If you use a bong, or bubbler, to smoke weed, you’ll know just how dirty and smelly they get with repeated use. Sure, bongs are great, but the residue that builds up on the inside is… well…. nasty. If you care about your lungs (you should) and about the taste of your marijuana (you should), you need to clean your bong. Not just regularly – but also correctly.
You (hopefully) wouldn’t eat food off a dirty plate, so why would you smoke weed through a filthy bong?
There’s a right way to clean a bong, and there are numerous wrong ways to clean a bong. Read on to find out what to do to keep your bong clean and safe and keep your weed tasting tip-top.
Why You Need To Keep Your Bong Clean
A clean bong is a safe bong. Since it’s a reusable device and not a disposable, one-shot deal the way a joint is, bongs get the opportunity to accrue all manner of dirt and gunk through repeated use. All that dirty bong water, dirt and gunk lead to a buildup of bacteria. Which can be harmful. So, regular, thorough cleaning is recommended for your own safety and, of course, the safety of anyone else you share your bong with.
Continued use of a dirty bong can spell bad news for your health. While there’s a good likelihood you’ll get sick, this is mild in comparison to some of the more significant health risks you face. One of the more severe risks associated with the continued use of a dirty bong is permanent damage to your lung tissue.
Do we have your attention yet?
A clean bong means a better-tasting smoke. A dirty bong will have a detrimental impact on the way that inhale interacts with your taste buds. This is due to the built-up resin and slime inside the bong. This will very quickly begin to give off a unique flavour all of its own, and it’s not delicious. If you’ve chosen a specific strain for its taste, whether it be fruity, cheese, earthy – and you run it through a filthy bong – that flavour is going to be seriously compromised by the stinky mess inside the bong.
You won’t get the magical taste of those terpenes from a filthy bong. Your succulent flower will taste like rotten vegetables if you don’t keep your smoking vessel spotless, and you don’t want that.
Between the resin buildup and the stagnant water in the butt of your bong, it won’t take long before it starts giving off a foul smell – and you’ll know that smell straight away. It’s a mouldy, swampy, damp and deeply unpleasant stench that will spread to your clothes, your hair, and beyond your person. If you fire up that befouled bong, it won’t take long for the rancid reek to permeate the air and atmosphere around you.
If you’re using your bong at home, prepare for your entire room to stink, and it’s bad enough trying to deal with the smell of weed, but imagine trying to rid your cushions and carpets of that. That’s an uphill battle. You should, at the very least, rinse your bong after every session to keep it from getting that bad.
Ease of Cleaning
Like anything, the longer you wait between cleans, the longer it takes to clean – and the harder it is to clean it. If nothing else, giving your bong a regular wash is far less time-consuming and labour-intensive for you. If you’ve ever let the dishes pile up for a couple of days, you’ll know just how much effort and swearing goes into getting that baked-in grime off of those dirty plates. You need to break out the big guns to remove the stubborn dirt and gunk, and of course, it takes much longer than if you give them a quick rinse with hot water and a soapy wipe when you’re finished eating.
The same principle applies to your bong, so it’s worth your while to keep on top of it. Bongs ain’t cheap, and the longer you leave it, the more challenging cleaning will be, and the greater the likelihood that you might have to throw it out and buy a new one. Practice good cleanliness by emptying your bong and giving it a rinse after each smoke session.
What You’ll Need to Clean a Bong
You’ll need some materials, and what you’ll need depends on how bad of a condition the bong is. The following are recommended for your cleaning process:
- Hot Water – running warm water is best for rinsing, so get to the nearest sink, make sure it’s clean water!
- Dish soap – just a little
- Rubbing alcohol or white vinegar, which are mildly acidic and will help break down the resin
- Salt, which is mildly abrasive and will help scrub alongside the rubbing alcohol. Table salt is good, but coarse salt has better scrubbing power
- Cotton balls
- Cotton buds/Q-tips/Pipe Cleaners
- Hand towels paper towels – these can be used for plugging holes in the chamber and for drying
- A bottle brush
- Ziploc bags (or similar sealable plastic bags)
How to Clean Your Bong
Now that we’ve covered why you should regularly clean your bong let’s discuss how to clean your bong. Regardless of the material, this is the safest cleaning method for both glass and acrylic bongs – resist the temptation to try and deep clean in a dishwasher, as this can cause glass bongs to crack, and the resin can potentially damage the filters in the dishwasher.
1. Empty the Bong
Remove any leftover cannabis, and dump out any remaining water, of course.
2. Take the Bong Apart
Disassemble it completely – separate the stem and the bowl from the bong itself, and remove any other pieces (downstem, water pipe, mouthpiece, glass pieces etc.)which can be removed.
3. Put the Bong Pieces aside
A (clean) basin, a big bowl, a plastic box – keep the small pieces apart from the chamber for now
4. Start Rinsing the Chamber, Then the Other Pieces
Hot running water is your friend here because it’ll start to dislodge some of the resin from the surfaces of your bong. Pop on a pair of Marigolds or similar heavy-duty rubber gloves because it’ll allow you to work with a higher temperature of the water – which aids cleaning – with a much lower risk of burning yourself.
Let that hot water pour in via the top of the bong and empty it out through the side opening – that way, the loose residue will only go one way, minimising the number of places it could get trapped. Give the separate pieces the same treatment – a good rinse with hot water.
5. Introduce Rubbing Alcohol (or vinegar) and Salt
Add around a quarter cup of rubbing alcohol and a tablespoon of rock salt, salt mixture or sea salt for each small component of your bong. For the chamber, go with half a cup of rubbing alcohol or white vinegar. Begin the cleaning method by giving each bag a good shake – for a few minutes – to distribute your cleaning solution all-around; make sure it gets into all those crevices and can get to work its magic. Then, let each component sit and soak for a good 10-15 minutes before returning to give another good shake.
Inspect each one and see if it’s removing that gunk and grime. Plug the holes in the chamber with your hand towels or clean cloths, then fill the chamber cleaner, ensuring it covers all the glass areas. Make sure the holes are well plugged, then give it a good swish before letting it stand, so the solution has time to do its thing.
6. Start Spot-Cleaning
Grab your Q-tips, pipe cleaners, cotton swabs or toothbrush and get to work on the smaller components, removing any gunk which remains. Once complete, get to work on the chamber with your bottle brush and give it the same treatment.
7. Rinse Thoroughly
Thoroughly. Because you need to get that Isopropyl alcohol gone. And you don’t want a salty bong hit.
*These steps all apply to a glass pipe as well!
A Word on Drying
After thoroughly rinsing your bong and all of its parts, towel off the excess with clean, dry towels and/or paper towels as best you can. Try to dab the smaller component carefully. Then, sit the bong to air dry for at least an hour before putting the parts back together and wiping away water stains, and voila! Good as new. A clean, dry, safe bong!