Bongs Vs Water Pipes Vs Bubblers: A Breakdown

Bongs, Pipes, & Bubblers: What Makes Them Unique

Bongs, bubblers, water pipes: It’s likely you’ve heard these terms all used to refer to the same thing. The truth is, these terms are not interchangeable. Read ahead to learn all about bongs, water pipes, and bubblers and what makes each unique. 

Bongs vs. water pipes vs. bubblers

Read the following table to learn the basics about bongs, water pipes, and bubblers. 






Best For


A type of water pipe with a straight tube, a chamber, a downstem, and a bowl

Large, Dense Hits; Cool Smoke 

Not portable, Noisy 

Clear, lack of haze, intense psychoactive effects

Group sessions or solo sessions at home

Water Pipe

Any pipe that uses water to filter toxins and tar out of smoke

Cooler, Smoother Hits; Aesthetically Customizable

Not portable, Noisy

Most intense high due to filtration of smoke (cooler smoke > bigger hits)

Group sessions or solo sessions at home; Adding cool glass to your collection


Handheld pipe that filters smoke through water

Portable; Handheld

Smaller size equals smaller, less potent hits; difficult to clean

Weakest of water pipes, comparable to dry hand pipe with smoother hits

Solo Sessions, On-the-go Smoking Needs

What is a bong?

A bong is a pipe that uses water to filter and cool down smoke. It contains four parts: a bowl for your herb, a chamber to hold water (and smoke), a downstem to connect the two, and a mouthpiece. 

Though the terms “bong,” “water pipe,” and “bubbler,” are usually used interchangeably, there is one major difference: a bong is a specific type of water pipe. Traditionally, bongs were simply tubes sealed to hold water, providing a straight shot of smoke to the lungs. The classic tube shape--alongside the similar beaker shape--represents atruebong form. Therefore, when this article refers to a “bong,” it’s referencing these specific shapes. 

Bongs come in many materials including glass, ceramic, acrylic, and silicone. Though glass is most popular for providing clean, flavorful hits, other materials have their benefits as well. Silicone and acrylic prove more portable and less destructible than their breakable counterparts. 

Pros and cons


  • Cooler, Clearer Smoke: Because bongs filter the smoke through water, toxins and tar get trapped in the water, making for a clearer, purer inhale. This feature makes bongs easier on the lungs than dry pipes.
  • Big Hits: Hand-in-hand with the first pro, cooler smoke means bigger hits. And, as discussed a little later on, bigger hits lead to more intense highs. 
  • Easy to Clean: Luckily, bongs are easy to clean. Because the bowl and downstem can be removed from the main body, each piece can be cleaned individually, and the body can be given more detailed attention. 
  • Cons

    • Not Travel-Friendly:Though they’re perfect for at-home smoke sessions, bongs can be pretty cumbersome. Their large size makes transporting them difficult. (But, if bongs are a must, we recommend silicone bongs which are flexible, durable, and generally smaller in size).
    • Noisy:All that bubbling! Bongs are not the most discrete option for smoking. 

    Bong high

    Because of the shape, size, and nature of bongs, they allow users to take large hits of dense smoke. Because bongs use water to filter toxins and other bad stuff out of the smoke, manyanecdotally claim that this leads to a clearer, less hazy high. 

    Also, because bongs are generally large, they allow for some pretty massive hits. These big hits make for more intense psychoactive effects compared to smaller pipes. 

    What is a water pipe?

    A water pipe is, as its name implies, a pipe that uses water to filter smoke. Like bongs, water pipes generally have 4 parts: a mouthpiece, a bowl, a downstem, and a chamber that holds water. 

    Admittedly, “water pipe” and “bong” can almost always be used interchangeably. However, while bongs and bubblers might technically be two types of water pipes, the term water pipe is also used to refer to those more intricate designs: zig-zagging tubes, ice catchers, percolators, etc. 

    Like bongs, water pipes are most often made out of glass.

    Pros and cons

    Though water pipes have the same pros and cons as bongs do, they have their own unique set of benefits and downfalls. 


    • Purer, Clearer Smoke: Often, water pipe refers to the designs that deviate from the straight tube and beaker types. These deviations often serve the purpose of cooling the smoke down and filtering it further. This feature makes for cooler, purer smoke (and bigger hits). 
    • Aesthetically Pleasing: Generally made out of glass, water pipes come in a wide variety of sizes, shapes, colors, and designs. They can be customizable to their users interests and tastes and can be an excellent addition to any glass collections. 


    • Higher Price Point:Added features don’t come free. More intricate water pipes can cost anywhere from $80 to $500. 

    Water pipe high

    A high from a water pipe includes all of the same benefits as bongs--and then some. Clearer, purer hits filtered by water result in more intense psychoactive effects and a less hazy high. 

    However, water pipes are super customizable and can include some added features to make the smoke even purer and the high even stronger. 

    Features like ice catchers (which allow users to suspend an ice cube above the water chamber) and percolators (which take the smoke through multiple filters) serve to cool down the smoke exponentially compared to a regular bong. Cooler smoke allows for bigger hits--making for an all-around stronger high. 

    What is a bubbler?

    A bubbler is a handheld pipe that filters smoke through water. It often takes the shape of a Gandalf or Sherlock pipe, with a small chamber (underneath the bowl) for holding water. These pipes work similarly to handheld dry herb pipes, but they provide cooler, smoother hits. The water also serves the purpose of absorbing some of the toxins and tar from the smoke, making it a cleaner experience than a dry alternative. 

    Pros and cons


    • Portable: The most travel-friendly of the water pipes, bubblers are smaller and less cumbersome than bongs. 
    • Smoother Hits: Though they don’t pack the same punch as bigger bongs, bubblers still filter their smoke through water. This makes for smoother, cleaner, and cooler hits compared to dry smoking. 


  • Difficult to Clean: Because bubblers do not typically come apart, they can be challenging to clean and require more frequent cleaning. 
  • Less Intense High vs Bongs: Due to their size, bubblers produce less smoke than bongs and other larger water pipes. As a result, those massive hits associated with a bong are hard to replicate with bubblers, producing a less intense high. 

  • Bubbler high

    Because the bubbler is the smallest and most portable of the water pipe family, its high is less intense than its larger counterparts. 

    However, bubblers do filter and cool smoke, allowing for bigger, cleaner hits. Therefore, users are still cutting down haze and increasing the likelihood of strong psychoactive effects. 

    To sum it up

    Though water pipes, bongs, and bubblers have their similarities, they have distinct differences as well. Whether it’s in aesthetic or function, these pipes are unique in their own categories. 


    Do bubblers work as well as bongs? 

    Bubblers have their own unique benefits, including portability and smooth hits. However, they produce less smoke than bongs due to their size, resulting in smaller hits. 

    Is a bubbler better than a pipe? 

    A bubbler produces smoother, cooler hits than a dry hand pipe. 

    Are water pipes the same as bongs? 

    A bong is a type of water pipe. “Bong” generally refers to straight tube or beaker water pipes. 

    Are bongs and bubblers the same? 

    Bongs and bubblers both use water to filter and cool down smoke. However, bubbler typically refers to a handheld water pipe, while bong refers to a water pipe with a larger, straight tube mouthpiece.

    Leave a comment (all fields required)

    Comments will be approved before showing up.