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Is There a Difference Between Ash Catchers and Pre-Coolers

If water filtration is your thing, you probably love bongs and all kinds of water pipes. Chances are that you’ve also heard of both ash catchers and pre-coolers. Some people use these terms interchangeably, whereas others refer to them as two different accessories.

Who is right in this clash?

Are ash catchers and pre-coolers the same thing or is there an actual difference between these two items?

You’ll know the answer once you’ve gone through our guide.

Let’s get the terms straight, but first, we should have a brief overview of the basic elements of the bong, shall we?

Basic Compartments of the Bong

Ash catchers are considered additional features when it comes to bongs. A basic bong consists of the following compartments:

  • Bowl: the bongs starts at the bowl piece. This is where you pack your weed after you’ve ground it or broken down by hand. Bowls come in different shapes and sizes, but often it’s just a cavity with a hole at the bottom.
  • Joint: the joint is the part of the bong that holds your downstem. Every downstem is equipped with a joint at its end. Joints typically come in three sizes: 10 mm, 14 mm, and 18 mm. For smoking weed, you need to make sure the joints are female not male.
  • Downstem: this is one of the most important parts of the bong. The down stem serves as the bridge between the bowl and the main chamber of your device, where you add water.
  • Mouthpiece: the mouthpiece is the final stop the smoke makes before getting into your lungs. Mouthpieces come with different shapes and are set at different angles, allowing you to hit it without having to hunch over your glass pipe.
  • Bongs can also have extra features like percolators, splash guards, and ash catchers.

    Percolators are used to filter the smoke additional times after it passes the water at the end of the stem; splash guards are added to bongs with heavy percolation. Their purpose is to prevent the water bubbling upwards from passing through the mouthpiece.

    And as for ash catchers… Well, they deserve the most of our attention today.

    Basic Compartments of the Bong

    What is an Ash Catcher?

    As the name suggests, an ash catcher is a glass attachment for catching ash. They collect the ash from your bowl when it passes through the whole. This helps you avoid situations when the ash gets into your bong, and then potentially your mouth.

    Although the name focuses on only one function, ash catchers have a few other uses. Some pieces come with built-in percolators to further improve the quality of the smoke by filtering and cooling it.

    In addition, ash catchers will collect most of the tar and gunk from your smoking session before your bong does. This makes it much easier to clean the whole water pipe, and when you do, you won’t have to do it as often as you normally would to preserve keep the flavor and function top-notch.

    To sum up, an ash catcher helps you:

    • Keep the bong clean for longer
    • Make maintenance easier
    • Get clean and fresh hits each time you smoke
    • Achieve extra percolation
    • Rejuvenite old sidekicks without having to buy a new bong
    • Make your bong more appealing

    Is There a Difference Between Ash Catchers and Pre-Coolers?

    As mentioned at the beginning, some people use terms “ash catcher” and “pre-coolers” interchangeably, while others will swear that these are two totally different items.

    The truth is ash catchers and pre-coolers are the same things. This means that if someone is asking you to buy both, then it’s a problem because you can only buy one ash catcher/pre-cooler.

    What Are the Alleged Differences Between Ash Catchers and Pre-Coolers?

    Why do a large share of cannabis consumers consider these two items different? Here are the two most common arguments:

    Ash Catchers Don’t Come With Percolators

    We’ve heard that ash catchers don’t come with perks, which would make sense because ash catchers are small and it may be difficult to fit a percolation system inside of it. However, some ash catchers even have tree percolators, so we can blow this argument wide open.

    Ash Catchers Don’t Require Water

    Ash Catchers Don’t Require Water

    Another alleged difference we’ve heard is that pre-coolers require water, while ash catchers don’t. Again, this would make perfect sense because water is required to cool and filter the smoke, not to catch ash. Still, there are percolators using water and doing a great job for their users, so here comes another mutual feature.

    Ash Catchers Have Built-in Bowls

    The last difference we’ve seen people cite is that ash catchers come with built-in bowls, whereas pre-coolers have separate bowls. Still, we can see some ash catchers using separate bowls, too, and not being marketed as a pre-cooler as one would expect.

    Things to Consider When Choosing the Right Glass Ash Catcher/Pre-Cooler

    Now that you know what ash catchers are and that there’s no difference between ash catchers and precoolers, you must be excited to leave the house and get headed to the nearest head shop or dispensary to buy one. 

    Tune down your enthusiasm for a while, please, because we’re not done yet.

    Before you purchase a glass ash catcher for your bong, ask yourself the following:

    • Is the joint male or female?
    • At which angle does the joint stick out of the bong?
    • What’s the joint size?
    • Do you want honeycomb or showerhead percolators?

    Having an ash catcher that comes with a covetable interior coil means you’ll also get chilly and smooth inhales, taking your session to the next level.

    Here we cover each detail you should pay attention to when choosing an ash catcher/pre-cooler for your bong.

    1. The Style of the Stem

    Ash catchers come in many different styles, especially when it comes to the stem. The stem plays a very important role in percolation and diffusion, so you must make a well thought out choice. Your stem should match the style of diffusion your bong uses. Top-notch glass companies offer glass catchers that fit different styles of diffusion and percolation, so you can’t complain about having no options in that matter.

    2. The Weight of Your Glass Ash Catcher

    The weight of your ash catcher is the second-most important feature on this list because it sets the center of gravity and prevents the bong from falling over once you attach the catcher. If the piece is too heavy, your pipe may fall down and shatter into pieces. Some people use more than one ash catcher for better filtration, which further increases the risk of a tip over scenario. If you stack ash catchers, make sure you give your bong enough balance to endure the additional weight.

    3. The Angle of the Joint

    Ash catchers can suit different styles of bongs, which is the reason why you need to choose the one that will fit the angle of your joint. Usually, you can choose between 45-degree ash catchers and 90-degree ash catchers. 

    Basically, if the bowl of your bong is pointed away from you when you rip it, you might want to go with a 45 degree joint on your ash catcher so that the bowl remains leveled as you light it and ignite your bud.

    On the other hand, if the bowl leans more towards the ceiling, the 90 degree joint will be your best bet. The rule of thumb is that straight tubes call for 90 degree joints and beaker or bubble bongs require a 45 degree piece.

    Joint Size

    4. Joint Size

    Choosing the correct joint size for your ash catcher depends on the size of the joint on the bong you’ll be working with. If your bong comes with an 18 mm slide, you’ll have to buy a piece of the matching size.

    If there’s a glass catcher you particularly admire but it doesn’t fit your bong, not all is lost. Nowadays, glass companies also sell adapters that can be used to buy pieces with different joint sizes.

    5. Joint Gender

    Joint gender is a crucial feature that most buyers need to consider when browsing through different ash catchers. If your bong is equipped with a male joint, you need to pair it with a female ash catcher. This also works the other way round, but then again, you can always use an adapter to get the two different pieces working together.

    6. Percolation Type

    Different types of percolators produce different size, stack, and patterns of bubbling in your bong. You might love your current water pipe, but when you own a bong with a built-in percolator, you always get the same type of hit. Adding an ash catcher equipped with percolators adds a second level of diffusion which makes the smooth even cooler before it reaches your mouth for a smooth and easy toke.

    Best Bongs to Pair With Your New Ash Catchers/Pre-coolers

    If you only have a simple tubular bong with no extra percolation, then you might want to search for a new piece — one that would be worthy of adding a beautiful glass ash catcher to it.

    Here are the top 5 bongs from FatBuddhaGlass.com according to our customers:

    1. 20” Freezable Glass Bong (Editor’s Pick)

    Product highlights:

    • Height 20”
    • 18 mm bowl
    • Made from high-quality borosilicate glass
    • Glycerine-filled freezable coil

    Product details:

    This bongs comes with a detachable freezable coil that is guaranteed to provide you with the coolest bong hits you’ve ever ripped. Place the coil piece in the freezer for 15-20 minutes before your session and you’ll get super cooled, smooth smoke without having to use ice. Aside from the unique technology, the bong is equipped with 2 percolators, 1 sprinkler, and 1 inline.

    2. 11” Double Bubble Recycler Bong (Runner Up)

    Product highlights:

    • Height 11”
    • 14 mm female bowl
    • 14 mm female banger for both flower & concentrates
    • Made with sturdy borosilicate glass
    • Double bubble recycle with matrix percolator

    Product details:

    This is our favorite recycler bong that will nicely work with any 14 mm glass ash catcher. Not only is this piece highly versatile — you can smoke both flower and concentrates in it — but it also comes with a matrix percolator for ultimate filtration. Besides, who wouldn’t like a bong that looks this cool!

    Riptide with two 10 Arm Trees

    3. 19” Riptide with two 10 Arm Trees

    Product highlights:

    • 19” height x 5” base
    • 2x Ten Arm Tree percolators
    • Splashguard with ice catcher
    • 18 mm male bowl

    Product details:

    This product is stunning for many reasons. For one, it looks awesome and the quality is top-shelf. Second, it’s GIGANTIC. And last but not least, it creates one of the smoothest-feeling hits we’ve had the pleasure to experience. The ten arm tree percolators and a splash guard with an ice catcher make sure that your smoke is both filtered to the last particle and blissfully cool.

    Final Thoughts on the Differences Between Ash Catchers and Pre-Coolers

    To wrap it up, ash catchers and pre-coolers are pretty much the same thing. While some people argue that ash catchers don’t have percolators, come with built-in bowls, and don’t require water, this is just the case for some specific models. In fact, ash catchers with the above features are widely available on the market and none of them is marketed as a pre-cooler.

    Aside from their obvious role — catching the ash — ash catchers come with many other great benefits, from additional filtration to easier maintenance and smoother hits. Adding this item to your bong may significantly improve your overall experience with water pipes.

    Just make sure that you know how to match the ash catcher with the bong, and most importantly, be aware of what to look for in a high-quality glass ash catcher to save yourself from poorly thought out purchases.

    Did you know that there’s no real difference between ash catchers and pre-coolers? Do you use one in your bong? Let us know in the comments below, we’d love to hear from you! 


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