Image source: unsplash.com
These days, you can't be too careful about cleanliness. Most of us are using hand sanitizer when running errands, using disinfectant wipes on surfaces at home, and washing our hands as much as possible. It's also important to remember to clean your cannabis pipes, bongs, tools and accessories.
Dirty pipes, dab rigs, and bongs can stink, create ultra-harsh hits, and even start to grow bacteria and mold that can damage your lungs when inhaled. Luckily, cleaning your favorite piece is easy as long as you have the right equipment. Whether you're looking for simple steps to clean your spoon pipe, wondering how to clean a bong without alcohol, how to clean a piece, or how to clean a bowl, we'll go through various options, accessories and best practices meant to keep your smoking station spotless.
First, it's important to know what you're cleaning. Pipes are typically made of glass, but can also be found in metal and ceramic varieties. And while the most common style of cannabis pipe is shaped like a spoon, any smoking device with a bowl, a mouthpiece, and no water is considered a pipe.
Bongs, on the other hand, require water. And while pipes are traditionally made of one single piece of glass, bongs are equipped with removable bowl pieces, slides, and other small parts. If you have a pipe that holds water but does not have a removable bowl piece, you're holding a bubbler, not a bong. The modular design of a bong makes cleaning them easier than some pipes or bubblers, but also makes it easier to break your piece during the cleaning process.
Just like pipes, bongs are typically made out of glass, although most head shops also offer bongs made out of cheap plastic and silicone; materials that aren't typically used to make pipes or bubblers.
For most cannabis cleaning projects, the main ingredient is the same - isopropyl alcohol. Especially when it comes to glass pieces, a mixture of alcohol diluted with hot water is a surefire way to get even the most stubborn gunk off of your bong. In addition to alcohol, agitation is key. You can use a crumpled up paper towel to seal the mouthpiece and bowl joint while you shake up your alcohol concoction, or, if you're feeling fancy, you can buy a set of rubber caps specifically made to fit bongs and avoid any spillage.
If you don't have any alcohol at home and the drug store shelves are dry, there are still plenty of ways to clean your bong. If you're limited to supplies that are likely already in your kitchen, combine white vinegar and coarse salt to create a strong cleaning solution that is tough on the leftover resin. Salt is great for pulling stubborn spots of caked-on debris off of your glass, and can even be combined with alcohol for an even stronger clean.
Of course, if you want to go the easiest route, there are a handful of professionally made, pre-mixed cleaning solutions specifically designed for detailing your bongs. You can find products like Formula 420 and Dark Crystal Glass Cleaner at head shops around the country and simply follow the instructions on the bottle for an immaculate clean every time.
While isopropyl alcohol is by far the best way to clean a bong, it is important to adjust your cleaning technique if your bong is not glass. Silicon, plastic, and ceramic pieces can all be cleaned using alcohol, but avoid letting the solution si as it can degrade the plastics and pull paint off of your ceramics. Lastly, no matter what cleaning method you use for your bong, always rinse your piece thoroughly before adding new water and sparking up a bowl.
Learning how to clean a glass pipe is very similar to cleaning a bong, but there are a few intricacies due to size and shape that make pipe cleaning unique. No matter which cleaning solution you choose, a zip lock bag is a great way to submerge your pipe fully, and allows you to shake and agitate without worrying about spills or breaking your piece. The closed top bag method is also the best way to clean a bowl for your bong. If a nice bath in a baggie with alcohol, salt, and vinegar, or cannabis cleaning solution doesn't make your pipe spotless, we've got a few extra tricks up our sleeve.
For most of us, pipe cleaners are just a memory from arts and crafts time in early elementary school; but as the name implies, they are also great for, well, cleaning pipes. Use the wire brush to scrape the hard-to-reach interior walls around the weed bowl and mouthpiece. Just like a bong, make sure to rinse and dry your pipe inside and outside before packing a fresh bowl. You do not want a mouth full of cleaning solution or water when you take your first hit.
Dab rigs are technically bongs, but while dirty bongs are full of gristly resin, rigs get clogged with more desirable reclaim. Reclaim is leftover oil that is still good to dab or cook with. Before you can dab or bake with your reclaim, you have to get it out of the rig.
Once again - surprise, surprise - the main ingredient used in collecting reclaim is isopropyl alcohol. Pour high-percentage alcohol (99% works best if you can find it) into your rig and let it sit for 5-15 minutes. After the alcohol has had time to sit, shake and swirl the rig before dumping the alcohol and reclaim solution into a glass dish. Let the dish sit for at least 12-24 hours to allow the alcohol to evaporate and then use the THC-rich reclaim for brownies, tinctures, or put it right back into your newly cleaned dab rig.
Do you have a secret method for cleaning your pipes and bongs that we didn't mention? Let us know in the comments below!