Bubbler Pipe Guide – Everything You Need to Know About Bubblers

glass bubbler pipe

What is a Bubbler Pipe?

Question: What do you get when you cross a pipe with a bong? The answer: a bubbler. A bubbler pipe is basically a smaller, handheld bong. When and where the bubbler pipe was first invented is something of a mystery, as is the first person to make one. However, looking at the history of the bong along with the history of glassmaking, one can take an educated guess as to how this smoking device crossover actually came into being.

sherlock bubbler

VIDEO ON HOW TO USE A BUBBLER:

A Brief History of the Bubbler Pipe

The bong has been around for thousands of years. The actual word bong is derived from the Thai word baung. This is what early Thai people called pipes that were made out of bamboo, and which eventually came to refer to the smoking device that uses water as a filtration method, the same one that contemporary smokers know today (although the device has evolved in shape and design since then). Evidence of bong use can be traced to other cultures besides the Thai. They date back at least 2400 years in Russia, as well as to 16th century China.

bamboo bong

Smoking pipes also have a long and rich history. Like bongs, pipes have been used by world civilizations for centuries. Contemporary pipes look and function a lot like their early ancestors did. The biggest difference between today’s and yesteryear’s pipes are the materials used to make them. Instead of being made from clay, bamboo, wood, ivory or animal antlers, many of today’s smokers prefer glass pipes (although you’ll still find diehard wooden-pipe users).

So how did the bubbler pipe enter this eclectic mix of smoking devices? Again, it’s exact origins may never be pinpointed. However, it is highly likely that some smokers were sitting around with their water bongs thinking “wouldn’t it be nice if there was a more portable bong?” And so, one of those guys probably went home and began tinkering around in his kitchen or garage and came up with a pocket-sized hybrid that was easier to travel with and more discreet to pack around.

Undoubtedly that guy showed his friends, who told their other friends, and word about the device continued to spread. Soon the idea caught on and other people began making bubbler pipes. Eventually, big business and independent artisans and crafters would catch on and begin producing bubblers for sale to the masses, bringing us to today. Bubbler pipes are extremely popular for all of the same reasons that original smoker decided to make his own: they are more portable that a traditional bong. It’s super easy to just stick it in your pocket and go.

Glass bubblers are the contemporary favorite in comparison to wooden, metal and other types. The first glass bubbler likely came into being when glass-blowing techniques were perfected and glass-blowing became accepted as a legitimate art form, somewhere in the mid to late 1900s. Contemporary hand blown glass bubblers are beautiful pieces that would be just as at home on a shelf or in a display case as any work of art.

Glass bubblers are a hit with modern smokers for a couple of reasons. One: they stand up well to extreme heat and, overall, perform better than other types over the long run. They can last for years, provided you don’t drop it on the ground. (Obviously breakage is a big concern with glass bubbler pipes.) Two: glass pipes produce a smoother, cleaner flavor than other types of pipes. Glass doesn’t alter the taste of your herb at all, whereas a wood pipe will add a woody flavor.

Types of Bubbler Pipes

All bubblers have a few things in common. One: they all have a bowl, the part where you place the herb you are smoking. Bowls may differ in size, but all bubbler pipes have one. Two: all bubblers have a water chamber. Again, their sizes may differ (usually they are designed to be relatively proportionate to the bowl size, stem length and stem diameter). Three: all bubblers have a stem with an opening at the end. The stem is the part the smoke travels up after it has been filtered through the water.

As long as those three parts are present, bubblers can come in diverse forms, shapes and designs. Some of them look so unusual that a novice wouldn’t even be able to tell what it is. Many water pipes are hand-blown and fashioned into objects, animals or abstract, artistic shapes. A novice may mistake it as mere artwork and not realize its function at all.

However, at their core, they all rely on the same principle: using water as a means for filtering smoke. Smoke that passes through water will deposit debris and larger molecules into the water. What is actually inhaled at the end is steam or vapor, not actual smoke. The vapor contains most of the same elements as the herb being used, but without the bigger particles and the overall harshness of smoke. The vapor is smoother and has a cleaner flavor. The water also acts as coolant so that the smoke (which is actually vapor) you inhale isn’t hot.

Bubblers come in six basic types. Each one has its own particular advantages, and you’ll probably find yourself gravitating toward one particular style.

Hammer: This type is so-called because it resembles a hammer. It is designed to rest on a flat surface without rolling around.

hammer bubbler pipe

Sherlock: This type is so-named because it resembles a “Sherlock” pipe, the type commonly associated with that famous literary detective, Sherlock Holmes. This type is a lot like a hammer bubbler, except that the stem is curved into a gentle “S” shape.

sherlock bubbler

Sidecar: This type features a stem and mouthpiece that is attached to the side of the water chamber (rather than coming straight out of it as with a hammer bubbler). This type was created as an answer to the problem of water splash-back, something that can happen with hammer and Sherlock bubblers.

sidecar bubbler

Pendant: Talk about the ultimate in convenience! This type of bubbler is usually a little bit smaller. This because it has been designed with a little hole or ring so that it can be put on a necklace or string and worn around the neck.

pendant bubbler

Concentrate: This type is designed specifically for smoking concentrates and essential oils instead of dry herb.

concentrate bubbler pipe

Double bubblers: As its name hints at, this type has two chambers instead of one (a.k.a. dual percolator). This basically filters the smoke twice, which gives you an extra-clean, smooth, cool hit of flavor.

double bubbler

What to look for in a High Quality Bubbler Pipe

Bubblers can be made from a wide variety of materials. However, the vast majority available in today’s marketplace are glass bubblers. When it comes to choosing a quality bubbler, the most important thing to look for is glass type.

Borosilicate glass is a type of German-engineered glass. It is a heavy, durable, high heat tolerant glass. It is the same type that is used in scientific glass (beakers, test tubes, etc.) and in many types/brands of home bakeware (Pyrex). Heat tolerance is important because, of course, you’re going to be torching your pipe frequently. You’re going to need something that can handle the heat and not break under the constant pressure of being regularly exposed to a flame. Plus, you don’t want flimsy glass that will overheat quickly and scorch your herb. Always look for a bubbler made from either borosilicate glass, or that is made from “scientific glass” or “lab quality” glass, which is usually just another way to refer to borosilicate.

You may find bubbler pipes that don’t specify “scientific,” “lab-quality” or “borosilicate” glass. If this is the case, you should assume that it is made from another type of glass. This is not necessarily a bad thing. This factor may lower the price of the pipe, which is great if you’re on a tight budget. Just know that you must be extra-careful with other types of glass: be very careful not to overheat, and definitely don’t drop your pipe because it will almost certainly shatter. (Note: borosilicate glass is not unbreakable, but it can withstand impacts better than regular glass.)

Beyond glass type, everything else is a matter of personal preference. Some smokers prefer deep bowls, others, shallow ones. Some like long stems, others prefer shorter. Your own preferences will only become clear to you after you’ve tried one type and used it several times. For this reason, you might want to consider buying a cheaper bubbler and using it for awhile. By then, your preferences will probably have become clear, and then you can invest in a higher-quality bubbler or choose a different one to try out.

Less common are wooden bubbler pipes. Most contemporary smokers, particular younger ones, will gravitate toward glass ones. Wooden ones tend to have more appeal to older smokers. Wooden bubblers do not produce as clean a vapor as glass ones. They tend to contribute flavor from the wood to whatever herb is being smoked. However, some smokers like this, so that’s why wooden bubblers are still being produced.

If you’re looking for a wooden one, choose one made from some type of hardwood: walnut, maple and rosewood are common ones used for pipe-making. Bamboo, although actually a grass and not a wood, is also a great material for pipes. Just remember, as a general rule, wooden bubblers do not last as long as glass ones.

Cost of a Bubbler Pipe

The price of bubbler pipes can vary widely, from less than ten dollars to more than $200 for a highly-stylized one. This can make selecting one very confusing. What makes one pipe more expensive than the other? Essentially, what it comes down to is five major characteristics:

Type of material: For instance, any bubbler pipe made of non-scientific glass will typically be cheaper than those made of borosilicate glass.

Color: The more colors in a particular glass pipe, the more expensive the pipe.

Detail work: The same goes for detail: the more of it there is on a pipe, the more it adds to the price.

Method of production: Anything hand-blown or otherwise of artisanal quality is going to be priced higher than a mass-produced bubbler.

Brand: Certain brands are going to cost a little more than generic or lesser-known brands.

That being said, you can actually find some really great, high-performing bubblers for under $25 (even borosilicate glass ones). Conversely, a more expensive pipe isn’t necessarily going to perform exponentially better than a $25 pipe. Generally speaking, you should be able to get a bubbler pipe that looks cool and performs optimally for somewhere between $25 (sometimes less) and $60. Basically, if it’s made of lab-quality glass and you are drawn to the look and style of it, and you have the cash in your pocket for it, it’s probably a safe choice.

Our Top 12 Bubbler Pipe Recommendations

We’ve pored over the catalogs of some of our favorite smoking accessories dealers and come up our top 12 picks for bubblers. We’ve chosen them based on overall cost, value per dollar spent, artistic quality and performance. We hope this list will at least be a good starting point for you if you are shopping for a bubbler.

1

Fumed Sherlock Bubbler

Fumed Sherlock Bubbler

This gorgeous Sherlock-style pipe is a work of art, from its vibrant colors to its amazing fine detail work. The colors were produced by starting out with cobalt glass (“blue glass”). Next, the glass is fumed. This process requires exposing the glass to fumes from molten metals like gold and silver. The fumes give this pipe its colors. Fumed glass changes color just a little bit with each use, lending even more interest to this exotic piece. (Whenever you want to restore it to its original look, just give the inside a good cleaning.) The marbles on the chamber and bowl keep the pipe from rolling if laid on its side. The intense process this piece goes through makes it as much art as functional smoking device.

GREAT FOR

Experienced smokers, fine art lovers.

PRICE RANGE

High to elite.

SPECS

Sherlock-style bubbler pipe.

Hand blown.

Made with fumed cobalt glass.

Mushroom marble rollstoppers.

Glass magnifiers.

Length: 9 inches.

OVERALL RATING

2

Double Bubbler 3.0 with
Shower Head Perc Diffusers

Double Bubbler 3.0 with Shower Head Perc Diffusers

This no-nonsense bubbler might be a bit understated when it comes to looks, but it is a high-performer that really delivers. The double showerhead perc filters your smoke twice, making it super cool and smooth. The curved tube and wide mouthpiece make this bubbler comfortable to use. Since it is made from scientific glass, you can use this bubbler confidently and know that your investment will last.

GREAT FOR

All users.

PRICE RANGE

Mid-range to high.

SPECS

Made of scientific glass.

Inside cut shower head perc diffuser.

18.8mm bowl.

No carburetor.

Joint Size: 29.2 mm > 18.8 mm.

Height: 30 cm / 11.8 inch

OVERALL RATING

3

Vapor Bubbler with Box Diffuser and Sidecar Mouthpiece

Vapor Bubbler with Box Diffuser and Sidecar Mouthpiece

Do you have commitment issues? Like to play the field instead of settling down? If you’re the kind of smoker who needs to change things up frequently, this is the perfect little bubbler for you. You’ll never have to settle for JUST dry herb or JUST oil or JUST concentrates, because this limited edition piece allows you to enjoy all three! Made from quality borosilicate glass, you can enjoy your favorite herbs, concentrates and oils with just this one device. The handled vapor dome is super easy to remove, and the handles also act as rollstoppers. With the Limited Edition Vapor Bubbler with Box Diffuser and Sidecar Mouthpiece, you’ll never have to settle down.

GREAT FOR

Experienced smokers, smokers who like to smoke a variety of products.

PRICE RANGE

High.

SPECS

Made of clear borosilicate glass.

Height: 22cm / 8.7 inches.

14.5 mm joint.

Black trim.

Flared sidecar mouthpiece.

Fixed downstem with black box diffuser.

Outfitted with a female vapor dome.

Can be used with dry herb, oils and concentrates.

Comes with glass concentrate nail.

OVERALL RATING

4

Blaze Glass Bubbler with
Showerhead & Keg Diffuser

Blaze Glass Bubbler with Showerhead & Keg Diffuser

We added this bubbler to our list because of the dual diffuser. In fact, it is outfitted with two different types of diffusers, a showerhead and a keg. Because your smoke gets filtered twice through different diffusers, you get an exceptionally smooth hit of cool vapor with a unique flavor that sets this experience apart from other types of dual diffuser rigs. We were also impressed with the wide flared base on this model, which keeps it really stable when placed on a flat surface. All this combined with the fact that it’s made of borosilicate glass makes it a worthwhile purchase. It may be on the pricey side, but it will be money well-spent because of how much value you get.

GREAT FOR

All smokers.

PRICE RANGE

Mid-range to high.

SPECS

Made of clear borosilicate glass.

Equipped with dual diffusers (showerhead and keg).

Wide stable base.

14.5mm male joint.

Female herb bowl.

Rollstopper.

Height: 20 cm / 7.9 inches.

OVERALL RATING

5

Full Hammer Bubbler

Full Hammer Bubbler

The Full Hammer Bubbler is one of those “must have” items that every avid smoker should have in his or her collection. It’s a very functional piece that is ideal for everyday use. One of the things that we like about this particular pipe is that it offers so much choice when it comes to color: clear, charcoal, blue, amber, pink, green, pink slyme, green slyme and dichro. (Slyme glass is a special type of glass that produces color that looks “radioactive.” Dichro or dichroic glass reflects two different colors depending on the angle you view it from.) This bubbler looks cool and offers users excellent value per dollar spent, especially considering that it should last for years with proper care.

GREAT FOR

All smokers.

PRICE RANGE

Mid-range to high.

SPECS

Made of clear scientific glass.

Available in nine colors or clear/color combinations.

Height - 8 inches.

Diffused showerhead downstem.

Large chamber.

OVERALL RATING

6

El Niño Glass Bubbler
with Showerhead Diffuser

El Niño Glass Bubbler with Showerhead Diffuser

Just like the El Niño weather phenomenon, bubblers like the El Niño Glass Bubbler with Showerhead Diffuser don’t come along often. Just like the weather, it’s bound to disappear so you might want to grab this one fast. We appreciate the fact that it’s made of high quality borosilicate glass, so you can count on it to last and to stand up to heat. The wide body holds a lot of vapor, and the wide base makes it stable when placed on a flat surface. If you like the sidecar mouthpiece, this bubbler is a great investment. Grasscity recommends that you use it with the Black Leaf - "Sea Mine" Glass Screens for added filtration.

GREAT FOR

All smokers.

PRICE RANGE

Mid-range.

SPECS

Made of clear borosilicate glass.

Wide body and base.

Sidecar flared mouthpiece.

18.8mm glass bowl.

Height - 15.5 cm / 6.1 inches.

Recommend use of glass screen with this bubbler.

OVERALL RATING

7

Glass Hammer Bubbler
Gold and Silver Fumed

Glass Hammer Bubbler - Gold and Silver Fumed

The Glass Hammer Bubbler is elegant in its simplicity. To create this classy bubbler pipe, the artists at Oregon-based Mountain Jam Glass Company start with a sheet of clear borosilicate glass. Next, they expose it to melted gold and silver fumes. This process gradually changes the glass from clear to mottled yellow-gold. Then, the sheet is hand blown and fashioned into a seamless bubbler pipe with built-in percolator. The deep bowl in this pipe gives the user extra room for herb, and the sleek design combined with the percolation action produces an unadulterated vapor that tastes smooth and pure.

GREAT FOR

All users.

PRICE RANGE

Mid-range to high.

SPECS

Made of fumed borosilicate glass.

Outfitted with a carburetor.

Deep bowl.

Built-in percolator.

Hand-blown.

Length: 20.3 cm / 8 inches.

OVERALL RATING

8

Raked Bubbler

Raked Bubbler

The Raked Bubbler is as appealing to the eye as it is to the taste. Not only that, but it’s a piece that will provide reliable, predictable performance for a long time. We included this pipe on our list for a few reasons. We love the raked design, a simple feature that adds amazing depth and aesthetic attractiveness to an otherwise simple bubbler. The high-quality borosilicate glass combined with deep bowl and reasonable price make this bubbler pipe an excellent investment. You’ll get maximum value per dollar spent with this good-looking and well-rounded pipe. Plus, you get to choose your favorite color!

GREAT FOR

All users.

PRICE RANGE

Mid-range.

SPECS

Made of clear and colored borosilicate glass.

Hand blown.

Raked design.

Deep bowl.

Bent neck and fixed downstem.

Heavy, stable base.

Available in red, black or blue.

OVERALL RATING

9

Hammer Style Clear Mini Bubbler

Hammer Style Clear Mini Bubbler

Smoke anytime, anywhere easily and conveniently with the Hammer Style Clear Mini Bubbler. It’s small, so it’s portable: just slide it into a pocket and go. Grav Labs is one of the top names in the smoking glass industry, so we are confident in recommending this scientific-quality glass bubbler as one that will last for a good long time. We also love the low price, which means you get excellent value per dollar spent. The X-cut diffuser in this device gives your vapor distinctive flavor that you’ll appreciate with your first use.

GREAT FOR

All users.

PRICE RANGE

Low.

SPECS

Made from clear scientific glass.

Hammer style bubbler.

Mini size.

Fixed downstem and deep bowl.

X-cut diffused downstem.

OVERALL RATING

10

Stinger Sherlock Bubbler

Stinger Sherlock Bubbler

If you’ve never tried a Sherlock-style pipe before, the Stinger Sherlock Bubbler is an excellent introductory bubbler. Each device is hand blown with expert precision, designed with rounded curves that not only look cool but make this bubbler super comfortable to hold and use. Each pipe consists of a clear glass body with colored accents on the mouthpiece and bottom of the chamber. You can choose from green, red, black or blue colored accents. You’ll get a noteworthy deal on price if you purchase this piece from Dankstop.com.

GREAT FOR

All smokers.

PRICE RANGE

Low to mid-range.

SPECS

Made of clear and colored glass.

Certified hand blown.

Length - 5 inches.

Fixed downstem and deep bowl.

Bent neck.

Sturdy base.

OVERALL RATING

11

Hammer Style Bubbler with Colored Accents

Hammer Style Bubbler with Colored Accents

Here’s another no-frills, no-nonsense winner from Grav Labs that makes a reliable everyday-use bubbler. Each one features a scientific-quality clear or frosted glass body with colored glass mouthpiece, downstem and matching feet to stabilize the pipe when it’s placed on a flat surface. The deep bowl lets you pack it full of your favorite herb. Then watch it perc and bubble before you take that first, sweet pull. This mid-price bubbler pipe makes a great everyday use piece or secondary piece in a glass collection.

GREAT FOR

Beginners and experienced smokers.

PRICE RANGE

Mid-range.

SPECS

Made of clear, frosted and colored scientific glass.

Hammer style bubbler.

X-cut diffused fixed downstem.

Deep bowl.

Choice of five color accents.

Height - 4 inches.

OVERALL RATING

12

Blue Glass Bubbler

Blue Glass Bubbler

Who says you need to spend a lot of money to get a pipe that’s both artistic AND functional? The Blue Glass Bubbler is a cool, affordable $21.99 when purchased from Dankstop.com and the blue and red glass together gives it a look that turns heads. It features a deep bowl so you can pack it with even more of your favorite herb. With its curves and rounded edges and mouthpiece, it feels good in your hand and is just as comfortable to smoke. Plus, the bent neck helps to prevent backsplash.

GREAT FOR

Beginners or experienced users, smokers on a budget.

PRICE RANGE

Econo to low.

SPECS

Made from blue and red colored glass.

Bent neck with rounded mouthpiece.

Fixed downstem.

Rounded mouthpiece.

Deep bowl.

Height - 6 inches.

OVERALL RATING

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