If you’re sparking up a water pipe on a regular basis, it’ll quickly become apparent that your go-to smoking device can get swampy. The tap water you use to filter the smoke can and will turn your bong or bubbler into a dewy grotto unless you regularly empty your piece and deep-clean it.
Stoners must be diligent about sanitizing their bongs, bubblers, and vape pens, or suffer the use of a grimy piece that reeks, thus quashing their chill vibes. Here are some tips for how to keep these essential tools clean so you can fully enjoy them without inhaling a mouthful of muck.
Why you should clean your water pipe
Bongs are the biggest glass pipes, and can therefore get the grimiest. It’s essential that what you’re inhaling is filtered through clean water. Like any stagnant body of water, bong water can develop mold and fungus (fusarium, a pink fungus that tends to proliferate in damp environments, likes to grow in and around bong percolators, according to Herb.co).
Needless to say, decouple mold from your weed smoking routine at all costs. Exposure to mold can lead to “stuffy nose, wheezing, and red or itchy eyes, or skin,” per the CDC, though some people are far more susceptible to symptoms than others. There are also rarer conditions like hypersensitivity pneumonitis, which can cause pneumonia-like symptoms such as fever, cough, and chills from overexposure to “sensitizing substances such as bacteria, fungi, organic dusts, and chemicals,” the CDC notes.
Overall, just use common sense: If the water resting in the base of your pipe is opaque and murky, you’re probably taking a gamble by not cleaning it out before your next session.
How to clean your bong or bubbler
Luckily, the sanitation process isn’t complicated. Most seasoned bong-aficionados recommend two simple items for cleaning a water pipe, 99 percent isopropyl rubbing alcohol and rock salt. The alcohol is used as a sanitizing agent, while the rock salt grips to the glass walls of your piece to make sure all of the gunk gets absorbed.
In order to clean your bong or bubbler, adhere to the following guidelines:
- Remove the downstem and bowl and submerge them fully in a plastic bag filled with alcohol.
- Make sure your bong is empty, then pour rubbing alcohol and rock salt into it. Weedmaps recommends using about 1/4 cup of each, but the quantities will vary with the size of your piece, so approximate wisely.
- Once the alcohol and salt are settled, shake your bong vigorously until a good amount of resin has come loose. You’ll obviously have to plug all the holes so no gunk water escapes; you can do this with anything that fits, or use your hands (while wearing rubber gloves).
- While shaking, use both hands, because this is a glass piece and you don’t want it to go flying.
- Rise everything out, including downstem and bowl.
An alternative method: boil your bubbler
Another method some people prefer involves boiling your water pipe in apple cider vinegar and water.
As Weedmaps explains, you’ll only need a few supplies (though you do run the risk of stinking up your kitchen momentarily). Here’s what to do:
- Place 2 cups of water and 2 cups of apple cider vinegar into a sauce pan.
- Bring to boil, then let simmer.
- Place water pipe inside pan, and let it simmer for an hour. (Make sure your pipe is room temperature before putting it in water, as cold pipes can crack, Weedmaps notes).
- Remove the pipe (which is likely scalding hot) with tongs and place on a towel to dry.
How to clean your vape tanks
If you’re partial to modern weed technology, you might use a vape pen to consume THC. Whether you use hash oils or regular old e-vape juice, cleaning these devices is a little more complicated than a bong, but not by much.
Let’s first start with how to clean a vape pen’s tank, as distilled by Veppo Vape Shop in this video:
- First, you want to completely disassemble the device, which means removing the vape tank from the battery and coil.
- Make sure there’s no excess e-juice dripping out of the device.
- Submerge the tank in warm, soapy water, but only after making sure your tank is able to withstand anything other than plain water (your user manual will usually let you know).
- Clean the battery, coil and mouthpiece with a Q-tip or cotton swab.
- Take tank out of the warm water and let sit on paper towel for 10-15 minutes.
- It’s recommended you do this every 2-3 weeks, or whenever you change e-juice flavors.
Between prolonging the health of your device’s coils and replenishing your levels of e-juice, maintaining an e-cig or other vaping device is a universe unto itself. But if you understand the basic mechanics of your device and how it functions, cleaning it will become a habit—one more step on your journey to cannabinoidal relaxation.