After multiple uses, your bowl, bong, or pipe will get clogged up with gunk and grime, making it difficult and unpleasant to use. Thankfully, with a little patience and some standard household materials, you can clean your smoking device so it looks good as new.
Why clean my bowl?
It is crucial to know how to clean your bowl after multiple smoke sessions. There are a bunch of reasons to keep your smoking gear clean at all times. Aesthetics are a major motivation, especially when it comes to glass. What is the point of investing in an intricate glass rig just to let it build up with tar?
Regularly cleaning your smoking gear will also lead to better-tasting hits. If you grow your own weed, you know how much time and effort is required to produce high-quality cannabis. It takes skill and patience to nurture a tasty terpene profile. Do not waste these exquisite tastes by smoking out of a dirty bowl.
A dirty bowl will not just ruin the taste; the buildup of tar and resin could irritate your throat. Overall, cleaner equipment makes for a more pleasant smoking experience.
Is it bad to smoke out of a dirty pipe?
The experience of smoking a dirty bowl is bad because resin buildup adds a charred flavor to the smoke you inhale. In terms of negative health consequences, dirty bowls pose some of the same risks as dirty bongs, which can harbor toxic substances in the bong water. Dirty bong water traps some of the same toxic chemicals found inside pipes, but thanks to a lack of water, pipes do not have the same ability to breed microorganisms.
A report published in 2020 describing all the known toxic compounds in cannabis smoke shows there are at least 110 known toxins that could settle onto the interior surface of the pipe. While we do not know exactly what happens when those substances are reheated, it certainly cannot hurt to remove them from your pipe via regular cleaning.
Most of the time, you only need to do a quick clean. Mostly it is just about clearing out ash and trying to limit the build-up of resin so that your bowl is ready to pack and puff whenever you need it. You should do this kind of quick, surface-level cleaning every time you ash your bowl before you pack it again.
The easiest way to do this is directly into a trash can. Simply tip your bowl over the trash can and gently tap it against your hand or the side of the trash can until the ash falls out of your bowl. This is the simplest and best way to clean a bowl.
If a lot of ash is sticking to the resin in your bowl, give it a quick scrape. This is also a sign that you are due for a deeper clean. If ash has compacted into the bottom of your bowl and is clogging the hole, you need to clear it out. The best way to clean a bowl in this instance is to use your finger to block the carb.
With the bowl still upside down over the trash can, blow into the mouthpiece. Since the carb is blocked, the air will be forced into the bowl. As a result, the air should blast the ash out of the way.
How often should you clean your bowl?
How often you clean your smoking gear should depend on how frequently you use it. If you are an everyday user, then tar and resin will build up fast. If you hit a pipe or bong once a week, it will take longer for the residue to build up. With that said, leaving it dirty and unused is not hygienic either.
The more often you clean your gear, the better. Give your bong or pipe a quick rinse after every smoking session to flush out some of the tar and resin. When the buildup starts getting severe, it is time to give your gear a proper clean.
It is easy to determine when a glass piece is ready for a clean. Silicone and wooden pieces are a different story. Users of the latter can remain blindly ignorant until they receive a lungful of tarred smoke.
Different types of bowls
Different materials require different cleaning methods. You run the risk of damaging your rig if you apply the wrong kind of cleaning agent or technique. This is how to clean different materials:
- Glass and metal: Glass bowls, bongs, and pipes are on the delicate end of the spectrum. Although they often look prettier, they are the most susceptible to damage. Glass pieces can be effectively cleaned using both alcohol and non-alcohol methods. However, you will want to avoid boiling techniques. Metal pipes, on the other hand, are safe to boil.
- Silicone: These are the easiest to clean. These pieces are heat and cold-resistant and can handle just about anything you throw at them. You do not have to be overly cautious when cleaning silicone.
- Wood: Wooden pipes can handle hot water, but harsh chemicals can damage them. High-proof alcohol can discolor wooden pipes and also leave behind residue. When cleaning a wooden piece, it is best to use softer cleaning agents such as vinegar.
What you will need
Before you begin cleaning your pipe, gather the following materials:
- A sealable plastic bag
- Paper clip or other skinny metal tool
- 90 percent or higher of isopropyl alcohol (rubbing alcohol)
- Coarse salt or Epsom salt
- Dish soap
How to clean a bowl step-by-step
After you gathered all of the supplies above, follow these steps to properly clean out your bowl.
Step 1: Place the bowl in a sealable plastic bag with alcohol
Shake out any remaining bits of flower from the bowl. Then carefully place it in a sealable plastic bag and fill it with rubbing alcohol until the entire bowl is submerged. If you do not have a baggie on hand, you can also use a small sealable container like Tupperware. You may have to let it soak for longer in a sealed container if you are not able to shake the bowl in the cleaning solution like you can with a bag.
Step 2: Add a teaspoon of salt
Add a teaspoon of coarse salt. The salt will act as a scrubber on the resin in areas where an actual sponge or brush cannot reach. Work the salt into the bowl as much as possible to ensure it is fully doing the work of deep cleaning. Coarse sea salt is typically used to clean bowls, bongs, and other water pipes, but kosher salt or Epsom salt also works well enough to clean a bowl.
Step 3: Let the bowl soak
Leave the bowl to soak in the bag or container for about 12 hours. This will give the alcohol enough time to dissolve most of the resin.
Step 4: Shake the bag
Once the bowl has had a chance to soak, shake the bag vigorously to loosen residual resin. Skip this step if you are using a container that is not sealable. If this is the case, stir the bowl around in the alcohol to the best of your abilities without spilling.
Step 5: Remove the bowl from the bag and rinse
After you have soaked and shaken your bowl, remove it from the bag and rinse it off with hot water. If there is any stubborn resin still clinging to your bowl, try removing it with a paperclip or pipe cleaner, but be careful not to damage the bowl. You can also use a cotton swab. After you have scraped the bowl clean, give it a final rinse with warm or hot water.
Step 6: Let the bowl dry
Give your bowl ample time to dry before using it again. If your bowl is not as clean as you would like, repeat the process, making sure to add fresh salt. The salt from the first round of cleaning will have been largely dissolved in the rubbing alcohol.