Here at Wikileaf, we’re proponents of keeping your glass accessories clean and sparkly. Not only do they look better after a good cleaning, but the aroma, taste, and flavor will be improved, too, contributing to a better overall consumption experience.
ISO (isopropyl alcohol) has long been the go-to product for cleaning glass because of its ease of use and affordability, but some consumer’s worry about ISO’s environmental impact. ISO can interact negatively with humans, too. So is there an all-natural, pipe cleaner solution? Let’s dig in.
Environmental and Human Impact of ISO
ISO is listed on the Special Health Hazard Substance List, composed of hazardous substances with known carcinogenicity (cancer causing), mutagenicity (causes genetic mutations), teratogenicity (may produce physical or functional defects in embryos and fetuses), flammability, explosiveness, corrosivity, and reactivity.
Beyond the scary carcinogenic, mutagenic and teratogenic potential, ISO may exacerbate asthma and other respiratory conditions, as well as skin allergies and irritations.
It’s not great for the planet, either. The basic component of ISO is propene, or fossil fuel. The ill effects of fossil fuels are well-documented, and all roads affiliated with them lead to environmental degradation and water pollution, air pollution, and ocean acidification.
While ISO is excellent for killing germs before your annual flu shot, what kills the germs on your arm also kills positive bacteria, algae, and microbes that work in bacteria in sewers and septic tanks. ISO also poses acute toxicity to aquatic life, so it’s important to store, use, and dispose of it properly. When you handle ISO, do so carefully, preferably wearing gloves, protective eyewear, and in a well-ventilated space.
All-Natural Glass and Pipe Cleaners
You could buy a specialized product, but why do that when you can make an eco-friendly pipe cleaner from ingredients you probably already have laying around the house? While you may be using ingredients other than ISO, the cleaning steps and principles remain the same; soak, shake, rinse.
Here are some options you could try:
- White vinegar and coarse sea salt
- Baking soda and white vinegar
- Very hot water and epsom salts
- Denture cleaner (who knew?!)
- Vodka or potent grain alcohol
- Simmer it in boiling water
Say your all-natural alternative isn’t quite working as well as you’d like, what can be done? First, see if you can try another cleaning option on the list. Some options may work better on the specific type of buildup or gunk you’re facing.
For example, hot water tends to work much better at cleaning concentrate resin than carbonous pipe resin (which is much thicker thanks to the additional plant matter being burned). Alternately, coarse sea salt helps a bit in cleaning a dab rig, but is best suited for bongs.
If you’ve tried different methods and still aren’t getting the results you’d hoped for, try changing up the concentration, total amount of cleaning product, or overall duration of the method you’re using. Maybe you need two denture tabs instead of one, or the ratio baking soda to white vinegar needs adjusting. Maybe you just need to let it soak longer.
The exact mixtures and applications of your cleaning solution will vary depending on how serious of a cleaning your piece needs. If you’ve tried multiple methods, start by returning to whichever showed the most promise, even if it’s not quite there yet. Chances are, with just a little trial and error, you’ll get it dialed in.
Next time you need to clean your glass, give one of these all-natural alternatives a try. While they may take a little more elbow grease or need to soak a little longer, you can rest well knowing that in a river near you, a fish is making its way happily downstream, ISO free.