All percolator bongs aim to filter and diffuse the smoke. What sets the different styles of percolators apart is how much filtering and diffusion the smoke goes through. Below is a brief description of the most common ones found in bongs, bubblers & dab rigs.
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Normally tree percolators have between three and 12 arms. The more arms fitted to a percolator, the more it can diffuse, meaning the smoke separates more. Usually, there are slits on the arms of the trees, and it can either have an open or a closed bottom. The smaller the slits, the smaller the bubbles, and the smaller the bubbles, the more percolation, filtration, and diffusion. The more arms these percolators have, the more intricate their design is as well.
The drum percolator normally sits at the bottom of the water chamber and does a fantastic job at spreading the smoke. It has vertical slits all the way around it so the diffusion on these is massive. For the connoisseur the drum percolator is special because it is one of the best filters, making the rips really smooth.
A dome percolator, as the name would suggest, is shaped like a dome. It is one of the cheaper types of percolators due to it being less intricate to create. While they only include 4 slits, the diffusion on the smoke is minimal, however thanks to the shape they do a fantastic job at removing tars in the smoke. Usually, these percolators look really nice, with colorful art on the dome and intricate designs in the glass itself.
The honeycomb percolator is a type of disc percolator. However, this percolator diffuses more due to the tiny holes (usually 100) that the smoke must go through. These holes have to be sized properly, as the smoke won't filter properly if they are too large. On the other hand, it will cause a drag if they are too small. When the water submerges these during a hit they cause an amazing splash.
Inline diffusers are very straight, having a gridded or slit tube inside a chamber that is often perpendicular. The amount of slits varies depending on the model but on average they are spaced 50mm apart. One of the best things about these is that they create stunning bubble patterns when submerged in water, so they are a joy to watch as you take a hit.
A shower percolator is fitted below a thin tube running vertically, widening into a chamber that is round. It has holes or slits to better diffuse and filter the smoke. When viewed at the correct angle it actually looks like a shower head, which is where it gets its name. They are most often found at the bottom of the water chamber.
Lastly, spiral percolators diffuse on the side at the bottom of the last spiral, where they are fitted with a hole. Some absolutely love these types due to the incredible smoke display. You need a good set of lungs to pull a hit out of one of these as the drag is significantly harder to pull through.
Turbine discs are not truly a percolator due to them not separating any smoke, but they are surely worth a mention. They are shaped like discs with the sides having angled slits. These angles allow the smoke inside the bong to spin into a turbine or cyclone. These are some of the best looking bongs out there. As an added benefit, they also form an excellent splash guard.