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Keeping it Clean – Regular Cleaning Means Good Smoke

08/26/2021
overhead image of a person with marijuana paraphernalia, cleaning supplies and a carrying case

When you smoke a lot, you need to clean your paraphernalia and gear reasonably often. If you’re anything like me, you usually put this off far too long. I don’t mean to nag – I really have your best interests at heart! The cleaner your gear, the purer your smoke.

That sticky, kind of stinky resin builds up quickly, and it can be harsh and nasty. The more often you clean, the easier it will be to keep on top of your cannabis accessories and accouterments.

man and woman sitting on the floor talking after smoking a bong that is sitting in front of them

Resin is the by-product of smoking or vaping and can be very harsh on your throat if not removed often. Resin is sticky and extremely hard to get off, so latex gloves are highly recommended as well as something to cover your work area. Resin on countertops is a pain in the neck.

Each implement has its own approach to reaching a clean and pristine state. Whatever your method, you’ll find keeping things sparkling will help your experience to be even better.

Bongs

Cleaning a bong is straightforward. Gather everything needed: salt, rice, baking soda, rubbing alcohol, vinegar (or another cleaner), water, and latex gloves.

First, pour out any old water or used cannabis. Disassemble the bong so that the individual pieces can be cleaned. Check for any chips or cracks during this process.  Rinse with warm water to remove any solid particles. Fill the bong part-way with water.

close up picture of a dirty bong with a dirty water and a dirty bowl and marijuana buds in the background

Add coarse salt and rubbing alcohol (ideally, over 90%) to the bong. (Alternatively, add vinegar, rice, and baking soda, or use a commercial cleaning product).  Plug the holes with your fingers and shake the bong. Shake for around five minutes for best results.  Rinse and repeat the process if needed. Once is usually enough!

Let the bong dry entirely before reassembling it for reuse.

Pipes

A clean pipe is an elegant pipe, and the cleanliness also helps ensure that your piece is working at its full potential. If there’s a buildup of ash and residue, the pipe can be partially clogged, and the smoke will have more difficulty getting through. You won’t get as much smoke, and the smoke won’t be as clean.

Dirty pipes are also more prone to catch fire. When there’s built-up residue, ash, and leftover marijuana, the material is at risk of lighting up when it encounters fire.  Make sure the disassemble your pipe before you clean each piece individually and proceed carefully. You don’t want to break your favorite pipe!

A pile of marijuana ash and a blurred fragment of a Smoking pipe on a light background

Once again, plain old household cleaning products work just fine for this cleaning process. Rubbing alcohol (at least 92%) works great. The higher concentration breaks down resin faster than lower concentrations. Combining the rubbing alcohol with a coarse salt will break down the resin and built-up residue.

First, remove as much of the residue as you can by hand with toothpicks or cotton swabs. Running the pipe under hot water will dislodge more of the residue.

Place the pipe in a plastic sandwich bag and cover it with alcohol. Add around a tablespoon of salt. Seal the bag and shake vigorously but carefully. You want to make sure the salt gets into the pipe, and make sure not to strike the bag against anything that could break the pipe. Most of the resin is, of course, on the interior of the pipe.

close up picture of an Old wooden table with a Salt Shaker

After a few minutes, assess where your pipe is at. Once it’s mostly clean, you can leave it in the solution and allow the remaining resin to soak a while longer or attack it again manually.  Rinse with hot water and let it dry thoroughly.

For extra dirty pipes, you may need to let it soak in the solution overnight or repeat the entire process several times.

Hot Box Vaporizers

Vaporizer tubes get dirty over time. Resin builds up due to the high temperatures and because it can be extremely hot, be sure first that the unit is completely cool. You can then use a cotton swab dipped into rubbing alcohol to clean the resin off.

Separate the tube from the glass vaporizer bowl attachment. You can cut the brown end off the tube once or twice, but you should replace the tube eventually. Soak the bowl with some rubbing alcohol for a while in a plastic sandwich bag. Then shake for a bit, rinse and replace the tube if need be.

Keep in mind that separating the glass parts of the “whip” from the rubber tubing is difficult; it’s good to have a few extra whips on hand and toss out old ones once they are too dirty.

Volcano Vaporizers

Items needed: Zeus purifier cleaning solution (diluted with water 40%), fresh water, paper towels, Zeus bristle pipe cleaners, and the cleaning brush that comes with the Volcano. (Some say that you can use rubbing alcohol and coarse salt instead of the proprietary cleaning solution.)

You can clean both the easy valve and solid valve chambers, the valve slip ring, and lit pieces by taking them apart and soaking them in a jar with the cleaning solution for about half an hour. Dislodge any remaining particles with the pipe cleaners, then rinse and dry.

Table top bag style vaporizer. Designed for vaporizing marijuana into a plastic bag

You can keep the used cleaning solution in a sealed jar for reuse. Just toss when it gets dirty.  The Volcano staff recommends brushing out the filling chamber and area underneath after each use with the Volcano cleaning brush.
Replace balloons and screens every month or so for maximum airflow and the freshest vapor.

Vape Pens

For cartridges, wipe down the battery and contact plate with a cotton swab dipped in alcohol. The same technique will work for a dry herb vape screen. Wipe down screw threads and soak the mouthpiece in rubbing alcohol and coarse salt.

picture of two vape pens with marijuana oil inside, they are sitting next to a marijuana leaf on a white background

Most vape pens will have specific cleaning instructions, so be sure to read the manual!

Grinders

Don’t forget your grinder! Collect any loose cannabis from the grinder first, then use a toothpick to scrape out any other usable material. A cotton swab dipped in rubbing alcohol should be able to get the teeth of the grinder clean. But if the grinder is well-used or has been neglected, you may need to soak the teeth and the screen in a solution of rubbing alcohol and coarse salt.

Rinse thoroughly and allow to dry completely before reassembling your grinder.

Marijuana and Cannabis Bud in a dirty Grinder on White Background

Spring (or Summer) Cleaning

Other items that may need attention are your storage jars (make sure to label them before cleaning to keep track of which strain is which) and joint rollers. These can usually just be washed in hot soapy water, but if there’s any resin residue, just attack it with the rubbing alcohol and coarse salt solution.

Many cannabis fans have a dedicated space for their paraphernalia and marijuana products. Cannabis culture is still illegal in many areas, and so these dedicated spaces have been hidden and neglected for some. Make sure to include your space in a regular cleaning routine, vacuuming your floors and couches and cleaning any crumbs off the table.

Cannabis buds in the jar on white background

Be sure to dispose of cotton balls, cotton swabs, paper towels in the trash that children and pets cannot get to. I usually use a plastic shopping bag and throw everything away in the general trash (dumpster or outside plastic trash containers) as soon as I’m done. Done and gone!

Other Thoughts

If you’re really lazy – again, like me! – I’d suggest buying several small, inexpensive pipes and throwing them out after the build-up is too much or too laborious to be cleaned. I actually used to do the same things with bongs! I’d get several small, cheap water bongs and toss them out when they got too dirty.

Happy Partaking!

 

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