How to Clean A Pipe

by Sean Cooley
how to clean a pipe

If you love to smoke fresh flower, a pretty pipe that suits your style and taste can turn your smoking practice into a ritual that can soothe your spirit at the end of a long day. For those who use cannabis concentrate, the simple act of caring for your heating element, bong, or water pipe can turn into a meditative form of self-care. Here’s a quick guide to keeping your pipe clean and shiny for better flavor and a cleaner high. 

Why Use a Pipe?

If you’ve gotten good at rolling a joint, puzzling out how to smoke weed from a pipe may seem like extra effort for little gain. However, one of the nicest things about smoking with a pipe is that you can enjoy a minimal amount of weed and carefully review the quality before you inhale.

Pipes can be quite pretty. There is great comfort in building a smoking ritual: sitting down in your favorite relaxation spot, grinding the flower, packing the bowl, sparking up and inhaling.

Having a pipe that you and a loved one only use can be a lovely way to share and enjoy your cannabis selection.

Oil and Water

Water alone won’t clean a pipe sufficiently. When you smoke from a pipe, resin from the cannabis clings to the inside of the tube. Over time, this resin builds up into a tarry varnish that will change the flavor and quality of your smoke. Take it from us – smoking resin is not the optimal experience.

Any cannabis product you use, from concentrate to freshly dried flower will contain oil that produces resin when it’s burned. For the best flavor and cleanest burn, you want a clean pipe.

Steps to a Clean Pipe

To break down old resin clinging to the pipe, start with rubbing alcohol. Use a container you can seal up tight and add enough rubbing alcohol to cover the pipe completely. Put the lid on the container and let it sit overnight. In the morning, rinse it with hot water.

If you’ve ever worked in a restaurant and used ice and salt to scrub out coffee pots, you know that salt is a great abrasive. Once your pipe has dried after the alcohol soak and hot water rinse, pour plain salt down the tube. You want to be able to shake it up, so don’t pack it full. Follow the salt with fresh rubbing alcohol, seal up the holes and slosh it around vigorously. You want the salt grains to scrape against the side of the pipe.

By this point, your pipe should be mostly clean. Rinse the pipe with cold water, dip a pipe cleaner or cotton swab into a bit more fresh rubbing alcohol, and manually scrub down the inside to remove any remaining residue. Thoroughly rinse your pipe and let it air dry. Before you add fresh flower to your pipe, take a small taste of the stem to ensure no rubbing alcohol flavor is left in your pipe.

Cleaning Your Bong or Dab Rig

If you’re interested in smoking concentrates, you’ll need a dab rig. While many pipes are made of colored glass, which may or may not be easy to see through, most dab rigs include a bong or water pipe made of clear glass. Both the glass and the heating element or nail can be a place for resin to build up.

You can also use ice and salt to clean your bong or rig. If you have an opening large enough to add small ice cubes or crushed ice into your bong, make sure you add enough salt to build up plenty of grit and shake it up right away.

Both of these surfaces can be cleaned with rubbing alcohol and a cotton swab. The critical difference between cleaning your bong and cleaning your pipe is the rinsing requirement. Once you’re done cleaning and rinsing your pipe, it should dry up pretty quickly. However, your bong or water pipe may take longer. Make time for multiple rinses so you don’t get a lungful of rubbing alcohol residue.

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