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How to Clean a Bong the Right Way

Saul: You still got that bong I got you when I was in Tel Aviv? Red: Hell yeah, Bong Mitzvah! Hit it up, dude! 

-Pineapple Express

Do you feel like toking up from time to time? Wait, what are we saying, of course you do. Otherwise, you wouldn’t be here reading about cleaning bongs.

Yes, bong cleaning — let’s face it, if someone were to see you taking a hit with a bong that looks like your average slum, they’d think you were homeless. And to be honest, taking a hit from a filthy bong is no different from drinking out of a moldy glass or eating out of a bowl with weird growth sticking out.

There are far too many users out there who just flat-out refuse to clean their equipment. Still, though it can be a drag, not only will cleaning your bong benefit your health, but it’ll also make your very next hit one for the history books.

Different Bong Types

Don’t let the title mislead you — we won’t be discussing the actual shapes and mechanisms of bongs since most tend to look similar to one another, with some minor differences. Basically, we will discuss cleaning all bong types, stemmed or stemless, big or small.

However, we should at least let some of the new readers (and new users — welcome to the club, bruh) get a feel for the current bong market. So, let’s talk about materials.

remove hash residue from bong
If you’re not in college you have no excuse and even if you’re in college you should know better…

Glass Bongs

Glass bongs are, by far, the most popular. Not only do they not leave any nasty aftertaste in your mouth, but you can actually clean them more easily than others. Moreover, they just look spectacular as you’re getting high.

Of course, a glass bong can break easily, at least if you’re a person of the butterfingers variety. That’s why these tend to be pricey.

Silicone Bongs

Next to glass, silicone is the most popular material that bongs are made of in 2020. It’s durable, lightweight, easy to clean (as you’ll see soon enough), and pretty damn striking to look at. However, silicone bongs are also somewhat expensive, and unlike glass, you risk tasting a bit of that silicone after prolonged use.

Plastic Bongs

Taking spot #3 in popularity, a plastic bong is quite cheap and easy to use, as well as to clean. Sadly, most plastic utensils (like glasses, bowls, etc.) wear out quickly and leave a bland aftertaste. Take our word for it, my dude (of either gender) — avoid plastic if you can.

Metal Bongs

By far, the biggest advantage of a metal bong is that it’s harder and more difficult to crush than an economic crisis. And that’s great if you are prone to fits of rage and smash it against something, or even if you drop it by accident.

However, the metallic aftertaste remains once you take a few drags. More importantly, since it’s metal, you’ll have a hard time finding out when to clean this bad boy.

Bamboo Bongs

Now, bamboo bongs are just brilliant. They are exactly what you think they are — bongs made out of bamboo sticks. They look splendid, they feel great, and taking a hit with one is nothing short of amazing. Nevertheless, they are incredibly expensive when compared to other options.

Ceramic Bongs

Lots of people tend to own at least one ceramic bong since it kind of looks like expensive china or an indie work of art. And granted, some of them can be quite elaborate.

Sadly, the average ceramic bong is quite fragile. They’re a drag when it comes to shipping since they can break at the slightest jerk of the box. 

Wooden Bongs

Most weed smokers will probably tell you that a wooden bong is just fine. It’s a natural material, so there is no nasty aftertaste, and it just looks fancy. But even when we take all of that into consideration, it’s still wood, so it’s susceptible to mold, mildew, decay, and physical damage.

Why Should I Clean My Bong, Anyway?

Good question, ethereal reader. There are quite a few reasons you should keep your precious ganja tool clean, so let’s quickly go over them right now.

how to clean a bong
If you can’t tell then you already have a problem.

1. Health Reasons

Leaving the water in the bong after use can lead to mold growing inside. And yes, that looks quite disgusting. But more importantly, mold releases spores when it wants to procreate, so if you use the bong with the mold still inside, you’ll inhale some of those spores. Instead of getting high, you’ll be getting a taste of the mold’s reproductive cells, to put it euphemistically.

These spores can have a strong effect on your respiratory system, causing you to cough like an average chain-smoking film producer. There’s even a slight chance that you might get a lung infection, which is definitely a no-no. And we won’t even go into people who are allergic to mold, to begin with.

2. Non-Health Reasons

Let’s say that you have no respiratory problems and that toking up some potential mold offspring does nothing to you. We will still argue that cleaning the bong is beneficial, as it makes your experience ten times better.

First off, mold, fungus, and bacteria can diminish or outright destroy some cannabis plant elements. For that reason, you’re not going to get the ultimate high you’ve been chasing.

A clean bong will give you a strong, potent hit. More importantly, each hit will be smooth; you will no longer cough like you’re about to die the second you inhale some sweet MJ.

Finally, the weed itself will taste fresher from a clean bong than from a dirty one. You need to feel all that THC, and a dirty bong will ruin the experience.

Now that we’ve gotten all of that out of the way, let’s talk cleanliness. We will mainly focus on glass and silicone bongs since they are the most popular options on the market. But a lot of these solutions apply to bongs made of other materials as well.

Cleaning a Glass Bong With Isopropyl Alcohol and Salt

Isopropyl alcohol is, by far, the most popular cleaning solution among users. If possible, try to get a 90% alcohol bottle; people who only get high once a month or less can go with the 70% option too.

But isopropyl is not the only substance you’ll be using. Apart from alcohol, you’ll also need some coarse salt, like Epsom or kosher. Then, you’ll need some rubber or plastic gloves, pipe cleaners, rubber bands to keep some of the small moving parts together, and something to plug the stem. Cotton balls, some fabric, or cork will do just fine.

The cleaning part is quite simple. First, detach all small components (like the bowl and the stem) and rinse everything with hot water. Next, add both the salt and the alcohol to the bong, with the salt going in first.

Once you plug the bong with cork or cotton, shake it with the mixture inside for at least five minutes. It’s also important to let it soak.

Finally, pour the mixture down the toilet, then soak the pipe cleaners into the solution (not the one you flushed, obviously) and start scrubbing the inside of the bong. Rinse everything with hot water, and you’re done.

1. Removing the Resin

To those of you who are new to the wonderful world of weed, resin is the gunk that stays behind when you’re done toking up. Interestingly, you can also smoke this substance, but we wouldn’t recommend it. It’s not as good as smoking actual weed, and it’s frowned upon in marijuana-smoking circles.

In case you have a glass bong, getting rid of resin is quite easy if you don’t plan on smoking it. Simply pour in the salt and alcohol mixture we mentioned earlier and repeat the whole process.

If you want to keep the resin in, we recommend using boiling water. Here’s how to go about it, in short:

  • Place the glass in boiling water
  • Leave it in there until you see that the resin is starting to float
  • Get a clean container and place a cheesecloth on it
  • Take the bong and pour the water from it into the container
  • Scrape off the resin from the cloth and leave it out to dry.

There’s another easy method that doesn’t entail using hot water, but you’ll need a paper clip and a lighter to do it. Here’s how it goes:

  • Scrape whatever resin you can with the clip and gently tap the bong so that it falls out
  • Use the lighter to warm up the bong from outside
  • Scrape off the remaining resin; it should be a bit looser than before, thanks to the heat.

2. Cleaning the Bowl

Cleaning the bong bowl is easy if you plan on keeping the resin. All you have to do is follow the paper clip guide above. However, if you want to get rid of it, you’ll need a few items.

First, soak the bong in hot water and some dish soap, and keep it in there overnight. Then, place the bowl in a Ziploc bag and keep adding rubbing alcohol until the bowl is submerged.

After that, cover the bag and start shaking it. Repeat the whole thing if the alcohol inside the bag turns brown.

Once that’s done, you’ll have to add some Epsom salt and shake the Ziploc bag again. Then, just drain the bag and inspect the bowl. Should you spot any dots or stains, remove them with a Q-tip.

3. Cleaning the Stem

The stem is a bit harder to clean, but not impossible. You need to make sure that it’s attached to the bong the whole time you’re cleaning it, though.

First, pour some salt into the downstem until it’s nice and full, and then add rubbing alcohol until you create negative pressure. Everclear would work fine as well. Then, shake everything up and rinse with hot water.

Your stem should now be good to go. Alternatively, you can place it in a Ziploc bag and fill it with the same salt-alcohol solution. After that, it’s shake-em-up time.

Cleaning a Silicone Bong

Silicone bongs can be quite easy to clean. How you’ll do it really depends on a few factors, listed below.

If You HAVE a Dishwasher

Excellent! All you need to do is place the silicone bong in it and let the machine do its thing.

If you DO NOT HAVE a Dishwasher

That’s understandable, as most people do not have one. However, you don’t need a machine to clean your silicone bong. Here are a few easy ways to do it:

Option 1: Using Alcohol

Since silicone doesn’t react to alcohol, you can soak your bong overnight in it. Make sure it’s warm since warm alcohol is quite effective. In the morning, rinse it off with warm water.

Option 2: Freezing the Bong

Resin and tar will freeze and break off in low temperatures, but silicone will not. Therefore, all you need to do is leave your bong in the freezer for a few hours and clean it off later.

Option 3 (best): Organic Cleaners

Some products like ResRemover, Grunge Off, and Resolution have everything you need to clean an average silicone bong. They are organic, non-toxic, and good for the environment. So, if you have the money, feel free to stock up.

bong care
Don’t ruin good bud by smoking out of a filthy bong, treat your herb with respect!

Best Alcohol-Free Cleaning Methods

1. Vinegar and Baking Soda

Yes, we are well aware of the meme that says you can solve any household problem with either vinegar or baking soda. But we also know that the method you’re about to learn has been tested and works like a charm. The process goes like this:

  • Fill the apparatus with warm water, shake it, and then get rid of the liquid
  • Add baking soda so that it sticks to the bong’s inner walls and let it sit overnight
  • Add a few more spoons of it and a cup of vinegar, then cover every hole and shake the apparatus again
  • Scrub the insides and rinse with water until all the dirt is gone.

2. Hot Water

There are several hot water methods you can use to clean bongs. Most people avoid using them to clean glass, but they do work well with every type of bong out there.

The first method involves submerging the bong. You need to boil the water, but then reduce the heat so that the water simmers. Then, place the bong inside and let it soak for about half an hour. Once the time passes, pour the water out and clean the bong with paper towels and pipe cleaners. This method actually works even better if you incorporate lemon juice too.

And speaking of hot water and lemon juice, there’s another popular method you can try. Pour some lemon juice into the bong and then add boiling water. Shake the bong up and wait for about five minutes for the lemon juice to start reacting to the gunk inside. Finally, pour everything out and rinse with warm water.

Our third and final method involves salt. You’ll need roughly 3–4 tablespoons of coarse salt that you need to add to warm water. Make sure the liquid is just beneath the bong’s shaft line.

The process is then quite familiar if you’ve been paying attention. Simply shake the bong, pour the dirty water out, and rinse with both salt and warm water until all the dirt is gone.

faberge egg rig
Nothing more beautiful than a perfectly clean bong.

Importance of Preventative Maintenance

Sometimes, it pays to be proactive. If you want to avoid your bong getting dirty often, we suggest taking the following preventative steps:

  • Pour some vinegar or lemon juice into the bong and leave it there for a few minutes. Rinse with water to remove hard water stains
  • Add lemon juice to your weed before smoking to dissolve the resin and add some flavor
  • Always pour the water out when you’re done using the apparatus
  • Make sure to rinse it off after smoking; use either vinegar, lemon juice, or salt.

Let’s Sum It All Up

As you can see, ladies and gentlemen, cleaning a bong isn’t that difficult. Moreover, if you do it properly and often enough, each and every toke session will feel like heaven. So, don’t be lazy and get to it! Them bongs ain’t cleanin’ themselves, y’know.

What do you think?

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