Things to avoid when you're cleaning a bong or pipe

Published Mar 21, 2021 11:00 a.m. ET
iStock / Olena Bondarenko

A dirty bong is just a fact of life when you’re a cannabis connoisseur who can’t get enough of that good stuff. It’s gross, annoying, smelly, and all-around something that we wish could be avoided, but alas, here we sit. We’ve got self-driving cars, AI systems more intelligent than any person, and we’re in the middle of a full-blown plan to build a five-star hotel up in space, but still, we’re no closer to the self-cleaning bong or pipe.

The dream is real, and we should work to keep it alive because we could all use a bit more convenience in this fast-paced world, but in the meantime, while we wait for some super genius to hand us the solution, we need to focus on how to do things the good old-fashioned way, by hand. Everyone has tips and tricks to share while claiming that their way is better, safer, faster, and easier, but no matter what, there are some things that you should avoid along the way.

1. Store-bought bong cleaner

Plain old hot water isn’t usually enough to do the trick, especially if you’ve let that grime sit, providing it with ample time to thicken, harden, and strengthen its grasp on your device. Dish soap isn’t going to cut it either, but you know that you need something to get the job done, so you reach for an average run-of-the-mill store-bought bong cleaner. You crack it open, and it reeks, a sign that there are hazardous chemicals within, making it something that you should avoid entirely.

Of course, some say that a good rinse should be enough to eliminate most of the risk, but if you want a healthier solution that will get your bong clean, there are plenty out there to choose from. Vinegar or alcohol combined with just enough salt to help stir things up should work quite nicely, and then you won’t have to worry about the potential for adverse health effects.

2. Scraping tools

If you peer into any of the available holes of your device and see a thick, black sludge mucking things up, you might wonder how it could be possible to get it all out with liquid alone, or you could be debating how high you might get from going out of your way to harvesting the resin, and in both situations, it’s not uncommon to reach for some sort of scraping tool.

Whether it’s a bobby pin, metal wire, or a dab tool, it’s probably tempting to poke something down in there to get things moving, but we promise you that this is a bad idea. Since you’re digging into small spaces typically surrounded by glass, it doesn’t take much pressure to break the piece, scrape away paint, or create grooves that will make future cleanings even more challenging, so it’s best not to do it.

3. Rough brushes

Wire or hard plastic tube brushes are a go-to tool that can work great to clean things like straws, but much like the scraping tool, they can wreak havoc on a bong or pipe, with little to no effort at all, covering all of the surfaces in scars that cannot be removed. They also tend to have a metal base, which can, with a small amount of pressure, smack glass into pieces.

If you want to maintain the integrity of your bongs and pipes, which will help to ensure that they last as long as possible through years of use, then you’re going to want to avoid these abrasive weapons at all costs. On the rare occasion that a device is so badly clogged that it seems like there is no other way, the best option is a soft-bristled brush that feels smooth against your skin, like a toothbrush.

4. Boiling or applying extreme heat

Yes, normally, really hot, steamy water can help to break up sludge when you’re cleaning, but this should never be a tactic taken with any bongs or pipes, no matter what they’re made of. Extreme heat can stretch, warp, manipulate, and even shatter the highest quality pieces, costing you a fortune and without a clean tool to use in the future.

Warm water is safe, and in the case of metal or stone, pre-boiled water may be carefully poured over the top of and into the piece to help loosen up some of the gunk. Glass, on the other hand, should not be rinsed with water that is any hotter than what you’d expect from your kitchen tap. That is, of course, if you want it to last through a few more sessions.

5. Reusing the screen

Most bongs and pipes are sold without a screen, and if yours doesn’t have one yet, then that should be the very first thing that you do once your bongs are clean, but either way, this part should be replaced each time that you wash one. Leaving it behind just leaves junk trapped, and eventually, it will break down anyway which could mean that it ends up in your lungs on the inhale. It’s better for your health and flavors sake to switch it out as often as possible.

If you’re looking for tips and tricks on how to clean a bong, then you might want to head on over to our guide on the topic, where you’ll find easy step-by-step instructions, as well as the simplest, cheapest, and healthiest cleaning solutions to try.

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