What is a downstem?
A downstem is a long glass tube that extends from your pipe’s joint into the main chamber of your water pipe. Downstems often use slits or holes to filter your smoke through your piece directly from your bowl, helping to cool down your hit.
Some pipes come with an attached downstem, while others don’t. If your pipe doesn’t come with a one, you can buy a separate downstem that can be attached through the joint on the pipe. Downstem accessories come in a variety of shapes and sizes, so it’s important to take a close look at your pipe before committing to ordering a piece!
How do we measure?
Smoke Cartel measures all downstems according to joint size and downstem length. Downstem length is always measured from the end of the ground joint to the tip of the downstem where the smoke is diffused.
That means length is measured from past the joint to the bottom of the glass piece. This is important to consider, since you want to make sure the end of the stem hits the water without hitting the bottom base of your pipe.
How can you measure?
When it comes to measuring out your downstem, there are a few things that you need to consider.
First, is your pipe male or female? Downstems are only an option for pipes with female joints, since the downstem needs to be inserted into the joint.
Next, what is the size of your joint? Joints come in three major sizes: 10mm (about the size of your pinky), 14.5mm (about the size of your index finger), and 18.8mm (about the size of your thumb). 14.5mm and 18.8mm are the most common sizes for downstems. It’s also important to consider what size and gender your slide is, since downstems can sometimes act as adapters.
Lastly, you will need to measure the actual length of the downstem. To do this, use a pencil that can be marked on. Insert the pencil into the joint so that it hovers comfortably in the main chamber of your pipe, and would hit the water if the pipe was filled. Make a notch on the side of the pencil where the joint ends and the pipe begins. Take the pencil out and measure the end of the pencil to the notch -- that is the perfect length for your downstem!
Types of filtration
Different downstem styles mean different ways of filtering smoke. The classic design for the downstem, using slits, is one of the easiest ways to get solid and reliable diffusion with every hit.
Tree perc downstems offer some of the cleanest filtration, but require a stronger pull and need to be cleaned more often. Firecut downstems are great for preserving flavor, don’t require a strong pull, but get clogged fairly quickly.