length in inches, from the tip of your pencil to the mark you just made. The number you get is the length of the downstem that will perfectly fit your bong.


You need to measure from the end of the joint to where the downstem meets your water pipe's base. Remember, precision matters here because even a small mismatch can affect performance.


A common mistake? Not accounting for how far into your bong or water pipe the downstem needs to go. This often leads folks to buy one that's too short or too long.

What Size Downstem Do I Need?

Once you have taken all the necessary measurements, you can determine what size downstem you need. If you're still unsure, you can always consult with a professional or a trusted retailer. They can help guide you to the right size downstem for your specific bong.

Understanding Downstem Length

The length of your downstem should be measured from the tip of the downstem to the end of the ground joint. This is the part of the downstem that will be submerged in water when inserted into the bong. It's important to find a downstem length that ensures the downstem tip is submerged in the water but not touching the bottom of the bong.

Material Matters in Downstem Design

Choosing the right material for your downstem is more than just a matter of preference; it's about maximizing durability, ease of cleaning, and overall smoking experience. Glass, metal, and silicone each bring their own set of advantages to the table.

Glass Downstems

People often praise glass downstems for their purity and the crisp, clean flavor it delivers. Its transparency allows users to easily monitor buildup and act accordingly. They are perfect for glass bongs, however, glass's fragility requires careful handling.

Metal Downstems

Metal shines in its resilience, unfazed by the occasional tumble or knock. While not as pure tasting as glass, metal down stems are practically indestructible and offer peace of mind for those prone to accidents.

Silicone Downstems

Silicone stands out by striking an impeccable balance between being tough and adaptable. Easy to clean and nearly impossible to break, silicone down stems are perfect for travelers or anyone on-the-go.

Customizing Your Experience with Different Downstem Types

Different downstem features can significantly alter your smoking experience. Grasping these differences enables you to customize your smoking moments, leading to gentler and more pleasurable experiences.


For instance, diffuser downstems can help break up your smoke into smaller bubbles, increasing water contact and cooling the smoke faster. On the other hand, percolators introduce an additional stage of cleansing, refining the smoke even more for a purer breath.


Some downstems also double as adapters, allowing you to use different sizes of bowl pieces or other accessories with your bong.

Downstems for Different Bong Types

Different types of bongs may require different sizes or types of downstems. For example, mini rigs or small bongs may typically use a smaller 10mm downstem, whereas larger bongs may require a 14mm or 18mm downstem. It's always important to consider the type and size of your bong when choosing a downstem.

Troubleshooting Common Downstem Issues

Running into issues with your downstem can be a real buzzkill. But, don't worry; we've got you covered. From fit problems to clogging, let's dive into some solutions.

Finding the Perfect Fit

If your downstem doesn't fit snugly, it might as well not be there at all. Make sure you're using the right size for your piece. If it's too loose, consider wrapping a small bit of plumber’s tape around its base for a tighter seal or a connector piece to create an air-tight seal.

Cleaning Clogged Downstems

A clogged downstem can severely affect airflow and drag on your hits. Regular cleaning is key here; soak it in isopropyl alcohol mixed with salt overnight then rinse thoroughly under warm water to clear out any residue buildup.

Enhancing Your Setup with Accessory Compatibility

When you match your downstem perfectly, accessories like ash catchers and pre-coolers fit seamlessly, enhancing not only the aesthetics of your setup but its functionality too.


Achieving this ideal match not only simplifies cleaning and improves the smoothness of each draw but also elevates a standard smoking session to an exceptional level. Additionally, experimenting with various setups might unveil new favorites and methods to elevate your enjoyment during sessions.

Downstem Sizes FAQs

How do I know what size downstem I need?

To correctly measure the downstem length for your bong, start from the bottom of the joint inside your bong. Extend this measurement to the point where you anticipate placing the downstem. Make sure the downstem you choose aligns exactly with this length.

What size bowl fits in a 14mm downstem?

A bowl that measures 14mm is the ideal match for a downstem of the same size, 14mm. This precise pairing guarantees a tight connection and facilitates a seamless, uninterrupted airflow.

What size downstem do I need?

Before you proceed with any other steps, it's crucial to first ascertain the joint size of your bong, which typically comes in three standard sizes: 10mm, 14mm, or 18mm. Once you've determined this, the next step is to select a stem that corresponds exactly to this measurement.

What does 14/18mm downstem mean?

A 14/18mm downstem suggests that there is compatibility with two distinct sizes: it is designed to snugly fit into an 18mm bong, while also having the capacity to securely hold a 14mm bowl.

The Conclusion to Downstem Sizes

Understanding downstem sizes and how to measure them is crucial for any bong owner. With the right downstem, you can significantly enhance your smoking experience and ensure your bong functions at its best.


We've shown you how to measure, choose materials, and consider features like diffusers for a cooler hit.


Remember: Size matters when it comes to compatibility and performance. A well-chosen downstem ensures smoother sessions.


Picking durable materials saves headaches later on. Glass might be classic but don't overlook silicone for its resilience.


Groundbreaking additions such as percolators aren't merely sophisticated extras; they revolutionize the process of filtration and chilling smoke.


To sum up, diving into downstem details isn't just about getting it right; it's about elevating every puff into a perfect experience.


Start with knowledge, and end with satisfaction.

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