What is a Bubbler & How Do You Use It?

February 07, 2023

There are so many terms, both official and slang, that cannabis enthusiasts use to describe their marijuana, the tools they use to consume it, and even their fellow enthusiasts. “Bubbler” just happens to be one of those terms. Don’t worry, we’re here to help. 

What is a Bubbler?

A bubbler, also known as a glass bubbler or bubbler pipe, is a smaller, handheld water pipe or “bong.” It has all the same parts and pieces as a full-sized water pipe, though in some bubblers, the bowl cannot be removed. It is typical for bubblers to also have a piece called a percolator—which is what helps make the bubbles. A bubbler percolator is a fixed glass piece within the water pipe that helps to slow or stop the smoke in the pipe and filter it. Many cannabis enthusiasts swear by percolators in water pipes of all sizes, insisting that the smoke tastes cleaner. 

How a Bubbler Works

If you’ve used a water pipe, you’re going to find a bubbler very familiar. The water is added to the glass bubbler, the bowl is loaded with marijuana, and lit. The smoke then travels down into the water chamber. From there, the smoke or vapor travels up the stem, sometimes through a percolator, and is consumed. 

How to Use a Bubbler

In general, using a bubbler requires five steps. You’ll probably find most of them pretty easy, especially if you’ve already used a tabletop water pipe. There are a couple steps that require some finesse, but as with anything, practice makes perfect. 

Step 1: Fill with Water

You’d think adding water to your bubbler would be the easiest part of the whole process, but it’s actually the one that requires the most attention. You want to fill the bubbler through the bowl, not the mouthpiece. This will ensure that you’re really able to gauge how much water is in your pipe.

Then, you need to fill it to just the right point—typically by submerging the stem up to the midpoint. Too much water and the smoke will feel stale, and too little water and you will have a much harsher inhale than you would with water at the right level. To check if you have the right amount of water, fill to the midway point of your bubbler, cover the carb hole, and inhale. If you get a splash of water, there’s too much in there. If you hear bubbling, you’re good to go. It’s the best way to figure out what's the right water level for your piece. 

Step 2: Place Flower in the Bowl

First, grind up your marijuana flower. Next, place your bubbler on a flat surface (so your cannabis doesn’t get soggy) and pack the bowl. You want the Goldilocks of packs—not too tight and not too loose. Too tight and you won’t be able to get air through. Too loose and your cannabis will burn faster than you can consume it, resulting in significant waste. 

Step 3: Ignite the Flower

This one’s easy. Grab your lighter and ignite the flower. Start with the corners and work your way around to the middle of the bowl. This will help create an even burn. 

Step 4: Cover Carb Hole & Inhale

As you light your flower, put your finger over the carb hole and inhale. This draws the smoke into the bubbler. You should hear the tell tale sound of water bubbling inside your pipe. Remember, the longer you inhale with your finger covering the carb hole, the more likely you are to get a heavy hit when you release it, so start slow with your first couple pulls. 

Step 5: Release the Carb Hole

Lift your finger from the carb hole. This allows air into the bubbler and pushes the smoke/vapor up through the mouthpiece so you can consume it. Depending on the potency of your marijuana, you should be able to feel the effects within a couple of minutes. If you don’t feel anything after ten to fifteen minutes, give it another go by starting with Step 3. 

How to Clean a Bubbler

The best way to ensure you have a great experience with a bubbler is to keep it clean. You might notice, based on the entry points of your glass bubbler, that it’s going to be pretty hard to clean with any conventional tools. So you have to get a little unconventional. 

The same way you add water to your bubbler, add 99% isopropyl alcohol. Then, drop some rock salt or coarse salt into the bubbler. Let it sit, typically for an hour, and give it a few good shakes during that time. The salt should knock any resin off the sides of your bubbler, and the isopropyl alcohol will dissolve the rest. Dump it all out and rinse it with water. If it still looks dirty, repeat the steps above. 

Of course, if your bubbler is made from silicone or something other than glass, it’s possible you can pull it apart. In that case, just clean it as you would any other pipe. 

Answering Bubbler FAQs

Until you read this guide, you might not have realized there was even a tool called a bubbler. So it makes sense that there are some questions about them. Here are a few of our most frequently asked and answered queries:

What’s the difference between bubblers and bongs?
Honestly, not a whole lot. The biggest difference between a bubbler and a bong is that a bubbler is a handheld water pipe, and bongs are usually big enough to sit on a tabletop. 

How much water do you put in a bubbler?
Add enough water so submerge the stem halfway. If you’re worried you aren’t getting the right amount of water in, before you put any marijuana in the bowl, cover the carb hole and inhale. If you get water in the bowl or mouthpiece, you’ve got too much water. If you hear bubbling, you’ve probably got the right amount of water in the bubbler.

What’s the difference between a bubbler and a pipe?
A bubbler is a type of handheld water pipe. There are many different types of pipes available for cannabis enthusiasts. While all bubblers are a type of pipe, not all pipes are bubblers. 

Buying & Using Bubblers

If you’re interested in trying a different type of water pipe, one that’s a little more compact with the same capabilities, a bubbler may be the perfect answer. To buy one, just find a dispensary near you. Our budtenders will be able to help you browse the selection of small water pipe bubblers available or find another tool that may work for you. 

Please consume responsibly. This product may cause impairment and may be habit forming. There may be health risks associated with consumption of this product.  State laws impact what dispensaries can and can’t sell to recreational customers and medical marijuana patients. Not every type of product, consumption method, dosage form, or potency mentioned on this blog will be permitted in all locations.

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