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By Ayad Maher
The quickest and most common, but also the least efficient, way to clean your glass pipe is to scrape out the resin using a pointy object like a paperclip. Any smoker who has done this over a period of time, knows that eventually you will get to the point where the resin starts to build up and this scraping method simply won’t work. Though the method is great if you are simply looking for something to clean up your pipe before smoking, it simply doesn’t actually clean the pipe very well. Over time, you will either end up buying a new glass pipe, switching to a vaporizer, which will also need regular maintenance, or you will have to do deeper cleaning to have a like-new glass pipe.
Let’s face it, nobody wants to just throw away their favorite pipe that has been there for them on so many occasions. Fortunately we are here for you and have a quick process to clean your beloved piece like new! If you follow the steps below, you'll get your glass pipe as clean as the day you bought it, making your next smoke session remind you of the days of old.
If you are an everyday smoker, it’s best to implement these steps at least once a month.
Here’s the deal, my favorite way to have a new looking clean glass pipe is to soak the piece in isopropyl alcohol and salt. It’s a few steps process, but totally worth your time.
Give it a quick scrape. You start off by removing any substance stuck on your glass pipe. Hold your pipe upside down, and gently tap it to get rid of any remaining particles. To evict any small or large bits of resin you couldn't reach in the glass bowl, you can use a thin object, a needle or a paper clip. You don't need to scour too hard if there are any tough spots, you also don't want to scratch the glass, it will loosen up in the next step. Point to ponder; if you save the resin that you’ve just scraped out, you can smoke that later. Though it will not taste great and there are differing opinions on the quality of the high, I’ve found that it can get you feeling pretty good, especially in a pinch.
Fill a clean Ziploc bag. It needs to be big enough to allow your pipe to fit with some extra room for liquid to move around. Fill half of it with rubbing (isopropyl) alcohol. The higher isopropyl (90%) the better. It will wash off the residue stuck on the glass pipe faster and more efficiently than the watered down 70% isopropyl alcohol solution. Another good thing about using 90% isopropyl is that the salt, which we will add next, won’t dissolve as quickly when using 70% isopropyl, or water for that matter. You will find out why next.
Add Salt. Before you put the glass pipe in the Ziploc, add 1 tablespoon of salt to the solution. You might be wondering why salt? Salt fragments and particles will work like an erosive tool on your bowl and the particles stuck to it. The bigger the salt grain the better, use Kosher salt, it’s usually your best bet. I also sometimes use sea salt since as I find the sea salt's particulars tend to be bigger than the regular table salt's. However, regular table salt will work just fine, no need to buy special salt for this process. The salt will scour away all the tar and resin in the places impossible to reach using a sponge or brush. Note: It should go without saying, but I’ll say it anyway, once you add the salt and alcohol mix, the resin will not be good to smoke anymore. Most likely, you will have already removed the largest parts in the previous step and set them aside.
Put the glass pipe in Ziploc and shake gently. The pipe has to be fully immersed and be sure to shake it gently, remember this pipe is one of your favorites or you'd just rather buy a new one, so no need to shake it like a bag of Shake-N-Bake. Make sure some of the salt make it inside the bowl. Close off the pipe’s openings with your fingers, and then shake it more. The salt will scrub and get rid of most of the substance stuck on the pipe. 1-2 minutes shaking should be enough.
WAIT AND LET IT SIT!! Don’t take the pipe out yet, leave it in there for several hours to allow the alcohol to break down tar and resin, making it even cleaner. I usually keep it in the bag over night but a few hours should do the trick if you’re in a hurry to start a smoking session with your buddies. This part is up to personal preference, but the pipe will be cleaner if it sits for a few hours.
Give it another shake before you take it out. Same way you did it previously, close the glass pipe holes with your figures, make sure there is salt in there, and give it a shake. Just to make sure you get everything out. Add more salt if you can't see any as the salt may have dissolved while resting.Note: For extremely dirty glass pipes, redo the process with fresh isopropyl, add fresh salt, shake it, leave it in there for another few hours. Keep doing this until it's visibly clean.
Wash out your clean glass pipe with hot water, lots of hot water. Remove all the alcohol and salt from the pipe and then wipe off any remaining smudges or smears. Do NOT dump the alcohol left in the Ziploc in the sink! It will funk up your sink if left settled. Rick brought up a great point in the comments section below, Never dump alcohol, dirty or clean, into the sewer! that includes your toilet! It becomes part of the toxic solution that is ‘filtered’ and ‘purified’ and mixed back into your tap water. Always dump it outside, or, use it as an ‘insect prohibitive spray’ on your shrubs, lawn and garden.
Keep in mind, saving then smoking the resin dissolved with iso is dangerous, as you do NOT want to be smoking rubbing alcohol. Also the salt wouldn't evaporate, so you'd end up smoking a salt/resin mixture that may contain pockets of iso. (Many thanks to The Titanium Human for the heads up).
Final step. Soak the glass pipe for 15-20 min in a mixture of warm water and lemon juice, it will help to remove any water marks or non-resin stains and give the pipe a fresh smell and taste.
Here is another way to do it:
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