How To Clean A Bong
If you’ve gone to all the trouble of getting some righteously dank weed, it’s just not right to smoke it through a nasty bong. You can probably recall a couple times when someone’s dirty piece almost ruined your enjoyment of what, otherwise, would have been a tasty bowl. That’s why you need to know how to clean a bong and how to clean a glass bong specifically—it’s not that hard.
(Note: commercial cleaning liquids are available, but in our experience, the methods below work just as well.)
How Often Should You Clean Your Bong or Water Pipe?
How often you clean your bong is a personal choice depending on your comfort level. It also, of course, depends on how often you smoke.
There are some folks who clean their piece weekly; some clean it daily. And, believe it or not, I personally know some pro-level tokers who refuse to use a piece unless it is cleaned after every hit or two. That’s a little much though.
If you’re a heavy smoker, you should probably clean your piece every one to two days. At a minimum, change your dirty bong water every day. Keeping fresh water in your bong helps prevent the growth of bacteria.
Why A Clean Bong Is Important
A sparkling clean bong is a thing of beauty. Not only does cannabis taste its best through a clean piece, but it makes for a better smoke session with friends.
Perhaps the best reason of all to keep clean a bong, however, is that smoking from a dirty piece can cause respiratory irritation. It can even put you at a greater risk for lung infection.
Signs You Need To Clean Your Bong
Before we get into how to clean your bong, here are some signs that it’s time:
- Slimy film inside the bong
- Heavy resin buildup
- Brown, discolored bong water
- Especially smell bong water
- White or gray mold fuzz on resin build up
- White or black specks along bong or water pipe walls
How To Clean A Bong With Alcohol
We’ll just say it. This is, in our opinion, hands down, the best way to clean a bong. (For instructions on how to clean a bong without alcohol, see below).
1. Gather cleaning supplies
To get that piece just as clean as it was the day you fell in love with it, you’ll need the following items:
- Table salt, rock salt, or rice (abrasives)
- Rubbing (isopropyl) alcohol, preferably 91% or 99% (cleans much better)
- Pipe cleaners, twist-ties, etc., to clean stem and other tight spots
- Small pieces of fabric, cotton, or cork with which to plug stem and cover bong
- Rubber bands to secure parts while shaking
- Optional: Plastic gloves because isopropyl’s rough on your skin and grunge is gross on your hands
Make sure you have these necessary elements in place when figuring out how to clean your bong, Then, you’re ready to get started. This method takes about 20-40 minutes, depending on your level of detail.
2. Take the piece apart, rinse with water
Remove all detachable parts from the piece, paying, of course, particular attention to the bowl and stem. Rinse everything thoroughly with water. Hot water can help dislodge big wads of gross resin from inside.
3. Add alcohol and abrasive (rice or salt)
Now it’s time to add your alcohol (solvent) and salt or rice (abrasives) to the bong. Add the abrasives first; if you use salt, use enough so that it doesn’t all dissolve in the alcohol (you need enough abrasion for scrubbing). After adding alcohol, cover the stem and the tube with pieces of fabric, cotton, or cork and secure them.
4. Shake vigorously, repeat. Soak.
Shake the fuck out of your bong with the alcohol and abrasives inside it. I know your arms probably hurt, but this is important. Shake for at least five minutes. Make sure the holes are blocked to prevent alcohol and abrasives from going everywhere. Be careful; you probably have wet hands, and it would be a bummer to drop that expensive glass piece.
The same goes for cleaning a pipe. Immerse it in alcohol and abrasives, and shake for at least five minutes. Thoroughly clean the piece while you’ve got everything out; who knows when you’ll do this again.
If your piece is really dirty, you might need to go through the whole process twice or even three times.
Long-neglected pieces will likely need some soaking time to remove dry, caked-on grunge. If it’s in bad shape, let it soak at least a couple hours; rinse thoroughly afterward with hot water to dislodge any remaining resin.
When you’ve gotten rid of all the icky grunge in your piece, pour the resulting mix of alcohol, abrasives, and grunge into the toilet and magically flush it away.
5. Don’t neglect details
Some difficult-to-reach parts of your piece, such as the stem, might not get completely cleaned. To address those spots, you can soak pipe cleaners in alcohol until you reach all those stubborn places.
Don’t forget one final, thorough rinse with hot water—you don’t want to leave the residual smell of alcohol in a fine smoking piece. Let the piece dry.
Now, you have a clean piece in which to torch that delicious weed.
How To Clean A Bong Without Alcohol
Although isopropyl alcohol is a safe household solvent when thoroughly rinsed away, some people prefer to avoid using it altogether. It’s a good idea, then, to know how to clean a bong without alcohol. The easiest way is with water.
The key to this method on how to clean a glass bong—which takes about 45 minutes—is to boil enough water to completely cover the piece in a saucepan. Reduce the heat to a simmer and submerge the piece for about 30 minutes. Be sure that the simmer is hot enough to release a few bubbles, but not so hot as to evaporate the water and leave the piece uncovered. (That could lead to cracking.)
After about half an hour has passed, carefully drain the water. Clean and dry the piece thoroughly with a towel, paper towels and/or pipe cleaners.
How To Quickly Clean Your Dirty Bong With Lemon
Some people who don’t like using alcohol think the best way to clean a bong is lemon juice. Some folks actually insist this is the best way to clean a bong. Using this method, which takes about 20 minutes, you can eliminate most of the grunge from a heavily-used piece—and add a more pleasant smell before using it again.
- Boil the purest water possible (filtered or bottled water is recommended)
- Add lemon juice to your piece—ideally, a freshly squeezed lemon, but a bottle of lemon juice will work too
- Carefully pour the boiling water into your lemon-soaked piece
- Shake thoroughly, then wait five minutes. This will allow the lemon juice’s acidity and the water’s heat to rid the smell and grunge from your bong.
- After the solution has cooled, pour it out and rinse with warm water.