Nothing ruins the taste of a good smoke like a dirty bong. Fortunately, there are some pretty easy and reliable ways to clean your bong both generally and extensively. To make and keep your bong clean, do some basic cleaning, get those tough areas and stains, and take good care of your bong.
Signs You Need To Clean Your Bong
Before we get into how to clean your bong, here are some signs that it’s time:
- The slimy film inside the bong.
- Heavy resin buildup.
- Brown, discolored bong water.
- Especially smell bong water.
- White or gray mold fuzz on resin build-up.
- White or black specks along bong walls.
What you’ll need to clean your bong
- Table salt, rock salt, or rice (abrasives).
- Rubbing (isopropyl) alcohol, preferably 91% or 99% (cleans much better).
- Pipe cleaners, twist-ties, etc., to clean stem and other tight spots.
- Small pieces of fabric, cotton, or cork with which to plug stem and cover bong.
- Rubber bands to secure parts while shaking.
- Optional: Plastic gloves because isopropyl’s rough on your skin and grunge is gross on your hands.
How to Clean a Bong in 10 Easy Steps
1) Dump Out The Dirty Bong Water
You’d think this would be a given and not worth mentioning, but the simplest thing can be overlooked when you’re flying in a blue dream. We want to be thorough so here’s your reminder: dump out the bong water first.
2) Take Apart Your Bong
Separate the bowl and the stem from the bong proper. If your bowl and stem are two pieces, separate those as well. If your bong has any other movable or removable parts, guess what? You need to take those apart too. Your bong should now be completely disassembled.
3) Rinse Everything With Hot Water
Hot running water is a great way to start the cleansing process. It dislodges some of the surface resin that has built up with repeated use and starts to dissolve the bonds that bind the gunk in place.
Get the water as hot as you can tolerate and consider wearing dish-washing gloves (those ugly yellow things). The gloves allow you to make the water hotter which turbo-charges the process.
If you think about it while you’re rinsing, fill from the top and empty from the slide opening. This will minimize the chances of the loose residue getting caught anywhere else.
4) Put Each Loose Piece In Its Own Container
And no, you don’t want to use the same baggies your weed came in. We’re trying to clean things here folks. Tupperware containers with lids also make for a great reusable, earth-friendly alternative.
And, no, you don’t have to put the bong itself in a baggie or plastic container. We’ll clean that by itself in a later step.
After you’ve got each loose piece in its own baggie or tupperware container, pour in at least ¼ cup of your rubbing alcohol along with at least one tablespoon of salt.
For larger pieces, go with ½ cup rubbing alcohol and two tablespoons salt. The proportions aren’t really important, just so that both ingredients are there.
Rubbing alcohol is mildly acidic which helps to breakdown the sticky resin that builds up inside the bong.
Salt is an abrasive that works in concert with the acid to add scrubbing power to the solution.
As an alternative to the rubbing alcohol, you can use vinegar which is also a mild acid. As an alternative to the salt, you can use rice to help scrub the bong clean.
If you choose to use rice, don’t let it sit too long in the alcohol (or vinegar) because it will start to absorb the liquid and soften. This will decrease its abrasive power.
And if you do decide to use rice, don’t eat it no matter how hungry you get. Those pesky (or awesome) munchies can make you eat some really weird stuff. Resist the urge to make stir fry with the rice you use to clean your bong…no matter how delicious it looks
5) Pour Salt In The Bong
Add at least two tablespoons of salt into your bong; three would be better. Depending on the size of the pipe you’re using, you may want to add four or five.
Remember, salt will dissolve in liquids, so put enough salt in the bong that some stays out of solution (not dissolved). This helps increase the abrasiveness of the solution you’re making.
6) Pour Alcohol In The Bong
Pour at least ½ cup of rubbing alcohol into your bong. Again, depending on the size of the pipe itself, you may need to add more. Don’t worry about the ratio of salt to alcohol. It really doesn’t make any difference as long as there’s enough of both to get a good swishing going.
Just like you did with the small pieces in their baggies, shake the bong vigorously so that the alcohol and salt solution gets moved around on all surfaces. Continue to shake the whole thing for at least five minutes. Then shake longer.
While you’re shaking the bong, you can be satisfied that you got your exercise for the day. Who knew shaking would be such hard work?
8) Rinse Everything With Hot Water
Remove the small pieces from their baggies and dump the alcohol/salt solution from the bong. Rinse everything with the hottest water you can get.
Rinsing helps to remove the residual resin, the salt, and the alcohol from the surfaces of your bong. If some stubborn pieces remain (particularly in the bowl or the stem), use a Q-tip or a bottle brush (probably available at your local beaker store) to pick away at the mass.
After you remove that last little piece, rinse again with hot water and let everything air dry before using again.
9) Repeat (Optional)
If it’s been years or since last you cleaned your bong (first, ewww), you may have to repeat the entire process again (or even several times). Eventually, the alcohol, the salt, and the repeated agitation will peel away the layers of goo to reveal the sparkling glass underneath.