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How to Measure and Buy a Downstream

by Tokeplanet Staff 26 Jul 2022

Are you a lazy stoner and find your downstream clogged while you’re unable to see through it? Or are you bored with your conventional downstream and want to explore innovations in the market? Or maybe you are entirely new to the downstream world and want some expert help to figure out the best type and size of downstream that could fit your ideal downstream style? If yes, then you are at the right place! 

While using a downstream can be relaxing for many, issues with the product can make several anxious, and people want rampant solutions! This guide is perfect if you want to measure and buy downstream. 

Stick through till the end to figure out simplified ways of determining the downstream sizes, types, and cleaning methods that will always come in handy. So let’s find out! 

What is a Downstream? 

The long glass tube that joins your bong bowl to the main water chamber of the glass bong is called downstream. It helps with the suction pressure necessary to draw the smoke from the bowl component down towards the water chamber when users inhale the smoke. The inhaling creates an airtight seal in between the glass pieces. Without a downstream, your smoke would pass straight up through your bowl piece, avoiding passing the water.

Fixed-down stems that attach to your percolator are integrated into your product. These glass elements may be attached permanently or may be detachable. Even with fixed downstream, there is one less thing to worry about: fixed downstream are more challenging to repair if they break than detachable downstream.

What is a Downstream made of? 

Although any glass may be used to make a downstream, borosilicate glass is the preferred material for bongs and other high-end down streams. The most resilient, heat-resistant kind of glass in the world, borosilicate glass is perfect for constructing pipes. It is also regarded as the purest since borosilicate is entirely non-toxic and suitable for smoking. In contrast, many other glasses include poisonous chemicals that make them unsafe to use at high temperatures. In comparison to other glasses, it is also relatively simple to clean.

Silicone is a new player in the downstream game. Evolution and technology have taken it a step further with new indestructible, bending, vibrantly colored silicone downstream about how frequently people break and drop regularly downstream.

Gather Your Supplies

There aren't many items required for the simple process of buying and measuring your perfect downstream. The essential thing is your bong.

Take a meter ruler or a measuring tape. Get one pencil and a cent or coin if you don't have a measuring ruler. The dimensions of a bong downstream are essential; the most popular sizes are 10, 14, and 18 mm. Read further to have more knowledge regarding measuring your Downstream.

Measuring a Downstream

You must consider the length and joint size while purchasing a suitable downstream. These two measures are the ones that head shops always adopt when selling. Downstream sizes are available in the exact sizes as joint sizes: 14mm, 18mm, and less frequently, 10mm for tiny rigs. Please refer to this simple guide if you need help determining your joint size. You can quickly decide on your joint size with just a dime.

All you need to get started is a pen or pencil, your bong, and just a measuring ruler. We advise utilizing the pencil approach to calculate the length you'll need. Typically, the joint of the bong will be frosted to make it easier for you to decide where to begin measuring. The downstream's length is determined by measuring it from the frosted joint's base to the stem's base.

Your bong's female ground joint should have the pencil inserted with the tip resting about 12" above the bottom. Make a note of where the pencil exists in the joint. Ideally, should the pipeline be complete, the pencil might hit the water.

Still hard to understand? Don't worry; I have you sorted with the simplified points below: 

  • To determine the size of your bong downstream, measure from the pencil's tip to the mark. Remember that the length of the glass ground joint is often not included in downstream measurements. To obtain the ideal size, subtract the one-inch length of these joints from the length you measured using your pencil.
  • Are you lacking a ruler? Keep in mind that pennies have a 19mm width. To get a rough measurement, note how many pennies fit between the top of the pencil and your mark, then multiply that number by 19. (Remember to subtract approx. 1 inch).
  • Use the ink cartridge of a pen or, in a hurry, taped toothpicks offer alternative possibilities if you own a 10mm joint and cannot put a pencil inside.

Now that you've learned what to do to measure downstream, you are good to go! You must keep reading if you are still unsure about what size or type to buy.

How to Determine Your Joint Size 

So, are you a stoner? Do not fear; we will demonstrate how to measure the size of a bong joint without a ruler. All you require is ten euro cents or two euro cents. These coins are about the same size. Next, place the currency over the joint or socket of the bong (make sure you put it at the top and not the bottom of the grinding). If your bong's socket is around the same size as the coin, it is an SG19 (18,8mm). This is because a 2 cent has an 18-millimeter diameter, whereas a ten coin has a 19 mm diameter. Your bong is likely an SG14 if the socket you measured is smaller than the dime (14,5mm). The diameter of a coin is almost precisely 19mm. To determine the size of your joint, use your currency.

Start by lighting your bong's female ground joint. It is 10mm if you can hardly fit the side of a coin into the joint (or if one can't get a pencil in there). It is a 14mm joint if the coin fits in roughly 14 of the way. It is an 18mm joint if it fits roughly halfway.

Need to gauge the size of a male joint's bong downstream? Similar measurements apply. Your joint is 10mm if it covers a little portion of a coin. It is 14mm if it covers roughly 3/4 of a coin. It is 18mm if it almost completely encloses the currency. The two most popular socket and joint diameter sizes include SG14, 14.5mm, and SG19, 18.8mm. Smaller and larger dimensions are pretty rare.

Still hard to understand? Don't worry; I have you sorted with the simplified points below:

  • Cover your base's ground joint with a dime.
  • A 14mm joint is present if the dime fills the opening.
  • An 18mm joint is current if the dime slips into the piece.

Just like that!

Types of Downstream

Beyond the standard natural downstream, there are various varieties. Some downstream, known as diffused downstream, can aid in breaking up your smoke in the same way as residues on bongs can. While others have holes like a beehive, some may have small slits like a tree. While they all have the same function—to aid in the movement of your smoke—

Downstream may serve as adapters as well! This is most frequently seen in 18mm pipes with a 14mm or 18mm Low Profile Downstream, which employs a 14mm slide or bowl piece but fits into an 18mm joint. Since 14mm bowl pieces are the most prevalent, you must opt for the low profile downstream unless you have a particular 18mm slide devoted to it.

Fixed Downstream

These downstream are a part of the bong in that they are directly built into it. Due to the difficulty of accessing them from the outside, they are primarily found in bubblers downstream. They don't need to be set up and are pretty simple. Just bag the herb and go! These downstream, however, are difficult to replace if they break, so you will probably have to purchase a new pipe.

Removable Downstream

Since they are simple to pull out and replace from the bowl, removable downstream are primarily found in bongs. Most users like detachable downstream since they are simple to clean and inexpensive to replace if they somehow break (or if you have extras on hand). It's a good idea to replace them downstream when they show overuse symptoms since they can occasionally become clogged with resins and other particles over time.

Downstream with two grindings/joints/sockets

Perhaps the most typical downstream is one with two separate joints, one of which essentially protrudes from the bong for the bowl. These are frequently found on simpler bongs. This design has the significant benefit of allowing you to utilize a downstream with a 14.5 mm joint called the SG14 that fits inside your bong and an upper joint of the more significant 18.8 mm type, also called the SG19 for corresponding bowls.

Inside cut downstream

A downstream with two separate joints and an inside-cut downstream have somewhat different aesthetics, but they function similarly. Since one grinding is within the other, it is an inside cut downstream. The distinction is that, to conserve space, the subsequent joint is slit inside the first joint, giving the impression that the bowl and bong are one piece with no downstream in between.

Your internal diameter can never be the same 18.8mm (SG19) type if the exterior diameter of the inside cut-downstream is 18.8mm or SG19. There isn't room for that, plain and simple. However, by utilizing a suitable bong adapter, you may employ a giant diameter bowl even with the inside cut downstream. The most popular form is downstream, with an interior diameter of 14.5mm for the bowl and an exterior diameter of 18.8mm for the bong.

Rubber joint downstream

Rubber joints downstream are the ultimate variety of downstream. This downstream hasn't been discussed previously because it's no longer the standard on newer bongs. The universal size glass "regular grind" joints are superior and offer more versatility. Nevertheless, they perform admirably and are simple to repair if some air leaks develop. This downstream style is frequently seen on older, less expensive bongs, such as acrylic ones. Steel is commonly used for the equivalent bowl, which is screw-threaded. This style of downstream may also be seen on silicone bongs, ceramic bongs, and other tiny bongs that are primarily cosmetic.

Acrylic Downstream For Bongs, the Pro, And Cons.

Pros - What could be better than acrylic downstream? One or a set of acrylic downstream would be ideal for you if you're a lazy stoner like me and don't like to regularly clean your downstream but only want to replace it occasionally. Acrylics downstream are a terrific value compared to metal or glass because they cost only a third as much. Because it is resilient, you don't have to worry about acrylic shattering too quickly. Since acrylics downstream are molded, various colors are available to match your bong.

Cons - You should NOT dab with a steel nail or quartz buster when using acrylic downstream! Although acrylic may handle some heat, excessive heat distorts the downstream and produces a nasty burnt odor when inhaled.

Prism Glass Downstream 

Prism downstream for beaker bongs is constructed of traditional borosilicate glass. They are 120mm long past the joint and have a 14mm female to 18mm male junction.

  • A glass downstream is the most common sort of downstream that you can readily obtain in local and online head stores
  • They are simple to clean, look excellent on bongs, and are incredibly simple to purchase and repair.


  • Just like any glass pipe or dab rig, your glass downstream might easily break if you drop it on the ground when removing it from the bong to clean it. 
  • The cost of glass downstream is substantially more than that of acrylic downstream, and if you purchase from an internet retailer, there is always a chance that the glass downstream may arrive shattered from shipment.

Metal Downstream 

These downstream were designed for those who regularly break downstream or want a sleek appearance by having their downstream match their clamp. These downstream are shortening by simply twisting and removing sections, allowing you to fit practically any beaker.

  • A metal downstream won't shatter if you drop it on the ground by mistake, unlike a glass downstream, and it won't even break if you tread on it. 
  • A metal downstream might serve the user for a lifetime if properly maintained.
  • Because a metal downstream is opaque, it may be challenging to determine if it needs cleaning or not. 
  • This is because you can't look through it like you could with a rubber or glass downstream. Be cautious and not use a metal downstream for patting because metal, especially titanium, conducts heat exceptionally well. 
  • If you use your downstream with a tungsten needle or quartz banger, the intense heat could be transferred to the joint of the bong. The heat could cause the bong to break immediately when using a narrow beaker bong.

How To Clean Downstream For Bongs?

The Ziploc Bag and the Boiling Method are the two possible approaches to cleanse your clogged or filthy downstream.

You'll need to frequently clean your downstream to avoid tar or other built-ups blocking your downstream, much like when you use a bong or pipe to smoke dry herb or a glass dabbing rig to dab concentrates. Your favorite dry herbs or concentrates may taste different if your downstream is clogged since it won't let air pass into the water and, therefore, zero filtering.

We'll go through each step in detail so you can clean your bong downstream using the Ziploc Bag and the Boiling Method.

The Ziploc Method

There is the Ziploc approach for those with the patience and tenacity to make the downstream spotless.

  • A moderate Ziploc bag is what you need.
  • Kosher or some fine salt.
  • Isopropyl alcohol or another cleaning agent at 90%.
  • A pipe cleaning brush (or some q-tips will work).

Step One: Pour isopropyl alcohol into the Ziploc bag, adding a teaspoon of salt afterward. Be cautious not to overfill the bag because the downstream still has to be placed inside. Wait about an hour for the salt and alcohol solution to decompose the resin residue in your downstream after gently shaking the bag to blend the alcohol and salt.

Step 2: Remove the downstream from the Ziploc bag. At this point, the resin residues should be relatively simple to remove. Use the pipe cleaning brush (or q-tips) to remove any resin stuck to the inner or outer downstream walls.

Step Three:  After completing step two, open your faucet and use tap water to wash the outsides, insides, and outside of the downstream. If the downstream is made of glass, avoid using your dishwashers to clean it; however, acrylic and metal downstream may be cleaned in the dishwasher by placing it on a  dry surface after cleaning to let it air dry.

The Boiling Method

Boiling won't necessarily make your downstream super clean; it's for lazy stoners such as me who may not be able to find a Ziploc bag or isopropyl alcohol.

You'll need:

  • An oven.
  • A Pot (pun un-intended, ensure the pot is large to fit in the entire downstream) 
  • Fresh Salt
  • Pipe Cleaning Brush (Or q-tips)

Step 1: Boil and Mix - Fill the pot with water to cover the downstream, turn on the fire, and wait till water boils before adding two spoons of salt and mixing with your hands or a spoon.

Step 2: Insert Your Downstream and See It Tumble - It will aid the resin residues adhering to the inner wall of the pot to break down even more quickly if you use a spoon or something to support the downstream while you swirl it around in the pot. Please remove the downstream and place it on a towel once you're finished.

Step 3: Use the pipe brush (or q-tips) to scrape the leftovers off the internal and outer walls of the downstream, just as you would when using the Ziploc approach in step two.

Step 4: Wash and Dry - Rinse the downstream with tap water and then set it aside on a dry surface to air dry.

Where Can I Buy Bong Downstream?

You may get downstream for the bong from your local smoke store or an internet head shop, the two primary sources of purchasing the product.

Purchasing From Local Smoke Shop Experts 

Bring your bong and, if possible, your old downstream to your neighborhood smoke store and ask the workers to assist you in choosing the perfect one. You'll also learn the fundamentals of appropriately cleaning the downstream from a shopkeeper or knowledgeable staff member, and shopping locally will benefit your neighborhood.


  • Similar to when you purchase a bong or a pipe from a neighborhood liquor store, there are sadly not many options available. 
  • Since bong gadgets are never a local head shop's priority when it's about replenishing inventory, it's possible that you won't be able to find the downstream which would fit the bong. The cost is another factor; local head stores typically charge more than internet head shops since they must pay rent, utilities, and personnel. 
  • This is undoubtedly the most significant drawback of shopping at your neighborhood head shop.

Purchasing From an Online Head shop 

If you're buying online, online head shops always showcase an extensive collection of downstream options, covering all joint sizes and lengths, allowing you to identify the correct one for your bong quickly. The price would also be very affordable, and you could always purchase 3 or 5 downstream in a complete package to eliminate the worry of having to pay extra to buy a new downstream quickly.


  • If you're new to buying a bong to smoke dry herb, you might be confused about the size of your joints and the downstream length. 
  • In that case, you risk purchasing the incorrect downstream from a web-based head shop, but the great news is that you can contact the staff by sending an email with a photo of your bong and a direct message on social media to get their advice on what downstream size you need.

Final Words: Buy a New Downstream

To conclude, you are now ready to look for a replacement downstream using the perfect measurements you have noted for yourself. Searching at head shops may get a bong with the precise width and length you desire. 

Your choice of downstream is also influenced by the female or male bowl you intend to utilize. Glass bowls are available in 10, 14, and 18mm sizes, similar to joints; thus, you must make sure that your new downstream fit your bowl. Downstream contains two joints: one for the pipe and one for the bowl. There are four different sizes downstream: 18 to 14mm, 14 to 18mm, and 14 to 14mm. So what’s your best fit?

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