How to clean a bong or pipe that's made of silicone

Published Nov 26, 2019 02:00 p.m. ET
iStock / bodu9

Cannabis and glass have a relationship that’s nearly as old as time, but as the years go on, consumers and professionals are looking for exciting new materials that can help to enhance the experience. One of the most popular so far in 2019 has been silicone bongs and weed pipes, which offer a variety of benefits, but since they are made using a lesser-known material, most aren’t quite sure how to clean them without causing irreparable damage to the piece.

What is resin?

The culprit in question is often referred to as resin, and it’s that viscous liquid that builds up inside of bongs and pipes after each use. It consists of a combination of ingredients, including cannabis plant matter, oils, ashes, and when applicable, bong water. All these things come together to create a slimy substance that is very similar to grease.

Don’t use strong chemical-based cleaners on silicone

Instead of using milder soaps, most consumers end up buying mass-produced bong cleaners that are intended for use on glass. The unfortunate side effect of that is some pretty serious damage to the silicone materials that provide the integrity of the piece. Since a silicone bong or pipe doesn’t come equipped with a protective sleeve or insert, everything that you put through it comes into direct contact with the silicone.

Stronger chemicals will wash away from most glass materials, but since silicone is full of tiny little air pockets that can slowly be degraded with exposure, using it on this piece will quickly degrade its life expectancy, leading to premature cracks and tears that will eventually render it unusable.

Homemade silicone bong and pipe cleaning solution

Most glass bong cleaning recipes contain ingredients that can scratch the inside of a silicone piece, so it is important to use the right one if you want your bong or pipe to last for as long as it can. Luckily, a good silicone cleaner is really easy to make, and only requires a few simple ingredients that you probably have lying around the house.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup of steaming hot water
  • 3 drops of Dawn dish detergent
  • 2 teaspoons of white or apple cider vinegar

Instructions

  1. Add all the ingredients to a bowl and stir them together until they are thoroughly combined.

This bong cleaner recipe makes 1 cup of solution, so if you need more, just multiply the ingredients until you have enough.

How to clean a bong

Silicone bongs typically include two pieces, which are the base and a separate removable glass or metal bowl. To clean one, you will need to remove the bowl and stem piece and prepare some cleaning solution prior to following the steps set out below. Ensure your bong cleaner is fresh and steaming hot for the very best results.

  1. Find a container that your silicone pipe can fit snugly into. This will help to save on cleaning solution ingredients and make it easy to submerge the entire device.

  2. Ensure that the bowl and any other removable pieces are taken out.

  3. Place the bong base and stem into the container and fill it to the top with the cleaning solution, making sure that the inside of the tool is full too as it tends to get the dirtiest.

  4. Leave the pieces to sit in the gentle cleaning solution for one full hour before moving on to the next step.

  5. At this point, if you have a gentle plastic bristled brush you can use it to dislodge the gunk that is resting inside of the piece and bowl. If you don’t, then when the bong is done soaking, rinse it out with hot water. Remember, the silicone is made to withstand higher temperatures, and they can help to remove the thickest grime, so use water as hot as you can handle until it looks clean. The bowl can be challenging, but it’s nothing that a few cotton swabs and a bit of elbow grease can’t fix.

  6. Rest the bong over a clean dish rag or paper towels until it is dry for storage or fill it up with water right away. Either way, your freshly cleaned bong is ready to go for the next time you need it.

How to clean a pipe

You can use the same cleaning recipe for silicone pipes, but since they tend to have small and more narrow chambers, they can be more challenging to scrub completely clean, but the good news is that you don’t need so much cleaner to get them sparkling like new if you use the Ziploc baggie trick.

  1. If you have a screen or water inside of your pipe, ensure that they are removed before you proceed.

  2. Place the pipe inside of a Ziplock baggie and pour enough of the hot cleaning solution to cover it entirely. Just remember that baggies are thin, so unless you are using a safe freezer version that can withstand heat, you might have to be careful with how much you use.

  3. Once it’s full, seal up the baggie and set it inside of a sink in case of leaks while you wait for it to soak away the grime, which can take up to 1 hour.

  4. Now remove the pipe from the cleaning solution and get out your cotton swabs or gentle plastic brushes to carefully scrub away any remaining resin.

  5. Rinse the device clean with warm water, and the task is finally complete. Allow it to dry before tossing it into your rolling kit or reinstall the screen and puff away.

Everything you need to know about silicone bongs and pipes

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