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How to properly clean your bong and how often you should do it

Insider
Insider
 2022-04-20

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Keeping your bong clean ensures better tasting smoke.
  • To clean a glass bong, simply shake it up with alcohol and coarse salt, then let it soak.
  • Deep clean your bong roughly once a week to ensure you get the safest, best tasting smoke.
  • Change the water in your bong after every smoke session to avoid inhaling mold and bacteria.

When you smoke cannabis out of a glass water pipe, called a bong, the resin from the cannabis will slowly build up over time. This leads to a sticky residue on the sides of the glass. Eventually, the stickiness will render the bong unusable if it gets too built-up. It also discolors the water and dilutes the tastes of the cannabis you're smoking.

"It's about safety," says Harrison Baum, CEO and founder of Daily High Club , an innovative digital glass shop. The safety threat is that mold and bacteria can grow in the water, according to Baum. "A dirty bong is a health threat, and also can leave a bad impression if you're smoking socially," he says. "Don't be that person who pulls out the dirty bong."

As our culture becomes more accepting of cannabis, it is wise to remain diligent on marijuana etiquette. Thankfully, the ingredients you need to clean your bong are commonly found around the house. There are also products on the market meant specifically for bong cleaning .

How often should you clean a bong?

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Sticky resin builds up on the inner walls, turning your water brown quickly.

Most experts say you should clean your bong after a few days to a week of use. You must also replace your bong water often, ideally after every smoke session, to avoid mold. Any water that sits in a water pipe is at risk of molding.

"You're literally inhaling through your bong and mold can grow in as quickly as 24 hours," says Baum. "If you had mold in your house you'd probably freak out, so why would it be acceptable to inhale it?"

In fact, inhaling the bacteria and mold in dirty bong water can lead to lung infections and pneumonia. What's more, any resin that accumulates inside the bong can provide an environment for biofilm to form, which can play host to harmful bacteria that you certainly don't want to inhale.

The color of your bong water is your best indicator of when to give it a deep clean. Even if it's clean, water in a dirty bong will appear brownish-green due to the stuck-on resin on the glass. If it's dark, becoming almost black, then it's way past time for you to clean out your bong.

Fresh water and a clean glass mechanism help to improve the quality of the experience. You'll be able to taste the flavor profile of your cannabis more effectively, and cleaning your bong will also increase the life and value of the bong over time.

What you need

  • Isopropyl alcohol: 91% to 99% isopropyl alcohol works best
  • Salt such as Morton's table salt, Epsom salt, rock salt, or Himalayan salt. Salt is coarse enough to scrub away stuck-on resin but soft enough that it won't scratch the glass.
  • A large resealable plastic bag
  • Pipe cleaner
  • Dish soap
  • Disposable gloves (optional)

How to clean a glass bong

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Fill your bong with isopropyl alcohol and salt, shake it up, then let it soak.

This easy and effective method works every time. You can put disposable gloves on before you begin these steps if you want to avoid any sticky residue on your fingers.

  1. Remove the bowl and stem. The bowl and stem is the part where you place your cannabis. You can pop this piece out, and it makes cleaning the bong much easier. You ideally don't want to get the bowl wet when you pour the bong water out.
  2. Pour out the old water. Bong water is sticky and resinous, so it's not ideal to pour it down the drain if you can avoid it. You can pour it into the trash if you have a properly sealed trash bag or you can pour it into a sealed container to throw away. You can also dispose of your bong water outside — but don't try to water any plants with it. The same bacteria and mold that can harm you will also harm your plants.
  3. Place the bong in a zip-top bag. A large gallon-size bag should be large enough and will help contain the mess. If you don't have a zip-top bag handy, you can do these next steps inside a trash bag or over your sink. Just be careful, because the bong resin may stick to the sides of your sink.
  4. Add isopropyl alcohol to the inside of the bong . Pour your isopropyl alcohol into the top of the bong. Use about 16 ounces, depending on the size of your bong, or just enough alcohol that the bong is filled about halfway. If you're using a dedicated bong cleaning isopropyl mixture, pour that into the bong instead. If you don't want to use isopropyl alcohol, you can also use white vinegar and baking soda — just allow it to soak for longer.
  5. Add salt to the bong. This salt helps to gently scrub the inside of the bong to remove the resin. The alcohol alone cleans it somewhat well, but the salt removes the build-up from the sides of the bong. Use a healthy amount to ensure the salt can scrub off the resin.
  6. Close the bag and shake. This part can get messy, so seal the bag in order to shake the alcohol and salt mixture around the inside of the bong. If you have a percolator bong, be sure the mixture enters all the chambers. You may need to tip the bong upside down a few times to permeate all the crevices.
  7. Let it soak for 30 minutes. Allow the alcohol mixture to sit with the bong for about 30 minutes. This step isn't always necessary, depending on how dirty you let your bong get, but letting it soak does improve the efficacy of the alcohol in cleaning your glass.
  8. Remove the bong and dispose of the bag. Here's why the bag is key: you can simply seal the bag full of dirty bong water and throw it away. This avoids the resin mess in the sink.
  9. Rinse bong with warm water and soap . It's best to get all of the alcohol and salt out of the bong before using it — especially because alcohol is flammable. Dish soap and warm water work well to break down any residual oil on the glass.
  10. Soak the bowl and stem in alcohol to clean them. Use a pipe cleaner to scrub any stuck-on resin out of the stem. Rinse it well with hot water, and let it dry completely before loading it with cannabis to use it.

How to clean latex or acrylic bongs

Unlike glass, you need to take special care in cleaning latex, plastic, or acrylic bongs. Use only hot water and a pipe cleaner or a large straw brush. This is because alcohol can break down and strip certain acrylic and latex materials.

Fill the bong with hot water and rinse it out over the sink. You will rinse and repeat until the water runs clean. Latex or acrylic-safe bong cleaning solutions are also available.

How to clean a silicone bong

Silicone bongs are very durable and easy to clean. But the traditional methods for cleaning glass bongs can be a bit too abrasive for silicone.

Here are several methods for cleaning a silicone bong and keeping it in perfect shape:

  • Dishwasher method: if you have a dishwasher, you can take apart your bong and place the pieces on the top rack. Then, simply run it through a wash cycle. If you have any breakable attachments, such as a glass bowl, you'll want to clean those separately. Give the piece a rinse once you take it out of the dishwasher to remove any dish detergent residue.
  • Soap and water method: Mild dish soap and warm water is a safe and effective method to clean silicone. Remove any small pieces and set them aside. Rinse out your bong with hot water, then add a generous amount of dish soap to the inside of your bong. Use a bottle brush to scrub away any resin from hard-to-reach areas. Thoroughly rinse the bong with warm water, and allow it to air-dry on a dish rack.
  • Freezer method: Freezing your bong is a good way to remove built-up gunk and resin. Start by rinsing your bong with water, allowing it to coat the surface. Place your silicone piece in your freezer for several hours. When you take it out, bend the silicone to dislodge the frozen gunk from the sides, then dump it out and dispose. You can follow this with a cycle in the dishwasher or a rinse with soap and water to ensure it gets completely clean.

Quick tip: You'll want to avoid abrasive scrubbers, like steel wool, as they can scratch and damage the silicone.

Insider's takeaway

Cleaning your bong is essential for your health and enjoyment.

While you can buy mixtures in the store that promise to clean your bong quickly and efficiently, you can also use a combination of isopropyl alcohol and salt, and it will clean your bong well.

For other types of bongs, such as silicone or acrylic, you'll need to use a less abrasive method such as hot water and dish soap.

It's quite a sticky job, so wear disposable gloves and avoid dumping dirty bong water down your drain.

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