Medical content reviewed by Dr. Joseph Rosado, MD, M.B.A, Chief Medical Officer
Have you ever spilled your bong and thought the smell was unbearable? That is the first sign that you aren’t cleaning your bong frequently enough. While resins do deposit inside your bong water as you are smoking cannabis or hemp flower, if you have “stank water,” it also means you have a build-up of bacteria. And that can pose a risk to your health.
Many people have a favorite bong that they like to use daily. Others prefer to have more than one piece so that they can soak and thoroughly clean their accessories between use. No matter how busy you get, make sure you are cleaning your bong daily. Not only will it help you reduce inhaling fungus and mold, but it will also enhance the flavor of your cannabis.
Whether you purchased a large or small bong, the chambers that the smoke travels through can be a little challenging to clean. Learn how to clean your bong the best way to disinfect your accessory and remove resins.
The first time you tried to clean your bong, you may have tried soap and water. Filled up your glass pipe channels, shook it up a bit, and then what happened? First, your bong was full of bubbles that took forever to rinse out. Don’t worry; we’ve all done it. Second, you were disappointed to see that the much of the resins (or dark tar looking deposits on the inside of your pipe) were still there.
Since the beginning of bongs, the use of isopropyl alcohol has been an everyday cleaner. The 99% isopropyl alcohol cuts through resin easily, and then it can be rinsed out. If you have some stubborn deposits, you can use kosher salt (which has larger granules) and add the isopropyl alcohol, and then seal your pipe in a ziplock bag. Shake it vigorously, and the salt will act as an exfoliant, and help get the tough stains and deposits out.
After you are done, make sure you rinse your bong thoroughly with warm water. Not just once or twice. Isopropyl is toxic, and it can harm your lungs. It is also illegal to pour isopropyl down the drain (which is why we recommend using a ziplock bag so that you can dispose of it safely in the garbage.
You may have to put a plastic bag over the mouthpiece or stem and bowl for larger bongs. Fasten each opening with an elastic and then shake vigorously. Then pour the dirty contents, including the kosher salt and the isopropyl into a ziplock bag, and dispose of it.
If you repeatedly use the same bong and clean it every day, isopropyl can also build up deposits inside your glass pipe. The 99% alcohol is a carcinogenic substance. It can cause harm to your health and can contribute to respiratory or esophageal cancers. It can also present other health hazards for individuals using medical cannabis who have respiratory issues like asthma or emphysema.
In recent years new products and alternative bong cleaners that are all-natural have become available. Everywhere from your local dispensary to Amazon. And some companies have innovated specialty bong water that reduces resin deposits using non-toxic natural minerals. If you are concerned about chemical sensitivities, check out our tips about all-natural bong cleaning options.