Have you ever gone into a head shop to look at all the fancy glassware just to get discouraged about purchasing a piece because it’s so intricate that it appears impossible to use or clean? There are some pieces out there with so many teeny tiny nooks and crannies that they seem almost useless or completely worthless, because an everyday smoker should be using something basic and easy to scrub right? Think again! When there’s a will, there’s a way. You don’t have to sacrifice style and intricacy for ease of access.
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How to Clean Your Glass Bongs, Bowls, and Pipes
Smoking can be stressful on your glassware, especially if you’re smoking really sticky bud. I’ll admit, I’ve gone through more glass in my time than I care to discuss. I’ve broken at least two pieces while trying to clean them, too, because looking at a resin-ated bong isn’t fun and leaving the resin to collect in a hard to reach area eventually starts to affect the way your weed tastes. The most annoying shapes are easily bulges, where you can’t fit a bottle brush inside or a pipe cleaner because the hole is either too big or too small.
It really is a point of pain if you travel with your pieces and can’t get them clean. A dirty bong, bowl, or pipe will always be considered drug paraphernalia, especially if you aren’t lucky enough to live in a legal state. If the piece is hidden under your seat or something, odds are, the cop can smell the resin before he will smell the actual weed. A clean bong, bowl, or pipe is harmless. Glass is an art, and it’s beautiful when you take care of it properly.
You’re Going to Need Some Tools
There are a few basic ways to clean a bong, but in order to really get into the meat of it and clean your system in hard to reach places, you’re going to need some tools. I personally use wired bottle brushes. They’re flexible, so you can get them through awkward curves and bends. They’re also rigid enough to scrape really sticky resin off of the glass without scratching the glass or compromising the structure. You can even use them to snake your way inside ash catchers and percolators, regardless of their size or shape. Using these brushes, you can also clean inside strange structures, like reverse showerheads or honeycombs. These structures are especially annoying, because some bongs aren’t designed with smoking in mind and you’ll get scooby snacks stuck in there that are almost impossible to dissolve in rubbing alcohol and must be agitated and broken into smaller pieces that will be able to fit through the small openings.
If you’ve ever had to snake a toilet or sink you’ll be an expert at using these pipe cleaners in no time. That’s essentially what it’s like.
Another option for tools is taking a sponge or a piece of textured rubber and hot gluing a strong magnet to it. From here you just gently drop it into the bong. You can use the opposite magnet to attract the steel wool and use it to scrub inside the bong or pipe where your hands may not be able to reach.
This method is especially useful for awkward bulging pieces, since the glass isn’t impossibly intricate to the point that you need to use the pipe cleaners to get them clean. Here’s an easy how-to, or a product you can buy if money isn’t an issue.
Never underestimate the power of a good, sturdy bottle brush either, especially for larger, more open bongs. If they can survive the bottleneck and make it down into the depths of the bong, it’ll make the scrubbing process much smoother.
It’s nice to have the tools for every situation, though, so if you have several pieces of glass or would like to get a nice new piece, you should always be sure to have the correct tools on hand. There’s nothing worse than a smoke from a dirty bong. They also stink up the place, so be cleaning should be a top priority, and you can’t properly clean without the right tools.
How To Clean Your Glass
Please don’t ever feel the need to waste your money on Formula 420 or cleaners similar to it. It’s literally just water, alcohol, salt, food coloring, and fragrance. At a whopping $12 a bottle, you’re losing out on some money that could be better spent on more weed. You can make your own cleaner from materials you probably already have at home, and add your own fragrance for half the price, while getting more cleaner overall.
Here’s what you’ll need:
- Pipe cleaners, bottle brushes, or magnetic grabbing tools to clean the hard to reach places
- 90% isopropyl rubbing alcohol
- Rock salt
- Lemon juice
- Warm water
- Rubber bands
- Sandwich baggies
- Plastic wrap
Here’s how to clean your glass in hard to reach places:
- In order to clean your glass, you’ll first want to soak your piece in warm water to loosen up any resin that may be found on the sides or inside the pipe. I usually just stick my tall pieces in the tub and run some warm water. The bongs will overflow for a few minutes and the resin will be much more malleable.
- The next thing you’ll want to do is add some salt to your bong, in any opening you have. 2 or 3 pinches will usually do the trick, but larger more intricate pieces will need more salt to shake through the piece. If you’re cleaning a bowl or a pipe, just put the piece in a sandwich baggie.
- After adding your salt, you’ll want to add your isopropyl alcohol. You just want enough to cover the salt and the bottom of the piece. Remember that the alcohol needs to move throughout the bong with the salt, so splurging a bit isn’t a bad thing if you need to. You can always save the alcohol, too. It may look disgusting, but it’ll still clean just as well as clean alcohol. If you’re cleaning a pipe or bowl, be sure to add the alcohol and seal the baggie.
- After you have everything added, take some plastic wrap and some rubber bands to seal the opening of the carb, head and mouth. If your piece is small, you can just use your fingers to plug up the holes. This works the same way for small bowls and pipes.
- After everything is sealed, give it a shake! Especially dirty pieces may need to soak for a while, but if you ran the warm water long enough to loosen up the resin, it’ll be easy to shake it out of the piece.
- After you get the initial gunk out, take the piece out, rinse it, and decide where you need to use your scrubbing tools. This is a process, but it’s important. After you scrape and scrub, reseal the piece and shake it some more.
- Repeat these steps as needed until your glass is crystal clear.
- After it’s all said and done, you can put some water and lemon juice in the freshly rinsed bong. This will help get rid of any lingering odor. Just let it rest for a few minutes, dump it out, and rinse again.
- Allow your bong to air dry before adding fresh water and smoking.