What is a percolator?

May 16, 2023

A percolator in smoking devices filters and cools smoke for a smoother experience by diffusing it through water, also enhancing flavor. This guide will explore percolator mechanics, benefits, types, and selection process to improve your smoking experience.

What is a Percolator?

A percolator is a special filtration system that is often already included in the smoking product kit. Using a percolator as part of a smoking device significantly improves the smoking process, since it primarily cools the smoke before it enters the lungs. In addition, the percolator also cleans the smoke by carrying out the filtration process.


How Does the Percolator Work?

The process occurs as follows: smoke is formed in the chamber of the smoking device, which is then inhaled through the percolator. Subsequently, while in the percolator, the smoke is redistributed, forming several streams, thereby increasing the surface area of its interaction with water. This leads to an increase in the level of cooling and smoke filtration, which leads to well-cleaned, cooled smoke entering the user's throat through the shaft.

Moreover, there are smoking products in which there may be several percolators - for even greater smoke filtration and comfortable smoking.


How Does the Percolator Affect the Quality of Smoking?


Enhanced Filtration: The primary benefit of a percolator is its ability to filter the smoke more effectively. By breaking the smoke into smaller particles, it ensures a cleaner inhale, removing more toxins and particulates that may otherwise end up in your lungs.

Cooler Smoke: A percolator cools down the smoke before it reaches your mouth and lungs, making the smoking experience smoother and more comfortable. Cooler smoke is generally easier to inhale, reducing the risk of throat irritation.


Cleaning Difficulty: One of the main disadvantages of using a percolator is the cleaning process. Due to their intricate designs, percolators can be challenging to clean thoroughly. Residue and build-up can accumulate over time, potentially affecting the taste and smoothness of the smoke.

Fragility: Percolators, especially those made of glass, can be delicate and susceptible to breakage. Care needs to be taken when cleaning and handling a percolator to prevent accidental damage.


Types of Percolators.

Type of Percolator Description Image
Tree Perc Named for its tree-like structure, a central tube serves as the trunk with multiple 'branches' (thin tubes) extending from it. Each 'branch' typically features 2-3 slits for diffusion.  
Matrix Perc Matrix percolators, sometimes called birdcage, this type essentially repeats the anatomy of the "Shower watering can" perk, the air is filtered in the same way, but its popularity has led to the isolation of a new species. The matrix percolator has more "layers" with holes-diffusers.  
Honeycomb Perc This disk-type percolator has a structure reminiscent of honeycombs, with smoke progressively passing through numerous small 'comb' holes. This generates a 'boiling' stream, leaving resins and unnecessary particles in the water and yielding cooled, light, and pleasant smoke. The 'comb' holes range between 50-100; the smaller and more numerous they are, the smaller the bubbles and the deeper the cleaning process.  
Showerhead Perc A tube running through the middle from the chamber downward forms the base, enclosed by a larger tube also going downward to the perc, where air and smoke exit into the water in the form of beloved bubbles. Designs vary from 4-slit to multi-tiered 50-slit showerheads. This type is often paired with other percolators for excellent diffusion.  
Spiral Perc The main function of this percolator is the ability to do slow pulls. The spiral can have a different number of curls and the width of the tubes.
Getting into the center of the device, the smoke gradually descends into the water. Carefully passing through all the links of the spiral, he gets into the water there already in the form of tiny bubbles. Thus, all unnecessary particles and resins remain on the walls of the percolator.
Drum Perc Another "drum" you will think, and you will be completely right. This model has the shape of a high disk – drum with many small slots through which the necessary smoke gradually passes. Thanks to the precise and rapid distribution into the smallest streams and tiny bubbles, the smoke is thoroughly cleaned of negative products and substances, cooled and moistened.  


Important clarification: Be careful when choosing a Showerhead percolator. Sometimes splash protection can be confused with this type of percolator (example on the left). Splash protection, or as some call the "Dome percolator", is often installed above the main percolators so that tasteless splashes from water do not get into your mouth. Splash protection can also be installed in bongs without percolators.

You can also find percolators in the pre-coolers (an additional chamber that can become a preliminary stage of smoke filtration before it gets into the main flask of the bong).

Care, Storage, Transportation.


Proper care of your percolator includes regular cleaning. To clean, use a solution of isopropyl alcohol and salt, then rinse thoroughly with warm water. For delicate or hard-to-reach parts, use brushes of different diameters and stiffness. We also advise you to consider other specialized means for cleaning glass smoking products.


Of course, keep your smoking device with a percolator out of the reach of children and animals. This product is quite fragile - so do not leave it anywhere.


We advise you to transport the product with a percolator in special cases / bags created for this purpose. Alternatively, you can wrap the product with a soft cloth and make sure that it is securely fixed in the car and nothing threatens it.


Frequently Asked Questions.

Which percolator is the best?

The best percolator largely depends on your personal preference. However, a tree percolator with multiple branches can provide excellent filtration. Honeycomb percolators are also highly regarded for their ability to produce many tiny bubbles, enhancing smoke filtration and cooling.

How will my smoking with a percolator improve?

A percolator improves your smoking experience by filtering and cooling the smoke. The percolator forces the smoke to pass through water, which not only cools it down but also filters out some of the heavier compounds and potential pollutants. The result is a smoother, cleaner hit.

How many percolators can there be in a bong?

A bong can have one or more percolators. Some bongs feature multiple percolators to maximize filtration and cooling. However, keep in mind that while multiple percolators can provide a smoother hit, they also create more drag and can make the bong more difficult to clean.

What should I do if I broke the percolator inside the bong?

If you've broken the percolator inside your bong, you may need to replace the entire bong, especially if the percolator is built into the bong.

How to clean the percolator?

Fill the percolator with a solution of isopropyl alcohol and coarse salt. Close the holes and shake lightly to remove the residue. After cleaning, rinse thoroughly with warm water. For hard-to-reach places, use brushes of different diameters.


Top 3 Brands.

Grace Glass is a reputable company that specializes in high-quality glass smoking accessories, including bongs and precoolers with percolators. Their products are renowned for their durability, aesthetic appeal, and excellent functionality, delivering smooth and clean hits every time.

Phoenix Star Glass is another leading manufacturer known for their innovative designs and top-notch quality. Phoenix Star produces a wide range of smoking accessories, including bongs and precoolers fitted with percolators, enhancing the smoking experience through effective filtration and cooling.

Black Leaf is a German brand that has earned its place in the market by offering reliable, well-crafted bongs with percolators, and percolated precoolers. Black Leaf's products combine functionality, durability, and sleek design, making them a popular choice among enthusiasts seeking a smoother and cleaner smoking experience.


Selecting the ideal percolator depends on personal preferences and the desired smoking experience. Consider quality and design that matches your style. More percolators can mean smoother hits but might require more cleaning. Handle glassware carefully for safety and clean regularly for optimal hygiene and experience. Sharing your experiences or tips can benefit others in their search for the perfect percolator. Happy smoking!