What is a bubbler and how do you use one?

What is a bubbler and how do you use one?
Steven Voser

There's no shortage of ways to enjoy cannabis. Bubblers are small, glass water pipes that combine all the benefits of bongs and regular glass pipes.

Bongs, bubblers, steam rollers, one-hitters. There's a long list of different cannabis pipes and paraphernalia out there, and knowing how to differentiate them can be tricky, especially for people who are new to weed. In this article, we'll take a close look at bubblers, how they work, and what makes them unique.

What is a bubbler?

A bubbler is a glass water pipe (usually borosilicate) that uses water and a percolation system to filter and cool smoke, making for smoother hits than a regular pipe. Bubblers consist of a single glass piece encompassing the bowl, stem, water chamber, and mouthpiece. Most bubblers also have carbs that allow users to control airflow to the bowl and create a big ember that stays lit without hitting it consistently with a lighter.

Note that while they are somewhat similar, bubblers are NOT the same as bongs. Bongs come in a wide variety of sizes, shapes, and colours and can consist of multiple pieces of glass, chambers, etc. On the other hand, bubblers are much smaller and consist of a single piece of glass. Think of them as kind of a hybrid between a regular glass pipe and a bong.

Bubbler pipes are readily available at smoke stores and head shops (both physical and virtual ones), but you can also make one at home. See our article on How To Make A Bubbler for more info.

The anatomy of a bubbler

Bubblers can vary in style, but usually always feature a mouthpiece, bowl, chamber, and carb (similar to a regular pipe). However, the bowl on a glass bubbler pipe usually features a short stem that is made to hold a small amount of water. As you inhale through the mouthpiece, smoke from the bowl passes through this stem, percolates, and cools in the water before passing through the mouthpiece and into your lungs, making for cool, smooth hits.

Why should you use a bubbler?

There are many advantages to using a Bubbler. We recommend every weed lover try smoking through one at least a few times. As mentioned earlier, the percolation in a bubbler makes for a smoother smoking experience that's less harsh on the lungs and isn't tinged with that bitter, dirty after taste you get from smoking without a water filter.

Combining the convenience and ease of use of a regular pipe with the extra filtration of a bong, bubblers are great for people who like to smoke on the go or who like to travel. They are also pretty small and durable, meaning they are perfect for throwing in a bag and taking on day trips, road trips, or any other travel plan.

Finally, another major advantage of bubblers is their ease of use, which makes them a great option for people who are new to weed.

Bubbler versus pipes: are bubblers better?

Bubbler versus pipes: are bubblers better?

Glass Bubblers and regular pipes differ on one fundamental level, which is filtration. As we mentioned before, bubblers use percolation to filter additional toxins, ash, and plant material from smoke before you inhale it. If you use cooled water in your bubbler (which you should), the smoke will also cool as it percolates, which can make it less harsh on your lungs. This added filtration also tends to deliver more flavorful hits that don't have that dirty, bitter aftertaste you get from a normal pipe.

Besides the filtration, bubblers and pipes are pretty similar. They are both small and easy to carry around, making them great options for people who like to smoke on the go. Choosing one over the other really will come down to personal preference; while some people might love the added filtration you get from a bubbler, others might be put off by the fact of having to rely on having a water source in order to smoke and therefore opt for a pipe.

Bubbler versus bongs: are bubblers better?

Bubbler versus bongs: are bubblers better?

Bongs and bubblers, while they both use water filtration, still differ on a number of levels. One major difference between the two is how they are able to be cleaned. Because bongs consist of multiple pieces, they can usually be disassembled for easier, more precise cleaning. Cleaning a bubbler, on the other hand, is a little more difficult as they consist of one single piece. If you're a stickler for cleanliness, opting for a bong might be a better option.

Another major difference between bongs and bubblers is the size of their bowls. Bongs typically have bigger bowls that burn slower, making them ideal for when you're smoking in a group or whenever you want to enjoy an extended session. Bubblers, on the other hand, burn faster, making them ideal for when you want to enjoy a quick, smooth smoke on the go.

Bubblers and bongs also differ in their designs and customizability. Bubblers are usually pretty simple pieces and can't really be customized, whereas bongs can. Smoke stores and headshops usually stock a wide variety of bongs that can be big, small, tall, multichambered or with multiple bowls. If you want to take things even further, you can opt to order a tailor-made bong from a glass artist with more elaborate designs and decorations to elevate your smoking experience even more. Bongs are definitely the way to go if you love glassware and like to treat yourself to elaborate glass art. Bubblers, on the other hand, are the ideal option for smokers who are on the go and need something portable and easy to use, but still want the water aspect of a bong.

Do bubblers get you higher than pipes or bongs?

Many newbie smokers wonder whether bubblers provide a stronger or longer-lasting high than pipes or bongs. And the answer is typically no.

Really, the effects you feel after smoking cannabis really come down to your body chemistry, set and setting, and the variety/strain of cannabis you're consuming. However, one difference you may notice is that bongs have much bigger bowls and can therefore deliver bigger hits than a pipe or bubbler. Depending on your tolerance and how you smoke, you might find that bong hits get you much higher than taking hits from a bubbler or pipe.

Similarly, you might find that some bubblers have bigger bowls than one-hitters or other small pipes. In that case, you might also find the hit from a bubbler to be stronger, simply because you're able to pack more weed into the bowl.

How to use a bubbler

Trying out a new type of smoking equipment is exciting. And while bubblers are super simple to use, follow the step-by-step instructions below to ensure you have a smooth, fun experience.

1. Clean your bubbler

Always thoroughly wash and dry your smoking equipment before a session. Even if you're unpacking a brand-new bubbler, make sure to clean it thoroughly to get rid of any dust or other grit that may have gotten on the glass or into the pipe.

2. Fill the chamber

Once you've washed and dried your bubbler, fill its water chamber with cold water. Remember, the colder the water, the cooler and smoother the hits.

3. Grind up some weed

The exact consistency you grind your weed to can vary based on your personal preference, but we recommend medium-fine grind for bongs and bubblers (similar to the consistency of coarsely ground salt). If you're still tearing buds apart by hand, make sure to read up on the benefits of using a grinder and invest in one ASAP.

4. Pack your bowl

Before you start loading ground weed into your bowl, make sure to use a pipe screen to help stop pieces of weed from falling into the water in your chamber. Next, start scooping some ground weed in the bowl, making sure to pack your weed lightly at first and then packing it slightly tighter towards the top (you can use your thumb to push on the ground weed and pack it tighter). This will allow you to get a nice ember without obstructing airflow throughout your bubbler.

5. Light up

Once your chamber is loaded and your bowl is packed it's time to light up. If your bubbler has a carb, use your thumb or finger to block it as you begin to light the bowl and slowly draw smoke into the chamber before inhaling. You can release the carb or repeatedly cover and uncover it to create a nice ember on top of your bowl as you continue to smoke.

Can you drink bubbler water?

Can you drink bubbler water?

For some bizarre reason, there's no shortage of people who consider drinking bong or bubbler water or, even worse, who have actually tried it, thinking it will get them higher than just smoking.

Drinking water from a bong or bubbler, however, won't get you high. Instead, it'll like just get you very, very sick. Not only does Bubbler water taste disgusting, but it also contains a variety of dirt, toxins, and burnt weed that luckily didn't make it into your lungs as you smoked.

Consuming bong water will likely make you very nauseous or might even make you throw up. In some cases, really dirty bong water can also contain mold, bacteria, or fungi that, when consumed, can make you sick for a couple of days.

Remember, cannabinoids and terpenes aren't water-soluble, so drinking water from your bubbler won't get you high. Instead, it's best to just pour the water from your bubbler down the drain and clean your bubbler regularly to make sure you get to enjoy clean hits every session.

Are bubblers worth it?

Bubblers make a great addition to any smoker's gear arsenal. If you enjoy smoking bongs or pipes, we highly recommend trying a bubbler. Their size and ease of use make them ideal for when you want to light up on the go (similar to pipes) but also provide the cooling and filtration you'd get from a bong. Best of all, since they are relatively inexpensive, there's not much to lose in trying one out.



Steven Voser
Steven Voser

Steven is a long-time veteran of cannabis journalism, having delved into every aspect of the subject. His particular interests lie in cannabis culture, the emerging science of cannabis, and how it is shaping the legal landscape across the globe.