The Easiest Way To Clean Your Glass
When it comes to smoking out of glass, the biggest things that can affect your high (next to the quality of the flower) is the cleanliness of your glass. But it's not just the quality of your high that can be affected - your health is on the line too, as relighting and inhaling any residual resin will also result in the inhalation of carcinogens. In the case of a bong, this completely defeats the purpose of having a water filtered piece as the point of the water is filter out some of those unhealthy particulates that come with smoking. In fact, even if you aren't cleaning your glass every day, if it holds water, you should at least be changing your water after every session since it only takes 24 hours for mold to start developing. In a COVID-19 world, maintaining your respiratory health is of the utmost importance, so take these steps to make sure you have a happy, and more importantly, health session every time.
What Should I Be Using to Clean My Piece?
If you google bong cleaner, you'll get a lot of options for chemical solutions that you can buy and use to clean your piece. However, these options are usually overpriced, especially since in a lot of cleaners, the most important active ingredients, isopropyl alcohol and a coarse salt like rock salt or epsom, can be found on the shelves of your local pharmacy for less. This combination is stoner verified to work on even the most gunked up of pieces. Of course, if you just decide to order some cleaner off of amazon anyway (it IS convenient) then I would recommend some Formula 420.
How Often Should I Clean My Glass?
The answer to this question is a bit of personal preference, and you'll get a different answer from different stoners. I usually find that the younger the stoner, the less they care about the cleanliness of their pieces. I, however, am a 30 year old stoner with asthma, so I clean my pieces daily, which might seem too excessive for a lot of people. In general, if you're a regular smoker and you're changing your water after every session, then I would say you should go no more than a week without cleaning your piece. This schedule generally means you never really have to deep soak any of your pieces, and keeps the cleaning time and effort pretty minimal.
How To Clean Your Glass
Here's a list of things you'll need to clean your pieces:
Isopropyl alcohol - Generally I prefer to use at least 90% isopropyl alcohol. You can get away with getting 80% if that's all that's available, but I wouldn't go any lower than that. Remember - we're trying to get rid of the gunk AND clean any bacteria that might be present in your piece, so the lower the percentage of alcohol, the less clean your piece will be.
Coarse salt - I would recommend either epsom salt or rock salt. The salt (combined with the alcohol) is there to scratch away any residue that is adhered to the glass without scratching the glass itself.
A small bowl with a lid (can also use a zip lock bag) - this is to hold, soak, and clean any of your smaller parts, i.e. bowls, down stems, terp pearls.
Paper towel - to plug up any holes in your bong or bubbler while shaking your iso-salt solution around inside of it.
If you haven't cleaned your pieces in a while and they're REALLY dirty, you're going to have to soak them for a bit before you can get rid of all that dirt inside. If you're cleaning a bong or bubbler, just empty out the water, pour some isopropyl alcohol and rock salt inside of it, give it a quick shake, and let it sit. The longer it sits, the easier time you'll have cleaning it later, but I would say the minimum amount of soaking time should be around an hour. If you're cleaning your bong, pull out your downstream and bowl, and soak those in a separate container. The same goes for if you're cleaning a pipe - put in in a container with a lid and let it soak.
After you're done soaking, all that's left is to shake things up a bit. Grab some paper towels (or one of these nifty plugs made for bongs) and plug up the holes on your bong or bubbler. Then, you'll want to shake iso-mixture around inside your piece until everything stuck to the sides is gone. The longer you let everything soak, the less time you'll have to spend shaking it. Some people (myself included) actually prefer to dump the alcohol out after the soaking stage, and replace it with clean alcohol and salt for the shaking phase. This isn't absolutely necessary, but it does give me some piece of mind that none of the dirt that came off during the soak is going to remain in the bong once I'm done.
If you're cleaning a pipe, put the lid on the bowl that it's been soaking in and start shaking the bowl semi-vigorously. Since we're dealing with glass, I would recommend using a soft plastic Tupperware bowl and only shaking it side to side, so as to avoid doing any damage to the pipe. If you wanted to, you could even use a gallon zip lock bag instead.
Once you're satisfied with the cleanliness of your piece, all that's left to do is to rinse it out very thoroughly with water. The last thing you want to do is light a bowl that still has isopropyl on it, or smoke out of a bong that has iso mixed with the water still. It's not healthy, and it certainly won't taste very good.