What is an Ash Catcher?
What is an Ash Catcher?
An ash catcher is a water pipe attachment that keeps ash and resin from entering your bong. Smoke first travels through the ash catcher, which has been specially designed to capture dirt, debris, and ash before it reaches your piece. The result is a bong kept cleaner for longer.
“Ash catchers do not eliminate the need for cleaning your piece, but it will reduce your work load and
give you a cleaner, cooler smoking experience.”
Different Types of Ash Catcher
All ash catchers feature a bowl, a chamber, a joint for attaching it to the piece, and either a percolator or a diffuser. Percolation and diffusion represent the two different kinds of ash catcher, and depend on whether the ash catcher uses water or not.
- Plain: A plain ash catcher with no percolation simply sends smoke through the chamber (with or without water) before it goes through the bong or dab rig. These are the simplest kinds of ash catchers and don't do as much to cool smoke, although they still do a good job of catching ash.
- Percolation: Ash catchers which use water most often feature a percolator, and are the most popular kind. Ash is filtered through the water, as it would be through a regular bong, before going through your piece. Percolation ash catchers do a great job of filtering out ash and debris, as well as cooling down the smoke. They are also easier to clean than their diffusion counterparts. The one downside is splash back, when water comes up through the bowl from the chamber.
- Diffusion: Ash catchers which don't use water but still feature percolators simply diffuse air before sending it through the main piece. This process still cools your smoke, and ashes are captured in a specially designed cavity within the chamber. Diffusion does just as good a job of cleaning your smoke as percolation, without the risk of splash back. On the other hand, diffusion ash catchers can be more difficult to clean.
Choosing between the three is a personal choice and does not affect the ash catcher’s cleaning ability.
Why Use an Ash Catcher?
The most obvious reason to use an ash catcher is to save the pain of having to deep clean your bong or dab rig as often. This extra level of filtration means cleaner smoke, too, for a more enjoyable experience. For this reason, ash catchers are recommended as low-maintenance accessories for those who find the smoke from regular bongs is too harsh.
Ash catchers are an excellent way to upgrade a standard piece without having to replace it with an expensive unit with built-in percolators. While sizes vary, ash catchers are also easily removable, so they can be used with all your pieces without needing to buy multiples.
When used in addition with other accessories, like standard percolators or diffusion slides and stems, ash catchers provide a premium, clean, cool smoke that’s just not possible with a typical bong. If you hate cleaning your piece, and prefer a cooler, gentler smoking experience, then an ash catcher is an essential accessory.
Fitting the Ash Catcher with Your Pipe
The easy part is deciding you want an ash catcher. To find the right ash catcher for your bong, though, you must know the angle of the bong’s joint, whether the bong’s joint is male or female, and what size the joint is. The last important consideration is weight.
- Angle: Typically, joints are at either a 90 or 45 degree angle. Matching the wrong angles will render your ash catcher useless, as it will either be too high or too low to use properly. Custom pieces may have an irregular angle.
- Gender: Your piece will either have a male or a female fitting, which you need to match with its opposite. Most bongs have a female fitting, where attachments like ash catchers use a male fitting to fit inside. It’s not uncommon to find dab rigs with male fittings, however, so keep this in mind while shopping. If your piece has a male fitting, the female attachment will fit on top, over the male fitting. Adapters are available for pieces and accessories which would not normally fit together.
- Size: There are three common joint sizes: 10mm, 14mm, and 18mm. Sizes may vary slightly, and there are adapters for size as well. If your favorite ash catcher is 14mm, but your bong accommodates 18mm attachments, for example, a simple slide adapter will solve the problem. Like angle, custom pieces may come with irregular joint sizes, and are often sold with the own accompanying attachment.
- Weight: Ash catchers get as big and fancy as you like them. The bigger, the heavier and more unwieldy, however. When buying an ash catcher, consider its weight (with water, if applicable) against the counterweight of your bong or rig. If the ash catcher is too heavy, it may topple the whole bong. This especially becomes a concern with some inventive smokers who like to use multiple ash catchers and other attachments. Always be sure that your bong or rig has a strong, sturdy base before adding attachments.
It may seem complicated, but most manufacturers create pieces within standard sizes and shapes to ensure compatibility with extensions and upgrades like ash catchers. Remember, even if the ash catcher you want doesn’t fit with your piece, adapters are available to fix gender or size problems.
Ash catchers are a great addition to any smoker’s collection of smoking accessories. It keeps your bong and your smoke clean so you can spend more time relaxing and less time coughing and cleaning.
What more could you ask for?