3 Tips for Cleaning Your Smoking Devices

3 min read
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.

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