What is it, dude? A hefty little bubbler for smoking concentrates, from Aqua Lab Technologies. It's dubbed the "Mini Showerhead Vapor Tube."
How much coin will it run me? It's not cheap, bro. Two Benjamins, a Jackson and a Lincoln ($225).
Where can I get one? From the Aqua Labs Technologies website.
The folks at Aqualab Technologies in California gave Stoner MacGyver this bubbler about a year ago for a possible review, and it's taken us that long to pry the thing away from our blowtorches and gobs of concentrates and actually sit down to write. Basically, the thing was so at home in our collection that it felt like it had been there all along. So while the nail cools down, we'll get this review out.
First thing about the Vapor Tube is that it is an oil rig, not a flower bubbler. For starters, the 18 mm ground joint coming off the reinforced stemless downtube is male and designed for a vapor dome to sit on top. You can get a reversed-joint flower bowl for pipes like this, but I tried it and was not pleased with the results.The flower hits are extremely thick and harsh and the water gets dirty after only a few hits.
But oil is a completely different story, and this pipe excels at that function. The smoke doesn't condense as much and the filtration is just perfect for the low amount of tars and oils left over from doing dabs. Though there's only a third of a shot-glass worth of water in the thing, water stays clean for days.
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Blown by artist Dirty Rico out of Washington state, this ten inch, five millimeter thick chunk of glass has some weight to it even without water; it's sturdy. The 18 millimeter glass-on-glass fittings put this in the larger range of oil bubblers, but also allow for a lot of air flow into the small chamber. Whereas a lot of bongs and bubblers have a removable stem running down into the water from the bowl, this design eliminates that and has a reinforced glass tube leading directly to the lower chamber of the Vapor Tube, where the diffusion occurs. The result is a much sturdier piece, with fewer removable parts, that's easy to clean.
For those who don't know, the diffuser at the bottom of the chamber is called a showerhead due to its resemblance to bathroom shower heads and the way that water is forced through them. Whereas traditional bongs have one tube for bubbles to flow into a reservoir of water, this design allows for multiple exit points that create more even smoke bubbles through the water -- producing a much smoother hit.
The showerhead in the ALT piece sits low in the tube, decreasing the amount of water needed to bubble. In fact, it takes about one-third of an ounce of water to fill the small chamber and cover the showerhead completely. More traditional showerheads work in reverse, pulling smoke into the top and then filtering out through glass slits at the bottom into water. This reverses that flow, pulling air into the slits cut in the circular disc and then up into the chamber.
The combination of the reverse air-flow and the tiny amount of water needed give the tube almost no resistance when smoked -- and it also produces a very unique barking sound, as opposed to the traditional gurgle of a bong. The bent-neck design helps keep most of the water where it is supposed to go, but things do splash around in the chamber a lot and pulling too hard will get you a kiss of bongwater.
Dome is a simple, clear glass top-loader with a large enough hole to drop a dab of oil from your fingertips. The piece sports a glass nail with a divot in the head and I have yet to crack mine after a year of steady, regular use as my daily oil-powered engine. But enough talking about it. For this week's Completely Unscientific test, we put the ALT Mini Showerhead Vapor Tube to work on video:
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At $225, this is not a cheap bubbler by any means -- especially given that it is very much a use-specific pipe. Again, if you're looking for a dual-use bubbler, this isn't one for you; it wasn't designed to smoke flowers. And to be real: if you aren't into only smoking oils, getting a nail and dome set to throw on your glass-on-glass bubbler is probably more economical.
But if you are in the market for something specifically for smoking your concentrates, this pipe delivers. For the quality of the design and thickness, it's a bubbler that will last, as long as you don't go throwing it down on concrete. Mine has been tipped off tables, slammed by a dog tail, passed around at parties and even been on top of mountain peaks and has survived unscathed. It is nothing fancy in terms of worked glass, but the design itself is elegant enough to be the focal point of the tube.
We can't guarantee all products sent in will be reviewed here at Stoner MacGyver, but if you've got something you think is the greatest invention since sliced pot-bread, send us an e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
More from our Stoner MacGyver archive: "Stoner MacGyver marijuana review: High Times cannabis cookbook."