What Are Percolators & How Do They Work?

What are Percolators

Percolators, also known as "percs," are filtration features used in bongs and water pipes to enhance your smoking experience by diffusing the smoke and filtering out impurities. They come in various designs and serve the purpose of cooling and smoothing the smoke before it reaches your lungs. 

When you take a hit from a bong, the smoke first enters the water chamber which acts as a filtration medium, removing some of the harsher components and particulate matter from the smoke. This initial filtration helps to cool down the smoke and make it easier on your lungs.

The percolator, located within the water chamber, further enhances the filtration process. It consists of multiple small openings or slits that break the smoke into smaller bubbles or streams as it passes through. This creates a larger surface area for interaction between the smoke and the water, allowing for greater filtration.

As the smoke passes through the percolator, it undergoes diffusion. Diffusion occurs when the smoke is broken down into smaller bubbles or streams, which increases the contact area between the smoke and the water. This process helps to remove additional impurities, such as ash or other particles, from the smoke.

The specific design and type of percolator can vary. There are so many different types of percolators, each with its own unique features and benefits. Below are some common types with links to examples:

Downstem Percolator: This is the simplest form of percolator and is often found in basic bongs. It consists of a vertical tube with slits or holes at the bottom. As the smoke passes through the water in the bong, it gets diffused and filtered by the downstem percolator. While it provides some filtration, it is less effective compared to other types of percolators.
honeycomb percs
Honeycomb Percolator: As the name suggests, this percolator features a flat disc with numerous small holes resembling a honeycomb pattern. The smoke is forced through these tiny holes, creating a large number of diffusion points. Excellent filtration but can be hard to clean.
showerhead perc
Showerhead Percolator: This percolator has a vertical tube with a wide disc-shaped top that resembles a showerhead. It typically has multiple evenly spaced slits around the perimeter of the disc. When smoke passes through these slits, it gets diffused in a showerhead-like pattern. 
Matrix Perc
Matrix Percolator: The matrix percolator consists of multiple small tubes or rods arranged in a grid-like pattern. As smoke passes through these tubes, it gets diffused and filtered. The Matrix 
 Turbine perc
Turbine Percolator: Turbine percolators are discs with slanted slits that make the smoke spin into a tornado-like effect in the chamber of the bong, all while filtering it. 
Faberge Egg Perc
Faberge Egg Percolator: The faberge egg percolator is a type of recycler bong that is best for use with concentrates.
donut percolator Donut Percolator: The donut percolator is also a type of recycler bong great for use with concentrates. These recyclers can feature other percs built into their design.
tree/jellyfish percolator
Tree/Jellyfish Percolator: This percolator resembles a tree with multiple arms or branches extending from a central tube. Each arm contains slits or holes, allowing the smoke to pass through and get diffused.


The choice of percolator depends on your personal preference and desired smoking experience. Some factors to remember when choosing a percolator is the more percs your bong has, the harder you will have to pull, the more expensive it will get, and the harder it could be to clean. In another article, I talk about the Pros and Cons of Percolators that may help you make a decision. Experimenting with different percolator types can help you find the one that suits your preferences best. It's all about what works best for you. I hope you enjoyed this article. Cheers!