But that all of that masks an important variable to consider: how to clean a glass pipe.
In this article, the experts at Honest Marijuana tell you everything you need to know about the how, what, why, and where of keeping your glass pipe crystal clean.
How To Clean A Glass Pipe
Here’s what you need to give your glass pipe a thorough and vigorous cleaning:
- Hot water
- Rubbing alcohol
- Hand towels
- Small Ziploc bag or tupperware container with lid
- Bottlebrush or pipe cleaners (optional)
1) Disassemble Your Glass Pipe
Most glass pipes are simple, one-piece deals. Others are complicated conglomerations of glass bits.
If your glass pipe falls into the former category, don’t try to disassemble it — you’ll likely break the pipe and cut yourself in the process. We give you permission to move on to step two.
But if your glass pipe falls in the latter category, dismantle that sucker in preparation for the next step.
2) Rinse In Hot Water
Hot running water is one of the best ways to jump-start the cleaning process.
The pressure of the running water dislodges some of the surface resin that builds up with repeated use, and the heat of the water 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.
We once tried 18” cowhide welding gloves so we could get the water boiling-lava hot, but that didn’t work so well. Dish-washing gloves are best.
3) Place Your Glass Pipe In A Plastic Container
After you’ve rinsed your glass pipe in hot running water, place it in a small Ziploc bag or Tupperware container with a lid.
We use the word “Tupperware” here to refer to any type of small, sealable storage container. It doesn’t have to be brand-name stuff — but it should be soft plastic.
The next step involves vigorous motion (yeah, baby!), and glass-on-glass action — or metal-on-glass — can crack, chip, or even shatter your pipe.
Don’t have any plastic storage containers? Don’t fret. Get creative instead. We once used a cheap plastic cold-meat container we found hiding in the back of our fridge (after we cleaned it, of course) when we didn’t have the regular stuff.
Old peanut butter jar? Yep. Gatorade bottle? Sure, if the pipe fits through the mouth. Metal travel mug? No. You get the idea.
4) Submerge Your Glass Pipe
Next, pour in at least ¼ cup of rubbing alcohol along with at least one tablespoon of salt. (For larger glass pipes, we recommend ½ cup of rubbing alcohol and two tablespoons of salt.)
The proportions aren’t vital, just so that both ingredients are there and there’s plenty of alcohol and salt in relation to the size of your glass pipe.
Rubbing alcohol is mildly acidic, which helps to breakdown the sticky resin that builds up inside the bong. And salt is an abrasive that works in concert with the acid to add scrubbing power to the solution.
- Vinegar (which is also a mild acid)
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.
Resist the urge to make stir-fry with the rice you use to clean your bong…no matter how delicious it looks.
5) Shake It Up, Baby
After you seal the baggie or plastic container, shake it 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 resin from prolonged use.
6) More Hot Water
Remove the glass pipe from the baggie or container, discard the dirty alcohol, and rinse everything in hot water. Rinsing helps to remove the residual resin, the salt, and the alcohol.
If some stubborn pieces remain (particularly in the narrow stem), use a pipe cleaner or a bottlebrush 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 it again.
7) Repeat (Optional)
If it’s been weeks, or even months, since you last cleaned your glass pipe (first, ewww!), you may have to repeat the entire process again (or several times).
Eventually, the alcohol, salt, and repeated agitation will peel away the layers of goo to reveal the sparkling glass underneath.
Why You Should Clean Your Glass Pipe Regularly
Bacteria is the big offender when it comes to reasons why you should clean your glass pipe more often.
After only 22 hours, bacteria of all sorts begin growing inside a dirty pipe. And it only gets worse over time.
If you don’t think that sounds so bad, consider this: in extreme situations — we’re talking severely dirty pipes — necrotizing pneumonia is a very real possibility. Notice the word “necrotizing”? That means some of your lung tissue dies. Ouch!
Don’t risk severe medical problems. Follow this guide for how to clean a glass pipe and you’ll be fine.
Smell is one of the first signs that it’s time to clean your pipe. That bacteria we mentioned above? In addition to being bad for your health, it also starts to stink after a while.
It’s the same science behind body order: bacteria breaks down your sweat, leaving behind an unpleasant odor.
Granted, your glass pipe doesn’t contain sweat (if it does, you’re doing something wrong), but bacteria can survive and thrive on a variety of substances — including marijuana ash and resin.
Avoid the foul stench by cleaning your glass pipe 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.
Maybe you won’t experience a rush of taste like you do when you pop a Jolly Rancher in your mouth, but the flavor is there nonetheless.
Thing is, when you don’t clean your glass pipe, the resin, slime, 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 glass pipe. It’ll make you want to wash your mouth out with soap.
The longer you avoid cleaning your pipe the worse it gets.
Another good reason to clean your pipe frequently is that it becomes more difficult over time to get rid of all the grime. 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 when you delay cleaning your pipe for too long.
The thing about washing a glass pipe 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 pipe with every use.
Which would you rather do: spend several hours trying to clean your pipe with harsh chemicals or rinse it with hot water for several seconds?
We’ll take the latter option every time.
How To Clean A Glass Pipe: Key Takeaway
Cleaning your glass pipe doesn’t have to be a major undertaking, and you don’t have to use caustic 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 glass pipe as sparkling and crystal clean 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.