Photo by Connor Fyfe for Herb
Have you tried nectar collectors? They’ll have you sipping on your concentrate like a juice box and getting mellow, nitid highs with consistency. If you have tried them, however, you might know that they will beg for some cleaning after a month or so, and the task might seem daunting due to their complexity and fragility.
Just like a dab rig, these nifty devices help you smoke your wax, oil, resin, or any other concentrate at hand by vaporizing it with a heated metal or quartz tip. What makes nectar collectors different from dab rigs is that instead of bringing the concentrate up to the rig with a nail and heating it, you bring the heated tip of the collector to some concentrate set on a dish and inhale.
Nectar collectors can be more portable than dab rigs and might require less equipment, so if you’re into dabbing they are something you should investigate.
They are usually made from silicone or glass, with a tip made of quartz or titanium, materials able to withstand the ultra-high temperatures that this method requires (around 700 Fahrenheit). But how exactly do you go about cleaning these clever gadgets?
First things first, you must have adequate materials at hand. Isopropyl alcohol should be the first thing you procure, it will help you ease off the gunk, mold, and bacteria off every surface of the collector.
A good complement as a cleaning solution can be some salt dissolved in water, so get that ready as well.
For this, you should get some plastic bags, one for each individual piece on your collector.
Finally, some hot water will finish the job. Running, water is also fine, but we will get to this later.
Make sure you’ve given it some time to chill before you get to this. Get every individual part disassembled and line them up neatly. By cleaning parts separately, you can make sure no pieces break and each part gets the attention it deserves as they accumulate dirt to different degrees.
Here’s where the isopropyl alcohol comes into play. Fill up a small container with the alcohol and if you have some available, mix it with some salt solution and stir. Salt will help ease the resin that sticks to surfaces, and you can use it somewhat liberally if you think you require more cleaning power.
Pour some of your cleaning solution in plastic bags or any other receptacle in which the parts fit and let them soak from 30 to 60 minutes. If your nail (the part that you heat up and meets the concentrate) is made from titanium, keep it away from the alcohol solution, we will get to how to clean this later.
The time required may vary according to the depth of the nooks and crannies of each section and how dirty they are, but by checking on them periodically you can tell when they’ve had enough. If your piece is particularly dirty, don’t be afraid to let it soak overnight, there’s really no hurry.
After the soaking, it’s time for the rinsing. Put each piece under a stream of running water, hot water works best, and try to make sure that no cleaning solution or salt residues remain. Afterward, you may want to assess the cleanliness of each part of the nectar collector, as some may need additional attention before they sparkle.
Be gentle here, as some parts of the nectar collector can be particularly fragile. You can dip a Q-tip in your cleaning solution or just plain water to scrub away the dirt that remains attached within crevasses. If you’re a perfectionist, being diligent with this step is the key to absolute cleanliness.
Give each part another rinse with (preferably hot) water to finish the job. This step is important, as inhaling alcohol fumes can be dangerous you should make sure all of it is rinsed away before the nectar collector leaves the wash.
Afterward, let it dry. You can always leave it to dry overnight on top of a towel, but using paper towels is also a viable option, just make sure the paper doesn’t disintegrate creating another mess.
If your nail is made of quartz, just clean it as you would any other part, this material handles the cleaning solution well. If your nail is made from titanium, however, the cleaning solution we’ve concocted could deteriorate the protective outer coating.
Cleaning a titanium nail can be a hassle, and could have its own how-to, but for now, know that you will need to use milder, ideally natural cleaning solutions and a soft brush to remove any residue that refuses to come off.
After every part is clean and dry, you can put it together and get back to dabbing. Give it a quick sniff before you heat it up though, just to make sure it doesn’t smell of alcohol. If it does, give it another rinse and let it dry once more.
Although the process described above applies to both glass and silicone nectar collectors, there are some caveats to cleaning each of them. The obvious thing with glass is that it is more fragile, so look after your piece as you clean it.
Also, if you have a glass nectar collector there is a clever trick you can use to get it clean in a jiffy, without having to soak it for long periods of time.
Fill a container with the isopropyl alcohol cleaning solution and then gently suck on the mouthpiece of your collector to get some of it in (make sure none of it ends up in your mouth! Be careful!). Afterwards, cover both ends of the collector tightly with paper towels and shake vigorously to get all the dirt off.
Then all you have to do is rinse the device thoroughly with hot running water to finish up this express cleaning process.
To make the cleaning process easier, we suggest you get an easy to disassemble glass nectar collector like this kit from Piranha.
The trouble with cleaning silicone nectar collectors is that you won’t be able to check how the cleaning process is going. Using the method described above works best, but you will have to trust the fact that you were thorough, as there’s really no way to be sure that you got all that pesky resin off.
With silicone nectar collectors soaking overnight in both solution and water works best, the material will hold up and you can have some certainty that the cleaning agents have had the opportunity to work their magic.
For an easy to clean silicone nectar collector, go with this device from Eyce.
After a few dab sessions, you will notice a thick, gluey substance that builds up in your collector, this is reclaim. While concentrate is generally amber-colored, reclaim is a dark brown. It contains 30 to 60% THC and has higher than normal amounts of cannabinol (CBN), meaning it causes some drowsiness.
You can still smoke it, but first we must get it off the rig. Here’s how.
To get it out, you’ll want to fill your collector up with isopropyl alcohol, cover the ends up with paper towels to ensure none of it comes out, and give it a good shake to dislodge the reclaim stuck to it.
When you’ve shaken the reclaim off the walls and it’s swimming in the alcohol, empty the whole thing into a Pyrex dish. Heat the dish with the solution on a hot plate at the lowest temperature setting possible (do NOT use an open flame, remember alcohol is flammable) until the liquid evaporates.
Let the reclaim sit in the dish for a day or two, it has to air dry, and you can never be too careful.
After it dries, you can scrape it off with a razor blade or spatula and that should leave it ready to smoke.
For silicone nectar collectors, the same process described above will do the trick.
However, another way of doing this is to freeze the nectar collector completely.
Try to leave it a full night in the freezer to achieve this. Then, bend and twist it and the reclaim will pop off immediately.
This method is great as it eliminates the need for alcohol or nasty chemicals and lets you smoke, dab, or bake your reclaim as soon as you get it off the collector.
After one hour you will be in the 'Clear Zone' for up to 5 hours.
That fly you just swatted was actually RuPaul, "you better buzz b*tch."
Take a seat, grab a cannabis-infused drink, and stay awhile.