The All In One Guide to Cleaning Your Piece
If you use a glass pipe, you know how dirty they get. The resin builds up, and the piece isn’t the same as when you first started using it. Whether you have a $3 pipe, or a one of a kind artist made piece; it will need to be cleaned eventually. This is obvious. Cleaning the piece can prove to be more challenging. If you’re one of the many people that have tried to clean their piece, but just can’t seem to do it, we have the guide for you. Read on and learn how to clean your bong the right way.
Why does a clean piece matter?
Ask yourself a question; would you eat off used dishes if they were not cleaned beforehand? We’re willing to bet the answer to that was no. The reasons are pretty obvious. It’s simply not sanitary to do so. Well, like your standard dishes, glass pipes build up bacteria that grow on the residue, and this is even more prevalent in water pipes, especially the intricate ones. The longer the water and residue sit there, the more bacteria grows, and the beloved piece becomes a petri dish. So the first reason to keep your piece clean and to clean often, is to keep it sanitary, and lower the risk of inhaling bacteria.
One of the best things we enjoy when smoking through our piece, is that lovely flavor it provides. A dirty piece will simply ruin that. The resin that develops heats up, and is inhaled when you smoke. This will find its way into the flavor of what you’re currently smoking, and you will miss out on fully enjoying your herb. When a piece is clean, no resin is inhaled, and you will only experience the new herb you are smoking. Going back to the dishes metaphor; would you pour a fresh beverage into a cup with some older liquid still in it?
The resin build up is not subtle. It builds up, you can see pieces floating, and much of it gets stuck in the airway of your piece. This is even more prevalent in pieces with percolators. This build up can make the draw of a piece more difficult, and you may find yourself having to pull harder to get anything out of it. This makes the overall experience less enjoyable, and can ruin your pack. If you have a water pipe with percs, the debris will often find its way into the chamber, and the downstem of a bong. This severely hinders the percolation, or even ruins it altogether. If you have a water pipe, the diffusion is a key element. A clean water pipe functions property, diffuses the smoke, and delivers a smoother hit. A dirty pipe will feel more harsh, and deliver a rougher hit.
One sign it’s time to clean your piece is the smell. When the resin is allowed to sit, and the water to fester, your piece will smell bad. This smell is not a small thing. It can smell like a combo of sewage and ash. It not only stinks up the piece, but wherever you choose to keep it. Do your piece, and your nose a favor, clean regularly.
The Longer You Wait, the Harder it is to Clean
Yes, cleaning can be one of those annoying tasks that we love to put off until later. Like many of us, your life is probably busy. So tomorrow, becomes the weekend, and that becomes a couple weeks later. In the meantime, your piece continues to be used, and builds up resin and ash. Now resin builds up, and older resin becomes more solid and sticks to the glass in your piece. This will make it more difficult to clean when you eventually find time to do it; resulting in more time, effort, and cleaner put into the cleaning process. To avoid this issue, clean your piece regularly.
Part of what probably drew you to your piece was the appearance, and you would like to keep it that way. If you have a car, and it gets dirty, you probably clean it right? Whether it’s handwashing, or taking it to the drive through car wash.
Why is that?
The car will function fine with dirt and grime on it right? It’s just more satisfying to have a nice clean car, and it’s the same with pipes. We love the cool designs and colors that glass artists have been able to make. You loved how it looked either online, or at your favorite shop, and you liked how it looked when you first brought it home. The resin that builds up is an ugly combination of murky green, brown, black, and gray. Chances are, if your piece looked like that when you were shopping, you would not have made the purchase. Keeping your piece clean preserves that new look, and allows you to enjoy the artwork like you did when you first purchased it.
Supplies for Cleaning Your Glass Bong or Pipe
Okay, now that we got the whys out of the way, let’s get to the how. First you’ll need some things. Below is a list of items found in most households, or readily available at your local grocery store or pharmacy.
- Isopropyl Alcohol (anything above 90%)
- Kosher Salt
- Hot water (sink works)
- New Ziploc bags, or Tupperware (environmentally friendly)
Those are the bare bones, the following are other great supplies to either aid, or help with preventative measures.
- Lemon Juice
- Bristle brushes
- Dish gloves
Steps to Clean a Bong or Pipe
- Empty your piece. Any water, or left over ash in the bowl should be removed.
- Take your piece apart if you have a bong. Remove the bowl, and stem. Set aside for now.
- Turn your sink to hot, and run hot water through it a couple times, and empty of water. This will loosen the resin, and make the rest of the process easier going forward.
- Put the alcohol and kosher salt in your piece. For Bowls, hand pipes, and stems, place in a Ziploc bag, or Tupperware with salt and alcohol.
- Shake either your piece, or container your piece is in. The alcohol will break down the resin, and the salt will scrub it off.
- Once you’re sure the resin is off your glass, empty your piece. Repeat steps 5 and 6 for especially dirty pieces.
- Rinse with warm water until all debris is removed from your piece. You can use brushes for especially dirty stems and bowls.
- Dry with a towel if you cannot wait for an air dry.
- Enjoy your clean bong with a fresh pack.
Notes: If you’re concerned about your piece slipping out of your hands, this is where the dish gloves come in. They will provide a better grip for you to ensure you don’t drop your piece.
If you have a bong with some percolators, cleaning can be a little more challenging. Giving them a soak beforehand will help tremendously. We recommend more preventive measures for them. We will get into those soon.
Q tips and brushes can be used for bowl heads.
How Often Should I Clean My Bong?
How often you should clean your bong or pipe depends.
For heavy smokers (daily, or multiple times a day), once every 48-72 hours is good. This is mainly to prevent bacteria growth, and keep your piece sanitary.
For light smokers (once every other day or less), with each use. This may seem backwards, but leaving your piece sitting around adds to bacteria growth, and gives the resin time to settle onto the glass.
Tips to Keep Your Glass Pipe Clean Longer
As we’ve seen; cleaning a bong is a bit of a process. It takes time and effort to clean a piece. There are ways to keep a piece clean while you use it, and mitigate the amount of cleaning you have to do.
Store your piece empty: This is a simple one. Simply empty your bowl of any left over ash and resin. Empty your bong of water. This will help decrease resin sticking to the walls of your piece, and slow bacteria growth. Also, emptying your piece, and rinsing it, will go a long way.
Screens: Screens are good for any style of pipe. They come in stainless steel mesh, glass, ceramic. These are placed in your bowl over the hole. It catches ash and resin, so a good bit of it never finds its way into your piece.
Lemon Juice: Adding a few drops of lemon juice to your water will dissolve the resin goo, and make it easier to clean.
Ash Catchers: As the name suggests, they literally catch most of the resin and ash from your pack. Ash catchers are nice little attachments that fit into the joint of your waterpipe. Adding these will make cleaning your bong easy, and leave most of it to the catcher itself along with the bowl and stem. These are especially great for pieces with extra percs. Percs can be difficult to clean, so preventing them from getting dirty is a great help.
Are There Other Things to Clean Your Bong?
Gathering the materials for cleaning can be a pain. Many glass artists and shop owners use pieces themselves, and have put some thought into the issue of cleaning a piece. They have developed products that are more refined versions of the home remedies. This way, you don’t have to search your home, or shop around a store to gather items. They come in one convenient package, meant solely for cleaning your piece.
These cleaners are available at many brick and mortar smoke shops, likely right near you, as well as online. They have what’s known as “shakers” that mimic the salt and alcohol combination. You simply pour the liquid and ground material into your piece, and it’s clean in seconds. There’s also soakers. These you pour into your piece, let sit for the given time, and let the liquid do its magic.
Now you’re all set to get and KEEP your favorite bong or pipe clean for years of use!