What does an ash catcher do?
Just like the name suggests, an ash catcher captures ash, resin, and other large contaminants from the smoke so it doesn’t get inhaled. Whether partaking in legal dry herb with a bong or vaporized substances like wax via a dab rig, an ash catcher is a great addition to your setup. By removing these irritants, ash catchers produce cleaner smoke and vapor from the very start so each hit is silky smooth from start to finish. Ash catchers are blown from glass and have a chamber where ash and resin is caught with two joints on opposite sides, one to fit into the bong or dab rig joint and another to fit into the bowl or banger. There are dry and percolator ash catchers, however despite its name, both varieties can be used with water. Most flower connoisseurs prefer the percolated option since it has a built-in miniature perc that provides additional water filtration, aeration, diffusion, and cooling. When the bowl is lit and the user inhales, the smoke is drawn down from the bowl and forced through the ash catcher and percs first before traveling through the downstem into the rest of the bong. Ash catchers are also removable, making them easier to transport and clean, but also gives the user the option to smoke with or without it.
Do ash catchers make hits smoother?
This is one of the most common questions asked because everyone wants to have smoother bong rips that go down like a cloud. A bong ash catcher is not responsible for a smoother hit, that’s the job of a percolator. The reason this is often confused is because many newer styles of ash catchers also have small built-in percolators, so you’re getting a mixture of both features. These types of ash catchers not only remove resin and hot ash from entering the glass water pipe, it also adds a little filtration and percolation prior to entering the bong’s main percolators. This can make harsh hits much softer and more comfortable on the throat and lungs. If a smoother hit is what you’re after, the best ash catchers are those that also have some type of percolator.
Are ash catchers hard to clean?
One thing that’s impossible for bud smokers to avoid is cleaning. Whether it’s a water bong, glass dab rig, pipe, vaporizer, or even just an ashtray or rolling tray, there will always be some clean up involved. Bud flowers are filled with potent resin that’s extremely sticky to the touch and can be a pain to clean and a huge annoyance when you’re high. Thankfully, an ash catcher is much easier to clean than an entire water pipe like a bubbler, bong, or dab rig. Ash catchers also capture grime and buildup before it enters your glassware, keeping it clean for longer than it normally would. Ash catchers with percolators are a bit more difficult to clean, though it’s still quicker than cleaning an entire rig. It’s recommended to clean your entire setup regularly for the best tasting smoke. Many people clean their glassware as soon as they see resin or a change in the glass color, which can be as often as just one or two smoke sessions.
How to clean an ash catcher
For a deep clean, you’ll need isopropyl alcohol or a water pipe cleaner, a sealable plastic bag like a Ziploc, and pipe cleaners.
- Remove the bowl from the ash catcher joint and empty it. You can also clean the bowl at the same time. Clear out any large pieces of ash by tapping the ash catcher. You can also run some water through it.
- Place the glass ash catcher and bowl into a Ziploc bag and fill it with rubbing alcohol. Be sure that the alcohol gets inside the interior of the ash catcher and inside any percolators if you have them.
- Check that the bag is sealed and give it a hard shake for at least three or four minutes. Be very careful that no glass pieces hit together and crack. You can hold it firmly from outside the bag to be sure it’s not moving around too much while you’re shaking. The key is to get the alcohol to wash back and forth through the inside.
- Open up the bag and check to see if all the sticky buildup is dissolved. If there’s little pieces left in hard to reach areas, use an alcohol soaked pipe cleaner to delicately pick out any stubborn residue inside the ash catcher joint or percs. If your ash catcher hasn’t been cleaned for a while and there’s still a lot of buildup left after shaking, put it back into the plastic bag and let it soak in the isopropyl alcohol or water pipe cleaner for a few hours. This will give the solution more time to dissolve the resin, but be sure the entire ash catcher is covered with liquid.
- Once the ash catcher looks brand new again, give it a quick rinse with water and set it on a dish rack or towel to dry. Allow it to dry out completely before placing it back on your setup.
Ash catchers vs percolators
If you know the basics about bongs, you’ll know that percolators are another important feature that improves the quality of each hit for an elevated smoking experience. Like bong ash catchers, percolators, which are often referred to as percs, come in a number of different styles such as tree, showerhead, UFO, inline, honeycomb, donut, matrix, circ, turbine, fritted disk, spiral, Swiss, and the most common, diffused downstems. Percolators are built-in internal water features that are designed to increase the number of bubbles produced to effectively diffuse the smoke and get the most out of the water. This results in more efficient filtration of large contaminants, aeration, and cooling so each bong rip is cold and silky smooth. Today, percolator bongs are the standard and many styles combine more than one type of percolator for even more comfortable tokes. While ash catchers and percolators aren’t essential for using a water pipe, they’re great for taking a normal smoke session to mind-blowing levels. Some of the most important differences between ash catchers and percolators are:
- Secondary bong accessory that can be added later
- Can be used in addition to a percolator
- Catch ash and other large debris
- Keeping your bong clean
- Reduces the strong smell of dirty bong water
- Attaches to the downstem on the outside of the bong
- Typically made from glass
- Adds a super cool look to any glass bong
- Available in many different styles
- Much easier to clean than a bong
- Normally built-in to a water pipe
- Internal feature within the chamber and/or neck
- Main reason for smoother, more comfortable hits
- Filters, aerates, percolates, and cools down smoke
- Typically made from glass
- Comes in a huge variety of styles
- Can be the most difficult part of a water pipe to clean
Some styles are very delicate and prone to breaking
Types of ash catchers for bongs
When it comes to picking a water bong and designing your setup, there are many additional smoking accessories that can enhance the look, but also the function of your device. When it comes to the right ash catcher for bongs, there are a few different types to choose from. Glass ash catchers have two joints that need to fit properly in both the bong’s joint and also the joint of the bowl. Before purchasing a new ash catcher, be sure to know the joint size and gender (male or female) of your bong and bowl to ensure compatibility. The ash catcher size should be the same size as the bowl. Finding the perfect ash catcher for your bong is easy once you know the joint size and the style that you prefer based on your personal experiences. Let’s take a look at some of the most popular styles of glass ash catchers.
Non-diffusing ash catcher
This is the most common and also the most basic style of the bunch. As the name infers, a non-diffusing ash catcher does not offer any extra diffusion since it has no percolator and is often in the shape of a beaker bong. This style is very effective at capturing large pieces of ash and resin immediately and many don’t require water to do so, making it quick and easy to pop on when needed. Dry non-diffusing ash catchers work by giving the large pieces of ash a place to settle so it doesn’t continue moving down into the bong. Some people add a little water in their dry ash catcher just to be sure the resin and ash doesn’t accidentally make its way back into the airpath during extra large rips.
Tree ash catcher
If you’re searching for cool ash catchers that will give your favorite bong a new look, give a tree ash catcher a try. Tree percs are sometimes called jellyfish percs since they resemble a hanging willow tree or the tentacles of a jellyfish. The ends of these hollow tubes each have tiny slits to generate the bubbling effect. Tree percolators are phenomenal at producing a large amount of rolling bubbles, however they can break easier than other styles since there are so many fragile glass pieces.
Showerhead ash catcher
One of the best ash catchers is one that includes a mini showerhead percolator. This percolated ash catcher works overtime to not only catch contaminants, but also to give the smoke another level of aeration and diffusion from the offset. A hollow stem guides the smoke from the bowl down to a round end with slits that’s submerged in water. This forces the smoke through the cold water and creates bubbles, just like a full-sized percolator does within the bong.
Honeycomb ash catcher
Prized by flower enthusiasts for being one of the more durable styles of percolators, this bong ash catcher has a unique vertical style made from thick glass. Honeycomb percolators have dozens of holes in a pattern that mimics that of a honeycomb. Bubbles are generated when air and smoke are forced through these small holes. If interested in this style, try to find a glass ash catcher with just a single honeycomb perc to reduce the overall drag during each hit. A Honeycomb ash catcher is an excellent way to give your favorite bong extra filtration without having to splurge on a new water pipe.
Are ash catchers worth it?
While not necessary for your bong or rig to function, ash catchers are totally worth it if you want clean, flavorful smoke and smoother hits. Not only will your bong rips be softer and more comfortable on your throat and lungs, it’s also healthier since large contaminants, resin, and hot ash are removed right from the onset. Unlike some other smoking accessories that are compatible with a single item, ash catchers are versatile and can be used with multiple bongs and dab rigs that have the same joint. This alone, makes an ash catcher worth the price.