How to Clean a Pipe

Published April 07, 2022
How to Clean a Pipe - Secret Nature

The moment inevitably arrives in every cannabis-smoker’s life when it’s time to clean your pipe. Simply picking out the resin from the end of the stem and half-heartedly scraping ash out of the bowl won’t cut it anymore—your pipe is dirty, and it’s time to make it fully clean once more.

While there’s more than one way to clean a pipe, only one option offers the safe, reliable results you’re looking for. Discover the Secret Nature pipe-cleaning method in this guide, and find answers to relevant questions related to cleaning pipes along the way.

Why should I clean my pipe?

If you have to ask why you should clean your pipe then you probably shouldn’t be smoking cannabis out of a pipe in the first place. Pipes get dirty with use—cheap pipes, expensive pipes, colorful pipes, glass pipes, wood pipes, all of them. Cannabis produces ash and resin when incinerated, and these substances inevitably accrue until your pipe is so clogged it has become unusable.

Plus, cleaning your pipe regularly is just simple courtesy if you’ll be smoking with others. A little bit of shared saliva is to be expected in a group smoking session, but nobody wants to hit a pipe that has gone uncleaned for months on end.

What makes a pipe dirty?

There are three main factors that make pipes dirty over time. First, ash from incinerated cannabis buds cakes onto the bowl of the pipe and makes its way into the stem. Next, resin produced by incinerated plant oils sticks to the stem and will eventually clog the mouthpiece.

Also, don’t forget that you and your friends are living creatures who excrete appalling substances on a regular basis. Nobody wants to think about the saliva, mucus, and hand oils that end up coating the mouthpiece and outer surfaces of your pipe, but these facts of nature nonetheless must be countered with regular pipe cleaning.

What is the best way to clean a pipe?

In our opinion, the best and fastest way to clean a pipe is to immerse it in isopropyl alcohol and rock salt and shake. This method might not be ideal for all pipes, but using isopropyl alcohol and rock salt is usually the most efficient and effective method. We’ll cover the specific steps you’ll need to take below.

How to clean a pipe: Step by step

Follow these simple steps to clean your pipe in five minutes or less:

1. Preliminary cleaning

First, remove as much of the ash and resin from your pipe as you can with your fingers or a knife. This will make the process easier overall.

2. Immersion

Next, immerse your pipe in a mixture of isopropyl alcohol and rock salt. A small, sealable plastic container is ideal—such as a tupperware container. Even a ziploc bag will do the trick. Substitute rock salt for epsom salt if you wish.

3. Shaking

Next, gently but firmly shake the container with your pipe inside. Doing so will move rock salt and isopropyl alcohol throughout the inside of the pipe.

4. Rinsing

After a few minutes of shaking, the majority of the resin and ash from inside your pipe will have dissipated. Remove the pipe from the mixture, and rinse it out in a sink. This should remove any resin that was dislodged but is still inside the pipe.

5. Drying

After performing a thorough rinse, make sure to give your pipe enough time to dry. This will ensure that any residual isopropyl alcohol has entirely evaporated before you smoke your first bowl in your newly cleaned pipe.

What is the best thing to clean a pipe with?

All you need to clean a pipe is isopropyl alcohol and a form of coarse salt like rock salt. As we mentioned, however, there are quite a few ways to clean a pipe, so we’ll cover all the popular materials and methods below:

Isopropyl alcohol

Isopropyl alcohol is the gold standard when it comes to pipe cleaning. Effective and inexpensive, isopropyl alcohol pairs perfectly with rock salt to remove both resin and ash from the inside and outside of your pipe. Plus, isopropyl alcohol thoroughly sanitizes the pipe in the process.

Coarse salt

On its own, salt isn’t enough to clean your pipe. Combined with isopropyl alcohol, however, a form of coarse salt like epsom salt or rock salt becomes the perfect agitant to help the alcohol remove resin and other unwanted materials from both the inside and outside of your pipe.

Baking soda

Some sources suggest that combining baking soda with vinegar inside your pipe is enough to clean it. This isn’t a science-experiment volcano, though. There are much better options at your disposal when it comes to cleaning your pipe.

Hot water

If water is hot enough, it will melt the resin in your pipe while also removing any ash caked to the bowl. Water that’s too hot, however, will shatter glass pipes, so we don’t recommend directly boiling a pipe on the stove.

Pipe-cleaning products

There are certainly plenty of pipe-cleaning products out there for people who want to waste their money. Isopropyl alcohol and rock salt cost a lot less, though, while working just as well (or even better).

Cleaning a pipe FAQ

We’ll finish up by answering any more questions you might have about cleaning your pipe:

What is the fastest way to clean a pipe?

When it comes to cleaning cannabis pipes, the alcohol-salt method is most likely the fastest. There’s something to be said for microwaving your pipe, though, if you’re short on time and aren’t too worried about the quality of your results.

How do you clean a pipe with baking soda?

To clean a pipe with baking soda, advocates suggest you fill the pipe with baking soda before adding a few drops of vinegar. Apparently, this agitates the inside of the pipe, pushing resin out. In practice, though, most users rate this method as ineffective even if the classic science experiment of combining baking soda and vinegar is admittedly a lot more fun when you’re high.

How do you clean a glass pipe in a microwave?

In theory, you can clean a glass pipe with nothing more than water, a microwave-safe container, and a microwave. Advocates of this method suggest that you place your pipe in a microwave-safe plastic container and submerge it in water. Then, you simply turn on your microwave for around three minutes and wait for the resin to boil out.

In practice, this method is a great way to blow up your pipe and make a huge mess. The alcohol-salt method doesn’t take much longer than three minutes, and it’s much less likely to destroy your pipe in the process.

Can you use hydrogen peroxide to clean a pipe?

Yes, hydrogen peroxide is an acceptable substitute for rubbing alcohol when it comes to cleaning pipes. This substance isn’t as effective as alcohol, however, at removing resin from the inside of your pipe. Since isopropyl alcohol and hydrogen peroxide are similarly priced, there’s no reason to make the process of cleaning your pipe harder by choosing the less-effective substance.

Is it safe to clean a pipe with rubbing alcohol?

Yes, it is perfectly safe to clean your pipe using rubbing alcohol, but you should certainly observe certain safety precautions that are always appropriate when handling this volatile substance. Isopropyl alcohol is highly flammable, so avoid open flames while you clean your pipe.

Also, the fumes emitted by isopropyl alcohol can make you light-headed, and isopropyl alcohol is somewhat toxic. As a result, you should clean your pipe in an open, well-ventilated area, and consider wearing PPE like disposable gloves and a face mask during the process.

Can you clean a pipe with 70% rubbing alcohol?

Yes, it’s possible to clean a pipe with rubbing alcohol that features lower concentrations of isopropanol. Low-concentration isopropyl alcohol will be less effective for pipe cleaning, though, so you should try to find the highest-concentration product available.

Most stores carry 91% isopropyl alcohol, which is ideal for cleaning pipes and other purposes. Consider stopping there, though, since 99% isopropyl alcohol is even more flammable and increases the danger of using this substance for cleaning.

How do you clean a one-hitter?

A one-hitter is a cannabis pipe designed to only contain a single hit of weed. These pipes are often easier to clean due to their straightforward design. You can clean a one-hitter similarly to how you’d clean a tobacco pipe—simply dip a pipe-cleaner in isopropyl alcohol, and run it in and out of the mouthpiece of the pipe.

How do you clean a pipe stem?

Tobacco pipes are very different from the glass pipes commonly used to smoke cannabis. They generally feature stems, which is where you put your mouth when you inhale. Like cannabis, tobacco produces resin when lit, and this resin tends to accumulate in the mouthpiece.

If you’re in the process of cleaning a tobacco pipe instead of a cannabis pipe, you’ll need to follow a considerably different method. Dip a pipe cleaner into isopropyl alcohol, and run it in and out of the mouthpiece.

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