How To Clean A Dirty Pipe

Allie Adams

As cannabis becomes more and more mainstream, new users aka the “canna-curious” are flocking to dispensaries in search of dried flower, by far the best selling cannabis product on the market. While it’s common knowledge that smoking dried cannabis flower requires a pipe–and there are many different kinds to choose from–what these newbie smokers might not know much about is how to properly clean their new dirty pipe and why it’s so important to smoke out of a clean pipe.

dirty pipe
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Weed pipe clogged? Bong not clearing properly? It might be time to deep clean your smoking apparatus and luckily we’re here to show you the best ways to do it. After just a few uses, cannabis pipes become caked from the inside out with a thick black “tar” called resin, the byproduct of the combustion of cannabis flower. Smoking out of a dirty pipe not only tastes terrible, but comes with a slew of health risks and is considered bad stoner hygiene. 

Why be dirty when it’s so easy to be clean? We don’t know about you, but to us, the crisp, smooth smoke that comes out of a clean pipe is unmatched! Whether you have a spoon pipe, a one hitter, a water pipe (bong), or a bubbler, we’re showing you the best, easiest ways to clean each kind of pipe.

What is a Cannabis Pipe?

While their purpose is universal: to consume cannabis, pipes come in many different shapes, sizes, and decorations. All pipes have two major components:
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That’s all! Some pipes also have an air or water chamber in which smoke passes through before reaching the mouthpiece, like with bongs. There are many variations of pipes and most are typically made of blown glass, which is the easiest to clean. However, wood and metal pipes exist, albeit less frequently due to the taste they can impart and difficulty of cleaning. 

There are four main types of cannabis pipes:

This includes all single-piece pipes that have a bowl, air chamber, and mouthpiece. Most commonly made of glass. 
spoon pipes
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A simple tube-shaped pipe used for exactly what the name implies: taking a single, discreet hit. Usually made of glass or metal and can become clogged easily.
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Larger, multi-part glass pipe with a water chamber for smoke to pass through. The easiest to clean due to removable parts. 
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A combination of a bong and spoon pipe, bubblers are typically made of a single piece of blown glass and have a small water chamber.
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Why is it Important to Keep Your Weed Pipe Clean?

The obvious answer is when you frequently use your pipe it can get extremely dirty with only a few uses, and we don’t know about you, but tasting resin and ash while we’re trying to enjoy our smoke is a no-go. Aside from taste, there are a multitude of reasons to keep your pipe clean. Resin and ash residue can hinder performance of your pipe, causing clogging, minimized air flow, and a foul taste. Furthermore, a dirty pipe can catch on fire! Or more specifically, the residue can catch on fire and believe us, that is an experience you do not want to have. 

Since you have to use a flame to light the dried flower to smoke it, having a dirty pipe is a constant risk you just don’t want to take! There are also health risks associated with smoking out of a dirty pipe. Resin and ash contain carcinogens, germs, and even mold in extreme cases so keeping your pipe sparkling clean ensures you aren’t exposing your smoke and lungs to those harmful elements.

5 Best Ways to Clean Your Dirty Pipe

Now that we know why it’s important to clean your dirty pipes, let’s go over how to clean them. Most of these cleaning agents can be found at home, right in your own cupboard. Please be careful handling your glass pipes as you clean them, and as always, if your pipes have more than one part be sure to disassemble them prior to cleaning. Get ready to make your pipe shine like new! We recommend using 90% rubbing alcohol because the higher concentration will dissolve resin and debris more readily.

This method is best for smaller dirty pipe and one hitters, and it’s very easy. Simply place the dirty pipe in an airtight container or bag and submerge in 90% rubbing alcohol overnight or for 12 hours. Rinse with hot water and use alcohol-soaked q-tips to scrub off any remaining residue.

This is similar to the aforementioned method above, but works much quicker and is best used for bongs and bubblers. For smaller pipes and pipe components like those from a bong, place a single dirty pipe or piece of the pipe into a ziploc bag. Submerge with rubbing alcohol and add anywhere from an eighth- to a quarter-cup of kosher salt. Shake vigorously, taking care not to hit the bag against anything that could break the glass. The salt helps scrub residue off the pipe and cleans much more quickly than an overnight soak.

For bongs, take apart the individual components and run them through the alcohol and salt bag separately. When it comes to the body of the bong itself, fill up to the downstem hole with rubbing alcohol, add salt, and swirl or shake carefully until all residue is dissolved. Rinse with hot water and use alcohol-soaked q-tips to scrub off any remaining residue.

Great for a quick fix, but won’t clean your dirty pipe as thoroughly as the above methods. Mix equal parts vodka and water in a coffee mug and microwave for 1-2 minutes. Let your dirty pipe sit in the solution for at least 10 minutes and rinse with hot water.

Submerge pipe in water and slowly bring to a low boil for 30-60 minutes. Let sit for another 1-2 hours to cool. Rinse with hot water.
Take a walk into your local head/smoke shop and you’ll find an assortment of pre-made cleaners ready to make your pipes squeaky clean in a matter of minutes. Just follow the instructions on the bottle and watch them work their magic!
We hope you’ve enjoyed this blog and have learned how to successfully clean your pipe/bong!
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