Bongs can get notoriously dirty and stinky. The resin that builds up on the inside of your bong is a tarry mess and can be extremely difficult to clean. Some have turned to harsh chemicals (like carburetor cleaner) to remove the grime but this can leave a dangerous residue that is toxic when heated.
Instead, use some natural ingredients and a bit of elbow grease to get your bong spic and span clean.
Why You Should Clean Your Bong Regularly
A big part of the marijuana experience is the taste of your favorite ganja going down.
You might not think smoke has a taste, but it does. Just like everything else you put in your mouth, molecules from decarboxylated weed interact with the taste buds on your tongue to produce all different kinds of flavors.
You might not experience a rush of taste like you do when you pop a Jolly Rancher in your mouth, but the flavor is still there nonetheless.
Thing is, when you don’t clean your bong, the resin, slime, filthy bong water, and every other source of uncleanness start to give off a flavor of their own. And that flavor is not good.
If you’ve ever accidentally eaten a bad tomato, that’s the taste you can expect to experience if you don’t clean your bong. It’ll make you want to wash your mouth out with soap.
The longer you avoid cleaning your bong, the worse it will get.
Smell is one of the first signs you’ll detect that indicates it’s time to clean your bong.
Whether it comes from buildup on the walls of your bong or the stagnant water in the bottom, it’s going to smell bad. And when we say bad, we mean swamp-water-and-ashes bad.
We don’t know about you, but we’ve never found swamps particularly good-smelling in the first place. We certainly wouldn’t want to bring one into our home.
That’s exactly what you’re doing when you don’t clean your bong: creating a festering swamp of stink that will permeate the walls, the carpet, the furniture, and even your clothes.
Avoid the foul odors by rinsing your bong regularly.
Bacteria is the big offender when it comes to reasons why you should clean your bong more often.
After only 22 hours, bacteria of all sorts begin growing inside a dirty bong. And it only gets worse over time.
If you don’t think that sounds so bad, in extreme situations — we’re talking severely dirty bongs — necrotizing pneumonia is a very real possibility.
Notice the word ‘necrotizing’? That means that some of your lung tissue dies. Ouch!
Don’t risk severe medical problems. Just clean your bong.
Another good reason to clean your bong more often is that it becomes more difficult over time. The longer you wait, the harder you’re going to have to scrub.
If you’ve ever had to break out the steel wool to get your dinner dishes clean, that’s what you’ll have to face the longer you delay cleaning your bong.
The thing about washing a bong is you can’t get your hand down in there to really scrub.
Not only will you have baked-on resin to contend with, but you also won’t be able to reach it with conventional tools.
That’s a recipe for cleaning disaster (and lots of colorful swear words).
But if you clean your ganja gear on a regular basis, it will be infinitely easier to remove the resin, grime, and filth that builds in your bong with every use.
Which would you rather do: spend several hours trying to clean your bong with harsh chemicals or rinse it with hot water for several seconds?
We’ll take the latter option every time.
How Often To Clean Your Bong
For heavy smokers, we recommend cleaning your bong at least every 48 hours.
The heat and smoke from regular use will slow the growth of harmful bacteria, but only up to a point. Eventually, nothing you do short of removing the bacteria from your bong will prevent it from getting into your lungs.
So if you smoke a clean bong first thing Monday morning, wash the heck out of that thing after your first smoke Wednesday morning (48 hours later).
Alternatively, you could just clean your bong every second day before going to bed so it’s ready to go when you wake up in the morning.
For example, if you smoke a clean bong first thing Monday morning, wash the residue out Tuesday night before you hit the sack.
Wake up Wednesday, toke to your heart’s content, and then wash the bong again before bed Thursday night. Repeat ad infinitum.
Eventually, it will become habit and you’ll do it without even thinking about it — which is good because you’ll be stoned out of your gourd.
Casual smokers should clean their bongs after every use.
It seems counterintuitive that heavy smokers can clean their bong less, but it all comes back to bacteria growth.
Casual smokers often go days between one smoke sesh and the next. When you don’t subject the bacteria to heat and smoke every few hours, it has plenty of time to grow and get stronger.
If you’re planning on toking one, two, or three times a week, clean your bong after every use.
You’ll avoid the issue of bacteria growth entirely and enjoy good flavors and aromas every time.
Signs That You Should Clean Your Bong Immediately
The slimy film that coats your bong after several uses is the perfect place to grow fungi and bacteria.
As we mentioned earlier, bacteria is extremely harmful if enough of it gets into your lungs.
Fungi (a.k.a. mold) is also no good when it comes to your lungs and respiration. Certain fungi can cause medical problems, not to mention kick your allergies into high gear.
Resin Build Up
Dealing with resin is a fact of life for the regular bong user. It builds up in all sorts of hard-to-reach places and can seriously affect the taste, smell, and overall experience of your marijuana.
If you see a slight discoloration and a thin layer of stickiness anywhere on your bong, follow the instructions below to remove that resin from the inside of your piece.
If you neglect the resin buildup too long, it could actually adhere permanently to the surface of your bong. No matter what you do after that, you won’t be able to remove all the resin. Your only recourse will be to discard the bong and get a new one.
Brown, Stinky Water
Even if you leave clean water in your bong for a few days, it will eventually grow stagnant and turn brown and stinky.
Remember the swamp analogy we used above? This is it in a nutshell.
Smoking a bowl or two without changing the water in-between only accelerates the stagnation process because you’ve introduced smoke and other impurities into the mix.
Yes, that’s the water’s job — to filter out some of the harshness of the pot smoke — but those impurities build up over time. The water will start to smell and will become a breeding ground for bacteria.
Nobody wants to hit a bong full of swamp water. Who knows what else they’ll be breathing in?
Dump your bong water after every use and replace with fresh water the next time around.
White Or Black Specks
White or black specks on the inside of the bong indicate ash build up. If not removed on a regular basis, this ash forms “chunks” that you can accidentally dislodge and inhale if you’re not careful.
And just as it sounds, pieces of ash in your lungs is never a good thing. Scrub that ash off your bong and avoid the problem altogether.
How To Clean A Bong: The Ultimate Guide
Cleaning a bong may seem like a daunting task. And in some respects, it is. It’s not like you can get your hand down in there to scrub out all the gooey mess. But just because it’s daunting doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be done.
In this section, we’ll tell you everything you need to know to get your bong spic-and-span clean like the day you bought it.
Here’s what you’ll need:
- Hot water
- Rubbing alcohol
- Cotton balls
- Hand towels
- Small Ziploc bags or tupperware containers with lids
- Bottle brush or pipe cleaners (optional)
Now that you’ve assembled all your supplies, here’s a step-by-step guide for how to clean your bong.
1) Dump Out The Dirty Bong Water
You’d think this would be a given and not worth mentioning, but the simplest thing can be overlooked when you’re flying in a blue dream. We want to be thorough so here’s your reminder: dump out the bong water first.
2) Take Apart Your Bong
Separate the bowl and the stem from the bong proper. If your bowl and stem are two pieces, separate those as well. If your bong has any other movable or removable parts, guess what? You need to take those apart too. Your bong should now be completely disassembled.
3) Rinse Everything With Hot Water
Hot running water is a great way to start the cleansing process. It dislodges some of the surface resin that has built up with repeated use and starts to dissolve the bonds that bind the gunk in place.
Get the water as hot as you can tolerate and consider wearing dish-washing gloves (those ugly yellow things). The gloves allow you to make the water hotter which turbo-charges the process.
If you think about it while you’re rinsing, fill from the top and empty from the slide opening. This will minimize the chances of the loose residue getting caught anywhere else.
4) Put Each Loose Piece In Its Own Container
And no, you don’t want to use the same baggies your weed came in. We’re trying to clean things here folks. Tupperware containers with lids also make for a great reusable, earth-friendly alternative.
And, no, you don’t have to put the bong itself in a baggie or plastic container. We’ll clean that by itself in a later step.
After you’ve got each loose piece in its own baggie or tupperware container, pour in at least ¼ cup of your rubbing alcohol along with at least one tablespoon of salt.
For larger pieces, go with ½ cup rubbing alcohol and two tablespoons salt. The proportions aren’t really important, just so that both ingredients are there.
Rubbing alcohol is mildly acidic which helps to breakdown the sticky resin that builds up inside the bong.
Salt is an abrasive that works in concert with the acid to add scrubbing power to the solution.
As an alternative to the rubbing alcohol, you can use vinegar which is also a mild acid. As an alternative to the salt, you can use rice to help scrub the bong clean.
If you choose to use rice, don’t let it sit too long in the alcohol (or vinegar) because it will start to absorb the liquid and soften. This will decrease its abrasive power.
And if you do decide to use rice, don’t eat it no matter how hungry you get. Those pesky (or awesome) munchies can make you eat some really weird stuff. Resist the urge to make stir fry with the rice you use to clean your bong…no matter how delicious it looks
After you seal the baggies or plastic containers, shake them vigorously. This moves the alcohol and the salt through all the tiny curves and crevices and breaks up the marijuana resin that has gathered there.
When you think you’ve shaken enough, shake more. You may have to do this for at least five minutes to really dislodge the sticky mess.
If you’ve added enough alcohol to completely cover each piece, you can let them soak for 10 to 15 minutes, and then come back and shake some more. This is especially useful if you’ve built up layer upon layer of bong resin from years of use.
Once the small pieces are clean to your satisfaction, set them aside (still in their baggies) and turn your attention to the main event: the bong itself.
6) Pour Salt In The Bong
Add at least two tablespoons of salt into your bong; three would be better. Depending on the size of the pipe you’re using, you may want to add four or five.
Remember, salt will dissolve in liquids, so put enough salt in the bong that some stays out of solution (not dissolved). This helps increase the abrasiveness of the solution you’re making.
7) Pour Alcohol In The Bong
Pour at least ½ cup of rubbing alcohol into your bong. Again, depending on the size of the pipe itself, you may need to add more. Don’t worry about the ratio of salt to alcohol. It really doesn’t make any difference as long as there’s enough of both to get a good swishing going.
8) Plug The Holes
Using the hand towels, plug all the holes in your bong. You can also use plastic wrap and rubber bands to seal the holes. If the holes are small enough, you could also use cotton balls. If you really wanted to get fancy, you could purchase a few beaker stoppers from your local beaker store.
If you live in an area with no beaker store (we feel sorry for you), just place one hand over the mouth and one hand over the hole where the stem goes. Don’t forget to put a finger over the carburetor hole.
Just like you did with the small pieces in their baggies, shake the bong vigorously so that the alcohol and salt solution gets moved around on all surfaces. Continue to shake the whole thing for at least five minutes. Then shake longer.
While you’re shaking the bong, you can be satisfied that you got your exercise for the day. Who knew shaking would be such hard work?
10) Rinse Everything With Hot Water
Remove the small pieces from their baggies and dump the alcohol/salt solution from the bong. Rinse everything with the hottest water you can get.
Rinsing helps to remove the residual resin, the salt, and the alcohol from the surfaces of your bong. If some stubborn pieces remain (particularly in the bowl or the stem), use a Q-tip or a bottle brush (probably available at your local beaker store) to pick away at the mass.
After you remove that last little piece, rinse again with hot water and let everything air dry before using again.
11) Repeat (Optional)
If it’s been years or since last you cleaned your bong (first, ewww), you may have to repeat the entire process again (or even several times). Eventually, the alcohol, the salt, and the repeated agitation will peel away the layers of goo to reveal the sparkling glass underneath.
The above process can take some time, especially if you’ve gone a while without cleaning. To avoid a difficult mess, clean your bong regularly (as in after every use) rather than once a month or longer.
And before you say, “No way,” cleaning after every use is as simple as rinsing with hot water because you don’t have all the gook built up from repeated use. Cleaning it like this will drastically reduce the time you spend on this activity.
Think about it this way: would you rather spend three minutes or less cleaning your bong after each use (you’re washing pizza plates anyway) or an hour or more after a few weeks of resin build-up? The answer seems obvious to us.
Here are some other tips to make keeping your bong an easy job.
1) Use Vinegar Or Lemon Juice For Hard Water Stains
Hard water stains can be difficult to remove, especially from the inside of a bong. What’s more, they make your bong look dirty even when it’s not.
To combat the build up hard water stains, pour some vinegar into the bowl of your bong and swish for a minute or two. For added cleaning, let the bong sit with the vinegar in the bottom for a few minutes after you’re done swishing. Finally, rinse with hot water and let the whole thing air dry.
Another method for combating hard water stains is lemon juice and hot water. Combine the hot water and lemon juice in the bowl of your bong and then swish. Let it sit for a few minutes and then rinse with hot water.
2) Add Two Drops Of Lemon Juice To The Water While You Smoke
Fresh lemon juice contains enzymes that break down the gooey resin that builds up on the inside of your bong. Adding just two drops to the water you use while smoking, prevents the gunky mess from forming. The lemon juice also helps kill the disgusting bong water smell and keeps things fresh.
It only takes a few drops to achieve the desired effect. In this case, more is not better. Too much lemon juice will start to overpower the flavors of your favorite strain. Two small drops is enough.
3) Store Your Bong Empty
Again, this may seem like common sense, but we want to be sure and cover all our bases. After you’ve come down from your date with Mary Jane, just empty your bong and rinse it out as outlined above. This will keep everything clean and tidy and ready for your next smoke.
Putting It All Together
Cleaning your bong doesn’t have to be a major undertaking and you don’t have to use specialized cleaners with all kinds of toxic chemicals. Just a quick rinse with a few natural ingredients after every use (or every other use) will have your bong sparkling and crystal clear as the day you bought it.
For more information on all things cannabis and to check out our 100-percent all-natural marijuana products, visit HonestMarijuana.com today.