This ongoing underwater bong traffic is inevitable in percolation, but it is actually beneficial for your bubbles to be as separate as possible. By using diffusers — or percs — we can encourage this separation of bubbles. This process is referred to as diffusion, and it’s a big game-changer in percolation. Diffusion is defined as the spreading of something more widely.
In smoking, diffusion refers to the division of smoke bubbles. A higher quantity of smaller smoke bubbles is actually more susceptible to the effects of percolation than a lesser amount of larger bubbles. H2O can only interact and affect a bubble of smoke through contact with the surface. Because of this, a higher surface-to-volume ratio will allow for a stronger effect in percolation. Call me Alburnt Einstoned, because this is where stoner math comes into play: To simulate the diffusion of a bubble, we use the division of volume in spheres. Fortunately, spheres have the largest surface-to-volume ratio, meaning bubbles are already ahead of the game. However, by dividing this volume, the results yield an even higher surface area in relation to the volume split. This may be hard to picture, but we’ll give you an example: Let’s look at a single bubble with a volume of 1 cubic inch. This single bubble would have a surface area of 4.836 inches squared.
However, if were to divide this into two separate bubbles (now with a volume of .5 cubic inches each), they’d float with a surface area of 3.0465 inches squared. Multiply this surface area by 2 (to equate to the same volume as the single bubble) and you’ll find a surface volume of 6.093 inches squared. Diffusion increases surface area by dividing volume., which means that the division of one bubble results in a higher surface-to-volume ratio. This division further encourages all effects of percolation. The example of a single bubble dividing only once is only a fraction of reality. In fact, remember how I mentioned that we can control the separation of bubbles? Well, percolator devices—or percs—can perform ridiculous amounts of diffusion for huge boosts in the percolation process. Percs, also referred to as percolators, utilize multiple tiny slits or holes (depending on the design) to diffuse bodies of smoke into flurries of tiny bubbles. These flurries massively increase the number of bubbles formed out of a given volume of smoke. As you can imagine, this big disbursement of smoke results in a great surface-area-to-volume ratio when compared to a water pipe without a perc. There are countless types of percs that can range from simple slitted downstems, to intricate double-layered tree perks, ufo percs, honeycomb percs, and much more. Enough beating around the kush—let’s dive into the three main benefits of smoking out of a percolator bong: 1. Hot smoke + cold water results in a heat transfer, making your rips cooler and less harsh. Even room-temperature water will cool smoke – but if you use ice water instead, your rips will be frosty and smooth. Many bongs also feature an ice-catcher attachment that cools the smoke after percolation. However, some studies have shown that the frost from ice cubes are inhaled, which can damage your airways and lead to bronchitis. Inhaling tiny ice shards can mostly be avoided by rinsing the ice cubes, or letting them defrost in the pipe for a few minutes. Due to the aforementioned heat transfer, steam is introduced into your bong rip. This process adds a smooth vapor-like property to your bong rips without diluting flavor or THC (not to be confused with CBD). Water pulls/attracts residual particles and filters your smoke on a magnetic molecular level. The magnetic relationship between H2O and polar contaminants/particles is much simpler than it sounds. Put simply, polar molecules attract other polar molecules. Water is very polar; H2O is actually the most polar protic solvent. Substances that can pull through bowls like residual herb, resin, or ash are polar as well — some of the harmful shit that you’re usually inhaling through a dry pipe is magnetically pulled from your smoke as it passes through water. Stoner bros will sometimes claim that you will lose out on your precious THC in the percolation process, and you’ll dull your high by smoking from a water pipe.
Tiny trace amounts of THC can be lost when using a bong, but it’s far from anything to worry about. Tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, is a lipid (examples of lipids would be oils or fats) meaning THC is mostly non-polar. That being said, water does not magnetically pull THC out of your smoke as it does with polar particles; you may lose trace amounts of THC, but it wouldn’t be anything to fiend over. If you compare the number of harmful particles that are pulled from your inhales, to the trace amount of THC lost—percolation is worth the minuscule trade. Smoother percolated rips are also much easier to inhale, which allows you to take larger hits compared to a dry piece. So at the end of the day, you’re getting bigger and cleaner rips.
With that being said, that stoner bro probably heard the same claim by another smoker who is also uninformed. Break the cycle with your newfound facts on percolation! Think about it this way: When you’re smoking a bunt, the cherry (the end of the blunt that’s lit) is always rolling.