The Swiss Percs isn’t exactly a new smoking phenomenon. But before we understand them, we need to know what percolators are. So, what do percolators do? Percolators are responsible for all the magic that goes down in a bong or dab rig. It can be a standard downstem that diffuses the smoke. Or you can have multiple chambers stacked with a series of percolators. The potential for percolators is almost unlimited. And we see it in the ever-growing trend of new designs.
Now, Swiss Percolators aren’t new entries to the smoking apparatus market. They first emerged as a popular choice in the late 2000s. But older bongs and pipes have been around since way back. Compared to this, Swiss Percs are still somewhat recent. So, for those among us unfamiliar with this kit, here’s some trivia. Nate Aweida (or Nate Dizzle) is the guy who had the brains to invent this device. He runs The Boro School in Seattle. As a glass artist, Nate is well-known as one of the most accomplished tinkerers. His Boro School is a name to remember for those interested in flameworking and glassblowing. Thanks to Nate, we have one of the most unique smoking devices ever made from glass art – the Swiss Perc!
The Swiss Perc is a design that works on a unique filtration system. The maker takes two identical pieces of glass and then proceeds to fuse them together. He then takes a torch to melt specific holes that go through both plates of glass. The finished product looks like a clean slice of Swiss cheese because of the symmetry and holes. Hence, the name, Swiss Perc!
Although the Swiss Perc was a unique design, the maker, Nate Aweida, did not file for trademark rights and copyright ownership. This also goes to show the genuine artist that Nate is. He is willing to share the creativity without claiming the glory. Unfortunately, it created a space for opportunists to swoop in and take credit. And this was exactly what the people at Pure Glass did. In 2011, Pure Glass attempted to file copyright ownership for what was Aweida’s original design. It’s was a shady move. And it’s widely known in the glass art community. They tried to pass off the Swiss Perc as something that belonged to Pure Glass. And what’s more, they tried to fake their association with Nate Aweida himself.
Fortunately, a lawsuit soon followed. By 2015, Pure Glass lost its underserved rights to the design. And Nate Aweida rightfully got back the ownership of Swiss Percs. In true artistic integrity, Nate agreed to trademark the design but refused to file for copyright. It allowed all the other makers to manufacture designs that look like the Swiss Perc. The only condition is that they cannot claim it as their exclusive invention. As a tribute to Nate’s artistic dignity, we will call the other percs mentioned here as ‘Swiss-style percs.’ Swiss-style percs come with equal functionality as the original design, but the invention rights will always belong to Nate ‘Nate Dizzle’ Aweida.
The Swiss-style Perc runs on a filtration system that is unique and very efficient. It has a single glass piece that filters all the smoke really well. Unlike other chambers, it doesn’t allow too much empty space, making the smoke go stale. The large size of the holes makes it work like a recycler instead of a diffusion slit. With regular percolators, you’d have to inhale the smoke with more effort. But the natural filtration of the Swiss Percs makes it easier to inhale too. Also, they score really well on the aesthetics front. Good looks are always a plus point on any gadget!
Swiss Percs require more maintenance than other simpler designs. But a thorough flow of isopropyl alcohol should take care of regular maintenance. The best way is to clean it the same way you would clean your dab rig.
Percolators essentially need water to perform the filtration process. And the Swiss- Percs are no different! It’s even more important to know the appropriate level of water to use. The exact water levels may have slight variations depending on your model. But filling the chamber to about 1/3rd is a good rule of thumb.
The right water level should allow the diffusion to reach the top of the chamber. Also, it shouldn’t create so many splashbacks. Knowing this, you can also determine the right water level for your Perc. If it creates splashback, remove some water. If the diffusion does not reach the chamber’s top, you can add some water. Continue to add or remove water depending on the effect, and you should find the right balance easily.
The original Swiss Perc came with a disc-shaped piece. And most manufacturers tend to follow this winning-design as created by the inventor. But you may also notice that some makers experiment with other variations. The Swiss-style Perc with a spherical piece is a popular variant. This design provides an extra cool whiff of smoke because the sphere is hollow. Also, you can see the recyclers passing through eh middle of the sphere.
There’s another popular adaptation of the original Swiss Perc design. This variant uses a regular pipe, but with some holes in and around the chamber. In some models, there may be deep indentations instead of holes. The biggest difference with this style is mostly appearance. It naturally integrates the percolator with the overall structure. On the other hand, the flat Swiss brings out the percolator as a prominent design feature.
One of the most liberating aspects of smoking herbs is the space for experimentation. And a great way to experiment is to try out new devices and smoking gear. The Swiss Perc (along with other Swiss-style Percs) is a valuable addition to the wide variety of devices today. If you were previously unaware of the device, you should now know enough to strike up a conversation. Or better yet, try it the perc on your next session.