Bongs are smoking devices prone to wear and tear with regular use. Residue from combusted cannabis will build up over time, which gives your product an unpleasant flavour and your bong a blackened coating. The best way to avoid this is by cleaning your piece. Here’s a few ways you can do that.
Hot Water And A Brush
This method is considered to be the least effective and most time consuming, not to mention labour intensive. That’s why it should only be used on a relatively clean piece. If your have a glass bong, make sure it’s at room temperature before you add hot water. Adding hot water to a cold bong will likely lead to cracking.
- Take out any movable parts and set them aside to be cleaned separately
- Empty out any leftover water
- Plug all openings with a hand towel for larger openings and cotton balls for smaller ones
- Fill with hot water and let sit for about 5 minutes
- Scrub with soft bristled brush or toothbrush
- Resin should be soft enough to scrub away, but it might take a few tries if your bong is extra dirty
This video shows a similar method, but the host uses a plastic shopping bag instead of a brush to clean away the grime. Whichever tool you choose, this is a good choice for mild to moderately dirty pieces or for people who are looking for a chemical-free way to clean their bong.
Isopropyl Alcohol And Salt
The gold standard of DIY bong-cleaning is a mixture of isopropyl alcohol (just regular old rubbing alcohol) and coarse salt, like epsom salt or sea salt. It should be noted that this cleaning method is only for glass pieces. Alcohol and salt can scratch acrylic and should be avoided.
For larger pieces:
- Take out any movable parts and set aside to be cleaned separately
- Pour ½ cup of salt through top opening
- Pour 1 cup of alcohol through the top opening
- Cap or otherwise plug all openings if a hand towel
By shaking the piece, the salt acts as an abrasive while the alcohol helps dissolve sticky residues. Once you’ve shaken as much as you can, empty the solution from the bong and rinse. Alcohol is highly flammable, so rinsing thoroughly before smoking is imperative.
Place small removable parts in a zip-top bag with alcohol and salt and allow to soak, gently moving the pieces inside the bag full of solution to remove the resin.
There are a range of retail cleaners you can buy to wash your bong. Most are made with some sort of salt or clay as the abrasive and a chemical cleanser similar to alcohol. Angela Cicchini, manager of the Hotbox Cafe and Lounge in Toronto, recommends a product called Orange Chronic.
“It’s an earth-friendly cleaner with a lovely hint of orange fragrance,” she tells Lift & Co. “Not only does it smell delightful, it does the job. No scrubbing needed, pour the solution into the piece and shake, shake, shake to cover the entirety of the inside of the piece.”
Sometimes a good soaking is in order, so Cicchini suggests leaving the solution for 10 minutes or so to get at the caked on bits.
“Then I rinse the piece clean with hot water,” she says. “There is no need to dilute the solution, and it’s reusable.”
Cicchini also recommends using pipe cleaners to get into hard-to-reach places, like the stem and bowl, but advises to be careful not to scratch the finish on the outside of your piece.
If your bowl is made of silicone, your cleaning process is much easier. Just wash with dish soap and warm water. Cicchini warns against boiling your bong.
“It’s 2018 and there are so many awesome solutions out there now,” she says. “Some glass is temperature sensitive and will break, which could also cause injury. Also avoid chemical compounds not specifically known to be safe and effective for cleaning bongs. Someone once told me they used paint thinner and I still cringe to this day thinking about it.”
Whichever method you choose, your sessions will be better for it. Clean gear makes for an all-around better experience.