If you’re noticing bits of resin on your fingers or lips more and more often or your pipe just won’t hit it must be time for a cleaning. While this is might be viewed as a hassle, it’s no reason to abandon a perfectly good glass piece. Using just a few household ingredients, you can get your pipe sparkling like new again.
There are few more joyous moments for a stoner than getting that new, fresh, and clean pipe home for the first time… That first bowl just tastes so pure and fresh. But slowly, over the next few weeks or months, that shine starts to fade. The taste starts to go off ever so slightly. You’re noticing bits of resin on your fingers or lips more and more often. Until finally, one day, the thing just won’t hit. It’s clogged. Bummer.
While this is certainly a hassle, it’s no reason to abandon a perfectly good glass piece. Here are the very best ways to clean your pipe.
How to clean a pipe
While there’s no shortage of tips out there on the best ways to get your glass sparkling again, there is one that stands out far above the rest. All you need are two common household ingredients: salt and isopropyl alcohol.
In some countries, 99% isopropyl alcohol can be bought at pharmacies, drug stores, or even convenience stores whereas in many others it is most often found in DIY or modeling shops. In any case, you can easily find it online. As for the salt, most salts will work, though coarse sea salt or Epsom salt work best.
Before you get started, here’s a list of everything you’ll need on hand.
- A dirty pipe
- A sealable plastic bag (Ziploc)
- Rubber gloves (latex or nitrile)
- A paper clip or wire-bristled pipe cleaner
- Isopropyl (rubbing) alcohol
- Dish soap
Once you’ve got everything you need, you’re ready to get started. As a final note, though, be sure to do this in a well-ventilated area as the fumes from isopropyl alcohol can be hazardous over long periods.
Step 1: Put the pipe and alcohol in the plastic bag
Get the pipe as clean as you can by removing any traces of plant matter or excess resin in the bowl. The easiest way to do this is by running hot water from the sink through the pipe for a minute or so. It’s important that the alcohol be able to easily get into every part of the pipe.
You should be able to at least blow through the pipe before submerging it. If you absolutely cannot get a plastic baggie, you can use a plastic bowl or container. Glass or metal are not ideal as they can damage the pipe during the next steps.
Step 2: Add the salt
Pour in about 8-10 grams of salt depending on the size of your pipe and bag. The coarser the salt the better, to a degree. If your pipe is small, narrow, or very clogged then you’ll want just some table salt, for larger pipes then coarser rock or Epsom salt is ideal.
The salt works like a brush and helps to break the resin off of the glass after the alcohol dissolves it. It’s important to get the salt into every part of the pipe during this step so be sure to take the time to properly shake up the bag now.
Step 3: Wait
Tom Petty was right, this really is the hardest part. But, it’s also true that good things come to those who wait so don’t rush this. Ideally, you’ll want to leave this soaking overnight. Letting the pipe soak for a full 12 hours will make sure that the alcohol has had enough time to do its job.
Note that if you’re using a bowl or hard container be sure to cover it with a lid, plastic wrap, or foil. Isopropyl alcohol evaporates very quickly and leaving it uncovered could result in a dry and dirty pipe in the morning.
Step 4: Shake it
Like a Polaroid picture. After 12 hours, pick up that bag and shake it like there’s no tomorrow. You can’t overdo it at this point so go nuts. That is unless you are using a plastic bowl. In that case, gently stir the pipe around.
Step 5: Final cleaning
For this last step, you’ll want the rubber gloves mentioned earlier. The bag and pipe are sure to be full of bits of resin and getting that off your hands isn’t easy or fun.
Pull the pipe out and run some hot water through it to dislodge any bits of resin inside. At this stage, you can also you the paperclip or pipe cleaner to help get rid of any particularly sticky bits.
Afterwards, put the pipe in a bowl with some hot water and a drop of dish soap for a final scrub.
Step 6: Rinse and dry
Run some water through it to get all of the soap and alcohol out and leave it to air dry for an hour or two. Isopropyl alcohol evaporates completely cleanly so once the smell is gone, the pipe is ready to use.
Ideally, your pipe won’t ever get to the point of being so clogged it’s unusable. By following the above steps regularly, you can cut down the time needed to clean your pipe from 12 hours to just a few minutes. A weekly quick rinse and alcohol/salt bath will keep your pipe so fresh and clean that you’ll only ever taste your buds.
Got any other tips? Did we miss anything? Let us know.