Glass plays a very important role in the lives of most regular cannabis or organic hemp flower smokers. Whether you prefer pipes, bongs, or dab rigs, your piece is going to get dirty with frequent use. Dirty glass lined with resin will restrict airflow and produce a less flavorful, harsher hit. Eventually, the piece may even become clogged completely — yikes. This is easy to fix with our step-by-step guide!
There are a variety of dedicated glass-cleaning solutions on the market today intended specifically to dissolve resin; however, they are quite expensive and most don’t work as well as the method we will outline. These store-bought solutions can easily be replaced with two household items; isopropyl alcohol and salt.
Rubbing alcohol is a component in most glass cleaning solutions (like Windex) and the salt adds an abrasive element that is especially helpful in removing sticky chunks of resin. We like to incorporate the use of Q-tips, pipe cleaners, and paper towels for those tricky hard-to-reach spots.
Sink area with running water
Isopropyl Alcohol (91-99%, higher the percentage the better)
Salt (Epsom and/or coarse sea salt, but even table salt will do in a pinch)
Q-tips and/or pipe cleaners
Cotton balls or corks (optional, to cover openings)
A plastic zip-lock bag (if cleaning a smaller piece, like a bowl)
How to Clean Your Bong, Bowl, or Bubbler
Prep your Glass
Empty the dirty water from the piece (if it’s a bong or bubbler) and rinse the inside and outside of the glass with warm water. The goal here is to rid the glass of dirty bong water and wash away any major chunks of resin. Using higher water pressure is okay, but make sure to hold onto your glass!
Note: resin, in this case, refers to the residue produced by smoking cannabis through glass (that dark, sticky tint that becomes grimy over time), as opposed to the fresh resin (trichomes) produced by the cannabis plant.
The next step is to subject the glass to the salt and alcohol solution. For small pipes, chillums, glass blunts, and one-hitters, this step is best performed with the help of a plastic zip-lock bag to immerse the piece in. Fill the plastic bag with roughly a 2:1 ratio of alcohol to salt, then submerge the glass piece entirely. Be sure to zip the bag completely shut before proceeding to the next step.
For bongs, bubblers, and dab rigs, the solution will be added inside the main chamber. The appropriate amount of salt and alcohol will vary based on the size and form factor of the glass. As a general rule of thumb, we would suggest filling the glass up with alcohol to a level consistent with the water line. An optional, but a helpful step is to use cotton balls, a cork, or similar type stopper to plug any openings (like a downstem opening). This helps prevent making a mess in the next step. If your glass is extremely dirty, it may benefit from a 30+ minute soak in the salt and alcohol solution before moving to the next step, as this will help soften the buildup for easier removal. For routine cleaning, there is no need to let the glass soak; it can be fully cleaned in the next step. Pro Tip: adding a dash of distilled white vinegar to the alcohol solution will increase acidity and makes the solution work faster and dissolve more – including hard water stains.
Firmly grasp the glass and/or the zip-lock bag and shake vigorously. The salt will scrape the resin from inside the glass while the alcohol works to break down the stickiness of the resin and dissolve it away.
Continue to shake until the glass is completely clean. For those spots requiring an extra bit of detail, incorporate the use of an alcohol-soaked Q-tip or a pipe cleaner (you can also dip the Q-tip in a bit of salt for extra scrubbing power if you don’t have a pipe cleaner).
We also recommend wiping down the outside of the piece with an alcohol soaked paper towel. This will remove any fingerprints, dust, and dirt stuck to the outside of the glass for a thorough clean.
Empty the dirty solution and rinse thoroughly with water. At this point, you may notice that the glass is not completely clean. If this is the case, simply repeat Steps 2 and 3 with a freshly prepared solution until the glass is crystal clear. Once clean, make sure the glass is rinsed with fresh water several times – there should be no smell of rubbing alcohol once this step is completed. If applicable, don’t forget to refill your fresh glass with water before reconsecrating it; nobody likes a dry rip!
Is glass a part of your everyday smoking supplies? If not, we highly recommend making your first glass purchase. If you need more inspiration, check out our 10 Essentials for the Savvy Stoner’s 420 Travel Kit for more cool smoking accessories!
Regular cleaning will help extend the life of your glass. Plus, the more frequently you clean, the less intensive the cleaning process will be each time.
Clean glass creates a more pleasurable smoking experience; nothing beats the first hit out of a freshly cleaned piece.
This cleaning technique can be applied to nails, dabbers, dab rigs and more