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What is a Downstem

What is a Downstem?

Regardless of whether you use a glass hookah or water bong for your vaping sessions, you wish to have a clean hit. And it is downstem in your bong that plays a key role in facilitating clean and smooth puffs. If you’re in the habit of using a glass bong or hookah, you may have some idea of what a downstem is.

The downstem slides into the bong base, and a bong bowl then slides into the downstem.  You fill the bong with water, and next the bowl with some dry herbs, and as you inhale, smoke from the burning herbs travels from the bowl through to the downstem, and finally inside the water reservoir. The smooth smoke entering the water tank becomes cool, ultimately resulting in your having mild and smoother puffs.  

The downstem’s chief function is to create a partial vacuum which facilitates the movement of filtered smoke from the bong bowl into the reservoir. The downstem in a bong allows the user to take in smoke, cool it and enjoy the pleasure of full-bodied puffs without straining the lungs. As an integral part of a bong pipe, the downstem can help prevent or minimize coughing or gasping without affecting the quality of inhalations.                

Types of Downstems

There are innumerable ways of enjoying your smoking nowadays; wax, oil, rolling papers, dry herbs, and so on. No matter what type or variety of herb you take, surely the best way of taking your processed herbs is via the bong. However, there are various types of bongs and hookahs as there are different variations of the herb when it comes to smoking.  If you’re looking to purchase a brand new bong with a distinct downstem style or shopping for a replacement, you’ll be spoilt for choice. You’ll find bongs outfitted with downstems of different sizes, shapes and materials. No matter which downstem style or design you choose, the component has one basic purpose, and that is to make every toke softer and purer.  The most popular types of downstems you’ll come across include the following...

Honeycomb percolator - Honeycomb percolator is one kind of disc diffuser that comes with several microscopic holes arranged in the shape of a honeycomb. The more the holes on the percolator, the better is the downstem’s quality of diffusion. 

Diffused or straight downstem - Majority of built-in water pipes happen to be of the diffused or straight type. Beaker bongs usually come equipped with straight percolators. Diffused water pipes have slim slits or openings allowing for underwater smoke filtration, causing bubbles. 

Inline percolators - The inline percolator is a horizontal water pipe with numerous openings. Smoke entering the main cavities, streams via the openings and gets cooled considerably, causing minimum drag, ultimately delighting the user.

Turbine or cyclone percolators - Turbine percolators variously referred to as cyclone percolators, are another disc diffuser, like honeycomb percolators. Smoke filtering through the holes gets diffused effectively, leading to a cyclone-style whirlpool.

Swiss percolators - The Swiss percolator is so called as it looks very much like Swiss cheese. The bong comes with a disc-styled component containing several vertically arranged holes that rotate the smoke many times for optimum percolation.

Silicone Downstems

The advantage of using a silicone downstem is the fact that it doesn’t break that easily, or ever. Being a perfect alternative to glass downstem, they are made up of food grade silicone. These are easy to clean and heat resistant. Moreover, the flexible nature makes it indestructible that allows you to fit them anywhere, even the stash bag. Other notable features include availability in multiple colors, various sizes and diffused for percolation.

Glass Downstems

Glass is by far, the material most extensively used for carving out downstems of hookahs, and for good reasons. Glass does not affect the smoke’s taste or flavor in any way, thus enabling you to have cleaner hits. Secondly, glass being transparent lets you view the accumulation of resin.

No wonder, glass bongs are the most expensive amongst different types available in the market. Also, consider the fact that glass could be prone to shattering.

Plastic Downstems

Plastics are not as popular as glass or silicone, but they are more a durable than glass and people use them. You do not need to worry about your bong breaking or to come apart in case you drop it accidentally. At the same time, plastic downstems are more affordable in comparison to downstems crafted from glass or ceramic.

You can also take your plastic hookah along with when you’re traveling as it is portable and unbreakable. However, there’s just one drawback of plastic bongs-the quality or taste of smoke will be somewhat inferior.

Metal Downstems

These days, you won’t find toking from bongs crafted out of aluminum or lead, their durability and affordability notwithstanding. The downsides of using metallic downstems far outweigh the benefits. For a start, the opacity of metals means you cannot see the detritus and so don’t know when to clean.  Last but not least, smoke quality could be an issue.              

Bamboo Downstems

Wooden bongs shaped out of bamboo are also used by many dry herb smokers. Bamboo bongs can be very minimalistic in design to ones that have a very ornate layout. If you take good care of your bamboo or wooden bong, it can stay functional for years on end.

Downstem Sizes

There’s always the possibility of the downstem of your bong going kaput. You may also want to replace the part after a certain period when its productive lifecycle is over. When opting for a replacement, you need to be very careful about choosing the appropriate downstem size.

Make sure that the component fits perfectly with the bowl at one end and the water-tank at the other end. Before you opt for a replacement, measure out the joint ground size of your existing downstem. You can use a ruler or pencil for noting down the measurements. Generally, you’ll find the majority of downstems having a ground joint size of 10mm, 14mm, and 19mm.

Glass Downstem vs. Silicone Downstem

Though glass bongs continue to be the most sought after kind of bong, silicone bongs are becoming increasingly popular. A bong fitted with a glass downstem no doubt offers you the best quality of smoke but is highly vulnerable to breaking. Opting for silicone bongs enables you to get rid of this problem.

You also have the liberty to choose from a range of innovative styles and colors concerning silicone bongs.

Diffused Downstem vs. Honeycomb Downstem

Bongs with diffused downstems happen to be the largest selling bong type. Also known as a straight percolator, the diffused downstem is the most rudimentary feature for a water-pipe. The diffused or straight downstem has numerous fine nicks or slits that facilitate excellent diffusion of the smoke as it passes below the water, creating bubbles. A diffused percolator helps in cooling the smoke efficiently.

A bong featuring a honeycomb downstem is suitable for smokers who’re still learning to make the most of a bong. The honeycomb perc comprises of innumerable holes that appear like a honeycomb. The openings help diffuse the smoke perfectly, leading to minimal drag.

Downstem Add-ons

Once you’ve selected your ideal glass or silicone bong, you’ll need some add-ons or accessories for making the most of your smoking sessions.  There are some really cool and useful add-ons that you will need indispensably for a quality smoking session:

Ash catcher

An ash catcher is an attachment providing additional filtration, helping in maintaining the cleanliness of the downstem and water pipe, as it yes, will stop the ash from getting into your bong water. Before you select an ash catcher, ensure to find out the precise joint dimension, inclination, and gender.

Bong bowl

Your bong will be rendered useless without a bowl. The bowl which stays connected to the water pipe through the downstem is what houses your loose dry herbs. Not only are bong bowls available in different sizes (chiefly 18mm, 14mm, and 10mm) but they also come with useful features and really cool designs.

Dab nail

You’ll need dab nails for dabbing wax.  They come in metal, ceramic, and glass.  A dab nail is essentially a bong bowl for wax.  But before the wax is loaded, the nail is heated, and after that you can placed a small ball of wax on the hot surface.  You’ll find different dab nails of various types, all with their own pros and cons.

Oil reclaimer

An oil reclaimer is more specifically for a dab rig, and it helps keep the dab rig spic and span as it traps residual concentrates that you can use later on. The reclaimer prevents excessive heat from ruining the ground joint of your oil rig by distancing the heating coil from the joint.  

How to clean your Downstem?

Cleaning the downstem is a very laborious process, particularly when the section becomes blocked. For thoroughly cleansing the downstem, you will need some sort of stick, paper clip, toothpick, or some other similar object.  You will also need a zippered bag, Sea salt or kosher salt, and Isopropyl alcohol concentrated up to 90%.

The cleaning steps are as follows:

Firstly you have to remove the downstem and clear away any debris that can be easily cleared.  Next put the downstem in a zip lock bag and pour alcohol and salt from the top. Follow this by closing the bag and shaking it vigorously.  Continue to shake the bag as vigorously as possible and allow it to sit for the next few hours. Once it settles down, pull out the stem and rinse it with hot water. Ensure you check the downstem while doing so. In case there is no space for the salt to move, poking a hole through the clog using a sharp object is recommended. The purpose of doing so is to make it easy for alcohol and salt to pass easily.

Lastly, you need to repeat the soak and shake the process till you get most from the gunk out. Using a small flexible pipe cleaner and gently scrubbing against the walls is ideal. Once all this is done, pass the salt and alcohol for one last time and rinse thoroughly with warm water till alcohol gets out.

Bong Downstem Stuck….Help

Most keep putting off the cleaning of their bongs. If you’re an experienced smoker, you may be aware that not keeping the different bong parts clean could adversely affect the quality of your toking sessions. Just a little bit of the sticky resin seating in between the joint on the downstem and the bong bowl could block the former.

Not allowing the bong joint section and the exterior surface of the downstem to dry thoroughly before reattaching could also cause a blockage. Whenever you notice traces of resin accumulation on the downstem, get down to cleaning it by following the sections above.  So to keep your downstem from getting stuck, just follow the instructions above and keep your bong clean!

How to choose a Downstem?

It’s extremely crucial that you opt for a downstem that accurately fits with the bong’s water pipe and bowl piece. For instance, if you have a 14mm water pipe and 14mm bowl, then ensure that you go for a downstem with a ground joint size of 14mm.   The downstem is a very important part of the bong as it brings the smoke from the bowl, through the water, and up to your mouth.  A cool looking downstem with great percolating ability is awesome, but most important is that the downstem fits in the bong and reaches the water.

Where can I buy a Downstem?

You can source your downstem from online vape shops and from brick and mortar hippie shops.  You can even find them in gas stations and smoke shops.  If you want to shop from the couch, or maybe the beach, just head to nyvapeshop.com where USA shipping is always FREE, no minimums.  We carry downstems, bongs and so much more!