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The Ultimate Guide to Bong Percolators: How to Choose, Use, and Maintain

Percolators continue to gain popularity, due to their ability to create a better, more satisfying smoking experience. Percolators (or percs) work by cooling down the smoke in the bong before it reaches the user. This has a variety of positive effects on both your experience and your body - less coughing (because it’s easier on your lungs), and a more pure, filtered smoke taste.  

Because they are so popular, there are now more percolator options on the market than ever before. This can get confusing for everyone, no matter how long you’ve been smoking. Learning how percolators work and what options are out there (types, styles, etc.) can help you make a wiser, more informed decision instead of getting overwhelmed. 

How Do Percolators For Bongs Work?

Percolators are generally located in the tube of the bong. Essentially, percs are an additional glass water chamber that adds an extra level of filtration to the smoke before it reaches you.  

When you take a pull from a bong without a perc, the smoke travels through the water in the bowl, which creates that signature “bubbling” sound most bongs are known for. With a percolator, the smoke is rerouted so that it travels back through water a second time, helping filter it even further. 

How Does a Percolator Cool The Smoke Down? 

Percs cool the smoke down in two different ways. 

In all bongs, when the smoke reaches the water, the water naturally cools the smoke down. With a percolator, the smoke is directed through the bong in a way that makes it actually flow twice through the water. The longer trip gives the smoke both more surface area and more time to cool down even further before it reaches you.

In addition, the pressure in the percolator works to break down and refine the water bubbles so that they are a much smaller size. The end result is a smoother, cooler pull. 

Do Percolators Affect Your High?

A common concern people have when considering purchasing a percolator is that it will filter the smoke so well that it affects their high. The good news is, THC is not soluble in water, so there is no concern that any of it will get trapped in the water during the filtration process.  

However, in some cases, percs may very slightly reduce the overall THC level. This is simply due to the increase in the surface area that the smoke has to travel before reaching your mouth. It is such a minuscule amount though, and it is incredibly unlikely that even a regular smoker will notice. The smoothness of the high you get is more than a fair trade-off. 

There are also people who believe that percolators may actually increase the absorption of THC. Unfortunately, there is no evidence that this is true. It may just be that smoking from a perc allows you to smoke for a longer period of time due to the smoothness. 

What Is The Best Percolator Bong?

So, what is the best perc? Ultimately, the “best” percolator bong is the one that is right for you! There are plenty of opinions on the subject but, with so many different options out there, it’s almost guaranteed that you’ll be able to find one that perfectly fits your specific needs and preferences, as long as you know what to look for.  

One important factor to remember when purchasing is that the more space the percolator has for the smoke to circulate, the more filtration it will provide.  

Types of Percolators

The different styles and types of percolators are virtually unlimited, but they all essentially function the same. It really comes down to what you’re specifically looking for. Here’s a list of the most popular percolators on the market, so that you can start to narrow down your options. 

Diffused Downstem Percolator

Perfect for beginners, a diffused downstem percolator is usually built directly into the bong. However, they can also be purchased as a separate accessory. Diffused downstem percs are a vertical pipe that extends into the bowl. It has slits at the base, which rests in the water in the base of the bong. 

Tree Percolator 

Tree percolators, also called pillow percs, are very similar to diffused downstem percs. The only difference is that, instead of a single tube, they branch down with additional vertical tubes (which look like roots, hence why it’s called a “tree” perc).

Sprinkler Percolator 

Sprinkler percolators are essentially an upside-down tree perc. Instead of extending down, the additional vertical tubes extend upwards from the base, much like a lawn sprinkler does. 

Disc Percolator

Likely the most popular percolator on the market, a disc perc produces some of the most bubbles of any of the available percs. The disc was designed with many, small holes to create a large number of tiny bubbles.  

Disc percs can be challenging for beginner smokers. Not only do they need more maintenance to keep the holes from getting clogged, but disc percs also require you to be able to take a deep, strong pull to get optimal filtration.  

Circ Percolator

Circ percolators provide work by passing the smoke through tiny slits instead of holes, which are located on the edges of the perc. They are generally placed either at the end of the downstem or towards the end of the tube of the bong. Circ percolators can also be connected to a j-hook, stacked, or domed.

Inset Percolator

Inset percolators are located inside the bong’s chamber and are indented. Inset percs act like an added chamber, similar to a cup, with slits that diffuse the smoke.

Turbine Percolator

Turbine percs are one of the most visually pleasing percolators out there. They are shaped like a disc perc, only with angled slits. As water passes through the slits, a whirlpool effect is created in the adjoining chamber.

Barrel Percolator

Positioned either sideways or upright in the bong, the cylinder-shaped barrel percolator connects directly to the downstem. Barrel percs are covered with grid holes (more than any other perc), which helps create better bubbling. 

Showerhead Percolator

Showerhead percs are a small tube that is connected to the main chamber of the bong. They are a combination of a barrel perc and a turbine perc, with both grid holes and angled slits. This leads to a bong that gives the smoker maximum diffusion with a minimal amount of drag. 

Honeycomb Percolator

Honeycomb percolators are another very popular option. They use stacked, flat discs that contain a large number of holes to create multiple chambers in the bong. Honeycomb percs sit flat in the bong’s base, which allows the smoke to run directly through them. More than one can be added to a bong, with each additional perc increasing the filtration and diffusion without slowing down the smoking process. They are compact and efficient. 

Ratchet Percolator

Much like the honeycomb perc, ratchet percs are also disc-shaped. The difference comes in the placement of the holes. With ratchet percs, those holes are located on the edge of the perc (near the bong’s wall) instead of in the center. Its smaller shape makes it perfect for smaller sized bongs, and the downstem can be placed right through the middle of them which adds an extra layer of filtration. 

Swiss Percolator 

Swiss percs were named that way due to their visual similarity to swiss cheese. They work by directing the smoke through those holes in the body of the bong. One of the most popular bongs on the market, the Faberge Egg bong, is known for its swiss percs. 

Donut Percolator

Shaped like a donut, a donut perc is essentially a swiss perc with just one hole instead of multiple. The hole can be placed anywhere in the base of the bong, which pulls the smoke through and cools it down. 

UFO Percolator

UFO percs are another popular style. They are shaped like a traditional UFO, with a flared base. The downstem is placed facing upward, and smoke is pulled through the slits at its base. Because UFO percs provide a large amount of space, there is an increase in both diffusion and cooling of the smoke. They are also very easy to clean!  

Coil Percolator

Coil percs are one of the most intricate styles on the market. They come with two options - a physical, glass coil (that has two openings that wind down into the center of the chamber), or a glycerin coil (which can be frozen for a cooler hit). Because of the length of the coils, they give users a longer, cooler, more filtered experience. 

Matrix Percolator 

Matrix percs are shaped like a cylinder while having a disc-style that has both slashes and holes in the chamber. They have the most available variations, each different due to the placement, number, and size of those slashes and holes.  

One of the most well-known variations is the stereo matrix perc, where two of them are either connected by a downstem or stacked on top of each other to create a second chamber.  

Because of the potentially large numbers of slashes and holes, this may be a tricky perc for beginners to get a good pull from. 

Inline Percolator

Inline percs look like an oil lamp, with a horizontal tube at the base of the body of the bong. The slashes located through the inline perc create a smoother, more filtered pull. They often come paired with other percs, often a showerhead. 

Fritted Disc Percolator

Similar to a honeycomb perc, fritted disc percolators have a huge number of holes, which is why they are reported to be one of the most powerful available. You’ll get tons of smoke with every hit. 

Cross Percolator 

Cross percolators work like a downstem perc, but have cross-shaped tubes that come from the center of the bong. This moves the smoke sideways for increased airflow. 

Crystal Ball Percolator

Crystal ball percs are a combination of the best features of both the turbine and UFO percs. They are shaped like a dome, with the slits located on the outside. They can be placed in the bong either between chambers or at the bottom of the downstem. 

How To Use A Percolator Bong

Using most percolators isn’t much different than using a regular bong, with the exception of how much water it needs to be filled with. 

While there is no “perfect” water level, all of the openings in the perc should be covered so they can bubble. This likely means the bong will need to be filled at least halfway. Make sure to avoid splashback, and experiment to find what works best. 

How To Clean A Percolator Bong

One of the biggest mistakes that most people make is waiting too long between cleaning their bong.  

Unfortunately, because percs have so many holes and intricate details, they do need to be cleaned frequently. Not doing that can lead to a build-up of resin, which can clog the bong and ruin your smoking experience.  

Choosing Your Percolator 

Percolators were designed to better your smoking experience. They create that perfect, long, smooth hit by providing extra filtration for a clean taste.  

When choosing your perc, make sure to consider a variety of factors - your personal preferences, the difficulty of maintenance, and practicality. Aim for selecting a perc that has the potential to be around for a long time. Think of it as a longterm investment!