Last Updated on December 11, 2019 by Josh Desair
Bongs are proxy way to smoke weed and enhance your experience. Using one is a wonderful man-made way to smoke up and utilizes nature’s most giving substance for all its worth. They are a great way to stop wasting so much weed and it gives you the ability to stop and start as you like, as well as filtering all the nasty stuff you DON’T like so much. Bongs are simple to clean but must be cleaned often which can be a nuisance, but totally worth it.
However, there are some bong types which can be particularly tricky to clean, and over time you can find yourself with a pretty rancid bong by not cleaning it properly
If you are an MJ smoker but you’re weed lore isn’t up to scratch, or you still haven’t caught up from your early 80’s grimy, dirty joints you could smoke a ton of, then you might want to think about getting a bong. Taking up “bonging”* is an incredibly fun way to smoke weed while preserving your stash as much as possible.
(*actually no, and I regret even saying it that way)
While I don’t really feel the need to explain why you should clean your bong, there are a plethora of reasons why you should. I chose to add this section after getting flashbacks from a meme I saw last year where people were seemingly surprised that you should wash your bath towel once in a while, and should also wash your feet in the shower. Here are some top tips for how and why you should clean a mouthpiece you use to combust legal drugs on the regular with seems like a must.
General cleanliness is extremely important. A bong shouldn’t be deep cleaned once a month, rather cleaned properly after each use- particularly after being passed around at a party. Lack of cleaning or simply cleaning improperly after having strangers use your bong can be extremely unsanitary- all I can hear is the alarm bells ringing “H E R P E S”. Even the smaller things such as a build-up of lipstick residue on the base of the tube can lead to bacteria spreading faster than butter.
The product itself is a cause for cleanliness, as a build-up of smoke over time can damage its material- particularly if you do not use a glass bong. While glass bongs are known for not altering the taste, it’s possible they can produce a residue taste from clogging. This happens for many reasons but is inevitable. Such examples to speed up the process of clogging include letting your inexperienced but overly confident friend (you) smoke up to full lung capacity immediately after lighting, leaving “them” choking, only to make the same mistake five seconds later. The same goes for filling up the chamber when you know you definitely cannot breathe in that much.
You can have stale smoke or wasted dried up buds from smoking up too fast or filling up the bowl with too many buds. You can even burn residue because you crammed in as much as possible after a stressful day, only for half of it to burn. Bongs are practical because the water is equivalent to a filter on a cigarette. The water is going to catch all that nasty stuff that you don’t want in your lungs- so even missing out on cleaning and replenishing the water can hinder your smoke session.
Nobody wants to smoke from dirty bong water. I can tell you that for certain. I have also heard of some of my friends complaining about water marks from hard water areas that stick to the glass. The bong is like an engine, there are so many chemical reactions going on. You are combusting the weed and it is vaporizing, then diffusing. So, that being said, there are a lot of reasons you should keep yours spick and span.
Welcome class, today we are going to learn about the meticulous nature of a bong. A classic bong, otherwise known as a “water pipe” (in science terms), is comprised of seven main components and is mostly made up of glass. There are a few bong type variations, but the most common and easiest to use is the “straight tube water pipe.”
The reason we need a lil’ backstory of different bong parts is because the various components can be cleaned differently, some of which can be cleaned separately because they can be dismantled. Some are “built-in” to the bong, which makes them rather tricky to get your hands into.
The Percolator is an appliance which diffuses (sort of separates the smoke) to cool it down. They come in a variety of styles and shapes and can be located throughout the bong, not just one typical place. You can find at least ten different kinds of percolators, each one more difficult to clean than the last. Most of the time a percolator will contain small openings to release the smoke gently, or simply obstruct the smoke in a certain way so it stays down for longer.
You may also find more than one percolator per bong, so if you were confused seeing tentacles of Dr. Octavius-like proportions then worry no more, the more percolators the better. As I will mention later, you can also mix and match them too. If your percolator looks more like a hand or a lil’ baby octopus, then this is most likely a tree percolator, usually located in the tube due to its larger size and distribution spread.
The Bowl is where you would place your dried up, nicely ground weed for smoking, and is shaped like the end of an actual pipe that old men from Louisiana smoke on their porch (like in those old black and white movies).
The bowl is also attached to a stem. Is your stem attached to the beaker? Then you most likely have an “inline percolator” which is non-detachable and faces up to let the smoke rise naturally. Does your bowl have a stem sitting on an angle? Then you have a diffused downstem- which can actually be more useful if you smoke up while holding your bong rather than set down on a table, because of the angle of the water.
Stem/Stemless- A stem is a specific cylindrical shape of percolator. Typically shaped with d-cuts to diffuse the smoke, or little hole punctures, you can have a downstem, an inline or sideways stem, or none at all. It must be noted that a “stemless” bong isn’t really stemless, as it just means the stem is not removable, it is built into the tube/pipe and spans from around the bowl down to the water pipe.
The carb is a hole in the side of the base which allows the method of decarboxylation. It is simply the process of burning marijuana. It isn’t super important to this article but I just wanted to show off my know-how. Plus, this kind of carb isn’t bad for you- in fact, it’s pretty darn good.
The thing is, a beautiful glass bong deserves to be treated how you would treat anything you love and care for. In fact, there is a whole mess of reasons why your bong could become dirty- be it from the bubbles, hardness of your water supply, the build-up of condensation in the stem or simply the smoke itself.
Gross, right? That is why I am here, to give you a detailed tutorial on how to clean a bong, depending on which kind you have. I would say to treat your bong how you would treat your grandma, but my grandma also smokes weed so that analogy is far too meta for me.
Have you ever tried to clean your bathroom mirror or bedroom window like an “average Joe” and then felt like a real adult when you invested in glass cleaner? That’s because glass is actually incredibly particular to clean, so you want to be sure and get an appropriate cleaner for it, right? Not only this, there are so many additional instruments that go along with a bong, as well as a hole in the base from the carb which can be difficult to plug when using the shake technique.
Dismantle any removable parts of your bong such as the diffuser or separate pipe on the side, and also dispose of any loose *grains* you might have.
Remember that the main benefit of using a bong is how it utilizes water as a filtration system, so you can smoke pure marijuana while the water catches any ash or tar present. So pour out any water you have used, and try to do this shortly after smoking up and cooling down, so there is less of a chance of a water line.
For a basic glass bong get yourself some of the following:
Salt and alcohol alternatives:
It really is that simple! The sea salt can also be substituted for something like baking soda because it fizzes up, and if you are from the U.K, like myself, where we don’t really use rubbing alcohol, you can use (non-oiled) surgical spirit from Boots instead.
Make sure you are wearing gloves, and none of the equipment used is recycled in your everyday life *cough cough* using the same sponge you shower with.
While I have explained in-depth the challenges facing glass bong users, we mustn’t leave out the other kinds of bongs which may be a little less popular. I will leave out metallic bongs because I only have so much time on my hands, but if you are interested in learning how to clean one then please click here. Glass bongs are the most popular type, and while the cleaning technique for plastic bongs is similar, there are some key differences which can make or break the process.
Plastic bongs are pretty wonderful- they are simple to use, cost-effective and incredibly durable. You could even hand it over to that one friend you have who drops everything, and you don’t have to worry about them smashing it instantly. You might wonder why plastic bongs are less popular, and it is simply due to its material nature- it can cause a bit of an odd synthetic taste in your mouth, similar to that of a silicone sex toy which is fresh out of the factory, and nobody wants that.
If you have a formula 420 solution or something similar, it will not work on acrylic or plastic bongs, unfortunately, which is another reason why they are less popular than glass. Luckily, cleaning them is much easier than glass bongs. You don’t need any chemicals or abrasive solutions, you just need warm soapy water. Plastic bongs typically fasten at the bottom, so you can easily open it up, clean out the filtered grime, then rinse it with warm water throughout.
If cleaning the classic water pipe bong was equivalent to defeating a Koopaling in Super Mario 64, then the Double Percolator would be Bowser surrounded by lava and you don’t have any power-ups left because you exerted your supplies on the Koopalings. In other words- a giant pain in the ass to clean. You may have a few minor variations, but the double percolator essentially recycles your smoke for maximum efficiency. There are two percolators (the bit which filters and cools the smoke) which are usually attached by the downstem. The most common double (and even triple) percolator bong I have seen is using honeycomb.
The double percolator bong may have two detachable percolators, or maybe not. If you are encountered with a honeycomb percolator that is built in there, or you simply don’t want to shake and expensive bong for example, then worry not. Cork the bong at the base and instead of using a purely liquid cleaning substance, try a spray. Spray into the top and as it falls through the honeycomb, move the bong around for full coverage. Try to let it soak if possible (always read the instructions) then rinse after.
Hopefully, some of it is getting through to you. One missing piece of the hot-box puzzle is the detachable diffusers such as the downstem and mouthpieces, which you would have removed before your initial rinse of the bong. For these, you will need to follow steps 1-3 anyway, but try to avoid using a sink for these, and instead soak them in rubbing alcohol in a ziplock bag. If you don’t have rubbing alcohol, try the alternative method of a half-full bag with water and a teaspoon of baking soda, then give it a mix (but nothing too harsh.) Another method is using a basic washing bowl- regardless, just make sure the bits and pieces are in one place.
For those extra tough stains, begin by rinsing lightly with warm water. However, grab a cotton bud (mentioned earlier) and soak the end with rubbing alcohol, and scrub and twist the cotton bud throughout the smaller pieces which are harder to reach.
So just remember to clean your bong after every single use, and make sure to dry it as quickly as possible too. So there you have it, and brand-spanking-so-fresh-and-so-clean bong!