How you choose to use cannabis products is entirely a matter of preference, and that preference can shift from day-to-day. Whether you enjoy a portable vaporizer, a cigarette one hitter, a blunt, a bubbler, or a bong, each method offers a different experience that ultimately gets you feeling groovy.
Once you’ve taken that last hit and the fun is over, however, you’ll probably find yourself with the less pleasant task of cleaning up. Each way of using cannabis requires you to clean something at some point, but glassware, in particular, needs a good cleaning after each use. Dirty bong water (and no, we aren’t talking about the cocktail) looks nasty, and it can make you sick if you don’t clean your bong regularly, but the benefits of clean bong water extend far beyond those two things.
Benefits of a Clean Bong
- Hits taste better: Dirty bong water has a certain aroma, and it’s definitely not as enjoyable as the bud. When you smoke through dirty bong water, the smell will mess with your sense of taste and can overpower the subtleties of different strains of green. With clean bong water, you’re getting a fresh slate to allow those distinct flavors to shine through.
- Easier to keep clean: This principle is the same one that your mom constantly harped on when you were younger regarding cleaning your room. As annoying as it was to hear then, it is definitely the case with glassware. Dirt, grime, and dangerous microorganisms can build up if you put off cleaning for too long, and if you always leave cleaning until tomorrow, it can become impossible to completely clean and sanitize your bong. You may end up having to throw it out because it’s so dirty, and good glassware doesn’t come cheap.
- More pleasant to look at: First of all, clean glassware is much more pleasant to look at. After you’ve taken that last rip, you probably feel great, but your bong water has never looked worse. That’s because during your smoke session, the water has been filtering out plant matter, tar, and other carcinogens that turn the water a strange yellowish color. Depending on the session, there will probably be some crusty black crud floating around the water or stuck to the glass, too. Neither are pleasant to look at, and if you’re going to spend the money on a nice-looking bong, you should try to keep it looking nice.
- Won’t get sick: When water has any kind of organic matter in it, bacteria and fungi will start to breed – that’s just a fact of life. Coupled with the fact that most people store their bongs in a dark place most of the time, the once-warm water with plant matter present will become a breeding ground for all kinds of gross microorganisms. The initial biofilm that develops in stagnant water within 24 hours is just a slightly slimy coating that in and of itself isn’t harmful, but it enables other dangerous things to start growing. These bacteria and fungi can cause respiratory diseases, allergies, lung inflammation, headaches, and fatigue, so it’s best to avoid dirty bong water at all costs.
- Prevents hard water stains: If you live in an area with hard water, leaving your bong full of dirty water can cause hard water stains that are difficult to remove. It’s best to use only filtered water, but sometimes that’s not possible. If that’s the case for you, it’s better to empty your bong after each session, rinse away the old water as soon as possible, and allow the whole thing to air dry.
How to Clean Your Glassware
So how do you clean your glassware? Depending on how gross your glassware is, there are several different ways that you can go about it, but the best thing you can do is stay on top of your cleaning and sanitizing.
If nothing else, when you are done taking hits off your bong, you should pour the water out and give the glass a good rinse. This isn’t necessarily cleaning your bong, but it’s getting rid of some of the nastier stuff and making it less perilous should your bong get knocked over onto the carpet. If you do this after (or at least before) every session, your need to deep clean go down dramatically.
White vinegar is a good product to use if you want to do some light cleaning and sanitizing. After you rinse out your glassware with warm water, just swirl some white vinegar around the inside for a moment, pour out, and let air dry. The vinegar does a good job of sanitizing the glass without leaving any residue behind or influencing the taste of your next session.
When it’s time to deep clean your glassware, you’re going to need a few more tools. Plant residue and resin can really gunk up the inside of your glass, and normal scrubbing and swilling measures probably won’t cut it.
If your bong has removable parts, remove them and place each piece carefully in its own large Ziplock bag. You can either purchase a specific cleaning solution for cannabis glassware, or you can use salt and isopropyl alcohol at this point. The alcohol acts as a cleaning agent, and the salt acts as a scrubbing agent to get all of the hard-to-reach places clean. Once you’ve poured in your cleaner of choice, close the bags and shake vigorously to scrub everything inside of your pieces.
When you clean the main body of your glassware, make sure to cover the holes where the removable parts went before you start shaking or swilling. You can either use your hand, stuff in a towel, or purchase rubber or silicone stoppers that are specially designed for cleaning purposes.
You might need to use a tiny scrub brush – you know, those little pipe cleaner things you get when you buy reusable straws – to get out all of the grime. Once you’ve scrubbed the resin away, give the whole thing another swill with cleaning solution and then rinse with warm water.
Removing Hard Water Stains
Letting your glass soak in some white vinegar can remove tough hard water stains, but it’s best to avoid them to begin with. Try to use only filtered water when you smoke, and rinse with filtered water again once you’ve finished any routine or deep cleaning. Or just buy a RYOT Traveller made of black ceramic and black glass and at least the outside always looks fresh and clean.
Using glassware is a fun way to smoke that is healthier than some of the other methods, but keeping your gear clean has to be an essential step in your ritual. It may feel inconvenient at the moment, but by taking a few minutes after or before your smoke sesh to clean up, the benefits to your experience are well worth the small effort required to keep things fresh and tasty.