What is a Bubbler & How Do You Use One?

what are bubbler pipes and how do they work
December 7, 2019 By Kyle Broussard

Welcome to your complete bubbler buyer’s guide. 

Here, you will learn everything you need to know about bubbler water pipes, including: 

The team here at HelpingPot has worked hard to find all of the most frequently asked questions about bubbler pipes, and put them all into one mega guide, which easily explains and outlines everything you need to know to figure out if this type of water pipe is best for you. 

Before we dive into this complete Stoners guide, let’s first take a second to answer a very basic question: 

what is a bubbler pipe

What is a Bubbler? 

A bubbler water pipe is a type of water pipe that shares similarities between both bongs and bowls. They are typically smaller than bongs, about 6-8” tall, with a main chamber beneath the bowl pack that fills with water and feature the same built in bowl and rush hole design as hand pipes. There are multiple types of bubblers. Some come with percolators, while others have longer necks or more intricate designs. Bubblers are used for smoking dry herbs and are usually designed in one single piece. 

what are the different types of bubblers pipes

What Are the Different Types of Bubblers?

Believe it or not, there are a bunch of different kinds of bubblers on the market. Over the year, creative Stoners have come up with new and improved ways to smoke that don’t just look cool, but provide a very smooth smoking experience. 

Hammer Bubblers

Hammer bubblers are shaped like – you guessed it – a hammer. They are easily distinguished by their slanted bases, and the way they tend to sit with the mouthpiece holding most of the weight of the piece while sitting flat. These types of bubblers usually have some of the thickest glass of the other designs, and have become very popular as a result. They are durable, easy to travel with, easy to clean, and overall relatively affordable. 

what is a sherlock bubbler

Sidecar Bubblers

Sidecar bubblers get their name from their shape. They have a main body, where the bowl, rush hole, and the water chamber are, then they have a neck and mouthpiece that are mounted on the side of the main body of the piece. This type of bubbler is known for having a stable base made of thick glass, and tend to be a bit smoother than the other types of bubblers without percolation because the design allows smoke to cool. This design also helps to prevent against splashback.  

Double Bubblers

Double bubblers actually have two chambers for water. The first one contains the bowl pack, to allow for extra filtration through the second chamber. Typically, these types of bubblers come in the traditional bubbler design. The two chambers almost make it look like a camel, and help it to have an even more stable stance when on flat surfaces. This is probably the second smoothest type of bubbler, right behind percolator bubblers. 

what is a glass bubbler pipe

Glass Bubblers 

Almost all bubblers are made from either glass or borosilicate glass, which is a different type of glass that simply makes the piece less affected by temperature changes. However, there are also some bubblers that are made from ceramic, silicone, and even acrylic. 

what is a sherlock bubbler and how does it work

Sherlock Bubblers 

Sherlock bubblers get their name from the long, old school wooden tobacco pipe that the notorious sleuth Sherlock Holmes smokes. This type of bubbler water pipe has a very large ad wide base, that flows into a long and narrow neck. Most of the time, these pieces are 8+” long. This offers superior cooling, but can also make them a bit easier to break if you are not careful while smoking or in the cleaning process.  

what is a sherlock bubbler and how does it work

Percolator Bubblers

Percolators make smoking smoother by adding a bit of extra hardware that filters and cools smoke. These are the most expensive type of bubbler pipe, and they are also the smoothest. They can break easily if you are not careful, but are usually made with thick enough glass that they are durable over time. There are tons of different subtypes of these pipes based on the type of percolator used. 

what is a silicone bubbler

Silicone Bubblers

Silicone bubblers are fairly new to the Stoner scene, but they are making a big splash. It is no wonder why either – most of them are very affordable, come with interchangeable bowl attachments made of quartz, come with lifetime warranties, and come in thousands of designs. Oh, did we mention that they are nearly indestructible water pipes that also can be washed in the dishwasher? What’s not to love about them? Just be sure to look for ones that are made out of safe to smoke silicone.  

what is a mini bubbler pipe

Mini Bubblers 

Mini bubblers are simply smaller versions of bubblers. These are typically a bit harder to find than the other types, and generally harder to use. However, you can find a few out there that are worth the purchase if you need something that is easy to conceal, that you can take on the go, but that is still much smoother than a one hitter or a bowl. 

How Do You Use A Bubbler? 

Using a bubbler is actually quite easy. Simply follow these steps for how to smoke a bubbler: 

  1. Fill with water – You will want to do this step first, as it can be a bit messy if you have already packed the bowl. Fill your bubbler with water by pouring it down the mouthpiece – pouring down the bowl pack will make it wet, and difficult to smoke. Try to fill your bubbler until it sounds just right when you inhale. If you can’t hear the bubbles – you have too much. If the bubbles sound too aggressive and not relaxing, you need more. Over time, you will find the right amount of water. 
  2. Pack your bowl – Now, it’s time to pack the bowl. You want to make sure that you do this on a flat surface, otherwise you risk splashing water on your herbs. Make sure also to not pack the bowl too tight, as this will restrict airflow and make it hard to smoke. You also don’t want to pack it too loosely, or you will burn the herbs fast and pull them right through.  
  3. Light the bowl and inhale – Now it’s time to smoke! Simply light your herbs, and inhale, with your finger on the rush hole in order to make a vacuum and get good suction to light the bowl and create smoke. To get the most out of your bubbler, try to light the corners first and not just the middle. This is called “cornering the bowl” by more experienced Stoners. 
  4. Take a hit and pass – Once you have inhaled enough, take your finger off the rush hole and inhale. Sit back, exhale, cough, and enjoy the ride! Pass it to the next in line before you start telling a story and the flame or “cherry” burns out. No one likes that guy. 
  5. Clear your bowl and empty the water when done – When you are done smoking the bubbler, be sure to dump out any water remaining to avoid spills and odor building up, along with bacteria and mold (over longer periods of time). The one downside to bubblers is that unless you plan on keeping them in one place, it is kind of hard to smoke just half of one, because you would have to keep it full. To make things easier, you can dump the water out of the bowl. If you want to keep your bubbler clean, we recommend at least using a paper towel or q-tip to clean out the bowl pack after every smoke. It takes time, but prevents you from having to do a full clean very often.   

How Do You Fill A Bubbler? 

Filling a bubbler is an art on its own. Because they have less space than a bong, and smaller holes, it can be a bit difficult for first time bubbler users to easily fill them up. No worries, we have a few tips to go along with the steps above: 

  • Make sure you start off slow with adding water, you can always add more, but it is harder to take out, and even worse if it overflows.
  • Don’t try to fill it once the bowl is packed. I know you will forget to fill your bubbler with water one day and try to be smart by adding the water afterwards. It rarely works without spilling onto your herbs, making them un-smokeable. Don’t even bother. Better off smoking the bowl without water and then packing a new one. 
  • If you can, try to use a funnel. This will make your life a lot easier. Bubblers have small holes, and it can make filling them without spilling a real pain in the rear sometimes. A funnel will make your life a lot easier. 

How do you fill a double bubbler? 

Double bubblers are a bit different, you have to fill them in a more methodical way in order to get the right amount of water in both chambers, without spilling too much. We recommend filling the second chamber through the mouthpiece, and then tilting it to fill the first chamber under the bowl pack. This will help you to get equal amounts of water in both chambers, without having to fill it through the bowl pack. 

How do you fill a percolator bubbler? 

Percolator bubblers are also a bit harder to fill than regular ones. This is because the water actually sits inside of the percolator, and not in the main chamber. Although, depending on the design, it can sit in both chambers. Start by filling the percolator first through the mouthpiece. When it begins to overflow, it will start to fill the main chamber. Let this continue until both are full, and then tilt the bubbler a bit to empty any excess water out of the percolator. You want there to be enough water in there, but not to the point where it is too full to function properly. 

how do bubbler pipes work

How Do Bubblers Work? 

Bubblers work by sucking in the smoke through water. This creates bubbles, which then float to the surface, releasing the smoke back into the chamber. The smoke is then inhaled up the mouthpiece and to the user’s mouth.

The process of pulling the smoke through the water is known as diffusion or percolation, and it helps to cool the smoke as well as filter around 98% of all carcinogens and other particulate out of it. 

How Much Do Bubblers Cost? 

The cost of a bubbler varies based on the design, the brand, the type of bubbler, the quality, and where you purchase it from. Overall though, you can expect to pay around $35 to $60 for a good bubbler, with some of the more expensive ones including percolators or secondary chambers.

You can find bubblers for cheaper, however, we strongly recommend you do research before making a purchase. Usually in the online headshop industry, you get what you pay for. Sometimes it is best to pay up for a bit more quality. 

Pros & Cons of Bubblers 

Let’s take a look at some of the main advantages and disadvantages of bubblers: 



Affordable Can be difficult to clean 
Wide variety Can be tough to fill 
Durable Not as smooth as bongs 
Can be used as a bowl or a water pipe Not as easy to setup as bowls 
Smooth smoking experience 

Are Bubblers Worth It? 

Bubblers are good for someone who is looking for a portable water pipe that can act as a bowl when needed. Someone who prefers a smoother way to smoke, but does not feel the need to spend the money on a large bong, or a complex piece.

Overall, a lot of Stoners prefer to have a bowl and a bong, but some prefer to have a cross of both, as it offers convenience, a good price point, and some variety. We also recommend them for people who want a new way to smoke to mix things up a bit. 

More Bubbler FAQ 

Here are a few other questions we get asked a lot about bubblers: 

Are bubblers better than bongs? 

No. While you may find some Stoners who would answer yes, and this is somewhat a matter of opinion, usually bongs dwarf bubblers in terms of smoothness, variety, design, quality, durability, and versatility. They can be upgraded much easier, they have a lot more room for additional features, and they are also easier to use and clean in most cases. You can our full comparison of bongs vs. bubblers here

Are bubblers better than bowls? 

Yes and no. While they definitely are smoother, they are larger and therefore harder to conceal and take with you on the go. So, it really all comes down to preference.

For someone who doesn’t need something super concealable, a bubbler may be best because it functions as both a water pipe and a dry pipe.

For people who are strictly focused on smoothness, bubblers are the way to go. We wrote a full guide on bubblers vs. bowls here

How do you clean a bubbler? 

Cleaning a bubbler is actually really easy if you know what supplies you need, and what steps to take. You will need: 

  • Isopropyl alcohol 
  • Paper towels 
  • A container 
  • Q-tips 
  • Pipe cleaners 
  • Salt 

To summarize the steps: 

  1. Make a salt and alcohol solution in your container
  2. Put your bubbler in to soak
  3. Rinse off thoroughly with warm water 
  4. Use pipe cleaners and q-tips to get the hard to reach spots 
  5. Rinse with water again 
  6. Repeat steps as needed 
  7. Dry before smoking

If you want a more detailed guide on how to clean your bubbler, we wrote a comprehensive step-by-step guide on it here

How long do bubblers last? 

It all depends on what they are made out of and how you treat them. If you clean your bubbler regularly, do not drop it, and use it properly, you should be able to hold on to it indefinitely. We have had some bubblers for 5+ years, while others break in the first week from clumsy Stoner mistakes.  

What is the best bubbler? 

There are a few bubblers that stick out above the rest in our opinion:

Grav Mini Hammer Bubbler

best bubbler pipe - grav mini hammer bubbler with diffused downstem

The GRAV Mini Hammer Bubbler is the perfect travel size bubbler pipe that hits just as smoothly as a bong thanks to its diffused downstem and brilliant design, allowing the smoke to cool before reaching you.

Made from 25mm thick glass tubing, with a sturdy base, this bubbler is build to last and made by a reliable glass brand you can trust, right here in the USA. This might be the best glass bubbler you can get your hands on for under $50.


EYCE Silicone Hammer Bubbler

best silicone bubbler - eyce hammer bubbler

This bubbler has changed the game forever. EYCE really went above and beyond with this piece to make what is hands down the best silicone bubbler on the market.

Not only is this thing nearly indestructible, is dishwasher safe – easy to take apart and clean. On top of that, it is made from BPA-free, FDA approved silicone that is safe to smoke out of.

This revolutionary hammerhead bubbler also comes with a stainless steel poker, and a stash container for convenience, along with a borosilicate bowl for extra smooth smoking, similar to a traditional bubbler.

Are silicone bubblers worth it? 

As long as they are made of safe silicone that can be put in the dishwasher, and that does not compromise taste or smoothness, yes. This sounds like a lot to ask for, but we have a few silicone bubblers in our collection that fit all of these criteria and provide a very smooth smoking experience, while being nearly indestructible. 

How much water should I put in my bubbler? 

This all depends on the design, but a general rule of thumb is to not fill it up completely. Usually, try to fill it up to below the neckline, and do not flood the entire stem of the bowl. Aim for an amount of water that does not bubble too much while inhaling, but still bubbles enough. 

What are the benefits of smoking from a bubbler? 

The main benefits of using a bubbler are: 

  • Smooth hits 
  • Easier setup than a bong 
  • Can also be used as a bowl 
  • Safer to smoke than dry pipes  

Why is it called a bubbler? 

A bubbler gets its name from the bubbling sound it makes as you take a hit. Just like a bong, this happens as the water filters smoke and air through it, while you are sucking air through the mouthpiece. 

What is the point of a bubbler pipe? 

The point of a bubbler is to provide a smoother smoking experience than a bowl, but still maintain a small enough size as to make it convenient to travel with. 

Can you use a bubbler without water? 

Yes. In fact, this is part of the reason some people like them so much. You can smoke a bubbler just the same way as you can a bowl, it may be a bit less smooth than the full experience, but will still be smoother than a hand pipe in most cases because the smoke must travel a further distance to reach you – cooling it down more. 

how to find the best bubblers online

Taking the Next Steps: Finding the Best Bubbler for You 

Now that you know all about bubblers, it’s time to find one for yourself! We have tons to choose from in our online headshop. Browse through our selection of bubblers today and find great deals on some of the best brands. 

Or, if you are still not sure if a bubbler is right for you, consider some of these resources: 

Thank you so much for reading, we hope that this guide has helped to answer your questions and help you learn more about bubbler water pipes. If you have any questions, feel free to leave them in the comments below and we will get back to you as soon as possible. 

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Until next time, stay up 😉 .



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