If you’re smoking the finest strains of cannabis, don’t dilute the delicate flavors by using a dirty pipe. The freshest-tasting smoke comes from clean glassware. Don’t know how to clean your pipe? This guide offers three easy methods to have your pieces squeaky clean in no time!
Classic Methods to Clean your Glass Pipe
There are three basic methods to clean a glass pipe. With just a few easy steps and items found around the house, your pieces will look like they’re new again. What you’ll need:
- Food storage container with secure lid: Make sure it’s one you’re not particularly attached to, as it will take on sticky resin and odor after you use it. It needs to be water-tight to prevent leaking and large enough to fit the piece you wish to clean. This is a great way to reuse plastic takeout containers, so save them up the next time you order in!
- Pipe Cleaner: As the name suggests, a good pipe cleaner is the perfect tool to keep your glass clean and clear of obstruction. You can find cotton, viscose, or nylon pipe cleaners at tobacco shops, hardware stores, or online. Even craft pipe cleaners work in a pinch!
- Rag or Paper Towels: Don’t use your nice linens as this process will stain them.
- Cotton Swabs
- Rubber Gloves
Hot Water Method
This is by far the cheapest way to clean your bowl, which makes it great for everyday maintenance. All you have to do is heat water in a pot or tea kettle to just under boiling. Place one piece of glass at a time in your food storage container, cover with hot water and close the lid tightly.
Allow to soak for a few minutes to soften the residue, then use oven mitts to swirl the water throughout the piece, loosening any stuck-on grime. Carefully dump out the water and repeat this process a few times, if necessary. Dry off your piece and finish by using a pipe cleaner or cotton swab on the hard-to-reach areas. This method works best as an all-natural way to clean a lightly-soiled glass bowl or piece.
Alcohol and Salt Method
Many cannabis users prefer this method for its ease and effectiveness. It’s best to use 99% isopropyl alcohol(rubbing alcohol), but a less concentrated solution will work. If you can’t find anything else, vodka does the trick as well! This method is especially effective because salt does not dissolve in alcohol the way it does in water. You can use any kind of salt, but a coarser variety like kosher salt acts as a great agitator to remove tough residue. The steps in this process are very similar to those in the boiling water method:
- Place one piece of glass in the container at a time.
- Add a few tablespoons of salt and enough alcohol to mostly cover the piece.
- Secure the lid tightly.
- Gently but thoroughly swish the salt and alcohol solution around to reach all areas of the piece. For more heavily soiled pieces, allow to soak for an hour or even overnight.
- Remove the glass from the solution and dry with your rag. Dip your pipe cleaner or cotton swab in alcohol and use it to reach the areas with stuck-on residue.
- Rinse your piece THOROUGHLY with water to prevent inhaling fumes the next time you smoke.
Cleaning tip: If cleaning multiple bowls, you can use the same alcohol and salt solution until it becomes too dirty to see through, then dump it out and start over!
Commercial Cleaning Products
If you’re looking for the convenience of a ready-made option to clean your bowl, there are a number of products on the market. While other methods offer a lower price tag, these options are often faster and require less effort. We’ve compiled a few suggestions here, but do your research and read the reviews to find the best option for you.
- Formula 420: A highly-rated and popular option to clean your bowl, Formula 420 is the most affordable line of products we have listed here. It is effective because of its strong solvents combined with a gritty medium to scrape off stubborn gunk. This company also offers an all-natural formula and one for everyday use.
- Grunge Off: If you want a more natural solution with lots of added value, Grunge Off checks all the right boxes. It’s biodegradable, uses no alcohol or abrasives, and it is reusable. It’s in a higher price range than other pipe cleaning solutions, but you may find the benefits outweigh the cost.
- Bongfresh Cleaning Kit: According to Bongfresh, this is “the most complete Waterpipe Cleaning System on the market to date.” The kit uses a unique Magnetic Tiki Cleaning Tool which adjusts to three sizes to access hard-to-reach areas. It also comes with cleaning brushes, scrubbing pads, and a plant-derived cleaning solution with only seven ingredients.
Benefits of Cleaning your bowl:
There are many good reasons to clean your bowl, but here are just a few:
- Better tasting smoke: Burnt, tar-like plant residue can leave a nasty taste in your mouth. This ashy, stale flavor can get in the way of detecting the delicate tasting notes in your smoke. Always treat your flower like a fine wine—only enjoy it out of clean glass.
- Your bowl won’t stink: Cleaning your bowl regularly removes the residue that causes your glass to give off that burnt, skunky smell. This allows for more discreet storage and pleasurable smoking experience.
- Keep microorganisms at bay: A dirty bowl is a perfect place for fungi and bacteria to grow. The sticky resin makes an ideal surface for these microorganisms to multiply. Cleaning your bowl is especially important during cold and flu season, as well, if you plan on sharing with friends.
It’s important to keep your bowls and water pipes clean for your health and for the quality of your smoking experience. How often should you clean your bowls? We recommend every other day for regular smokers. If you only bring your piece out every so often, clean it after each use. Whether you use one of these homemade methods or a commercial cleaning product, enjoy the benefits of fresher, better-tasting smoke and odorless, pristine glass.