So, you’re almost ready to make your first water pipe purchase. But you can’t quite decide whether you want a bubbler or a bong.
You want to make sure that you have all of the information to make the best decision, and you also want to find the right piece that fits your needs.
We created this guide to help you understand:
Let’s get started.
What is the Difference Between Bubblers and Bongs?
At first, the difference might not seem so clear. They both are water pipes, both have a bowl, and both are used for smoking. But when you take a look deeper, there are a lot of subtle differences between bongs and bubblers that affect their performance and overall user experience.
The major differences between bubblers and bongs are:
- Smoking Experience
Now, let’s take a deeper look at some of these differences to help you understand the pros and cons of each type of water pipe.
1. Design – How They Are Made Affects Performance
The biggest difference between bongs and bubblers is the way they are designed.
When you look at a bubbler, it essentially looks like a regular hand pipe with a small chamber beneath the bowl pack that holds water and functions as a base. For the most part, traditional bubbler designs feature a long neck, a cylindrical base, and a deep bowl pack with a rush hole on the side.
A few high-end bubblers may have additional percolators to cool and filter the smoke better, but usually, the water is the only source of percolation with these types of pipes. One thing to note is that while bubblers with percolators may sound like a good idea – more often than not they are made from very intricate parts that hang from the base by small pieces of glass. This makes them very easy to break by simply putting them down, dropping them slightly, or even in the cleaning process.
Bubblers are also typically smaller than bongs. The average bubbler is about 6-8” tall and maybe 4-5” long, meanwhile, bongs usually stand between 8-10” tall and about 5” wide, with some bongs being 18” or taller!
Bongs, on the other hand, tend to have a lot more work put into their design. First of all, they do not have a rush hole, but instead a slide which contains a diffused downstem for percolation, and a bowl pack. This bowl fits right to the slide and creates a vacuum, making no need for a rush hole.
Secondly, bongs tend to have added percolation with percolators above the main chamber, throughout the body of the bong. This helps to cool and filter the smoke even more. Also, most bongs also include an ice catch, where Stoners can place ice cubes to cool the smoke even more.
Bongs also tend to come in a lot more variety. While there are a few notable types of bubblers such as the Sherlock, helix, and mini bong bubblers, for the most part, they are pretty traditional in design and have not changed much over the past few decades.
Meanwhile, there are dozens of types of bongs available on the market, with zany designs that affect the way they are smoked, how smooth they are, and how much they cost. To name a few popular types of bongs, there are: multi-chamber, beaker base, round base, straight tube, dab rigs, recyclers, and more.
Lastly, bongs tend to be made out of a wider variety of materials than bubblers, where bubblers tend to be made strictly out of glass, with a few silicone exceptions. Bongs can be made from ceramic, metal, glass, silicone, plastic, acrylic, wood, and more. This is not to say that bubblers can’t be made out of these materials, just that you will rarely find them online or amongst the Stoner community.
2. Size – Bubblers Are Better for On the Go
Generally speaking, bongs tend to be larger and bulkier than bubblers. Part of the reason bubblers were invented was to give Stoners a more convenient option for percolated smoking on the go, a mix between the class glass hand pipe and bulky glass bongs.
When it comes to size, it is a give and take relationship. Sure, bubblers are smaller and easier to travel with, but they also have less filtration, percolation, and cooling. Bongs may have the better smoking experience from a smoothness standpoint, but for some people who are on the go smokers, a big bulky bong might not be best.
One important thing to note though is that there are quite a few travel bongs out there that are amazing for taking on the go. Mini dab rigs and small glass bongs tend to be between 6-8” tall, making them almost as portable as bubblers. They still take up a bit more space, and are a bit harder to hide, but they provide a much smoother smoking experience in the long run.
3. Price – Bongs Tend to Be More Expensive
This is probably the section that is most relevant to a lot of Stoners. We all want to save money and smoke on a budget, so knowing the price point of these pieces can have a big influence on your decisions.
Generally speaking, a solid bubbler will run you between $30-50, with some more expensive models running into the $70 range.
The typical bong, on the other hand, will run you anywhere in the $65-100 range, with a few less expensive alternatives, and a lot of the complex ones being priced upwards of $100, all the way up to $300+ for some of the most expensive bongs.
Ultimately, it really all comes down to preference. Sure, you might pay more for a bong on average, but you also get a smoother smoking experience, and can find some bongs that are just as portable as some bubblers. One upside to bongs is that you can accessorize them to change their function or make your smoking experience even better – something we will touch on shortly.
4. Smoking Experience – Bongs Are Usually Much Smoother
A lot of Stoners are all about the smoothness of their smoking experience. Some could care less as long as they get the job done. While others prefer to have a variety of options for smoking in order to mix things up and keep it interesting.
Your standards for the smoothness of your smoking experience is one of the most important things when it comes to the argument of bubblers vs. bongs.
For those who prefer a smooth smoking experience, but do not feel that they need to have all the bells and whistles – as long as the smoke is cool and filtered – will probably prefer a bubbler, or a standard bong with a low price range.
For those who consider themselves to be a bit of a bong snob, who want to have as much percolation as possible, we recommend a bong – probably one on the higher end of things.
At the end of the day, smoothness comes down to two main factors: percolation and diffusion. A water pipe which has more features to allow these two processes to take place will always be smoother. Therefore, bongs take the W in the smoothness department.
However, don’t let this technicality fool you. Bubblers are still insanely smooth to smoke, especially when compared to a hand pipe, one hitter, or blunt. On top of that, most regular Stoners who are not hyper-focused on smoking experience will hardly be able to tell the difference between smoking a bong and a bubbler unless they are smoking a seriously high end bong.
5. Versatility – Bongs Can Accept Accessories to Change Things Up
This might be the biggest advantage (besides smoothness) that bongs have over bubblers. We consider versatility to be the ability for a piece to be used in multiple ways, or the ability for it to be added on to in order to improve smoking experience.
There are dozens of bong accessories on the market that work to improve the performance of your bong. Things like:
On top of that, you can also turn your bong into a dab rig by adding some dab rig accessories to it, such as:
Most of them will set you back about $15-40 a piece, but they are well worth it in some cases. This really gives bongs two main advantages over bubblers:
- You can start basic and build your bong accessories over time to make it smoother and more versatile.
- You can use your bong in multiple ways, such as to smoke extracts, concentrates, wax, and dry herbs.
Overall, this makes bongs much better for someone who is looking to get into the world of water pipes, who knows that they will probably want to keep their piece for a long time and have room for it to grow with them.
6. Cleaning – Bubblers Can Be Annoying to Clean Sometimes
Finally, let’s touch on a subject that just about all Stoners hate – cleaning. Whether you like it or not, it’s important to keeping your pieces nice in the long run. For the most part, the process for cleaning your pieces is the same across the board, with slight variations as needed.
However, cleaning bubblers can be a real pain in the ass at times, especially if they have intricate parts such as spirals or percolators within the chamber. These are often hard or impossible to see, and can be even tougher to reach with pipe cleaners, q-tips, and other cleaning accessories.
Cleaning bongs, on the other hand, is fairly straightforward, and even cleaning some of the more complex ones doesn’t present nearly as much difficulty as cleaning the most basic bubblers because the parts are larges, and there is more room for the cleaning solution to do its job. This is something to keep in mind when deciding on a bubbler or bong.
Bubblers vs. Bongs – Pros & Cons
If you said we could only use one of the two – bubblers or bongs – forever, there is no doubt that we would always choose bongs. They are simply smoother, more versatile, have better designs, come in a wider variety, and give you more value for your dollar.
However, we still prefer to smoke from a bubbler once in a while if we are on the go or just want to mix things up a bit. Overall, both types of water pipes provide a smooth smoking experience and are preferred by Stoners around the world.
Determining which one is best really comes down to personal preference, setting, and your budget. For most Stoners willing to spend $35-50 on a solid bubbler, you could spend just $30 more to get a bong that is much better performing, lasts longer, and that gives you more options in the future.
Pros & Cons of Bongs
|Lots of variety||Usually not as portable|
|More customizable||More expensive|
|Better filtration and cooling|
|Wide range of sizes|
Pros & Cons of Bubblers
|Very portable||Harder to clean|
|Cheaper than bongs||Less durable|
|Also functions as a hand pipe||Internal parts can break easily|
Next Steps – Finding the Best Bubbler or Bong for You!
Now that you have the low down on everything you need to know about the differences between bubblers and bongs, it’s time to take the next step and start browsing through some of the best deals on the market.
Here are some great resources that can help you get started:
Or, if you want to browse an even larger selection, check out our collections in our online headshop.
Lastly, for even more cannabis content, dank deals, and updates on the latest and greatest gear, be sure to subscribe to our email newsletter!
Thanks for reading, we hope this article helped! Please feel free to leave a comment below and tell us about what piece you decided to go with, or any points you feel we missed. We hope to see you again soon. Until next time, stay up.