Having a bong has a lot of benefits over other smoking methods like joints, blunts, and dry pipes, but it does come with a bit of baggage: you have to clean it. It’s not just an optional thing that you can do, it’s a must for various reasons.
Why Should I Clean My Bong?
If you understand why you should regularly perform maintenance on your car, then it should be easy to understand why you should clean your bong. Just like a car has many moving parts that will eventually need to be cleaned or even replaced, the same is true with your favorite glass bongs.
Glass bongs are great smoking tools, but because their primary feature is the ability to filter the smoke and cool it down, or keep it warm and moist. But let’s face reality, bongs get dirty… fast. All the stuff that used to end up in your lungs when taking a hit is now caught in the water at the bottom of the bong and stuck to the sides of the glass interior.
There are a few benefits to using a clean bong and not all of them are obvious.
The Water Filters Better
The water also filters better when it’s clean than when it isn’t. There’s only so much trash one fill up of water can filter out and after that, the amount that it can filter degrades significantly. Change your water often!
A Dirty Bong Will Make You Sick
Another benefit of having a clean bong is that you avoid the risk of respiratory infections when you use a clean piece. Mold loves to grow in damp locations, so you don’t want to store your bong full of water. It should always be stored empty. You should also be aware that not all mold is green; some molds are black, white, gray, and even pink. When you use a dirty bong, you may be inhaling mold spores and that could land you in the hospital.
You should also clean your bong after a session that’s shared with others. When you share your bong with other people, you run the risk of getting sick if they’re sick. If you’re willing to risk that, fine, but clean your piece immediately after you’re done so you don’t expose yourself to whatever they had more than once.
After 24 hours or so, biofilm will start to build up on the inside of your bong. It’s nasty and it’s bad for your lungs. This is why you don’t store your bong with water in it.
Hits Will Be Smoother
The most obvious benefit is that your hits taste better because they’re not being contaminated with the stench of old weed, old water, and old resin buildup.
The more complex the air path from the bowl to your mouth, the more resin and ash your bong is going to collect and the harder it’s going to be to clean. But, don’t worry; done correctly and often, your bong can look and feel like a brand new piece every single time you use it. How? Learn the basics below.
You’ll Get Higher
Your smoke will be smoother, so you’ll take more hits than you would if it was nasty. You’d rather taste the fresh sour diesel you just picked up than the old stuff from last week, right?
A Dirty Bong Smells Horrible
If you’re wanting to be at least somewhat discreet about your cannabis usage, keeping a dirty bong around isn’t going to help you there. The smell is unmistakable to anyone who has ever smelled it.
Less Risk Of Spilling
The last thing you want to do, especially if you’re not in a legal state and definitely if you’re renting a place, is spilling nasty bong water onto your carpet. Or your couch. It’s hard to clean up, because the stain is ugly and the smell tends to linger. Yuck!
Your Glass Looks Amazing
Why would you spend $200 on a bong to let nasty water set in it? Your piece takes care of you, so you should take care of your piece.
How Often Should I Clean My Bong?
How often you should clean your bong varies. If you only smoke every once in a while, it’s probably fine to only clean it every once in a while. But, if you’re a heavy smoker either for recreational or medical reasons, you’re going to want to clean it at least once a week and sometimes once every day depending on how much cannabis you’re going through. Don’t underestimate how fast your bong can get dirty. The more often you change the water and do a light cleaning, the less often you’ll have to deep clean it.
If you reach the point where your bong needs to be deep cleaned because of too much resin buildup, you’re going to have to let the bong soak in cleaning solution to get it completely back to new condition.
When Should I Clean My Bong?
Well, when it needs it is the obvious answer here. But, to know when it needs it, you need to know the signs. Here’s a list of dirty bong symptoms:
- Buildup of resin on the glass
- The water in the bong isn’t clear anymore and it stinks
- Debris inside the chamber
- Dark stains on the percolator if one is present
In other words, if your bong doesn’t look like the day you bought it new, it needs to be cleaned.
What To Clean A Bong With
Most sources online and our personal experiences say that cleaning your bong with isopropyl alcohol is the easiest method to use, because it’s typically the absolute cheapest. But, since the rise of covid-19 in the US and the limited availability of isopropyl alcohol, other methods should be considered if you have easier access to them.
Here are some things you may want to have to clean your bong with:
- Cotton balls
- Hand towel (for drying)
- Small baggies or plastic storage for small glass pieces
- Straw cleaning brush
- Bottle brush
- Pipe cleaners
One type of accessory that you should have when you clean your bong is a set of the correct size plugs for the holes in your bong. You should have one to plug the mouthpiece and one to plug the hole for the downstem. This is so you can fill the bong with cleaner and let it set in it for a few hours or even overnight. With these, your bong will be much easier to clean.
How To Clean A Bong With Isopropyl Alcohol & Kosher Salt
This is an old tried and true method to clean almost anything you use to in the course of smoking cannabis. You want to use 91% isopropyl alcohol, not rubbing alcohol for this if you have it. Rubbing alcohol isn’t quite as potent as isopropyl.
For the salt, you can use kosher salt or even epsom salt for this. The salt helps knock loose debris and resin from the side of the glass interior.
And we know this article is about how to clean glass bongs, but just in case you have an acrylic bong, you should know that you should not attempt to clean it with alcohol. The alcohol will dissolve any adhesive holding the bong together and it will render it unusable.
How To Clean A Bong With Baking Soda & Vinegar
This isn’t a fantastic method because it takes a significant amount of cleaner to do it and it can get messy. But, if you don’t have alcohol and you do have baking soda and vinegar, it’ll do the job.
Because of the potential for mess, you’ll want to do this in your kitchen sink or even in a deep pot.
Place your bong in the kitchen sink and pour ½ cup of baking soda into the chamber. You may have to put some directly through the downstem hole to get it into the bottom of the bong if your bong has a percolator. Once that’s there, fill the bong up with white vinegar. Apple cider vinegar will do fine, but white vinegar is cheaper.
How To Clean A Bong With Lemon Juice
Not only can lemon juice be used for cleaning, but it can also be used as a preventative. When you use 5-10 drops of lemon juice in your bong water, it helps prevent resin from sticking to the glass.
Like vinegar, lemon juice is an acid. You can use vinegar in your bong water to get the same effect, but trust us that the vinegar doesn’t taste as good as the lemon juice.
How To Clean A Bong With Boiling Water
This is a more risky method because boiling your glass the wrong way could cause it to shatter. There’s a particular way to do this with the least amount of risk and the instructions should be followed exactly.
Place your bong into a stock pot large enough to fit it. If possible, put the bong on a canning rack in the pot to keep it from touching the bottom.
Cover the bong with cool/cold water. Do not start with hot water.
Turn the burner on and set it to medium low heat. You want to heat the water up slowly so the thermal shock doesn’t crack the glass. Bring the water up to a simmering boil, not a rolling boil.
Once it’s simmering, let it stay that way for 25-35 minutes.
Once that time has passed, very carefully remove the bong from the water and place it aside somewhere safe to cool off. Whatever you do at this point, do NOT rinse your bong with water from your sink at this point. Others say don’t rinse it with cold water, but we’ll say not to rinse it until it’s cooled off completely.
When you can comfortably touch the glass, then you can rinse it out and off with hot tap water.
How to Clean A Bong With Denture Tablets
Place your glass piece in a plastic container large enough that you can cover it with hot water. Cover it with hot water, then place the denture tablet into it. Wait for at least 20 to 45 minutes, then rinse the glass with hot water.
How To Clean A Bong With Acetone
Acetone will definitely clean your bong, but beware: most acetone sold on the market contains a bitterant in it that is designed to stop people from using acetone to get high, otherwise known as “huffing”. When you use acetone in the form of nail polish remover, you’ll want to rinse your bong out thoroughly. If you don’t, your next bong hit will taste nasty.
If you’re going to buy acetone for bong cleaning purposes, you’ll want to acquire it from a hardware store where it’s sold as paint thinner. This is your best bet when it comes to cleaning with acetone. Getting it at the hardware store as paint thinner is also going to be cheaper than buying bottle after bottle of nail polish remover.
How To Clean A Bong With Dishwasher Pods
This is an odd method that most people don’t know about, but it makes sense and it works.
Note: Don’t pour boiling water straight into your bong due to the potential of the thermal shock causing it to break. If your glass is cold, warm it up to temperature gradually with warm to hot water first.
Plus your downstem hole and place a dishwasher pod into your bong through the mouthpiece at the top. Pour hot water into it and let the pod dissolve fully, then cap the mouthpiece hole shut. Shake vigorously and let the solution work its magic. Rinse it out very well after letting it set for a while.
How To Clean A Bong With An Oven
Did you know you can use your self-cleaning oven to clean your bong? Be careful, though; you should only use this method on pieces that are 100% made with glass. Anything that isn’t pure glass will be irreparably damaged.
Your oven’s self-cleaning cycle will raise your oven anywhere from 500°F to 600°F and once the self-cleaning cycle has started, most ovens will lock and you won’t be able to open them.
Remove all of the accessories from your bong, such as your downstem, bowl, ash catcher, etc. Place them and the bong on a glass or metal pan in the middle of the oven while it’s still at room temperature.
Close the oven and turn the self-cleaning cycle on. Any resin that is on the inside or outside of the glass will be baked to ash and will be easily rinsed off later.
When the cleaning cycle is over, this is important: leave your bong alone.
That’s right, leave it. Let everything in the oven come back down to room temperature first for the same reason we said earlier about the boiling method. If you rinse your bong with water while it’s still blistering hot, you run a high risk of shattering your glass. Just don’t do it.
Once it’s cooled, rinse with hot water. Anything that was on your bong should rinse right out.