How should I measure a downstem?

We often get questions (and complaints) from customers regarding the length of their downstems. There are several conceivable ways one could measure a downstem. Unfortunately, there is no agreed upon standard for measuring a downstem. Every company uses a different method. Some state what their method is, most don’t.

One could measure from the very tip of the female joint to the tip of the percolator. We’ve discovered that this is a very poor method. Due to variations in joint construction and materials, this measurement can vary from downstem to downstem.

One could measure from the top of the ground joint to the bottom. This is an acceptable method, but we don’t believe it is the best. We measure our downstems because we want to ascertain the optimal length to use in our waterpipe. It can’t be too long, otherwise it won’t seal correctly. It can’t be too short. Otherwise the bottom will be far above the ideal water level in your piece.

Just like Goldilock’s porridge it should be just right.

We favor the method of measuring from the bottom of the ground joint to the tip of the diffuser. Why? This method measures the most important aspect of any downstem beside the joint size: the length that can be inserted into your waterpipe.

That raises another question. I know what size downstem I’ll be getting, and how to measure it, but how do I know what size downstem I need?

We’ve developed a very simple method for measuring optimal downstem length. Do the following:

  • 1.Grab a pencil or other small object that can be inserted into your waterpipe. Make sure it is sufficiently long to touch the bottom of your piece.
  • 2.Insert the pencil into your joint until it touches the bottom of the waterpipe. Measure the point at which it touches by marking your pencil or measuring stick where it meets the top of the female joint.
  • 3.Measure the length between the end of the pencil and the mark that you previously made.
  • 4.Subtract 1.0” from your measurement. This is the maximum downstem length you can use. Subtract as necessary to achieve your optimal downstem length. This is the length of downstem you should order.

Congratulations. Now you know more than any human could possibly want to know about measuring downstems!


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