Bong vs Bubbler Guide: What’s the Difference?

4 min read
custom glass pipe

To many people, bongs and bubblers seem very similar since they both utilize water for filtration and cooling purposes and are often made of borosilicate glass. But what really is the difference between these two types of water pipes and why would someone want to use one versus the other? We’re here to break it all down.


  • Both are water pipes - Both bongs and bubblers can be categorized as water regular glass pipes, which also include hookahs. The water in these specialized bubbler pipes mixes with the smoke to filter out contaminants such as hot ash and also drops the temperature of the smoke to a comfortable level to inhale. For all water pipes, the more bubbles that are generated, the smoother the hit.
  • Percolators - There are many different styles of percolators out there, but they all have the same job—to create as many double bubblers as possible. Since bongs are bigger than bubblers and have a much larger interior space, glassblowers are able to unleash their creativity when it comes to crafting percs. Today, it’s common to find percolator bongs with three or more types of percs that work together for maximum aeration. Bubblers on the other hand, usually only have room for a very simple perc like a diffused downstem or sometimes none at all.
  • Recyclers - Recyclers are great features to have on a bong or bubbler since it forces the smooth smoke to travel a longer distance, essentially adding more cooling time. This is just another of the many features designed to make hits more comfortable, plus they look super cool. Dab rigs and bongs with recyclers are common, however coming across a sherlock bubbler with a recycler can be rare, but they do exist.
  • Smoother hits - Bongs and bubblers rely on the power of water for smooth, pleasant hits that don’t ignite a coughing spell. The extra filtration makes bubbler water pipe much more comfortable on the lungs than joints or the everyday dry pipe (spoon, one hitters, etc.). The simple addition of water allows you to take giant smooth hits and hold them longer too.
  • Carbs - A carb is a small hole that lets the user control the airflow with their finger. Bubblers and hand pipes always have a carb, while bongs with a removable slide do not. Only bongs with non-removable bowls need to have a carb. The main advantage to having a carb is that the bubbler pipe will be more portable because there are fewer pieces.

Mini bong and grinder


  • Bowl size - Bubblers typically have smaller, more shallow bowls due to their compact design. On the other hand, bongs can be upwards of four feet tall and work with very deep or shallow bowls. It’s also possible to switch out an old bowl or have multiple bowls on hand depending on the smoker’s needs. Bowl size affects the maximum size of each hit and the length of a session. With smaller sizes, you’ll have to repack the bowl more often, sometimes making it a nuisance to share.
  • Level of cleaning difficulty - Bongs are notorious for being hard to clean, particularly if there are delicate interior features like multiple percolators and ice catchers that can crack or break with the slightest hit. Keep in mind that tree percs and showerhead percs are some of the most fragile styles. Thanks to their simple features and design, most glass bubblers are extremely easy to clean without inflicting any damage. To clean a bong or a glass bubbler, simply fill them with isopropyl alcohol and salt, then give it a good shake (be cautious not to shake a bong too hard and damage it). For bubblers, use a soaked cotton swab to get the gunk out of hard to reach areas. Weed bongs typically require a few hours of soaking time or multiple shakes to get decently clean.
  • Customization - Bongs are a lot more customizable since they have multiple parts. Select your preferred combination of percs, add a new bowl or an ash catcher to improve performance and give your piece more visual appeal. Since water bubblers have no additional elements, the style and design you choose in the beginning is what you’ll have to stick with.
  • Portability - Bubblers are most sought after because of their discreet design and portability. Bring one along on a camping trip, light up at the beach, and stow them away just as easily. Weed bongs come in a range of sizes, some are considered mini bongs measuring in at less than six inches, however they are still probably larger than a bubbler. Plus, most bongs require multiple pieces (a bowl for example), where bubbler are usually one solid piece of glass. Less pieces means less to worry about breaking.
  • Sharing - When you’re relaxing in the living room with the homies, you might reach for a bong. But when you want to share with friends while on the go, a bubbler is the obvious choice. Bubblers are handheld, making them perfect for passing around at a party or in a group setting. Since bubblers are less likely to break, you won’t have to worry about party fouls either.

Green bubbler

When to use a bong vs a bubbler

Due to its larger size and fragile features, bongs are best used when at home. There is always a risk of breaking a bong, especially a larger one, when transporting it. Bongs are perfect for longer sessions or massive hits that require deeply packed bowls and always look good on a  coffee table.

When it’s time to hit the road, mini bubblers are your best friend. The small compact size and minimal features make bubblers like the hammer bubbler easy to stow away in a glove box or backpack. Solo sessions are ideal, but bubblers are handheld like dry pipes so they’re also great for sharing.

Now that you’ve read up on bong vs bubbler differences, it’s time to invest in one of your own! So what’s it going to be? Bubbler Bong? One of each? Head over to the Everything For 420 online shop for cheap bongs, sherlock bubblers, mini bubbler and smoking accessories, you don’t need a licensed health care provider to buy a bong!

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