Ever wonder what makes your water pipe bubble when you pull from it? They’re called percolators — and they do a whole lot more for your overall smoking experience than just look cool. Here’s everything you need to know about percolators, how they work, and some of the benefits that come along with using them.

What are percolators? 

Percolators are specially designed glass contraptions that are built into most dab rigs and water pipes these days. They come in many different shapes and sizes, but at the end of the day they’re designed to cool and filter smoke to leave you with better-tasting hits. Percs have become a stoner staple since they greatly improve the smoking experience, which is part of the reason why you can find them on practically every water pipe on the market.

How do percolators work? 

Percolators are usually round in shape, though they can come in all sorts of different designs. Seriously, you can find percs that look like honeycombs, trees, or even fabrege eggs. But basically, they serve as an additional water chamber within your bong. Inside you’ll find a little water and an air pocket.

water pipe percolator
Terp Tube water pipe with percolator

As you pull smoke from your water pipe, it’ll travel through the percolator and create a bubbling effect that cools and diffuses the smoke. But it isn’t just bubbling that gets the job done. Percolators make it so that your smoke has more chances to make contact with water, which cools it down. It also makes it so that there’s more surface area to cover before the smoke hits that water, which cools it down even more.

The percolators may also break down the smoke bubbles into much smaller sizes since they affect pressure. This helps diffuse the smoke and filter out any extra impurities that may make your rip feel harsh or unpleasant. All of that is to say that percs help cool and filter your smoke while also filtering out a few extra impurities to make for a smoother, better-tasting hit.

Types of Percolators 

While there are many different styles of percolators, we’re breaking down a few of the most common ones below.


disc percolator
Disc Percolator

Disc percs are known for producing lots of bubbles. They come in the form of a disc with a bunch of tiny holes along the sides. While they are prone to getting clogged, changing the water after each hit makes it easier to keep them working at their best.


Showerhead Percolator

Showerhead percs are extremely common. The simple design features a tube that connects to a primary chamber and a larger tube that pulls the smoke through a bunch of small holes into a rounded base. It bubbles really well and makes for maximum diffusion with minimal drag.


Honeycomb percs can be a nightmare to clean, but they’re usually worth it since they offer superior filtration and diffusion compared to other styles. Their design looks a lot like a flat disc with studded holes in pairs, giving it the tesselated appearance of a honeycomb. The multiple chambers are in line and parallel to the base of the bong, so they give the bubbles a direct path to the mouthpiece. They offer superior cooling and filtration, though the cleaning aspect can be a hiccup for some.

Diffused Downstem 

Diffused Downstem
Diffused Downstem

Diffused downstems are the most basic type of perc out there and are found on many simple bongs and dab rigs. They take the downstem in the water pipe and add slits to the base, allowing it to bubble the smoke to diffuse and filter it. They’re easy to clean and work wonders in a no-fuss setup.


Matrix Percolator
Matrix Percolator

Matrix percs come in all shapes and sizes, and combine a cylindrical design with vertical slashes or holes throughout. The more holes, the size of the holes, amd which direction they go all varies from perc to perc, but they still bring in plenty of smoke and boost filtration.


Tree Percolator
Tree Percolator

Tree percs are also known as pillar percs, and they get their name since they look like a tree. They stem from a diffused downwtem perc, though they have extra tubes with holes throughout that look like treebranches. They make for more space for diffusion and filtration, so the more branches you find in a tree perc, the better filtration you’ll get.

What are the benefits of using a percolator? 

Percolators are beneficial for a few reasons. The first is that they make it possible to cool down smoke, making it a lot more bearable and enjoyable to smoke through a water pipe. If you’ve had a hard time with bongs in the past, try one with a perc to see the difference.

bong percolator
Close up of a Terp Tube bong percolator

The next reasons boil down to dissipation and filtration. The more your smoke has to travel through water, the more resin and tar you lose to the water instead of inhaling into your lungs. All of that yucky stuff can burn your throat, make you cough, or worse, make you sick. Percolators separate the good stuff from the bad stuff, so you can enjoy a water-cooled, filtered hit every time.

Percolators allow you to get the most out of your THC and enjoy flavors without the extra resins that lead to harshness or make you cough. With that said, there’s a reason you find percs on almost every bong these days. They’re necessary for getting the most out of your weed.

Final Thoughts

Percolators come in all different shapes and sizes, but at the end of the day, they all work the same — to improve your smoking experience with smooth hits and better flavors. You can use them to save yourself from long, drawn-out coughing fits and sore throats. Which perc style is your favorite?

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Ben Walker writes for Stoner Things, covering the cannabis culture from a unique perspective. He doesn't just offer insights into the world of weed, but also provides hands-on reviews and tutorials for the latest products. With a decade of experience spanning cultivation and market trends, Ben advocates for informed and responsible cannabis use. His work goes beyond navigating the ever-changing cannabis landscape; it's about education and community development done right, coming from a place of knowledge and respect. If you want to stay up-to-date with cannabis trends and learn from an experienced guide, Ben's work is an invaluable resource.


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