The first, very important thing to remember is this: DO NOT use household cleaning chemicals on your pipes, bongs, bubblers or dab rigs. It can be very risky for your health or the health of anyone who could breathe in the smoke; smoking cannabis involves heat, biochemical reactions and sometimes vaporized water molecules, all of which can cause further chemical reactions with the cleaning products you might use at home. Some people prefer to strictly use natural products, such as vinegar-based surface cleaners or plant-derived, safer chemicals in lieu of your everyday Windex or Mr. Clean. Still, we can’t recommend enough to avoid using any/all chemicals for your smoking tools, it’s just not worth the risk of creating a potentially dangerous or harmful chemical reaction. So, with that important notice out of the way, what IS safe and effective for cleaning pipes, bongs and bubblers? We’ve got some cleaning secrets for you, but first you need to know WHY your smoking instruments need to be cleaned, and WHAT happens to them over time.
First of all, how much you smoke (how often, how much) will determine the frequency or severity of build up of residues in your pipes or bongs. Certain grades of cannabis – from the skunk dro you got from a friend, to the most premium nugs you paid top dollar for – will also influence how dirty your smoking tools get. Some avid bong tokers have even remarked at how certain strains can accumulate more tar in their water chambers than others, and this is most likely a similar reflection of a bud’s quality by how it burns, what kind of ash it produces. There are a multitude of reasons for why a cannabis flower burns the way it does (probably too many points to cover for this article), but we’ll keep our focus narrowed to minimizing the effects of residues and build up on our pipes, bongs and bubblers.
Secondly, the build up of carbon (which is what cannabis residue and tar is) can negatively impact the taste of your weed, not to mention blockages preventing you from inhaling all of the potent smoke. Carcinogens can accumulate if you don’t remove the residues, you can start to notice a nasty after-taste whenever you smoke, and even after-burning the built up tar can lead to other potentially negative health effects. We all remember our parents’ constant reminder to clean our rooms, and even though the monotony and repetitiveness might’ve annoyed us, they did it for a reason – if you don’t keep a clean, clutter-free space you risk the growth of mold, bad bacteria or even injuries from an overwhelming mess. Cleaning gunk from your pipes, bongs or bubblers is no different – it’s something we just have to keep doing to avoid some negative (and downright embarrassing) consequences if we let it get out of hand.
Thirdly – and certainly, this one really stinks! – is the unpleasant aromas associated with a gummed up pipe or bong. Whenever you smoke, you’re applying heat and energy to the glorious scents and flavors of your cannabis buds… but if what you smoke out of isn’t clean, you’re basically applying all that heat, energy and mobility of airflow to the nasty smells caked on your pipe/bong. You don’t want to smell, let alone taste, last year’s holiday weed you got from “Santa”, do you? Old scents, stale aromas, and the release of carbon build up are not positive add-ons to any smoking experience, so don’t let it be a problem in the first place and clean your darn tools!