Posted on by Nicholas Cass

Planning for the longevity of your smoking device means staying ahead of maintenance requirements. This means not only following proper storing procedures and cleaning out the water after every day or two, it also means cleaning the material itself. Any comprehensive guide on how to maintain your device will showcase the importance of working with specific materials, and following the instructions as carefully as possible will ensure that you get the most out of your device for entire years to come. 

To begin, you may usually notice when your pipe or bong is overdue for cleaning. Sometimes after using it, you may notice a dirty aftertaste, especially if you know it has been a while since you last cleaned it. In the most extreme cases, you may actually start to notice obvious signs of neglect, such as the appearance of mildew staining and a general black coating of resin. The appearance of such wear can take away from your device's appearance, especially if you have a particularly attractive designer piece. Apart from affecting the aesthetics, grime and filth may also harm your health and affect the flavor of the flower you use. Simply put, you are not getting the benefits that you could be getting when you let your device get too dirty for too long. 

Depending on the primary material used in your device's construction, you may need to work with different cleaning options in order to have the most efficient effect. The most commonly recommended combination of cleaners is isopropyl, or rubbing, alcohol and coarse salt. Though this option can be ideal for those who do not smoke frequently, it is not a good choice for those who use their devices often, as sometimes alcohol fumes may remain, resulting in damage to the lungs upon inhalation. For those who need an alternative, vinegar and baking soda is available as well. Vinegar is much less toxic to the body than isopropyl alcohol, but inhaling leftover vinegar fumes can also damage your health. One of the primary compounds in vinegar, acetic acid, can cause severe nasal, eye, and throat irritation if it is kept in contact with the body for too long. If you are not interested in working with such solvents, your next best bet is to use boiling water. Following safety procedures to avoid burns on your body will guarantee the best cleaning experience for your device. 

What You Will Need for a Boiling Water Clean:

  • Filtered water
  • A cup of lemon juice
  • A saucepan large enough to hold your entire device
  • Pipe cleaners
  • Microfiber cloths or paper towels
What You Will Need for an Alcohol or Vinegar Clean:

  • Sink or basin
  • Baking soda or coarse salt
  • Pipe cleaners
  • Fabric or cotton for the stem
  • Plastic gloves
Before getting started, make sure that the device does not have a particularly substantial degree of resin built up within. Make sure that you cannot see gray or white mold growing inside. If the glass has black or white dots or if you notice that the water is especially foul-smelling or discolored, you may need to forego a water wash and opt out for a more thorough scrubbing. If the device is smaller and it is difficult to get into it to clean, you may want to speak with a professional to get the job done. 

The Water Cleaning Process 

While following this how to guide, take care while handling hot water to avoid injury to yourself. Begin by filling about three quarters of the saucepan with the purified water. Make sure that it is enough to cover your device. Bring this water to a boil, and once the water starts boiling, add the lemon juice. Reduce your heat to medium-low so that the boil can reduce to a simmer. Once the water is simmering properly, slowly submerge your device and make sure that it simmers in the solution for upwards of 30 minutes. Take care to cover the bong entirely, as if it is exposed to cool air, even a little, it may take on damage. 

After the half hour has passed, carefully drain out the water and use the towels and pipe cleaners to get into the nooks and crannies of the device. Take your time to be as thorough as possible. You want the device to look brand new after you are done cleaning it. Once done, let it dry thoroughly before using it again. 

The Alcohol/Vinegar Cleaning Process 

Start the process by opening a window or two and getting the fan running. You want to make sure that you work in a ventilated area to avoid damage caused by the fumes. Put on rubber gloves and disassemble all of the parts of the device that are removable. When disassembled, rinse every part of the device in warm water, and then pour the salt or the baking soda into the bong. Once done, fill the device with either alcohol if you are using salt, or vinegar if you are using baking soda. If you are using vinegar and baking soda, be prepared to see the mixture foam up and rise. 

Plug up the exit holes with either fabric, cork, or cotton. Make sure that the material is as secure as possible before you begin vigorously shaking the device for at least five minutes. You want to make sure that the cleaner you put inside the device has time to scrub against as much surface area on the inside as possible. If you have more time, you can also simply use the saucepan to submerge the device in the cleaning solution. This allows the device to soak and for the debris and grime to be easier to remove. 

Depending on how dirty the device is, you might want to take more time to soak it in the solution. Once you feel enough time has passed, be sure to drain the solution carefully and use pipe cleaners and towels to scrub through the device's inside surfaces and crevices. After you have finished, be sure to rinse each piece of the device off with hot water before reassembling. Make sure that everything has been rinsed carefully and no debris or smudging remains on any of the surfaces. Once all of this is done, all you have to do is leave the device to dry before using it again. 

Tips for Regular Maintenance 

Once you figured out how to wash your device after long periods of use, it can be a good idea to pay attention to regular maintenance. This will reduce the need for especially extensive cleaning exercises, and it can guide you to a more enjoyable usage experience over the long-term, because the device's condition will never be allow to worsen past a certain point. 

One of the best things that you can do for your device is use filtered water. This allows you to enjoy a smoother taste and avoid long-term mineral buildup. Add to this effect by switching out your device's water every day. If you have the time for it, you may even consider switching out your water between usage sessions. 

Give your device a thorough washing once a week, but if you use it frequently, think about giving it a deep cleaning more often. Depending on your habits, it might not be a bad idea to wash the device at least twice a week. Choose the process that will work best for you, and always be sure to follow the correct safety precautions in order to avoid your risk of both short-term and long-term injury. 

As a general rule of thumb, it is never a bad idea to look after your device more often. Because the overwhelming majority of them are made from glass, you will not have to worry about long-term wear for a very long time. 

Use ecologically safe cleaning solutions as often as possible. The aforementioned methods are ideal because they do not introduce any unnecessary chemicals into the equation. If you start looking for other cleaning products, do pre-emptive research to avoid introducing different chemicals into your device. Almost all environmentally conscious brands can provide you with what you are looking for, so if you do not want to use materials that you can find at home, check with what brands work best for your needs. 

Try to avoid putting off your cleaning as well. It will become harder and harder to take care of your device the longer you go without doing so. The time it takes to maintain the device will also increase the longer the usage periods go. 

Though unrelated to cleaning, it is recommended for you to not try to repurpose or reuse the resin that you might recover from the device. This byproduct might contain countless contaminants and unhealthy particles, so do not feel tempted to use it just to save on flower in the future. 

By following this simple instructional, you can look forward to a long and healthy relationship with your tools!