So, how long has it been since you cleaned your bong? Days? Weeks? Months? Don’t lie, we know it’s probably been a while. How do we know? Because it happens to all of us.
We love enjoying our herb, sitting back and relaxing with our favorite strains…but who the heck wants to deal with cleaning? That sounds like the opposite of a good time if you ask us.
If it’s been a while, you’re not alone—lots of people put off cleaning until their glass is coated with layers of resin and grime. This isn’t only gross, it’s also unhealthy. And it can really affect the flavor of your herb.
But cleaning frequency isn’t the only issue in play here. As with most things in life, there is a right and a wrong way to go about it.
Once people do buckle down and clean their bongs, they often use harsh chemicals (like carburetor cleaner) that can leave behind a residue that releases dangerous fumes the next time you smoke.
The good news is that harsh cleaners aren’t necessary. Alcohol, salt, and some old-fashioned “elbow grease” will do the trick. Or you could also keep the resin from building up in the first place.
Read on and learn how to easily, efficiently and safely clean your bong for a superior experience and full-flavored session next time you toke up.
Before we get into the ins and outs of how to clean your bong, perhaps we can encourage you to actually do it by helping you understand why keeping a bong clean is so important.
Benefits of Regularly Cleaning your Bong:
Cleaner, purer smoke with no leftover residue from past uses
Fewer impurities means a smoother less “harsh” hit
Reduce the risk of dangerous mold or bacterial build up
Can result in a more potent faster “high” due to most smoke coming from fresh herb vs a combination of fresh herb and leftover material
Regular Cleaning and Bong Care
The best way to deal with nasty resin build-up is to not let it build up to begin with.
As a safe and effective preventative measure, simply place a few drops of lemon juice in your bong water (never more, unless you want lemon-flavored smoke) and let the enzymes in the juice prevent resin build-up and keep the water smelling fresh. Then, when you’re done smoking for the day, empty your bong, rinse it, and store it empty.
BOOM! You’ll never have to do a major cleaning again. Neat trick huh?
Depending on where you live, though, you may have to cope with hard water stains—not usually a serious problem, but it does look bad. The easiest fix is to pour a little vinegar into your bong, swish it around to get it into all the nooks and crannies, then let it sit for a few minutes. Then rinse well with hot water and air-dry. Boom, you’re done.
Deep, Remedial Cleaning
So what if you’ve already got quite a bit of buildup and grime in your pipe?
If you’ve already let the resin build up, a quick rinse isn’t gonna cut it (sorry, you did this to yourself). The bad news is you might be in for up to an hour or so of real work. The good news is you don’t need any special equipment, the process is pretty simple and you won’t even break a sweat.
Best of all, once your bong is clean, you can use our preventative tips above to keep it from getting so bad in the first place. Meaning the next time you are due for a cleaning, it won’t take nearly as long to accomplish.
Your first step is to assemble your materials. The good news is that you likely have most of what is needed in your home already.
Rubbing alcohol (several cups at least)
Tupperware-type containers with lids (one for each of the small, detachable pieces of your bong)
Plugs for the openings of your bong (wax paper and rubber bands, or something similar, will do)
Rubber dishwashing gloves
Pipe cleaners, Q-tips, or a bottle brush
A source of very hot water (your kitchen sink, probably)
Now that you have everything assembled, you’re ready for action. It’s now time to pour out your old bong water (if you haven’t done that already). Once the bong water has been sent down the drain its time to roll up your sleeves and get to work.
Steps to Clean Your Bong
Disassemble your bong completely. The number of pieces will depend on the kind of bong you have, but few if any are all one piece.
Rinse all the pieces in very hot water to begin loosening the resin (pre-warming with warm water is a good idea, if the glass might otherwise crack). Wearing gloves will let you get the water hotter without scalding yourself.
Place each of the smaller, detachable pieces in its own container and cover with a mixture of alcohol and salt (roughly one tablespoon salt per quarter-cup of alcohol—the exact recipe doesn’t matter as long as you add enough salt that it can’t all dissolve in the alcohol).
Put on the lids and shake each container for at least five minutes. Yes, your arms will get tired. Keep shaking. The objective to get the salt and alcohol shaking around in every little corner of each piece—the alcohol loosens the resin and the salt scrubs it away.
If the build-up is especially thick, you may need to let the pieces soak in the solution for up to 15 minutes and then shake some more.
Set the pieces in their containers aside and add the same salt and alcohol mix to the body of your bong. Plug all the openings (actually, you may be able to use your hands for plugging, the point is to use something) and shake for at least five minutes.
Discard the alcohol and salt mixture and rinse all the bong components, large and small, in very hot water. Wear your gloves again.
Inspect all the pieces, large and small, for any remaining resin stains or chunks. Remove these with your pipe cleaner, Q-tip, bottle brush, whatever you have. Then rinse again. If substantial resin remains, don’t despair, just repeat the entire process—and maybe repeat again. Your bong will come clean eventually.
After the final rinse, let all the components of your bong air-dry and then reassemble.
Remember that a properly cleaned bong will look (and taste!) as good as the day you bought it. If it’s not sparkling, you need to clean it again.
All of the above applies to glass bongs, as well as glass dab rigs and anything else made of glass that might get gunked up with resin.
Bear in mind that acrylic pieces may be damaged by alcohol solutions. For acrylic models try using vinegar or soap and water as a substitute. There are also specialized acrylic cleaners.
Wood, including bamboo, is difficult to clean well, because the surface is porous, and is a topic for a different article. Metal and ceramic pieces can be boiled and then, if necessary, wiped clean.
But the best bet is still to keep the resin from building up in the first place.
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