How often should I clean my piece?
You should do maintenance cleaning in between sessions like wiping out the bowl or banger with a swab soaked in isopropyl alcohol and changing out your bong water. Getting an ISO station and Glob Mops or Q-Tips will help ensure this will become a habit. If you do these things, you can leave the heavy cleaning to every few days or once a week. Paying attention to the color of your glass is a good indiction of when to give it a deep clean. If it's been a couple of days and you start to see that you have a brownish-green residue on your glass, you gotta give it a deep clean. Don't let the water or glass start to look black, then it's way past time to deep clean your bong.
What should I use to clean my piece?
There are multiple products that you can use to clean your accessory. The best thing to do is make sure you know what your bong is made out of and read what the manufacturer has deemed as a safe cleaning solution for cleaning your accessory. This is just to make sure you are not using products that could damage your piece. However, if you already know what you have, here are a few suggestions below.
If you are cleaning a glass piece, you can use the classic tried and true isopropyl alcohol and salt mixture. I would suggest using 99% isopropyl alcohol because it works best. However, if you are having a hard time finding it, you can go as low as 91% but I would not go lower than that. It just doesn't do the job. If you have a really nice rig with percs and small holes, don't do the salt. Just use the 99% alcohol or bong cleaning solution. The salt rocks can get stuck in the little holes and they are very hard to get back out.
Bong specific cleaning solutions like Randy's Orange Label, Orange Chronic Cleaner, and Resolution Gel are all great options to try if you want something that is more environmentally friendly, uses all natural ingredients, doesn't give an aftertaste, or doesn't require salt or ISO. When you use these solutions, you don't need to add salt, just the solution.
Steps for cleaning your glass bong/rig or small glass accessory
1. If you are cleaning a bong, remove the bowl and stem and place them in a container they will completely fit in. If you are cleaning a dab rig, remove the banger or nail and find a container to put it in. If you are cleaning a pipe, bubbler, or other small glass accessory, find a container that your small piece will fit in. Tip: if you get a container wide enough to lay the downstem or any other small glass piece flat, you won't have to pour as much alcohol or bong specific cleaning solution to cover it up.
2. Pour out the old bong water or make sure your pipes and small glass accessories have been emptied out. Don't pour bong water over any of your plants. The same bacteria and mold that can harm you, will also harm your plants.
3. Pour enough ISO or bong specific cleaning solution in your bong to fill it a little less than half way and add enough solution to your containers with the small glass accessories until they are covered. Let the small glass accessories soak for 30 - 60 min depending on how dirty they are while you clean your bong/rig. Tip: Some people will say to completely fill the bong with ISO or bong specific cleaning solution, but that requires a lot of solution depending on the size of your bong/rig. If you do maintenance cleaning, and pay attention to the signs your glass is giving you, you shouldn't have to fill your entire bong with ISO or bong specific cleaning solution.
4. Add a few heaping tablespoons of salt to your bong. Use epsom salt, rock salt, or Himalayan salt. It's impossible to clean every nook and cranny of the inside of your bong with a dish sponge or brush. The salt will act as a soft scrubber for those hard to reach places. Don't add the salt to the small glass accessories.
5. Cover the holes of your bong with silicone caps so you don't get ISO or bong cleaning solution everywhere and shake. Shake until you no longer see residue on the inside of your glass. If you have a bong or rig with percolators, make sure the mixture gets into all of the chambers. Turn the bong upside down a few times to make sure it really gets in there. We offer generic silicone caps that will fit most bongs here and, we also carry silicone caps specifically made to fit Session Goods bongs here.
6. Use pipe cleaners or a plastic straw brush to get into the small places of your downstem, bowl and other small pieces. You may not need to do this step. The soaking usually gets everything off, however, you may need to do a little scrubbing.
7. Let it soak for 30-60 minutes depending on how dirty your bong or small glass accessory is. Allowing your glass piece or accessory to soak will help break down all the residue and improve the efficiency of the solution you are using.
8. Rinse and wash glass with warm water and Dawn dish soap. ISO is flammable so you want to make sure you get all of that chemical out before you light up again. You can honestly use any dish soap you have but I've found Dawn dish soap to be the best.
What if my bong isn't glass?
Not all bongs or smoking accessories are made of glass. Some are made from silicone, ceramic, acrylic, etc. This is why I mentioned above that you need to make sure you know what your accessory is made out of before you start cleaning. If you don't know, you can damage your piece. For example, if you have the Chill Vacuum Insulated Bong, you can damage the ceramic interior if you use a clay based solution, and salt is too coarse and can result in surface rust stains if left on any exposed stainless steel. They suggest using only isopropyl alcohol or a cleaning solution that is not clay based like Dark Crystal Glass Cleaner.
For silicone bongs, you shouldn't use alcohol, hydrogen peroxide, or oil based cleaning products because it can chemically damage the silicone causing unwanted swelling as it absorbs into the silicone. The best thing to do here is to rinse your bong with water allowing it to coat the inside surface. Put the bong in the freezer for several hours. When you take it out of the freezer, you should be able to give it a few good squeezes to crack up everything inside. Then dump it into the trash and wash it with warm water and Dawn dish soap, or put it in the dishwasher.
Acrylic bongs need special care because alcohol can break down and strip certain acrylic and latex materials. Only use hot water or acrylic-safe bong cleaning solutions like Dark Crystal Glass Cleaner.
How can I keep my bong cleaner longer?
There are some awesome products out there to help keep your piece cleaner longer like Smojos, ash catchers, reclaim catchers, resin blockers and Toke Tonic.
Smojos are a permanent innovative pipe screen that block ash and build-up with a simple two-pronged grid covering the hole in the bottom of the bowl, and still allows smoke to pass through. The screen's asymmetric geometry creates a dynamic opening that will never clog. You can use mesh or glass screens instead but they always fall out. Smojos are permanent.
Ash catchers and reclaim catchers can save your bong from getting super dirty super quick. One thing I hate the most is taking the first hit from a fresh bong and already having floating pieces in the water. Ash catchers will save you from that. Most of the ash will get trapped in the ash catcher. It's not 100% perfect because I've seen little pieces get through, but it will help a lot! Reclaim catchers will do the same for concentrates and they have a removable silicone bottom where the reclaim goes for easy collection. Some people don't throw that away and smoke it again.
Resin blockers like RezBlock will prevent resin from sticking in all areas that the mixture is touching. RezBlock is made from organic ingredients - all of which you can buy in a health food store. Fruit and vegetable extracts are used to make RezBlock along with salt which acts as a preservative and food coloring to make it look pretty. There are no chemicals or any other ingredients that would be unsafe for human consumption.
Using products like Toke Tonic instead of plain water last for a long time. Bong water should be changed out after every sesh but Toke Tonic can be used for up to 6 weeks or less based on usage. You can reuse it until the solution turns dark and/or loses terpene flavor. Now, this does not mean you don't clean your bong for 6 weeks. If you are using Toke Tonic and you are ready to clean your bong, pour the solution into another container to save it so you can clean your bong. Once you clean the bong, pour the toke tonic solution back into the clean bong and you're ready to sesh again.
Well, I hope you enjoyed this blog. Stick around as we will be writing more. :-)