Bong Stink? Head to the Sink Right Away

Bong Stink? Head to the Sink Right Away

Posted by Lori Ann Reese on 11/02/2020 in Consumption

Medical content reviewed by Dr. Joseph Rosado, MD, M.B.A, Chief Medical Officer

Bong stink cleaning marijuana doctors

When a bong gets knocked over there are two immediate tragedies. First, your glassware may be broken. Usually the bowl or maybe a crack in the reservoir. The second problem? That bong stink!  It’s gag-worthy when you spill dirty bong water on any surface. And it’s the kind of smell that proliferates the room and likes to ‘hang around’.  Even after you have tried to clean it up.

Why doesn’t bong water smell like concentrated cannabis? That wouldn’t be bad at all if you are a patient who is partial to bud. Especially the kind that smells and tastes good.  And you may be surprised how quickly your dank can go to rank on the smell-o-meter.  Even if you’ve cleaned your bong lately.

So, why does dirty bong water smell so bad?  Because it is much worse than that gross smell of standing water. It turns out that many people don’t know what’s really inside their bong water.  And what you don’t know about maintaining a hygienic bong can make you really sick.

A Glass Pipe Can Be a Magnet for Microbes

Smoking medical cannabis to help moderate a health condition? Millions of Americans are doing it too, in the thirty-four (34) legalized states. And for many patients, medical marijuana has helped them moderate pain, reduce muscle spasms, and other wellness needs.

Many people with chronic diseases are considered immune-compromised.  What that means is that chronic disease lowers their resistance to bacterial infections.  It can even make them more susceptible to bacterial infections.   You’ve probably guessed where we’re going with this.

If you are using a bong, a diffuser, or even a simple pipe, the passages can become clogged with debris. First, the resin from cannabis builds up quickly. If you are smoking a high THC whole flower that is ‘sticky’ it is going to deposit more resin inside your pipe.  And that’s just the start of the problem.

Within 24 hours of filling a clean bong with water (or ice), a biofilm begins to form.  That film is kind of slimy to the touch.  Biofilms themselves aren’t completely unhealthy.  For instance, they are present in drinking water and can be beneficial to digestive health.  However, when you inhale those microbes into your lungs?  You could be inhaling pathogens like bacteria, fungus, and mold.

Aren’t Glass Pipes Supposed to be Hypoallergenic?

Many people think that glass pipes are safer because they are pathogen resistant. To an extent, the non-porous glass surface is harder for germs to stick to.  But when you add resin from the cannabis, it becomes the perfect anchor for bacteria and other pathogens to “stick around”.  And they do.  

The next time you inhale your medical cannabis through a bong, you may have some pretty nasty germs hitchhiking their way into your lungs.  And that can lead to some really unpleasant symptoms and increase your risk for a respiratory infection.

How Can Dirty Bong Water Make You Sick?

Some of the symptoms or risks associated with inhaling contaminated bong water include:

  • Inflammation of the lungs
  • Increased allergy symptoms
  • Headaches
  • Fatigue or general malaise
  • Red and itchy eyes
  • Serious lung infections like bronchitis and pneumonia

Fusarium is one type of fungus you may have seen in your bong. Although you may not have known that the pink pathogen is a health risk.  It grows in any high-moisture enclosed environment that doesn’t dry out. It may look like a light pink slime.  It can also appear as black dots on the inside of your bong.  It may resemble resin deposits.  Sometimes the molds can vary in color, and appear green, black, white, or even gray.

Some people think that the resins on the inside of their bong enhance the flavor.  Dirty bong water and a pipe that hasn’t been sanitized present a health risk.  The pathogens can make the flavor of cannabis unpleasant. Also, you are breathing in the bong stink. And it’s definitely not appetizing.

Best Way to Clean Your Bong Without Adding Toxins

There is a reason why many people choose to use alcohol and kosher salt to clean their bong.  First, since bongs are notoriously intricate in design, they are hard to clean. You know those scrubbers you see sold with reusable drinking straws? They can be a good way to get into the channel or neck of your bong to loosen debris.

Kosher salt provides an abrasive (like an exfoliant) that helps loosen resin and also pathogens from inside your pipe. Salt is also a natural antiseptic. But where the kosher salt falls short in completely sanitizing your bong, the isopropanol will do the trick.

Get rid of bong stink marijuana doctors

Kosher salt provides an abrasive (like an exfoliant) that helps loosen resin and also pathogens from inside your pipe. Salt is also a natural antiseptic. But where the kosher salt falls short in completely sanitizing your bong, the isopropanol will do the trick.

Rubbing alcohol is an ingredient in hand sanitizers and household cleaners. Will it kill the pathogens? Yes. Is it a good thing to inhale particularly if you are using your pipe on a daily basis? Not so much.

Alternatives to Rubbing Alcohol to Get Rid of Bong Stink

There are many new products on the market that are organic and can do the same job.  They are a little more expensive than drug store grade rubbing alcohol.  But they are designed to rinse clean without any harmful chemical residue.  

There are new types of antimicrobial bong waters that you can also buy. We know, that’s getting pretty fancy and at an additional cost.  But if you have allergies or chemical sensitivities, you may want to consider organic cleaning products and bong water as an option. They help reduce the microbes and problem of bong stink.

Crying Over Spilled Bong Water? Here Is the Best Way to Remove the Strong After Smell

You wiped up the spilled bong water, and you checked your pipe. All good? Good!  Except that now your coffee table smells worse than a locker room. Depending on how dirty your bong water was, you may need to break out some heavy-duty cleaner to get rid of the bong stink.

But it’s not just the smell of the bong water that you want to nix. Because remember, it smells because it has been a home to millions of microbes and bacteria.  And they are more than happy to settle in on the surface of your couch, or table for a little while.  

Using White Vinegar to Disinfect and Get Rid of the Bong Stink

Some types of bacteria can survive up to 4 hours on hard surfaces and fabrics. Which means that anyone who touches the surface (and touches their face, etc.) can become infected. Not good. It’s really important to make sure you are thoroughly disinfecting your bong, but the spill zone.  For your health.  

The least expensive way to disinfect a bong (and any surface) is to spray it with water and white vinegar.  White vinegar is acetic acid.  It has the ability to not only destroy bacteria on contact, but it also kills viruses. So, if you happen to have shared your bong with someone, it’s a good step to take to clean your bong daily with warm water and vinegar.  It also rinses clean with warm water without leaving an aftertaste or residue.

Avoid Art Glass Pipes That Are Hard to Clean

For some people, the design of the bong (s) they use is a creative expression.  There are so many intricate designs out there that are appealing.  If a pipe is going to be on your coffee table, naturally you want it to look good.  It’s one of those cannabis culture things.

The glass accessories that you would buy from a medical dispensary tend to be of better quality.  While you may want to visit a headshop for some more creative options, they can be harder to clean.  The more intricate the pipe the more difficult it may be to sanitize.  If it takes you longer to clean, you might not clean your pipe that often.  And that’s a bad thing.

Medical dispensaries generally have a very good selection of handpieces, ice, and water bongs.  You may also want to look at an electric tabletop vaporizer (which is easy to clean also).  Before you go shopping for an accessory, remember that to reduce risks of inhaling pathogens, daily cleaning is recommended. If it looks too hard to clean, choose a more sanitary option. Avoid the bong stink. Protect your health.

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