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The Do’s & Don’ts of Cleaning Your Pipes, Bubblers, and Bongs

February 16, 2016

This article is sponsored by Mile HIGH Cleaner, dedicated to developing all-natural cleaning solutions for the cannabis industry.


The more frequently you consume cannabis, the more important it becomes to clean your pipes, bubblers and bongs. The big question: how to get your glass pieces clean? Not only can resin look and smell unpleasant, its tar compounds include carbon and carcinogens, and continuing to burn them can have an array of negative health effects.

That said, cleaning can be a chore. Furthermore, many are unsure of how best to do it. Through a pair of informal Facebook polls, we asked the Leafly community how and how often they cleaned their glass pipes, bubblers, and bongs. Here are a few of the responses we received.

How Do You Clean Your Glass?

“Ummm, you are supposed to clean it?” –Andrew Frost

“I don’t, just toss it and buy a new one.” –Robert Weaver

“Dawn power clean dish soap, hot water and pipe cleaners.” –Amanda Skelton

“Nail polish remover that contains 100% acetone…And for more home convenience, run it through the dishwasher.” –Aris Butler

“91% isopropyl alcohol and sea salt…any course salt will work…even sugar works in a pinch.” –Rich Schmitz

“The only thing to use is grain alcohol, it evaporates 100%.” –Gerald Schoolnick

“Fill a plastic bag with a tablespoon of sodium and enough isopropyl alcohol to submerge your piece completely. Place your piece in the substance and make sure the inside gets filled with liquid. Let it sit for 15+ min, shake the bag and move the mixture through the pipe. Remove, boil, and scrape the remainder with a paper clip. It’s important to remove resin as it will be toxic.” –Ben Craighton

“Iso & sea salt, final rinse with a bit of lemon juice for sparkle.” –Chaz French

“Rubbing alcohol & salt, but then polishing toothpaste.” –Courtney Kruk

“Thoroughly.” –Jeff Monastyrsky

Most of the glass cleaning methods above are a lot of work, and require soaking, shaking, or hazardous chemicals. Jim Berry, founder of Lakewood, Colo.’s Mile HIGH Cleaner, set about finding an easier solution for the resin that was building up on his own bong. “I recently started smoking again and realized there hadn’t been any real innovation in cleaning in decades. I started research into this and figured out a better way of cleaning,” says Berry. His compound of all-natural plant-based oils is odorless, tasteless and inert, and is designed to encapsulate the five types of resin left behind by smoking cannabis, allowing them to be washed away easily with a hot water rinse. (Since inventing Mile HIGH Cleaner in 2015, Berry has also discovered that it works on other items, including vapes, dab rigs and cannabis trimming tools.)

Based on his experience, Berry shared the following do’s and don’ts for cleaning your glass. Keep them in mind the next time you see resin on your pipe or bong!

Do’s

Do clean your bong daily, and your pipes once per week. “It really makes a difference; you can taste the smoke, not the resin,” says Berry, who also warns that water-based paraphernalia can grow mold or attract pests in a matter of days.

Do be mindful of the environment. Berry says his plant-based cleaner is safe to eat, and will not harm you or the environment.

Do protect new glass. “By adding 10 drops to the bong, resin will not stick to the glass,” says Berry of his product. “The resin actually prefers to stick to the cleaner. The next day, rinse it clean in hot water. Refill with 10 drops, add water and smoke again.”

Do discover the real flavor of your smoke through a clean pipe or bong. “That clean hit is the best,” says Berry.

Don’ts

Don’t use isopropyl alcohol. “Isopropyl alcohol…is by far the most commonly used cleaning substance for bong and pipe cleaning,” says Berry. “It is also listed by eight different government agencies as being toxic,” including the Environmental Protection Agency, Occupational Safety and Health Administration, and the International Agency for Research on Cancer.

Don’t experiment with anything you wouldn’t consume directly. Acetone-based nail polish remover, for instance, is hazardous. “You chose natural medication in cannabis, so why clean with hazardous chemicals?” says Berry.

Don’t spend too much time or money. Berry says using a cleaner like his costs less than eight cents per day, and should take less than a minute to wash away after each use.

To learn more and purchase the product, visit www.milehighcleaner.com.

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  • StevenP

    “Don’t experiment with anything you wouldn’t consume directly.” By that logic, I would never use dishwasher powder or liquid detergent to clean my dishes/silverware/drinkware, which I actually eat/drink from. Most cleaners rinse off, thoroughly. And I have never seen nor heard of a bong that would “grow mold.”

    • Seff

      I’ve had more than one bong grow mold. They have to sit without being disturbed for a week or so to be really noticeable but it’s very possible. In my younger days I had one a dubbed the “green lantern” that was packed full of mold and resin from all the toxic stuff we used to smoke to get a buzz

    • Daniel Baker

      I had an acrylic bong years ago that actually grew mold in it but it had dirty bong water in it and sat inside my entertainment centers storage area for a few years and ive had many other bongs before and since acrylic and glass and never had it happen again and ive had some pretty dirty bongs with water sitting in them for a good while so its possible just not probable. so I agree with you buddy

    • Robert L. Mooers

      I’ve seen a bong grow mold, but only because it was capped and forgotten about. It was some cool looking gray green stuff. Threw it away after discovering it

  • PedroA

    so DO buy expensive cleaning products made for marijuana (because you slap a MJ leaf on anything you can charge 10x more) DONT buy cheap and proven ways of cleaning glass that are perfectly safe with precaution

    k

    • John King

      PedroA–are you asking questions, or stating facts — your above comment is confusing — and I’m not even high !!!!!

    • Aaron Mistich

      In all fairness if you read the top of the page this is a paid advertisement (sponsored by mile high cleaner) and that’s exactly what they want you to do.

      • PasserzBy

        Yeah, I saw that too. But, I read it anyway, if only to get insight into all the other options. As that is what I was searching for. So in that way, this ad helped. I just won’t buy their product.

      • Mike Ashworth

        lol I was thinking the same as the op but then saw that lmao. Yeah I’m on the end of some fire 🔥

      • Dakota Lally

        Fair point, I missed that. Was googling if acetone will clean a bong.

    • Oxiclean is cheap and effective

    • TREDGO

      What’s wrong with an advertisement? Its not tricking you into buying something expensive. It is true isopropyl alcohol is toxic. My only grief with this thing about isopropyl alcohol is that it easily dissolves in water and can be completely washed clean from the pipe, so really the toxic part is insignificant. The same is true of acetone. Otherwise, an advertisement is still neutral, just use your own mind in determining whether the product is good or not.

  • Brian

    Been using 91% isopropyl and salt followed by boiling hot water and a little dish soap for years. Buy some fat pipe cleaners to clean the resin that still wants to hang on. Clean daily, it takes 5 minutes and you will appreciate it.

  • Steven Sanders

    Lemon oil or citrus oils work instant clean old deep resin.

    • John King

      I was wondering when someone was FINALLY gonna mention LEMON OIL !!!!!

  • Tristan gummow

    If you have a ZEP depot near by grab a chemical called Dynaquat. Its a food grade certified cleaner, and it was designed to kill mold which is a plus. Mix 3 parts Dynaquat to 10 parts water and shake it up. The resin falls off in chunks. Rinse well with hot water and allow to air dry. Do not use on plastic as it will absorb and leave a greasy feel on the plastic.

  • Eli Lynch

    I really trust the advice from someone who profits off the sale of the product he’s telling you to use. Not. Acetone is fine with glass. Just don’t be stupid. Rinse with hotwater until you don’t smell any acetone left. I go further and use a bit f dish soap afterwards with hot water to wash any remaining acetone out. My encrusted bong is clean in 5 minutes with acetone. Alcohol I have to soak forever. Then, there’s salt..it makes a mess…. I have a bubbler that is nearly impossible to clean because of its configuration. Acetone. Before I was soaking it with 99% ISO and it never came 100% clean. Super annoying, made a mess, pipe cleaners and q-tips…screw that. Acetone poured in there, wait a couple. Plug the holes and shake. Voila! Clean bong, cheap as shit, and it works ON GLASS ONLY. Look at the ingredients for most store bought bong cleaners. Guess what’s in most of them? Acetone in some form. Just rinse that shit like it’s your job afterwards. If you rinse enough there’s no residual smell or toxicity. I’ve had the same little bong for 14 years. I’ve used everything from store-bought bong cleaner to alcohol, boiling water, salt/dry rice and alcohol, and acetone. Acetone wins on effectivness and speed every time. Buddy texts me, “I’m coming to toke with ya”. 5 minutes later I have a sparkling clean bong for us to hit. I’ve even had old stoners shocked I use acetone. But they smoke my pipe and enjoy the clean hit.

  • Justin Wilson

    Useless article.

  • Rick

    Guys let’s be real. The cheapest degreaser is ammonia. Put terribly nasty pipe into bowl with pure ammonia and let it sit for 24 hours. Then clean out any remaining bits of resin by using hot water and a pipe cleaner. Place pipe into a bowl of plain water for two or three hours. Rinse pipe and let dry. Completely safe unless you don’t clean out all of the resin and ammonia. Safe smoking!

    • MAGA68

      There is a reason that Isopropyl and acetone work great and ammonia doesn’t. I’m a chemist, I know a little about this.

      It’s a basic tenant in Chemistry called “Like dissolves like”. Resin has a ring chemical structure very similar to isopropyl and acetone, so it dissolves in them very easily. It does not do the same with ammonia. Resin is very hydrophobic, it doesn’t dissolve in water… hard to get off your hands with soap and water (ammonia is just a strong soap).. but pour a little isopropyl in your hands and it’ll come right off.

      It also doesn’t require any sitting time when you use alcohol and acetone, because they dissolve the resin right away. Unlike ammonia where you have let it soak in for 24 hours and you have to scrub as well.

      And this author is obviously not a scientist. Any good scientist knows that if you rinse a hydrophilic substance (isopropyl/acetone) out of glass with water 3x, it is 99.9999% gone.

      • Mister Chemist:

        Which surfactant should we combine with acetone for removing pot resin AND tobacco tar?

        • MAGA68

          Tobacco resin is a ring structure just like pot resin. Use the same reagent for both: isopropyl alcohol.

          I find that using an abrasive surface helps as well… I use salt and toss in a folded up pipe cleaner on mine. They also make magnets with brillo pads attached you can clean inside of glass with-

      • Mike Ashworth

        lol impressive:) but slow into this next time got a rush off reading it. Kinda boosted the Wake & Bake!

      • Merrilee Doherty

        I was wondering if there are any
        effects from smoking the 10 drops of “cleaner” everyday? I know I’ve got my pipe a bit hot a time or two and definitely pulled on some resin smoke and if the resin attaches to the cleaner I’d be smoking it too. If it is important to clean your pipe regularly, then do it. Put it in dishwasher everyday or so, or when it’s still hot, after your last pull. use a pipe cleaner or 2, it’ll actually pull out a lot and no chemicals. I’m going to $ store to buy a couple packs and keep them with my pipe so I don’t forget or just be too lazy to get up and grab them lol. I’m off to research more about resin.

  • bOb Marley

    anyone that has ever worked in chemistry lab, knows that after using glass and cleaning it, the last step is to rinse with pure acetone, then let it evaporate. this is to ensure that there are absolutely zero contaminates the next time the glass is used. if you know chemistry zero means zero. we don’t rinse with water because it will dry and leave behind a lot of contaminants, hence the water spots. i would rather drink, formulate compounds, perform IVF, out of one of my clean beakers than what you are trying to push. please inform yourself, be more than just about money

    • but let’s discuss the CONTRADI

      so should the pipe be placed in boiling water after soaking it with acetone?

      • bOb Marley

        what are you trying to achieve with the boiling water? I don’t have the expertise to advise on what should be done, but I generally try not to introduce heat when working with volatile liquids in an uncontrolled setting.

        I rinse my pieces with acetone fairly often, almost everything is cleaned off just by contact with the acetone. if its really dirty, a few shakes and its good. then I dump acetone into a jar to reuse later, I rinse with a little clean acetone again, then pour in iso, shake. dump. then rinse with water. the reason I mix in the iso is because the acetone evaps too fast and leaves the resin behind on the glass making it sticky, iso doesn’t evap as fast. then I rinse with cold water. hot water just causes more fumes and a chance for the iso and acetone to evap before leaving your bong, leaving resin behind.

      • MAGA68

        Boiling water doesn’t make the resin any more hydrophilic. It just conglomerates the pieces.

    • John King

      Labs use special dishwashers and autoclaves, and ethylene oxide for non-autoclavable items — NOT your prescribed method !! I’m retired from the pharmaceutical industry, and I’ve NEVER used ACETONE or ANY alcohols on glass to “sterilize” it. The commercial and industrial dishwashers do a very fine job at cleaning glass, but you DO have to remove any bulk compounds/components from the glass, just as you DON’T put dishes in your HOME dishwasher that have a ton of shit (food) still on them — you scrape the food in the trash, and maybe a cursory rinse off before putting in the dishwasher !!!

      • Where is your specific bong advice?

      • confuzius

        You’ve obviously never worked in a basic organic chemistry lab. Soak glassware after experiment in strong base bath. Rinse with acetone. Perform new experiment with knowledge that any insignificant residue left after the acetone evaporates will not impact the results.

        Your use of caps does nothing.

    • John King

      By the way, bOb — what fuckin’ chemistry lab was that ??

      • Mike Ashworth

        9th grade lol

    • Does not a lab use pure DI water?

  • Dennis

    I make a lot of gooped up glass when refine out Delta 9 THC from plant extracts. The results on this months lab is i the photo and is my medicine – substantially pure Delta 9 THC.

    I can achieve nearly absolute purities however lots of small lab glassware ends up being coated in various sticky parts of the raw starting material. Cleaning with a solvent only works if all the solvent can be removed completely from the surface effectively and sure enough nearly all items used in refinement get sticky. The sticky things in turn will irritate the eyes because the fingers get contaminated as you handle things and it you touch your eyes it burns from it.

    There is a cleaner that does not directly disolve the sticky parts like an organic solvent but rather introduces millions of safe bacteria that produce enzymes to “eat” the organics. It is called “Nature’s Miracle Pet Urine Destroyer” and is pretty damn safe stuff. I spray down the items to be “soaked” two or three times over the course of a day. After that the stickiness of the stuff mostly goes away but even better what is left wipes out with a cloth with much less hassle. I spray it directly on used countertops too and they are no longer always a bit sticky like when I tried just solvent and a rag. The bacteria eat until there is no more food then go dormant. The effect can be very long lasting on a surface as a result. https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/cfa0c211ba5247b7f874056d72c4fe20c8c0e29903e4414847af4aabc7b3249b.jpg

    • Mike Ashworth

      Your high as F$&K

  • jessy82

    what about soap and water and a pipe cleaner

  • brklyn

    I have an old pipe passed down to me from my brother. This was filthy, i asked him the last time he cleaned it and he replied with “what” so I decided to the the salt and alcohol method and now there’s a clear(-ish) film chipping off, in the places its chipped on are losing their shine. Idk what this clear stuff is or if its still okay for me to smoke with it coming off. lmao someone help I wanna get high but im afraid to die.

    • Merrilee Doherty

      I want to say it’ll be fine but my thought is toss it. If you’re already concerned why take chances. It may not kill you right away but could have long term effects or no effects at all.
      However: When in doubt, throw it out!!!

  • Don’t be useful: check. pointless article

    Do use moderation to prevent criticizing comments

  • degreaser?

    surfactant?

    pot resin AND tobacco tar

    sigh

  • Terry Henderson

    You said… “Do protect new glass. “By adding 10 drops to the bong, resin will not stick to the glass,” says Berry of his product. “The resin actually prefers to stick to the cleaner. The next day, rinse it clean in hot water. Refill with 10 drops, add water and smoke again.”…

    10 Drops of what?

  • Nighthawk

    Leafly you folded, I had a lot of respect for you but to mislead the general smoking public like this is absurd, shit ill clean my pieces with sulfuric acid and it gets it brand new sparking clean (im a chemist dont do this at home), seriously, yall are sellouts. Peace.

  • kerious

    I put my glass bowl in a plastic cup (I use a plastic cup, because of the resin). I then put a big pinch of BAKING SODA and about an eighth to quarter cup of VINEGAR into the cup. Then I add BOILING WATER to fill the rest of the cup. All of the resin will float right to the top of the cup. Stir if it looks like there is some stuck in the bowl. The bowl is clean in about 30 seconds. I then take my bowl outside and blast water through it with the hose for a couple seconds. If it’s sunny out, I’ll let it dry in the sun. If not, then I blast the hair dryer through it. Or, you could try to use qtips and tissues to dry it out.

    I actually just did it =)