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How to clean glass bongs and pipes

dirty bong
(Максим/AdobeStock)

Why you need to clean your glass bong or pipe

After smoking out of a glass piece for a while, tar builds up, making hits harsher, perhaps inducing a coughing fit, and dulling the flavor of the smoke.

There’s nothing like taking a hit out of a freshly cleaned bong, pipe, or bubbler—you’ll be able to taste the flavor of the smoke and the strain, and hits won’t be as harsh.

You can always scrape a glass pipe for resin and take resin hits—we’ve all been there—but for better flavor, clean your piece and pack a fresh bowl of flower. Cleaning a glass bong or pipe is cheap and easy. 

When to clean your bong or pipe

The short answer is: When it’s brown and full of tar. If you can’t see through the glass, it’s time for a clean. With bongs, if it’s hard to see the water, give it a clean.

How often you smoke out of a piece will depend on how often you need to clean it. Some folks will clean a glass pipe or bong every day if they use it a lot or if the piece is expensive. 

Once a week is probably fine with a moderate amount of use. If you only smoke out of a piece occasionally, you can probably let it go longer. If it’s been months since you’ve cleaned a piece, it’s definitely time. 

For bongs and bubblers, it’s a good idea to change the water before smoking once a day, or every time you use it. Water that sits in a piece too long will be full of tar and debris. 

Methods to clean your bong or pipe

Cleaning a glass bong, pipe, or bubbler is easy. All you need is:

  • Isopropyl alcohol—70% works fine; 90% is better
  • Coarse salt

Salt isn’t necessary but it will help dislodge chunks of resin.

You can also buy specially made bong cleaners at a head shop or weed store, but they are often more expensive than isopropyl alcohol and have other chemicals in them that aren’t needed.

To clean a piece:

  • Pour out the water if it’s a bong or bubbler
  • Pour alcohol and coarse salt into the piece
  • Plug the holes and shake it for a minute or two
  • Pour out alcohol/salt mixture
  • Rinse with warm water to make sure no alcohol or salt are left
  • Let it dry until it doesn’t smell like alcohol (usually an hour or so)
  • Repeat if necessary

For tough tar, let the piece soak in alcohol for a few hours or overnight. You can also invest in a pipe brush and scrub it after pouring out the alcohol.

If a piece is small enough, soak the whole thing in a container with alcohol and salt.

Be careful not to break a glass piece when cleaning it. Cleaning involves vigorously shaking a glass piece and usually happens near a porcelain or metal sink—prime territory for breakage. You can place the piece on an old rag so it doesn’t break on a countertop.

Pat Goggins contributed to this article.