I think we’ve all learned the hard way that the longer you put off cleaning your tub, the more difficult and gross it will be. The same thing goes for your glass pipes.
You can think of cleaning your pipes the same way you would anything else.
You technically won’t die if you neglect to do laundry or clean your stove for months on end, but it’s unsightly and unhygienic.
Not only can a pipe caked in ash and resin result in dirtier (and potentially carcinogenic) smoke, it can actually degrade and ruin a glass pipe. The resin and ash can even catch fire if you let it get bad enough!
From a user experience perspective, smoking out of a squeaky clean pipe will allow you to taste the strain much better.
Plus, dirty pipes are stinky. You don’t want it smelling up that awesome stash bag you got.
Here, we’ll learn how to clean a glass pipe like a pro so you can spend less time cleaning and more time smoking.
How To Clean A Glass Pipe With Boiling Water
Some argue that boiling water can weaken the integrity of your glass pipe. If you have a super expensive pipe you hold near and dear to your heart, maybe avoid this method just to be safe.
If you’re the economical type and go for those nice cheap glass pipes, this method might be the fastest and the easiest for you. Many go about this cleaning method without incident, so give it a try.
Step 1: Empty every piece of debris you can from the pipe bowl. Turn it upside down and shake it, tap it, and scoop it out with a paper towel. Also, remember to remove and discard the screen if you use one.
Step 2: Boil water. You can choose to either place your pipe in a glass or metal dish and pour the boiling water over the top of it, or simply dunk the pipe into the pot.
Some like to add dishwashing liquid instead of salt in the boiling water.
Step 3: Let the pipe hang out in the boiling water for 15-30 minutes depending on how dirty it was to begin with. Then, use a paper towel and some q-tips to start scrubbing the softened resin off the surface.
At this point, it’s a good idea to have some clean pipe cleaners on hand to stick in the mouthpiece and wiggle around inside the pipe to clean hard-to-reach resin.
Step 4: Continue to wipe resin off until it’s no longer caking the surface and rinse thoroughly when you’re done. Viola!
How To Clean A Glass Pipe Using Rubbing Alcohol
When boiling water just isn’t getting the job done, or you don’t want to risk cracking it, you can use rubbing alcohol to break down the sticky resin.
You can opt for alcohol alone, or add salt for an abrasion factor. This is especially useful if your buildup is thick.
Step 1: Fill a Ziploc bag full of isopropyl alcohol of at least 90% purity (enough to cover the pipe).
Step 2: Add 1 Tbsp of salt if you’d like.
Step 3: Shake it! Do this for about 2 minutes
Step 4: If you can, maneuver some salt into the interior of the pipe. Close the holes off with your fingers through the bag, and shake the salt around inside the pipe.
The salt here will act as an abrasive sponge on the tar and resin to dissolve it.
Step 5: Let the pipe soak in alcohol and salt for several hours or overnight. Repeat the shake as necessary until it’s shiny clean.
Step 6: Make sure to always thoroughly rinse the pipe with clean water after this method to remove any alcohol before using!
How To Clean A Glass Pipe Using Alternative Cleaners
Sometimes you’ll need to break out the big guns.
If you’d like to use a stronger commercial or household cleaner, we recommend trying denture tablets, vinegar + baking soda, simple green, or another commercial chemical cleaner marketed specifically to smokers.
You can even use vodka if you’re in a pinch!
Denture tablets: Drop 2-3 denture tablets in a vat of hot water and soak your pipe for about a half hour.
Vinegar + Baking Soda: Combine equal parts vinegar and baking soda and watch the magic fizz unfold. Soak your pipe in this solution until clean.
This also doubles as nature’s best deodorizer so no more stinky pipe!
Formula 420 or Simple Green: This one’s pretty straightforward, these chemical cleaners are marketed for smokers. Follow the instructions on the product to clean your pipe.
If unnatural chemicals or cleaner smells are an issue for you, use this method as a last resort.
If All Else Fails, Try Freezing
If all else fails, freezing can help harden the resin to a degree where it can be chipped off manually.
Some stoners don’t like to scrape their bowls for fear of scratching the surface, but if you do opt for this method there are a number of tools specifically designed for cleaning glass pipes.
You can also just use what you have at home: a pencil, a paperclip, basically, anything small that will fit inside.
Freeze the glass pipe for at least 30 minutes (preferably several hours) to allow the resin to completely harden.
You’ll need to work quickly to chip off the resin, as it can gum up again quickly when it warms up.
You’ll likely need to do one of the above methods to clean off the last remaining resin after you’ve chipped most of it off.
Prevention is the best medicine for a glass pipe.
Cleaning your pipe frequently allows for much easier cleaning. The more resin buildup, the harder it will be to scrape off.
How often you need to clean is dependant on how much you smoke. Let it’s appearance be your ultimate guide, but aiming for at least every 2 weeks is a good place to start.
Contact us if you need more advice on how to clean a glass pipe and keep your gear in tip-top shape!