The hardest part about writing this article was letting my bong and dab rig get dirty for the before and after shots. So hard. There is nothing I enjoy more than tasting all the unique terpene combinations through some nice clean cool water that has traveled through an air diffuser, or luckily recycled air and water as seen on this beautiful Domer rig. There is just a certain ‘je ne sais quoi’ about the first draw through a clean piece – I compare it to how your car feels like it slices through the air smoother after being freshly waxed. And it’s truly hard to beat a clean and smooth flavor-filled dose of Maryland’s finest medicine through a glistening piece.
This guide illuminates my many years of experience cleaning – and yes breaking – some beautiful pieces of glass. Tips to be learned and remembered.
Always prepare a safe area to perform any cleaning. That can include an old kitchen rag, handy paper towel or preferably an old dab mat ( a typically silicone Cannabis accessory used in the practice of dabbing hash oils). This is VERY important, as a safe and soft surface is the best way to ensure that all pieces of the glass emerge unscathed from the cleaning process.
Tip # 2
Take your time. The worst thing is to end up with no pipe, bong or dab rig when you are done. Be sure when shaking or rinsing the various components that you do not come in contact with the edge of the sink, faucet or other components.
Cleaners. There are many different products available on the market for cleaning glass used for Cannabis consumption. I have used many over the years – mostly alcohol based – from the first available 420 Cleaner that now comes in several varieties, to boutique blends like Randy’s Black Label that is acetate based. The old standby was 91% isopropyl rubbing alcohol and some kosher rock salt. I have learned over the years that the rock salt was actually scratching the glass as it was doing its cleaning. I would suggest for any inexpensive glass that any of the readily available products will work pretty well, and the scratching is not that big of an issue. For finer quality glass I would suggest using 91% isopropyl rubbing alcohol, Everclear from the liquor store if available in your state, or acetone. If you warm any of these three they work much better, but you must do this extremely carefully!
Start by running hot water through whatever device you are cleaning. This will help loosen the resins and tars. I like to run the water at about as hot as I can stand through the device for at least a minute. I have used silicone tongs to assist in holding smaller pieces, but this is risky and you must be very careful to not drop anything.
Allow the water to drain and disassemble any components, placing on the safe protective surface.
Follow the directions on your cleaning product, add the appropriate amount, and carefully cover any openings on the device with yours hands. It’s good to wear dish gloves or any latex type glove while doing this step. You can also use a nifty device called Res CAPS Bong Cleaning Caps to cover the openings, keeping your hands much cleaner. (www.resolutioncolo.com/products/res-caps). If cleaning small components, it is best to add a small amount of cleaner to a ziplock baggie. You can do this one at a time for the smaller pieces.
Shake the cleaning product throughout the device, making sure to touch all surfaces. It may take a bit of vigorous shaking to break some of the tars and oils from the surfaces. Again, be extremely careful to watch your movements to avoid hitting the glass against anything. It may be best to allow the cleaner to sit for a couple of minutes with heavier resin and tar buildups, rather than repeating.
It may often be necessary to use a few cotton swabs to clean out trouble areas. Dip the swab into your cleaner and carefully rub until clean. There are many types of brushes available as well to assist in the cleaning process. Make sure they do not have metal shafts, as they can scratch your glass.
Rinse and clean and rinse and clean and rinse and clean. Many of the commercial cleaners can leave behind residues and scents that are not so great, so use your nose and clean it until to it has no odor.
Carefully towel dry your glass with a soft rag, reassemble, refill with water if used, and enjoy!