Bubbler Airlock vs 3 Piece

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Brewing beer can be a challenging yet rewarding process. By adding an airlock to your home brewing set, you can give yourself a greater chance of getting better brews. You will also cut the risk of contamination. When choosing bubbler airlock vs. 3 piece, you will want to make the best choice.

Bubbler Airlock vs 3 Piece General Overview

Airlocks are an essential part of the brewing and fermentation process. A suitable airlock will help you produce quality beer and drinks. In this bubbler airlock vs. 3-piece airlock overview, you’ll learn how each of these devices works and which is the best and most effective for your use.

An airlock on a bottle

Overview of the Bubbler Airlock

The bubbler has two vertical chambers, a drain trap, and a small chamber that the CO2 bubbles through. The bubbling releases the pressure preventing any liquid from entering the fermentation vessel. They are cheap and easy to find and can be bought at any homebrew supply store or ordered online.

This airlock is a single piece that screws onto the mouth of a container. It has a small vent on top that allows carbon dioxide to escape without letting oxygen or bacteria in. The bubbler airlock comes in various sizes and can fit any of your fermentation vessels.

Overview of 3 Piece Airlocks

The three-piece airlock is much more advanced than the bubbler and generally more expensive. It consists of three pieces: body, piston, and vented cap. These pieces form an effective seal that keeps oxygen and bacteria from the fermenter.

The three-piece airlock is easy to install and clean. The 3-piece features a small hole in the body’s bottom that allows any excessive pressure to escape and prevents your fermenter from exploding or imploding from excessive pressure buildup.

Comparing Bubbler Airlocks and 3-Piece Airlocks

You need to use an airlock to keep airborne bacteria from contaminating your homemade beer. Airlocks are available in two standard types: the bubbler airlock and the three-piece airlocks. These airlocks make the fermentation process easy, efficient, and sanitized.

Similarities Between the Bubbler and the 3-Piece Airlock

Bubblers and 3-piece airlocks can be used interchangeably. Both tools work on a similar principle of blowing off excess C02 produced during beer fermentation. You can thus use whatever you feel most comfortable with as they both serve the same purpose.

Other similarities include;

  • Both effectively protect your wine or beer and prevent airborne pathogens from entering your fermenter.
  • They are both filled with water, which creates an airtight seal inside the fermenter.
  • They both need sanitizer to protect the contents of bacteria and wild yeast.
An image of an airlock

Differences Between the Bubbler and the 3-Piece Airlock

The bubbler is simple and inexpensive, making it a popular choice for many homebrewers. The three-piece airlock is much more advanced than the bubbler and generally more expensive.

The bubbler airlock has a water chamber with a protruding tube that connects to the top of the carboy or fermenter. However, the three-piece airlock comprises the body, piston, and vented cap.

The 3-piece airlock has a better seal than the bubbler because the three pieces fit together rather than one. It is also easier to clean and assemble, which explains why many homebrewers favor it.

Major Distinguishing Factor

The bubbler allows you to check your fermentation activity and pressure buildup visually. Most homebrewers prefer the bubbler as their secondary fermenter. When using the bubbler, you can monitor the fermentation process and pressure inside the fermenter.

Because of its design and shape, the bubbler can be tricky for assembly and cleaning. On the other hand, with a bubbler, you can easily control oxidation during the transfer stage of your brew.

The three-piece airlock needs a stopper that fits your carboy or fermenter. The bubbler does not require a cork and can suit any fermenter with an opening big enough to fit in.

When to Use a Bubbler

The bubbler airlock has several advantages over other types of airlocks. It is inexpensive and simple to use. Bubblers are also quite durable, and you reuse them many times. You can find a bubbler airlock at most homebrew supply stores.

Bubbler airlocks are generally better for primary and secondary fermentation. Bubblers are also not affected by pressure differences. Unlike a three-piece, it doesn’t suck the liquid in the lock back into the carboy due to possible temperature changes.

You can also use this type of airlock if you have a limited budget because it is inexpensive compared to a 3-piece airlock. You can use it for extended fermentation with no risk of contamination. It is the first line of defense against contaminants getting into your wort, beer, or wine.

When to Use 3 – Piece Airlock

You can use the three-piece airlock due to its simplicity in assembling and cleaning. You need to remove the top portion, fill the middle part with water or sanitizing solution, then put the top part back on. The three-piece airlock allows for a more sanitary environment during the fermentation process.

An image of a bottle with an airlock

The 3-piece is also very ideal for primary fermentation. In addition, this airlock can be used together with a blow-off tube when brewing high gravity beers or when adding fruit or dry hops. The airlock is best used for a low-pressure fermenter or a blow-off tube.

The three-piece airlock has a three-way design that allows you to use different types of liquid in the chamber. You can use water, sanitizers, or vodka. While vodka works best with winemaking, water is best with beer making.

Which Airlock Is Better?

The bubbler airlock is a better choice if you want to keep the risk of contamination down. The water in the reservoir prevents any outside contaminants from entering your fermenter. The bubbler is also ideal when using a larger fermenter since you can track pressure changes effectively.

The bubbler airlock is also an excellent choice for small-batch brewing or for when you need to see what’s happening inside your fermenter. Besides, because it requires less fluid than the bubbler airlock, it’s not as effective at preventing contaminants from entering your brew.

The bubbler hides sediment better than the three-piece airlock. Some brewers prefer this feature because it makes it easier to see when fermentation has slowed or stopped. The bubbler has fewer parts, making it easier to replace if they break or get lost.


Bubbler and the 3-Piece airlocks are great brewing devices to add to your gear. The airlock is a simple one-way valve that allows carbon dioxide to escape while keeping oxygen out. You can choose the bubbler airlock for visual monitoring or the 3-piece airlock for convenience and cleaning.