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Differences Between a Bubbler and a Bong

| Madison Gillespie

Bubblers and bongs are amongst the most popular, sought after devices used in the world of smoking THC. This popularity stems from the fact that both bubblers and bongs utilize water to filter the smoke, allowing for bigger, smoother hits. However, bubblers and bongs are not the same. Read on to explore the differences between the two devices and decide which one is better suited for your smoking sessions.

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Does Water Really Matter?

A common feature between bubblers and bowls is the introduction of water filtration, but does that really matter that much? To some people, absolutely! The water at the bottom of a bubbler/bong not only provides a healthier smoke by filtering out unwanted, dangerous chemicals, but the filtering also provides a cooler, better tasting, smoother hit that many people find far superior to the harsh hits from a bowl or joint.

Bubbler and Bongs - What’s the Difference?

Yes, both bubblers and bongs have room for water to provide a level of filtration to your smoke, but these two devices aren’t the same, mainly due to their size. 

Bubblers tend to be much smaller than bongs and are usually known for being hand-held. Essentially, a bubbler is a mix between a bowl and a bong where you can have great mobility due to the small nature of the device, but without sacrificing the filtration aspects provided by bongs. 

Meanwhile, bongs tend to have much more size and complication to them. Whereas bubblers have simple designs that pull the smoke through the water once, bongs have room for multiple layers of filtration to provide additional quality of life improvements. What’s more, the larger size of bongs allows for more smoke to be pulled and for larger hits to be taken, which some smokers much prefer. 

Science of Water Pipes

There has been a lot of talk so far about how water in a bubbler/bong can provide filtration for the smoke, but how does that work?

By having a downstem that connects your weed to underneath the water, your process of inhalation will draw the smoke down into the water where it’ll bubbler to the surface and be ready for consumption. Whilst being pulled through the water, unwanted byproducts like tar and ash will be caught by the water while cannabinoids and terpenes, known for having extremely low water solubility, remain untouched in the smoke and ready for consumption. This filtration provides smoother, healthier, better tasting hits to be enjoyed from the same bud!

Types of Bubblers/Bongs Out There

Basic Bubblers

Bubblers are where the best features of bongs and bowls combine into a single product. A very simple, minimal water chamber provides basic filtration while the piece as a whole remains small and manageable. While not particularly excelling in portability or hit size, but being okay at both, bubblers provide a great middleground. 

Hammer Bubbler

Often considered one of the best types of bubblers, hammer bubblers tend to be a medium size piece that resembles a hammer. At the head, a hammer bubbler will be outfitted with percolation to provide great filtration and cooling upon consumption. While larger than some of the other options here, a hammer bubbler can still easily be transported in a backpack provided it is protected from breaking. 

Sidecar Bubbler

Usually a little smaller than a hammer bubbler, the sidecar bubbler gives more flexibility in use with its smaller stature. These pieces look like a regular bowl with a sidecar attached where you can achieve a small degree of filtration in the additional chamber. The only downside to one of these pieces is that they can be harder to clean than other options due to the tight quarters and crammed corners. 

Sherlock Bubblers

Whereas the previous two bubblers tend to work on a more lateral level, the sherlock bubbler is a more vertically oriented piece where, just like Sherlock’s pipe, the piece works its way from the mouth down to the chest of the user. Some people prefer this style and aesthetic, although there is still just the simple filtration provided by a bubbler and seen in the hammer and sidecar models. 

Mini bong

For a simple bong, the mini bong provides a great option. Usually just one chamber, the design is simple, on the small size, and provides solid water filtration. 

Gravity bong

A unique bong design, the gravity bong utilizes gravity and the subsequent water movement to pull the hit through water during combustion. Gravity bongs tend to be a medium to large size bong.

Round-base bongs

There are a few different base designs for bongs with a circular base being one of the most popular. With a solid base, bongs in this design can come in a huge variety of different shapes and sizes. Whether you want a 1 foot tall bong or a 3 foot tall one, you’ll be able to find a round-base bong in whatever size you want with whatever bells and whistles you desire.

Materials for Your Bubbler/Bong

When finding the right device for you, the shape matters, but so does the material. What your piece is made out of can drastically change the taste, experience, and cleaning procedure. Due to its superior flavor and durability in the face of constant use and heat exposure, glass has long been the preferred material for bubblers and bongs. Here is a list of some other options, listed from best to worse:

  • Glass
  • Ceramic
  • Metal/Acrylic
  • Bamboo/Wood

Factors to Consider When Choosing the Right Water Pipe


Cost plays a huge role when buying a water pipe, but there certainly exists a piece within your price range. As you pay more, you can expect great quality and craftsmanship, but that isn’t required. Keep in mind, though, that you get what you pay for with cheap glass. Cheap glass is quite prone to breaking and poor smoking experiences, which definitely encourages spending slightly more upfront for a quality device that can last for years to come. Between bubblers and bongs, bubblers tend to be cheaper due to their simpler designs and smaller sizes.


If you invest in quality glass, both bubblers and bowls can be quite durable in the face of daily use. However, if you plan on traveling with your piece, many users find that bubblers are better suited for a portable lifestyle than the bigger, clumsier bong. 

Look and Feel

Part of any successful smoking device is having a good aesthetic and feel during its use. Finding the piece that fits your eye and hand comes down to experience and exploration. Shop around to see what devices are on the market, utilize friends’ pieces to get a taste of what their device is like, and take a chance getting something you think you’d enjoy. 


As mentioned, bubblers tend to be much more portable than bongs. This must be considered before you buy; in what context will you be using your device the most? Carrying around a heavy, fragile bong everywhere you go gets tiring real quick.

Conclusion to Bongs & Bubblers

Whether you choose a bubbler or bong, you can’t go wrong introducing water filtration to your smoking sessions. Let your sessions be the guiding light; cater towards how you like to enjoy your cannabis whether that is at home with a robust bong or on the road with a portable bubbler. Get yourself a water pipe today and see what all the hype is about!

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