How Much Water to Put in a Bong & Percolator Water Level

Man, bongs are AWESOME! Here's the thing, though:

If you don't get the water level right, then they can be a big drag. (See what I did there?)

If you're new to water pipes, or if you're just wondering if you’ve been doing it wrong all these years, knowing exactly how much water you're supposed to put in a bong is essential if you want the best smoking experience possible.

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How Much Water to Put in a Bong? - The quick answer

So how much water to do you need to put in a bong?

The short answer is just enough to where your downstem in slightly submerged in the water (about a ½”).

If your downstem is a diffused downstem (read: a downstem with “slits” at the base to further aerate the smoke) then make sure the water is high enough to fully submerge all of the slits.

If you don’t have all of the slits and the main opening of the downstem submerged, you are bypassing the water filter, essentially, making the piece nothing more than a really big hand pipe!

We're trying to smoke from a bong here, but if you prefer smoking from a pipe, you'll want to check out this guide on glass pipes.

How Much Water to Put in Double Perc Bongs?

So what about a piece with double or even triple percs? (read: a bong with percolators in multiple chambers throughout the tube of the bong)

Well, the concept is the exact same as your diffused downstem, you need to have just enough water to submerge all of the openings.

Some percolators don’t have plain as day slits. Some percs, like the honeycomb perc and vortex disc perc, are flat perc.

With a style like this, you need to have the entire perc submerged a half inch or so under water.

If you use a bong attachment like an ash catcher, you'll use the same principles. 

How to Fill Bong with Water?

So now that you know how much water to put in a bong, knowing how actually to get the water in might be useful to you.

For a regular water pipe without any extra percolators, the process is really simple. You can just pour water through the mouthpiece of the bong into the base until you have reached your desired level.

Or you can pour water straight from the downstem into the base of the bong.

However, if your bong does consist of multiple chambers, all with percs, then it can get a little more complicated.

Looking for a new bong? Check out this guide on the best beaker bongs.

When filling a bong with multiple percs with water, you’re going to want to pour the water into the tube from the mouthpiece, and from there the water will start to make it’s way down.

If you have a really high-quality bong most of the water will do its work for you, so just let it work its way down. Once the water has settled, check to see if all of your percs and downstem are properly submerged.

If they aren’t, then simply tilt the bong sideways to allow the more water to continue to fall to the desired chamber.

Do this process until your downstem and percs are properly submerged.

If you happen to overfill a chamber, then tilt the bong to move the water to the chamber below it, and then to the base of the bong.

From there, you can pour the excess water out through the downstem.

What is the Water Doing and Why Does the Level Matter?

The water in the bong is acting as both a filter and an aerator. Basically, water is filtering out a lot of the harmful stuff that comes with smoking.

Also, it's aerating the smoke, cooling the smoke on its way to your lungs.

Your water level is important is because if you have too much water in your bong, then it's going to be harder to smoke.

Your water level is important is because if you have too much water in your bong, then it's going to be harder to smoke. The more water there is, the harder your lungs have to work to pull the smoke through the water.

Bong Water Levels When Using Ice

The amount of water you need in your bong is not going to change if you decide to fill the tube of your bong with ice.

You do, however, need to keep an eye on your water levels while you are smoking with ice. Smoke by its nature is a very hot creature, one of the great things about smoking from a bong is the water helps to cool it.

While it does cool it down, it’s definitely still hot enough to melt your ice pretty quickly during a smoke session.

If you let your bong water get too high because your ice melted, you run the risk of your drags being harder on your lungs.

Also,  accidentally getting some of that yummy bong water in your mouth!

Now that you've been hitting your bong awhile, you'll need to start thinking about cleaning it! Be sure to come back and check out this article to show you the best way to get it done.

11 thoughts on “How Much Water to Put in a Bong & Percolator Water Level”

  1. Good article. One thing I would dispute. I could be wrong but I think if you put ice in your bong, as it melts the water level would remain the same. The weight and level are the same whether in liquid or solid form.

    • Thanks! Well, since you’re putting the ice in the tube of the bong, you’re actually adding to the water as it melts and falls into the chambers below. If you put your ice in the bottom chamber with the water, then you’re right, as they melt the water level remain constant.

      • Actually, water is one of the few liquids in nature that expands when it is frozen (i.e., lakes freeze from the top since the density of ice is less than liquid water). What does this mean for the bong? If the ice melts the volume will go down. This could expose your filters. However, since the melted ice will create more liquid water, it could be harder to draw. So as your ice melts you could get two negative effects, harder draw and exposed filters.

      • Ice however does expand when frozen. If ice is in the lowest chamber it may need addition of water as ice melts if using a lot of ice.

    • You would be right if the ice was just thrown into the bong water. This article is referring to ice which is dropped down the mouthpiece where it rests on top of ice catchers. Cheers!

  2. I’ve been smoking for 25 years and never have quite found the right answer on this. Everyone always has different suggestion but this makes good sense. I don’t usually fill it higher the yi h suggest but I’ve met people who put water so high and I never knew why thanks my friend and good luck in your life


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