There are just so many ways to consume cannabis nowadays. Cannabis smoking accessories like bongs, bubblers, and other types of pipes allow recreational users to experiment with new ways of enjoying their favorite drug while helping patients find the best routes of administration to suit their needs.
Bubblers are an extremely popular piece of equipment. Combining the portability and ease-of-use of a regular glass pipe with the smooth smoking experience of a bong, bubblers are fast becoming a staple smoking equipment for recreational and medical users alike.
Anatomy of a bubbler
The top of a bubbler contains a mouthpiece connected to a stem, which is usually curved at a slight angle. The stem then connects to the bowl where you will need to load up your weed, and underneath the stem and bowl is the water chamber. For some bubblers you can remove the bowl from the stem, making it easier to clear out and pack a bowl of weed. Some bubblers also include a carb hole on the side where air can be controlled, but not all of them include this component.
In the case of single-piece bubblers, the water chamber itself can only hold a very small amount of water, which is just enough to smooth out the hits of your weed without also being inconvenient. For example, bongs sometimes contain so much water that they can spill and become a mess; dirty bong water will make your house wreak!
On top of filtering your smoke out, the addition of the water also chills down the temperature of the smoke, making it quite a pleasant experience altogether.
How does a bubbler differ from a bong?
A bubbler is between a dry pipe and a bong as far as the size and strength of the hit. What differentiates a bubbler from a bong is that bubblers typically resemble a pipe in appearance and function. Bubblers usually have a mouthpiece, a bowl, and sometimes a carb, just like a dry pipe does.
One key difference between bubblers and bongs is that, for the most part, bubblers only have fixed down stems, meaning you cannot remove them and clean them. Bongs can have many interchanging components, especially the down stem.
Bubblers typically come in either “Sherlock” style, where the piece is shaped more like the classic type of pipe smoked by Sherlock Holmes, or a small glass water-pipe that may look similar to a bong, but instead is a complex bubbler.
A bong tends to be a step up from a bubbler as far as complexity and prestige. Bongs are quite different from bubblers and pipes. Bongs are vertical pieces on both appearance and functionality. Bongs are built with a long mouthpiece, and a larger chamber for water, and require a bowl which is separate from the down stem. Bongs come in many different sizes, but the construction of a bong is typically the same all around.
How to use a bubbler?
Using a bubbler is quite simple, but it is good to know what you are getting yourself into and what you can expect. If you have ever smoked out of a bong or pipe before, using a bubbler will feel relatively natural.
- Fill up your bubbler with water so that the water chamber fills up to the point where the bottom of the stem meets. Be sure not to overfill your bubbler; this can cause the water to come back up into your mouth and weed bowl.
- Pack the bowl with freshly ground cannabis.
- If your bubbler has a carb hole, cover it with your finger, usually the thumb.
- Place your mouth over the top opening of the bubbler. Hold your mouth there as you go to light your ground cannabis in the bowl.
- As you are lighting the cannabis, keep your thumb or finger over the carb. Once you have pulled the hit for a few seconds and the weed is thoroughly ignited, remove your thumb and take a deep inhale. Breathe in the smoke similarly to how you would suck through a straw. The longer you pull the hit with your thumb over the carb, the bigger your hit will be, so if you are not accustomed to smoking a bong or bubbler, start small.
- Once you have cleared the smoke and you have taken your hit, pull any of the smoke that might be left inside of the glass by taking another quick inhale.
What to look for in buying a bubbler?
Bubblers can be made from a wide variety of materials. However, the vast majority available in today’s marketplace are glass bubblers. When it comes to choosing a quality bubbler, the most important thing to look for is glass type.
Borosilicate glass is a type of German-engineered glass. It is a heavy-duty, durable, high heat tolerant glass. It is the same type that is used in scientific glass (beakers, test tubes, etc.) and many types/brands of home bakeware (Pyrex).
You may find bubbler pipes that do not specify “scientific,” “lab-quality” or “borosilicate” glass. If this is the case, you should assume that it is made from another type of glass. This is not necessarily a bad thing. This factor may lower the price of the pipe, which is great if you are on a tight budget.
Just know that you must be extra-careful with other types of glass: be very careful not to overheat, and do not drop your pipe because it will almost certainly shatter. Borosilicate glass is not unbreakable, but it can withstand impacts better than regular glass.
Beyond glass type, everything else is a matter of personal preference. Some smokers prefer deep bowls, others, shallow ones. Some like the “Sherlock” style with a long mouthpiece, others prefer shorter. Your personal preferences will only become clear to you after you have tried one type and used it several times.
For this reason, you might want to consider buying a cheaper bubbler and using it for a while. By then, your preferences will probably have become clear, and then you can invest in a higher-quality bubbler or choose a different one to try out.
Less common are wooden bubbler pipes. Most contemporary smokers, particularly younger ones, will gravitate toward glass ones. Wooden bubblers do not produce as clean a vapor as glass ones. They tend to contribute flavor from the wood to whatever herb is being smoked. However, some smokers like this, so that is why wooden bubblers are still being produced.
If you are looking for a wooden one, choose one made from some type of hardwood: walnut, maple, and rosewood are common ones used for pipe-making. Bamboo, technically a grass, is also a great material for pipes. Just remember, as a general rule, wooden bubblers do not last as long as glass ones.