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3 Tips for Cleaning Your Smoking Devices

July 06, 2018 3 min read 7 Comments

monk cleaning bowl at river

Why and how to keep your piece in tip top shape

When it comes to smoking, there’s a few undesirable elements that come with the territory. Not counting adults who experience anxiety or panic attacks and the links between adolescent use with developmental and social problems, it’s harmless. However, it is often messy.

Being smack in the middle of Millennial age category, there’s fond remembrances of the DARE program and the infamous “Just Say No!” slogan. Looking back, all the fearmongering made some matters a lot worse, by roping everything that can give you a buzz into the same category of “bad.”

In reality, a more objective look at how the world and substances work would have been probably been more effective. And useful tips, like cleaning your glass pieces the au naturel way (which I’ll cover below), would have been a lot more practical.

Why your glass gets dirty & why to clean

Every time you spark a bowl, a couple things happen prior to the smoke reaching your lungs. By igniting the herb, it burns, producing a couple biproducts. Most notably, water is released from your weed which binds with the heated plant matter (i.e. ash and carbon) which forms what we call “resin” or “reclaim” in some circles.

Flowery bud is sticky in itself because of components called trichomes which retain much of their stickiness after being burned. As all these elements pass through a bowl, some will inevitably stick to parts of your smoking device. This is one of the primary reasons bongs or even bubblers are preferred by many people as the water prevents a lot this shit from making it into your lungs.

As this goo accumulates, it will eventually obstruct the passage of smoke, which we’ve likely all experienced at some point. The main problem is that alters the flavor of your herb. Basically, this is equivalent of not washing your dishes, for example, eating spaghetti from a bowl then using it shortly thereafter to smash some Cinnamon Toast Crunch.

Cleaning your bowl

Some will laboriously scrape resin to smoke at later time but you should know: it’s a waste of your time. Any “high” you get off it is a psychological effect, paralleling the placebo effect of a sugar pill, and anyone who tells you other wise is wrong.

Instead, you should clean your stuff using one of the methods below.

Boil your smoking device

This is a popular method for easily getting rid of resin without chemicals however, you need to keep in mind that with glass, temperature changes can cause these pieces to break. Ideally, don’t do this with elaborate pieces – use this method to clean smaller, thick hand pipes as well as metal.

To effectively boil your bowl, try this:

  • Either designate a cooking pot for cleaning or go to a second-hand store and get a basic metal or ceramic pot. Stay away from Teflon and non-stick designs.
  • Get a hold of the purest water you can, ideally distilled water. Avoid tap and well water since these can leave behind chemicals or minerals after drying.
  • Get some pipe cleaners
  • Place the piece in pot with the water and heat to a boil. Use tongs or some kind of tool to occasionally extract the device and push through the pipe cleaners until clean

Isopropyl alcohol and salt

On its own, alcohol will break apart the binds holding the resin together and detach it from the inner surface of your pipe. Both Kosher salt and sea salt are slightly corrosive, meaning it helps the process without scratching the glass.

To successfully clean with salt and alcohol, try this:

  • Find the highest percent rubbing alcohol available. No, whiskey won’t work as well because it has sugars.
  • Ready your sea salt grinder.
  • Pour the two in the chamber (don't go overboard with the salt) then shake, rinse, and repeat until clean.
  • Optional: use a Tupperware like container (the software the plastic, the better – bonus points if you have a silicone container) where you can combine the mixture and gently shake until clean.

Use a marijuana cleaner

We stock the highly popular Formula 420 Original Cleaner like virtually every head shop you’ll encounter. The company claims the formula is “all natural” so it shouldn’t leave behind any dangerous chemicals. And if it did, there probably would have been a lawsuit by now.

bong glass cleaner 420 cleaner

The big advantage to using this cleaner is that it’s the fastest method for cleaning so if you’re lazy, busy, or both, this is the way to go. To use it, follow the same process described above for the alcohol and salt method.

7 Responses

Francis Green
Francis Green

October 21, 2020

All of these methods for cleaning are helpful. Thanks

Walter D ward
Walter D ward

September 21, 2020

I use 420 then dawn dish soap then hot water to rinse.


August 30, 2020

Oxi-clean works wonders too. I dump the oxi Powder straight Into the piece, place it in a jar or bucket, and dump the hottest water you can in. In a few minutes it bubbles and the bubbles bring out the gunk. If you can soak it for a few hours, even better. Rinse and repeat if necessary

Verna Dobbs
Verna Dobbs

July 03, 2020

The new foaming or spray Dawn works so screaming good . Love it!


April 07, 2020

Thanks for the tips! I’ve smoked for years and appreciate a clean bong. Had been using alcohol 91% alone in an overnight soak and cleaned with pipe cleaner. Rinse, dry and good to go <3. Will def try the other methods

Sylvia Wendel
Sylvia Wendel

April 07, 2020

Another good way to clean pieces is by putting them in a glass or bowl with two Polident Smokers denture-cleaning tabs. Add very warm water, and let the mixture soak for a minimum of fifteen minutes. Drain, and use clean Q-tips to wipe off any remaining scum. This method won’t remove years of glued-on gunk, but it will keep small glass pipes and chillums from ever getting that bad. You can order the tabs online if you’re too embarrassed to buy them in the drugstore! Also, in some areas the Smokers tabs are hard to find, but Walmart carries them.

J. Cefalu
J. Cefalu

February 14, 2020

Big 👍.. Amen 2 that! Why would any1 put high $Dollar- Flowers into a filthy-awful terrible stench? Take pride in those beautiful glass pieces!
Keep The

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