Taking big hits from a bubbler or bong could be, well (cough*cough), damaging. Inhaling hot carbon, no matter how sweet or organic, hurts and could do some temporary or permanent damage. An easy solution is to cool down smoke before it reaches your lungs. Adding the right amount of water to your tobacco waterpipe would be the first move. But as you probably know, that’s not always enough to stop the cough. Ice catchers are a valuable feature that come standard in many bongs, but ice melts quickly and leaks into the water chamber, causing overfilling. The easiest, cleanest solution is the glycerin chiller.
What is Glycerin?
Glycerin is a neutral, thick liquid that has a high boiling point and low freezing point. That means if you leave it in the fridge overnight it will remain in its liquid form. The benefit of using a liquid chemical in a glass chiller is that the coil or container will not break from the substance expanding. Liquid glycerin could move freely, covering all parts of its container.
Chemically speaking, the liquid is a polyol, meaning it has multiple hydroxyl groups. This prevents molecules from dispersing or sticking together, giving glycerin its characteristic gooey texture. Glycerin is usually derived from animal fat (triglycerides) making it organic and safe to touch. So if your glass glycerin coil breaks, don’t freak out, although thick borosilicate glass usually stays in tact.
Glycerin chillers come in many shapes and sizes. Some glycerin chillers sit just below the mouthpiece of a bubbler, while others coil throughout a bong’s main chamber. The size and amount of glycerin liquid in a chiller determines to what extent smoke is cooled. Smaller chillers may cool smoke to a more consumable temperature with each draw. Larger chillers may cool smoke to below room temperature allowing users to take in huge draws.
Because glycerin reaches temperatures below 0 degrees Celsius without freezing or expanding, it is ideal for storing within a glass container. Water expands when freezing, meaning a glass storage container with water could break when frozen, unless space is given for expansion. On the other hand, a container could be completely filled with glycerin and it will never crack when placed in a conventional freezer. The benefit is that a glycerin chiller absorbs heat at a much slower rate than ice while maintaining its composure and containing its liquid.
Glycerin could be dyed and placed in a clear container for aesthetic purposes. Red and blue dyes are often used in conjunction with colored glass to give a glass piece a certain look. Glycerin chillers themselves are often shaped and colored to create an aesthetic that goes with the bong they are in. Some glycerin chillers are built into the bongs they’re in. Others are removable and some come separate. Some ashcatchers, for example, contain cooling components.
While a glycerin chiller cools smoke down, it does not filter the smoke. Most bongs and bubblers filter smoke using a system of percolators which separate smoke into thin streams and forces these streams through water. This process cools smoke down somewhat, but ice catchers or glycerin are used as an additional, more effective cooling component.
Glycerin chillers could be found in ashcatchers bongs and bubblers. For convenience sake we recommend the Grav Labs Multi Kit. This bubbler is a great introduction to the power of glycerin chilling, offering a cooling component at a reasonable price. Grav Labs is a meticulous company. They hand make each of their pieces to order using thick borosilicate glass and pass each piece through a rigorous inspection before it gets shipped off. This is the perfect glycerin bubbler for the everyday smoker. It’s light, durable, and affordable.