Bubblers are small, hand-held pipes for dry herbs that use water as a filtration method. Though bubbler pipes can come in all different sizes and designs, they all share common core characteristics. They are generally small enough to hold in your hand, they are specifically meant for dry herbs, and they draw smoke through water inside the body to give a smooth, cool flavor. Think of them as tiny, miniature bongs!
Most bubblers you come across are going to be made out of a single piece of glass. However, it is increasingly common to find bubblers that are a hybrid of glass and silicone or entirely silicone. If having an intricate pipe like a bubbler as a single piece of glass is daunting to you, silicone versions are very user-friendly. Most can be taken apart for easy cleaning, as well.
The mechanism of a bubbler pipe is pretty simple and similar to how a full-sized bong works. The pipe will have a small exterior bowl where you will pack your dry herbs. Once lit, you will draw smoke from the bowl through a small reservoir of water inside the pipe. If done correctly, you will hear a “bubbling” sound. The water filters harsh particles out of the smoke and acts as a cooling agent, delivering a fantastically flavored hit. When compared to glass pipes like a spoon, sherlock, or chillum pipe, the flavor is far less harsh and hot.
How Much Water Do You Put in a Bubbler?
Having the correct amount of water in a bubbler pipe is important for having a satisfying smoking experience. However, there is no universal amount of water for a bubbler pipe, as its needs will depend on its specific size and design. If you are looking for general guidance, you usually want enough water to completely cover where the smoke enters the water reservoir, but not so much that the smoke does not have enough room to move.
If you find yourself with a bubbler but no water available, worry not! Bubblers can be used without water, but you will lose the flavor benefits of water being present. Its always best to make sure to have plenty of water available, especially if you go through a process of trial and error to finding the perfect amount for your particular pipe.
How to Use a Bubbler
Using a bubbler is not much different than other glass dry pipes. The main difference is that you need to make sure that you have the amount of water you want in the pipe before you start packing the bowl. Aside from that, you still will pack the bowl loosely to your preference (and you still need to make sure you grind the dry herb). When you are done smoking, remove any debris out of the bowl that you can. Then, dump out the water (this will help prevent residue from building on the inside of the pipe).
How to Clean a Bubbler
Keeping your bubbler clean is paramount to making sure you get the best flavor every time you use it. However, cleaning a bubbler can be a bit tricky, especially since many are single-piece glass pipes. The following steps describe a good general way to clean most bubblers.
- Remove any debris from the bowl.
- Dump any water present inside the pipe.
- Make a cleaning solution to soak the bubbler. There are several options, like specialty cleaners such as 420 Cleaner or home solutions like isopropyl alcohol. Be sure to make enough that you will be able to completely submerge the pipe.
- Allow the bubbler to soak for at least 45 minutes. If residue remains, you may need to allow the pipe to soak longer.
- If there is stubborn residue inside after repeated soakings, a saltwater solution can be used on the inside Salt acts as a gentle abrasive that will help scrub the inside of the pipe clean without damaging the glass.
- Once the pipe is clean, thoroughly rinse it. It is extremely important that all cleaning solution is thoroughly flushed from the inside of the pipe.
- Allow the pipe to airdry. It is now ready to be used again!
Bubbler vs. Bong
As we have mentioned, bubblers are essentially miniature bongs. Be that as it may, there are still some key differences to consider if you are choosing between the two. Bubblers are small, more discreet, and easily portable. They excel in providing a bong-like smoking experience without having to drag around an entire bong rig.
Bongs, on the other hand, excel in quantity and flavor. The bong bowl on a traditional bong is much, much larger than what is available on a bubbler, allowing for longer or more intense smoking sessions. Bongs can also hold more water, which means the smoke gets filtered longer. Your hits will taste even smoother and cooler than they would otherwise from a bubbler. There are also more accessories available for bongs, like ash catchers, ice catchers, and diffusers, that allow you to further customize your experience.
Bubbler Pros and Cons
- Small and easily portable
- Less expensive when compared to bongs or other more complicated setups
- Can be used as a dry pipe if water is not available.
- The bowl on a bubbler is somewhat small, especially compared to bongs
- Single-glass bubblers can prove difficult to clean (though silicone bubblers largely remedy this concern)
- Will not produce as cool or smooth a hit as a larger bong setup would provide
Tips for Using a Bubbler
Keeping the following tips in mind will make sure you have the best experience with your bubbler possible!
- Always use an weed grinder: Grinding your herb will allow it to burn evenly and provide more airflow. This translates to improved flavor, more efficient burning, and easier draws.
- Check the water level before packing the bowl: Water evaporates over time. If you left water in your bubbler and it has been a while since you have used it, you may be setting yourself up for a harsh, hot hit if there is too little water. Remember not to use too much water, as that can make taking draws extremely difficult.
- A soft travel case for glass bubblers is a must: If you plan on traveling with your glass bubblers, you really need to invest in a soft carrying case. It is an inexpensive way to protect your pipe!
- Regularly clean the pipe: Not only will this help maintain the best possible flavor from your pipe but it will also keep it looking great, too.