How to Clean Bongs

No matter how relaxed the cannabis lifestyle might make you feel, there are certain matters that inevitably need attending to. One of them is properly cleaning your bong—a dirty bong isn’t just disgusting, it’s also dangerous.

There’s nothing like a respiratory infection to kill your vibe, so it pays to learn the easiest and most effective method of cleaning your bong early on in your weed career. In this guide, discover a simple, step-by-step bong-cleaning method, and then, find out why keeping your bong sanitary is so essential to getting stoned safely.

Why should I clean my bong?

Bongs are different from pipes because they contain water. A fertile breeding ground for microorganisms since the beginning of time, water can make you sick when it gets dirty—even if you don’t drink it. If you don’t clean your bong, you could get a serious disease or even die.

Beyond these life-or-death concerns, dirty bongs are just disgusting. The moment your bong water starts to turn brown, you should dump it, rinse it, and refill it, but it takes more than that to keep a bong crystal-clear in the long term.

Why do bongs get dirty so fast?

Bongs get dirty faster than pipes because they filter out a significant portion of the ash and resin that would otherwise make its way to your mouth, throat, and lungs. That’s the point of bongs—to filter smoke—but this same factor can also make bongs dangerously dirty.

What is the best way to clean a bong?

The best way to clean a bong is to fill it with isopropyl alcohol and coarse salt and shake it. Other methods simply don’t work as well, and the alcohol-salt method only takes a few minutes despite offering excellent results. Both isopropyl alcohol and salt are quite cheap, so you won’t have to cut very far into your weed budget to make sure your bong is clean and good-to-go.

How to clean a bong: Step by step

Let’s take a look at the steps you’ll need to take to clean your bong with isopropyl alcohol and salt in more detail:

1. Preliminary cleaning

First, remove the bowl and stem, pour out the water, and rinse your bong. See if you can remove any resin from the inside of your bong by hand, but don’t stress it too much.

2. Filling

Next, pour enough coarse salt into your bong to form a thick layer on the base of the glass. Follow up by filling the bong with isopropyl alcohol up to the stem hole. If you plug this hole with your finger, you can fill the bong even higher, but this generally isn’t necessary.

3. Shaking

Plug the top of the bong with the palm of your hand, and use your thumb to plug the stem hole. Shake your bong vigorously up and down for 2-3 minutes to fully dislodge any resin lurking inside.

4. Rinsing

When you’re done shaking, pour out the alcohol-salt mixture, and rinse your bong thoroughly. Any resin that was stuck inside the bong should now pour out with the alcohol.

5. Drying

Lastly, allow your bong adequate time to dry before you hit it again. This ensures any residual traces of isopropyl alcohol will evaporate prior to use.

What do I use to clean dirty bongs?

There are quite a few substances you can use to clean your bong when it has become too dirty to safely use anymore. Not all bong-cleaning substances are made equal, though, so we’ll make sure to compare and contrast the main options below:

Isopropyl alcohol

Isopropyl alcohol (also called rubbing alcohol) is a born bong-cleaner. Combined with a coarse form of salt like rock salt or epsom salt, isopropyl alcohol does a great job of dislodging resin and other contaminants from the inside of your bong.

Coarse salt

Salt is the substance that combines with alcohol to provide the abrasion that isopropyl can’t offer on its own. Most people use rock salt, but epsom salt works just as well. The point is choosing a type of salt with a grain large enough to provide some serious grit.

Vinegar and rice

The vinegar-and-rice method is one of the oldest bong-cleaning methods in the book—you can literally find it in many old-school pot manuals from back when this plant was an “underground” substance. Stoners have gotten smarter in the intervening years, though, and using vinegar and rice is no longer considered an effective method for cleaning your bong.

Hot water

Filling a bong with hot water and shaking it is sometimes enough to dislodge resin and clean your glass to some degree. If the water is hot enough to be effective, however, you’ll hurt yourself, and otherwise, it won’t be hot enough to do the trick.

Bong-cleaning products

Lots of people would be happy to take your money for bong-cleaning products that don’t work any better than alcohol and salt. You don’t need a bong-cleaning product to clean a bong no matter how many ads you come across that claim otherwise.

Cleaning bongs FAQ

Still want to know more about bong-cleaning? We’ll cover frequently asked questions below—including questions about the dangerous consequences of leaving a bong uncleaned.

How do you clean a bong bowl?

Clean the bowl of your bong similarly to how you’d clean a pipe. Immerse it in a container filled with isopropyl alcohol and coarse salt, and shake. You can also dip a pipe-cleaner in isopropyl alcohol and run it through the hole in the bowl if you simply want to unclog it.

How do you clean a bong stem?

Bong stems are delicate, but you can clean them the same way you’d clean a bong bowl or a conventional glass pipe. Just stick it in a container filled with rubbing alcohol and coarse salt, and shake. Remember to rinse and dry your stem before you stick it back in your bong.

How do you clean a rig without alcohol?

As an alternative to isopropyl alcohol, hydrogen peroxide also works pretty well for cleaning bongs as long as you combine it with a coarse type of salt. Vinegar, another popular substance for bong-cleaning, does not sanitize your bong, and it often leaves behind a pervasive odor. Since it’s so inexpensive and abundant, there’s no reason not to use rubbing alcohol to clean your bong.

Does vinegar clean bongs well?

Vinegar is relatively effective at dislodging resin from the inside of your bong. This popular cleaning substance lacks the sanitizing properties of isopropyl alcohol and hydrogen peroxide, though, making it clearly inferior when it comes to bong-cleaning.

Can you use hydrogen peroxide on bongs?

Yes, hydrogen peroxide is a perfectly usable substance to clean your bong with. Most cannabis users indicate, though, that isopropyl alcohol is more effective for cleaning bongs than hydrogen peroxide. These two substances are around the same price, so there’s no reason to choose hydrogen peroxide over isopropyl alcohol when it comes time to clean your bong.

What happens if you don’t clean your bong?

If you don’t clean your bong regularly, you can get seriously ill. Bongs are unlike pipes in that they contain water, which is an ideal breeding ground for microorganisms. Combined with the small amounts of human body tissues that end up on and inside bongs due to regular use, you have the makings of a disastrous infection opportunity.

Can mold grow in bongs?

Yes, mold grows in bongs relatively quickly if left unattended. To prevent mold buildup in your bong, replace the water every day, and clean your bong with isopropyl alcohol and rock salt once per week. While this degree of caution might seem excessive, it’s better than acquiring the illnesses that can occur when you hit a moldy bong.

What happens if you smoke a moldy bong?

If you smoke a bong that you know to be moldy, you could get seriously sick. Some of the diseases that can occur when you inhale fungi like mold include bronchitis, pneumonia, emphysema, hepatitis A, and strep throat.

Sometimes, mold can look a lot like the buildup of resin that inevitably appears on the inside of your bong. Instead of assuming all that black stuff is resin, clean your bong regularly to prevent dark deposits of any kind.

Can dirty bong water get you sick?

Yes, smoking a bong that contains dirty water can make you seriously ill. If your bong water is only slightly yellow and you just replaced it yesterday, you have little to fear. Replace your bong water and clean your bong immediately, however, if the water inside is brownish or black.

What is bong lung?

The term “bong lung” is sometimes used to refer to instances of bronchitis and other respiratory conditions that can occur after heavy cannabis use. There doesn’t appear to be any connection between dirty bongs and bong lung, but the fact that people have gotten sick from smoking cannabis is all the more reason to clean your bong regularly and smoke as safely as you can.

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