How to Clean Your Bong, Bowl or Pipe
We’ve all been there. It’s time for another smoke, but your glass bong is no longer transparent and far from smell-free. Plus, every hit scratches the throat. It’s time for a major clean. Your lungs will thank you for it!
Nothing beats smoking weed from a brand new bong or pipe. Your new glass piece glistening on the coffee table before you is a sight to behold. The first few hits are crisp, clear, and smooth. But it doesn’t take long for this transparent work of art to transform into a tar-stained mess. We’re all guilty of neglecting our smoking accessories from time to time. Using your pipe or bong for a few days in a row is no big deal, but things start to turn ugly in a matter of weeks.
It’s easy to determine when a glass piece is ready for a clean. Silicone and wooden pieces are a different story. Users of the latter can remain blissfully ignorant until they receive a lungful of tarred smoke. In this article, we’ll discuss why it’s essential to keep your smoking apparatus shiny and clean. Then, we’ll explore the best ways to clean them.
WHY KEEPING YOUR SMOKING ACCESSORIES CLEAN IS SO IMPORTANT
There’s a bunch of reasons to keep your smoking gear clean at all times. Aesthetics are a major motivation, especially when it comes to glass. What’s the point of investing in an intricate glass rig just to let it stew in ash and tar? Respect the artwork!
Regularly cleaning your smoking gear will also lead to better-tasting hits. If you grow your own, you’ll know how much time and effort is required to produce high-quality cannabis. It takes skill and patience to nurture a tasty terpene profile. Don’t waste these exquisite tastes by smoking with a dirty bong or pipe.
A dirty bong won’t just ruin the taste; the buildup of tar and resin will irritate your throat. Clean bongs offer buttery smooths hits that go down a treat. Overall, cleaner equipment makes for a more pleasant smoking experience.
HOW OFTEN SHOULD YOU CLEAN YOUR BONG, BOWL, OR PIPE?
How often you clean your smoking gear should depend on how frequently you use it. If you’re blazing massive bowls every day, then tar and resin are going to build up fast. If you hit a pipe or bong once a week, it’ll take longer for the residue to build up. With that said, leaving it dirty and unused isn’t hygienic either.
The more often you clean your gear, the better. Give your bong or pipe a quick rinse after every smoking session to flush out some of the tar and resin. When the buildup starts getting severe, it’s time to give your gear a proper clean.
WHAT IS YOUR PIPE OR BONG MADE OF?
Different materials require different cleaning methods. You run the risk of damaging your rig if you apply the wrong kind of cleaning agent or technique. Check out how to clean different materials below.
GLASS & METAL
Glass bongs and pipes are on the delicate end of the spectrum. Although they often look prettier, they’re the most susceptible to damage. Glass pieces can be effectively cleaned using both alcohol and non-alcohol methods. However, you’ll want to avoid boiling techniques. Metal pipes, on the other hand, are safe to boil.
Silicone bongs are the easiest to clean. These pieces are heat and cold-resistant and can handle (pretty much) anything you throw at them. You don’t have to overthink things when cleaning a silicone bong or pipe.
Wooden pipes can handle hot water, but harsh chemicals can damage them. High-proof alcohol can discolour wooden pipes and also leave behind residue. When cleaning a wooden piece, it’s best to use softer agents such as vinegar.
HOW TO CLEAN A BONG, BOWL, OR PIPE
Now that you know what to avoid, let’s get some cleaning done. Cleaning out your piece is an easy step-by-step process. To begin, you’ll need to gather the following items. We’ll discuss specific cleaners in each method.
- Cleaning brushes/pipe cleaners
- Plastic tub
- Cotton swabs
- Ziplock bag
- Micropore tape
Alcohol-free methods are effective at removing ash, tar, and grime. These techniques use less-harsh chemicals and require stuff you can find in your kitchen at home.
VINEGAR AND BAKING SODA
- Use a cotton swab to clean out the residue from the bowl. You might need to use a scraper if things get too sticky.
- Rinse out your bong with lukewarm water over a sink.
- Remove the bowl and place it in a Ziplock bag. Add a teaspoon of baking soda, a splash of vinegar, and fill the bag halfway with lukewarm water.
- Shake the bag, then let it rest.
- Now, back to the bong. Empty a teaspoon of baking soda into the mouthpiece. Cover the mouthpiece with your hand and the downstem hole with micropore tape; shake vigorously.
- The baking soda will stick to the wet surface inside. Use a long cleaning brush to scrub the inside surfaces.
- Next, pour in a tablespoon of vinegar and fill up the chamber with lukewarm water.
- Cover the holes again and shake.
- Pour out the solution and rinse the bong with lukewarm water.
- Remove the bowl from the Ziplock bag and rinse under the tap. Use a cotton swab to remove any sticky remnants.
- Run a pipe cleaner through your piece a couple of times to remove any blockages.
- Fill up a container or jar with lukewarm water. Add a tablespoon of baking soda and an equal amount of vinegar.
- Place your pipe into the container and let it soak for five minutes.
- Remove the pipe and rinse thoroughly with lukewarm water.
- Repeat step one.
- Fill your sink with lukewarm water. Add a squirt of dish soap to create a bubbly solution.
- Use a cotton swab and scraper to remove residue from the bowl of your bong or pipe.
- Carefully place your piece into the water and let it soak for 20 minutes.
- Return to the sink armed with a cleaning brush or pipe cleaner.
- If you’re cleaning a bong, use a brush to thoroughly scrub the inside surfaces clean. Use a pipe cleaner to clean out the ownstem.
- For pipes, run a pipe cleaner through the piece 3–4 times. Dunk your pipe into the water between each clean to flush out the stem.
- Empty the sink and rinse your piece with lukewarm water.
Boiling water is an easy way to clean a piece. Remember, it’s not suitable for thin glass pieces.
- Place your bong or pipe into an empty sink. Clean out the bowl with a cotton swab and scraper.
- Boil the kettle and fill up the bottom of the sink with boiling water.
- Let your piece sit for 20 minutes, or until the water has sufficiently cooled.
- Empty the sink.
- Use a pipe cleaner and brush to remove tar and residue.
- Rinse with lukewarm water.
ISOPROPYL ALCOHOL METHOD
Isopropyl alcohol is a harsh cleaning agent. Use gloves when you’re dealing with it, and avoid using it on wooden pipes. It also helps to have some coarse salt at hand when using this method.
- Remove the bowl and clean it out with a cotton swab and scraper. Then, rinse it under the tap.
- Add a tablespoon of coarse salt, followed by a generous glug of isopropyl alcohol.
- Cover the downstem hole with micropore tape and the mouthpiece with a gloved hand. Shake vigorously for a total of five minutes.
- Empty the solution into the toilet and rinse the bong thoroughly with lukewarm water.
- Soak a tissue with isopropyl alcohol and wipe down the bowl and downstem.
- Soak a pipe cleaner with isopropyl alcohol and scrub the inside of the downstem. Rinse thoroughly.
- Use a cotton swab and pipe cleaner to remove residue from the bowl and the inside of the stem.
- Place your pipe into a Ziplock bag. Add a tablespoon of salt and enough isopropyl alcohol to cover the piece.
- Shake the bag for five minutes, then let sit for a further 10 minutes.
- Remove the piece and rinse thoroughly under lukewarm water.
- Scrub out the bowl and stem using a pipe cleaner and brush.
- Rinse thoroughly.
CLEANING BONG STEMS AND OTHER HARD-TO-REACH PLACES
It’s important to thoroughly clean bowls, downstems, and other hard-to-reach places. Although we mentioned it above, it’s worth repeating; you might get caught out by hidden residue. Disassemble your piece (if possible) before cleaning, and go to work with a brush and pipe cleaners to make sure your pipe or bong will provide clean and smooth hits.
IS IT TIME FOR A SMOKE YET?
Once your piece has been rinsed and dried, it’s ready for action! Investing a small amount of time into thoroughly cleaning your piece is well worth it. The next few hits are going to be so damn smooth. Going forward, try and clean your piece as regularly as you can. Cleaning your bong or pipe after one or two sessions is easy and only requires a small rinse. If you let it build up, then you’ll have to get scrubbing again!
Grimy bongs and pipes look bad and taste worse. Use these tips to give them a thorough clean and experience smooth hits again.
How to clean bong stem
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- How to get a Stuck Downstem out of a Glass Bong
How to get a Stuck Downstem out of a Glass Bong
Posted by Jack Daniels (Edited by Jay Dreadhead) on 17th Aug 2018
CAUSES & SOLUTIONS FOR A STUCK DOWNSTEM IN A BONG OR BUBBLER
Ok, let’s be honest. How many of you really clean your bong after each and every sesh?
Ok, now how many of you remove the downstem completely each time you clean your tube or beaker bong?
If you’ve still got your hand raised, that’s great! But sadly, you are probably one of the few. Most bongs, bubblers, pipes, and heady dab rigs might get thoroughly cleaned once every five, or ten, or fifty seshes.
Even when downstems are removable, they are often ignored as long as they work. But long before the buildup of resin causes a problem with percolation, it may have already created an issue further up the stem.
MY DOWNSTEM IS STUCK – HOW DID THAT HAPPEN
It doesn’t take much sticky residue buildup between the joint on your glass bong and the glass downstem seated inside of it to cause the downstem to become stuck.
During regular use of your bong or bubbler there is a certain degree of heat transfer between your glass bowl or slide and the glass joint and the glass downstem. That heat can activate and re-activate resin buildup in the area creating a dangerously tight seal that can prevent you from being able to remove the downstem without fear of breaking any of the glass parts.
Another common cause for a stuck or jammed glass downstem, ironically, often occurs just after doing the right thing by cleaning your glass bong or bubbler often and removing the downstem to clean it separately.
What can cause a problem is if the glass joint on the bong or bubbler and the outside surface of the glass downstem are not thoroughly dried before reinsertion. Even if they are both perfectly clean, the residual moisture can form a difficult seal making removal a nerve-wracking event.
The third most common cause for a stuck downstem is when it becomes jammed downward by some incidental contact with a table, or elbow, lighter, or anything you can think of really.
DOWNSTEM IS STILL STUCK – NOW WHAT
We asked around on Facebook, Instagram, Reddit, and more on what to do and here are a handful of methods that we came up with for freeing up a stuck downstem on your favorite glass bong or bubbler.
METHOD 1: PIPING HOT WATER
Start by trying to run the hottest tap water from your sink directly over the area where the downstem enters the bong or bubbler. If your hand can stand the temperature of the water momentarily, reach in and firmly (but cautiously) pinch the sides of the exposed portion of the downstem and gently try to twist and pull. With any luck, that combination of heat and water lubrication will do the trick.
METHOD 2: KILL IT WITH FIRE
If that downstem is still stuck due to resin, you can try your dab torch or a triple flame torch. Just quickly apply moving heat to the affected area with the very tip of the flame of your torch. You do not want to hold the flame to the glass for long as you could damage the glass. If there is visible resin or reclaim buildup, you will see it begin to activate from the heat.
Knowing that the glass downstem will be hot from the torch, use a pot holder or heat resistant gloves to try the same technique as above, gently trying to twist and pull the downstem up and out of the bong while the buildup is still boiling a bit.
METHOD 3: SCIENCE!
If the gunk has caked up so bad that those two methods didn’t even make a dent, don’t give up yet! There are some great glass cleaners on the market these days, like Dark Crystal, Grunge Off, or Formula 420. Just fill the water chamber of your bong enough that the downstem and joint are in contact with the cleaning solution and let everything soak.
With any luck the muck will break down and within 24-48 hours you should be able to gently twist and pull your downstem to freedom.
METHOD 4: TAP, TAP, TAP
When your stem is stuck from moisture being trapped between two glass pieces, the ideas above (hot water, tip of the torch) may come in handy. But another option gets brought up often enough by those who know such things that we think you ought to know too.
It sounds a bit strange at first but bear with us. You’ll want a large spoon, preferably wooden. Some folks wrap the spoon in a towel, some use it bare, but the idea is to gently tap-tap-tap the head of the spoon all around the joint where the downstem is stuck.
Surprisingly enough, the subtle vibration from the spoon’s impact can be just enough to shake loose a seemingly stuck stem and this simple yet effective technique has saved many heady bongs and daily driver bubblers from being scrapped.
METHOD 5: LAST RESORT
One final trick that cames in particularly handy when a downstem is just jammed a bit is to find a pair of pliers with the rubber coated handles. You do not want to apply metal to glass with any amount of force, but using the soft grip rubber handles you may be able to grip the neck of the downstem just where it meets the glass joint of the bong or bubbler. If so, slowly and carefully tilt the head of the pliers downward creating a lever action to (hopefully) raise the downstem up/outward.
Of course, all of these methods require extreme caution so you do not damage your glass or yourself.
Not every situation has an easy solution, but based on the causes that we discussed above these tips and tricks might just get that downstem unstuck.
If you managed to loosen things up enough to get your downstem out, congratulations, not everyone is so fortunate. If not, hopefully it will continue to function until, well, it doesn’t. Just clean it up the best you can with the stem in and keep on rippin!
Thoroughly cleaning and drying your downstem and your bong, bubbler, or dab rig often can go a long way towards prevention.
At The Dab Lab we carry a great variety of scientific glass bongs and bubblers as well as some really heady and affordable glass pieces as well, many of which have the useful option of the removable downstem.
Check out our latest guide on what causes a downstem to get stuck, how to get that stuck downstem unstuck, and how to prevent it from ever getting stuck again. Not every situation has a solution, so when it’s time to shop for a new glass bong, bubbler, dab rig, or downstem your buds at The Dab lab have got you covered.