Glass pipes are the “go-to” smoking device for herb and cannabis smokers alike. Yet the more we use our trusty glassware, the dirtier it gets. Natural tar, resins, and other particulates and residue get left behind, and if not dealt with regularly, can lead to some very unpleasant side effects.
First off, smoking from a dirty glass pipe is not healthy. Unclean pipes can leave behind concentrated toxins and can be a breeding ground for bacteria and mold. Not to mention any build up in your glass pipe can give off unpleasant odors and flavors that ruin your experience and turn what would have been some seriously tasty bud into a bitter waste.
When it comes to cleaning glass pipes, there is a lot of debate over the most appropriate way of getting the job done right. Some individuals prefer not to use any type of chemical or synthetic soap products, while others feel that commercially available detergents are the only way to remove hard to get out the resin.
PRO TIP:The longer resin sits and builds up the harder it will be to remove, often requiring increased time, effort, and yes, even harsh detergents to get rid of. Maintaining your glass pipes regularly will not only make your life easier, but you’ll be able to use more natural alternatives to keep your glass squeaky clean between smoking sessions.
Let’s take a look below at some different ways you can get your pipe sparkling clean and ready to use….
Deep Cleaning Your Pipes
If it’s been a while since you last cleaned your pipe, there may be a considerable amount of resin to remove. If this is the case, deep cleaning is going to be necessary to eliminate all the buildup.
It’s recommended that a glass pipe be cleaned once a week to help avoid spending time and energy on deep cleaning and to prevent additional buildup of tar and other chemicals. Remember, even the chemicals from your torch or lighter fluid ignite and make their way into your glass. Resin can capture and concentrate these.
The Tools and Items You’ll Need:
Isopropyl Alcohol (rubbing alcohol)
Salt (any kind will do)
Lemon Juice (optional)
NOTE: There are some reports out there that say to avoid Isopropyl Alcohol due to it being toxic if ingested. It is safe to use on cleaning glass pipes, just make sure and rinse really well with warm water after the cleaning process to remove any leftover Isopropyl. It is possible to clean a glass pipe without the use of chemicals. A way to do so will be provided later on.
The Glass Pipe Cleaning Process
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A lot of buildup means you may have to go through this process more than once. If you are thorough enough, one time through may be all you need.
Start by removing any loose resin from the pipe. This is done by holding the device upside down and gently tapping it. Follow up with a pipe cleaner or cotton swab to easily remove some of the more significant bits of resin that are lodged in the pipe. Take care while doing this step, you don’t want to risk breaking the pipe.
Put enough Isopropyl Alcohol in a resealable plastic bag to submerge your glass pipe completely. Try and use 90% Isopropyl for a faster clean. Add about a tablespoon of salt to the bag as well. Salt is abrasive and will help remove stubborn resin from inside the pipe. Using a coarse salt is best, but any kind of salt will work.
Place your pipe into the solution, making sure it’s fully submerged. Work some of the salt into the tube and shake the bag. Continue shaking the bag for 1-2 minutes, allowing the cleaning solution to work its way through the pipe. Your pipe should be visibly clean. If it’s not, you may need to soak it in the solution overnight. In the morning, you can add some fresh Isopropyl and shake it up a little more.
Rinse the pipe with hot water to remove any remaining alcohol and salt. If there are still some stubborn spots of resin, use a pipe cleaner or cotton swab to remove them. Let your pipe air dry. If you want to remove any watermarks, soak the pipe for 10-15 minutes in a mixture of warm water and lemon juice.
Once you do a deep cleaning, it’s a good idea to maintain a clean pipe. A quick 5 minute rinse/soak in Isopropyl once a week will keep you from having to go through this whole process. If it’s been a while since you have used your pipe, make sure and clean it before you light up.
Cleaning Methods That Don’t Use Isopropyl Alcohol
There are ways to clean a glass pipe without using Isopropyl. Keep in mind that these options may require several attempts to produce a clean pipe. It all depends on how dirty your device is and how much resin you are trying to remove.
The only things you will need for this process are a pot, water, and some pipe cleaners/cotton swabs. You start with putting enough water in a pot to fully submerge your pipe. Bring the water to a rolling boil and drop the temperature down to a simmer. Once the rolling stops, put your device into the water. Do not put your device into the water while it’s still boiling, this may result in cracks or chips in the glass.
You will want to simmer your pipe for 20-30 minutes. Strain the pot and rinse your device under warm water to remove any loose bits. Finish up by using a pipe cleaner or cotton swab to clean it out.
Other Boiling Option
You can also use the steps listed above, but add hydrogen peroxide and vinegar to the water before boiling. This method may also take a few tries before you are able to have a completely clean pipe, but you will not have to use Isopropyl Alcohol. It should also be noted that this process does produce an unpleasant scent as well.
Final Thoughts on Cleaning your Glass Pipe
There are many different ways to clean a pipe, and that doesn’t mean that one way is better than another. Some people put their pipes through the dishwasher to clean them because that’s something they found that works. As long as you are making sure to clean your pipe regularly, find a process that works best for you and do that. Keep in mind that you need to rinse your device thoroughly, no matter how you go about cleaning it. Rinsing will help remove any leftover cleaner that may still be inside your glass pipe.
A dirty pipe can promote mold growth and become unhealthy to use. The resin that can buildup in a glass pipe can also affect the flavor of your product. Resin is mostly made up of tar, and it’s a known fact that tar is incredibly bad for your lungs. No matter what product you use, a clean pipe will ensure a more enjoyable experience while smoking.
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