When you smoke cannabis out of a glass water pipe, called a bong, then the resin from the cannabis will slowly build up over time. This leads to a sticky residue on the sides of the glass stem. Eventually, the stickiness will render the bong unusable if it gets too built-up. It also discolors the water and dilutes the tastes of the cannabis you’re smoking.
“It’s about safety,” says Harrison Baum, CEO and founder of Daily High Club, an innovative digital glass shop within the cannabis space. The safety threat is that mold can grow in the water, according to Baum. “A dirty bong is a health threat, and also can leave a bad impression if you’re smoking socially,” he says. “Don’t be that person who pulls out the dirty bong.”
As our culture becomes more accepting of cannabis, it is wise to remain diligent on marijuana etiquette. Thankfully, the ingredients you need to clean your bong are commonly found around the house. There are also products on the market meant specifically for bong cleaning.
How often should you clean a bong?
Most experts say you should clean your bong after a few days to a week of use. You must replace your bong water often, ideally after every smoke session, in order to avoid mold. Any water that sits in a water pipe is at risk of molding.
“You’re literally inhaling through your bong and mold can grow in as quickly as 24 hours,” says Baum. “If you had mold in your house you’d probably freak out, so why would it be acceptable to inhale it?”
The color of your bong water is your best indicator of when to give it a deep clean. Even if it’s clean, water in a dirty bong will appear brownish-green due to the stuck-on resin on the glass. If it’s dark, becoming almost black, then it’s way past time for you to clean out your bong.
Fresh water and a clean glass mechanism help to improve the quality of the experience. You’ll be able to taste the flavor profile of your cannabis more effectively. Cleaning your bong will also increase the life and value of the bong over time.
How to clean latex or acrylic bongs
Unlike glass, you need to take special care in cleaning latex, plastic, or acrylic bongs. Use only hot water and a pipe cleaner or a large straw brush. This is because alcohol can break down and strip certain acrylic and latex materials.
Fill the bong with hot water and rinse it out over the sink. You will rinse and repeat until the water runs clean. Latex or acrylic-safe bong cleaning solutions are also available.
Cleaning your bong is essential for your health and enjoyment. While you can buy mixtures in the store that promise to clean your bong quickly and efficiently, you can also use a combination of isopropyl alcohol and salt, and it will clean your bong well. It’s quite a sticky job, so wear disposable gloves and avoid dumping dirty bong water down your drain.
Lindsey Bartlett is an author, photographer, and social media editor who has documented the evolutionary cannabis industry for the past decade. Born in Denver, Colorado, today she resides in Long Beach, California. Her career includes roles at The Denver Post, The Cannabist, Marijuana Business Daily, Hemp Industry Daily, Weedmaps News, Green Entrepreneur, Marijuana Moment, Leafly, and Merry Jane.