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The quickest and most common way, but also the least efficient, to clean your glass pipe is to scrape out the resin using a pointy object like a paperclip. HOWEVER, 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 scraping method is great if you are looking for something to clean up your pipe before smoking, it's the least efficient way to clean your glass piece. 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.
Fortunately we are here for you and have a quick tips to clean your beloved glass piece!
If you are an everyday smoker, it’s best to implement these steps at least once a month.
First and foremost, change the water frequently to avoid going through the process of cleaning the bong. Better to empty it out after every time you smoke unless you plan on smoking again soon.
Pour one 1 cup of salt in your bong and a 1/4 cup of rubbing alcohol (the higher isopropyl (90%) the better). 1 cup of salt may sound excessive, but, first; you're not eating it. Second; more salt the better. The salt rubs off all the gunk, and a tablespoon of salt would do next to nothing. The mix will not turn into a paste because using the higher isopropyl prevent the salt from disolving in to the liquid
Now, shake your bong as hard as you can without breaking it.
Make sure to rinse off with water so there’s no alcohol residue.
Wine corks fit perfectly in 14mm bongs, makes cleaning so much easier (be careful pushing it in, I've cracked mine in the past). Or you can buy the little cone shaped rubber wine stoppers (they're like $2 - $3 each). They fit both 14mm and 18mm because of their cone shape! Plus they don’t slip out due to the tiny rubber ridges on the outside. Folded up paper towel works too.
Dump decent amount of Isopropyl and salt (Kosher salt or sea salt) 91% ISO in the bong, plug all openings, and shake rapidly for couple of minutes, then let it sit for couple of minutes. Do this process for 3 - 4 times.
Be careful, you don’t want it to slip out of your hands.
As for cleaning the down stem and bowl piece, put them in a zip lock bag and follow the "cleaning glass pipe" steps.
Lemon juice is also recommended to add to the mix, make sure to clean it really well afterwards. Lemon juice will mold fast, you do NOT want to leave it in for multiple days, otherwise, it will smell funky.
Shake it for a few minutes. The mixture should turn dark brown.
Rinse clean with hot hot sink water (let cool before adding new water to prevent cracking). Let it dry completely and wash again a few times.
1. Give it a quick scrape. You start off by removing any resin stuck on your glass pipe. Hold your pipe upside down, and gently tap it to get rid of any remaining particles. Use a thin object to get rid off any small or large bits of resin you couldn't reach. 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, quality of high is debatable though.
2. Fill a clean Ziploc bag with rubbing alcohol (don't put the pipe in the bag yet). 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. Also, 90% isopropyl, the salt, which we will add next, won’t dissolve as quickly when using 70% isopropyl.
3. Add Salt: Before you put the glass pipe in the Ziploc, add 1 tablespoon of salt to the solution. Salt fragments and particles will work like an erosive tool on your bowl reaching areas impossible to be reached using a sponge or a brush. Regular table salt will work just fine, no need to buy special salt for this process, however, the bigger the salt grain the better, such as Kosher salt or sea salt.
OR! No solvents, no salt, just add water, you can use ResRemover Glass Pipe Cleaner
Important 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.
Orange Chronic Cleaner can do wonders, no adding salt needed.
4. Put the glass pipe in Ziploc and shake gently. Thhe 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.
5. 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.
6. 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 overly 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.
7. Wash out your clean glass pipe with hot water, lots of hot water. Let it dry completely and wash again a few times.
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).
8. 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.
Voila, you have a nice new looking clean glass pipe! Enjoy it like the day you first brought it home!
Here is another way to do it: