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How to Quickly Clean a Glass Pipe with Alcohol

By Brad N September 20, 2019

How to Quickly Clean a Glass Pipe With Alcohol

Are you just now realizing that it’s been a while since you last cleaned out your pipe? Maybe you’ve never cleaned it out and are now looking for a way to clear out the clogs so that you can use your glass pipe again. Perhaps you’re just sick and tired of spending hours scraping your pipe to then have to scrub your hands raw to rid them of all the sticky tar.

No matter the situation you’re in, you can rest assured knowing that there’s a simple technique to get your glass piece just as clean as it was the day you bought it.

How Do Glass Pipes Get So Dirty?

If you regularly use your pipe to smoke cannabis, then it’s only natural for resin to build up over time. Resin is, essentially, the tar-like remnants that are left behind when you smoke marijuana out of a glass piece.

The more often you use your pipe to smoke, the quicker the resin will build up. If you allow the resin to build up for too long, you could end up clogging the pipe. What’s worse is that you could pull through a clump of resin.

Trust me, nobody wants a hot, sticky ball of tar flying towards their throat when they’re trying to relax after a long day.

Why It’s Important to Keep Glass Pipes Clean

We all know that drinking after other people is a sure way to pass germs. If the person you’re drinking after is sick, then there’s a good chance that you’re going to pick that illness up.

Sharing cups isn’t the only way that germs are spread. If a simple cup of water can transfer bacteria from one host to the next, then just imagine what a cesspool a glass pipe can turn into as the resin piles up.

Why Its Important to Keep Glass Pipes Clean

Remember that resin is a tar-like substance, therefore everything sticks to it. Sure this can be a good thing when you’re trying to gather all the leftover tufts of weed. However, this also means that not only are bacteria and viruses capable of sticking to the resin, but also of breeding there.

I don’t know about you, but that definitely makes me want to think twice before taking a hit off someone’s dirty pipe!

Steps for Cleaning Your Glass Pipe with Alcohol

Not to worry! Cleaning out your pipe may be easier than you had originally thought. If you’re one of those people who have spent too many hours of your life scraping a bowl, you may find that hard to believe.

I hate to break it to you; but you didn’t have to suffer through all of those days of scrubbing resin, along with the first layer of skin, off your hands. As it turns out, using a bit of rubbing alcohol is a simple solution to resin buildup.

Gather Your Materials

First things first, you’re going to want to gather your supplies. You may already have everything you need on hand. Otherwise, a quick trip to the store and a few bucks should get you everything you need. You’ll be using:

  • Bobby pin(s)
  • A Ziploc bag
  • Pipe cleaners
  • Q-tips
  • Epsom salts
  • Isopropyl alcohol (70% or higher); OR
  • Ethanol; OR
  • Acetone

Clean out Loose Resin

Once you’ve got all the materials you need, break out that familiar bobby pin. You’ll want to use this to scrape out as many clumps of resin as possible. 

Clean out Loose Resin

Essentially, your goal is to clean out as much resin as you can easily reach in this manner. Trust me, this will make the job far less messy once you get to the final steps.

Rinse with Hot Water

After scraping your glass pipe, it’s time to rinse it out. Be sure to use hot water, as it will help break up any clumps that are too big or that are wedged in difficult places.

Feel free to scrub off any resin that’s around the outside of the bowl, but don’t worry about it if it’s too sticky to deal with. Remember, the point of this is to make your job easier, and the tools you’ve gathered can certainly do that.

Combine Ingredients

Now it’s time to combine your special ingredients for your pipe cleaning potion. First, pour a bit of Epsom salts down the mouthpiece.

Sit your glass pipe inside of a Ziploc bag, then fill it with alcohol until the pipe is fully submerged. The alcohol will greatly help in breaking down plant residue.

At this point, add a few tablespoons of Epsom salt, to act as an agitator. Because alcohol is a solvent, the Epsom salts will only dissolve slightly.

Note: If you are using alcohol as a solvent, be sure to choose an isopropyl alcohol with a high percentage. The higher the percentage, the faster the alcohol will work. You can also use ethanol or acetone. Be aware that you don’t want to allow acetone to come into direct contact with your skin for long periods of time, as this can cause chemical burns.

Note: Do not fully fill the Ziploc bag, as this will cause unnecessary leaking. You want to leave about a third of the bag empty. When choosing a Ziploc bag, do so with this thought in mind.

Play the Waiting Game

Read, play a game, catch up on your favorite Netflix show or smoke out of a wrap. In other words, find a way to busy yourself for a couple of hours.

Play the Waiting Game

You need to allow your pipe to sit for two to three hours. This way, the alcohol has the time it needs to break down the plant matter.

Shake It Up

Once you’ve waited at least two hours, give your bag a good shake. When doing this, hold onto the bowl and keep the bag upright. This is not the stage when you want your bag to spring a leak, so don’t shake too vigorously.

The goal is to shake things up enough that the salt gets moving around. That will allow it to agitate any clumps that are still stuck inside the tighter curves of your pipe. About five minutes of shaking things up should do the trick.

If things are still looking to need a little more work, consider letting your pipe sit in the mixture for another hour before giving it one more shake.

Break out the Pipe Cleaners

This is the point where your pipe cleaners and Q-tips will come in handy. After taking your glass piece out of the Ziploc bag, use your pipe cleaners to get into all those hard to reach nooks and crannies.

Q-tips can be used to get down into the bowl and right around the inside of the mouthpiece. These are places that resin accumulates and hardens the worst.

Rinse or Clean

This last step is up to you. Some people choose to rinse their bowl out afterwards with purified or distilled water. Purified water isn’t as harsh or as damaging as regular tap water, so you’ll avoid water spots this way.

Rinse or Clean

Alternatively, you could opt to give it one final cleaning with hot soapy water. When using this method, you don’t have to worry about any alcohol lingering around, nor do you have to wait even longer to allow all of the alcohol to evaporate before using your glass pipe again.

Repeat if Necessary

Alas, if it’s been ages since you’ve given your pipe a good cleaning, you may need to repeat the process. If you’ve got six months’ worth of resin built up, then it’s only natural for you to need to give your trusty pipe a bit of extra love to fully clean all of the residue out.


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