The first sight, and certainly the first use of a percolator bong is an exciting moment. The question slowly comes to the surface is why does a percolator offer a better smoke than most other bongs? The question comes down to mechanics and physics, two subjects no one is usually interested in tackling while actually using the bong, but can come back to puzzle someone later. Especially if you are considering getting a new pipe, or if you want to make one this is a question you need an answer to quickly.
Understanding the Water Principle
Most bongs will use liquid at the bottom with a chamber on top. Even though some believe the water is there to cool fumes this is only part of its function. The liquid pulls out impurities, carbons and small partials often drawn into the lungs while smoking in other ways such as an ordinary pipe of cigarette. It also works to thicken the smoke and make it denser. This dense smoke is full of all you want including the THC delivery. Liquid is actually very important to system, and can make smoking weed much easier on the lungs, mouth, nose and eyes.
What happens with the percolator system is even more filtration, which gives those using it a whiter, cleaner, purer experience with each puff. The system also thickens the smoke packing in more “bang” for each inhalation. In effect the percolation works as two bongs in one, but doesn’t take any extra time.
Two Levels of Water
In this system there are two levels of water. One at the bottom as found in most bongs, and one in the chamber. How this is managed has to do physics. The short answer for this feat of holding liquid in this way is that air pressure in the bong is equal to the weight of water. There are number of ways this is usually accomplished through a dome, tree, pedestal, and double helix style filtration. This takes the smoke through two levels of liquid cooler even further, and filtering out more impurities.
When using a percolator bong the most important factor is airflow. Should part of the filtration element break or become clogged it will not clear the smoke. This will make the pull harder resulting in the water traveling back up the stem and soaking the bowl.
The Complicated Part
This system works using differential pressure between both the bottom and top outlets of a pipe. The user reduces the pressure by inhaling at the top. This variance in air pressure will cause the smoke entering the downpipe to pass through the water in small bubbles, which will then rise to the mouthpiece. This bong when working properly will have a very dense, but cool and smooth draw.
Tree Percolator Bongs
One of the most commonly seen bongs of this type is the tree, which utilizes between one to 8 individual flow paths. The flow paths are the ways smoke enters the water. Some variations of this type will have bent arm and twisted “branches”.
The dome type uses a single encircling cylinder that directs smoke to the bottom of the water pipe. This setup will diffuse the burn in different ways. Typically there are triangular holes along the dome to further diffuse the fumes.
The dewar is like the dome, but since dome’s can have a problem with backpressure this percolator fixes the problem with a jacketed dome that’s elevated off the bottom of the chamber. Backpressure will draw the water back up the stem into the bowl, so this is considered an improvement over some earlier dome designs.
As complicated as the coil percs look they function on the same principles, but they are slow drawing. The coils work to either increase or limit air flow depending on the number of wraps or turns in the tubing.
A pinwheel type is a much like an old fashion coil with low set arms in a swirl pattern. Again, this type will slow or limit airflow, which decreases the change of backpressure.
Shopping for the Right Model
There’ s no real trick to learning how to use the perc water pipe, so buying is simply a matter of finding the one that appeals to taste, or comes from a trusted manufacturer.
The homemade versions of the percolator water pipe are by necessity much simpler than those designs created with the use of elaborate tubing. One of the most successful models is created by using a bottle within a bottle, using a one small, but airtight container on the inside. The smaller bottle can be a re-cycle medication bottle, or a very small condiment container often works well. This is a more elaborate do-it-yourself job than most other water pipes, and it can take a few attempts to get it just right.