Understanding Glass Pipes, Bongs, and How to Clean Them
If you’re reading this article, then you’re probably up for adding a pipe to your collection of smoking accessories.
Congratulations! A pipe is one of the best tools for inhaling the goodness from your favorite strain.
But as with all accessories on this planet, pipes come in different shapes, sizes, features, and materials.
A glass pipe is, by far, the most often picked type of pipe by cannabis consumers.
“Why glass?” you may wonder.
Well, there are many reasons why glass is superior to other materials when it comes to making pipes and bongs. In this article, you’ll learn everything about glass pipes and beyond — including how to clean them.
Roll up your sleeves!
Understanding the Basics of Glass Pipes and Bongs
People have been smoking out of various devices for centuries. Those pieces were made from materials such as wood, metal, clay, deer antlers, and even fruits. However, blowpipes have become popular upon the creation of blown glass for arts and jewelry in the 1st century.
Today, the glass pipe is considered a must-have piece of equipment for any cannabis consumer who appreciates clean taste and smooth smoke from their bud.
Meanwhile, as our civilization has progressed over thousands of years, so have the models and designs of glass pipes, with new inventions popping up each year on the market.
The Advantages of Using Glass for Pipes and Bongs
Before glass pipes gained recognition among cannabis consumers, the most popular materials for making these portable devices were wood and clay, which altered the flavors of the material being smoked.
For some people, this alteration only adds more flavor to the flower, while for others, it’s an act of desecration.
Unlike the two above materials, glass doesn’t alter the flavor or add any impurities to cannabis during combustion. As consumers are becoming more aware, the market adjusts respectively and starts being more selective about the tools intended for consumption.
Glass pipes ensure that you always get a clean, enjoyable smoking experience — not to mention that glass is super easy to clean and maintain.
Types of Glass Pipes
In this section, we’ll cover the most common types of glass pipes, from extremely portable units to large units.
Speaking of portability, one-hitters are its textbook definition. Available in multiple colors and designs, these pipes only allow for taking one hit of cannabis at a time. They can be stored and carried in containers called “dugouts”. A one-hitter makes smoking convenient and discreet regardless of your surroundings.
Staying true to their name, these pipes generally resemble a spoon with the bowl being on the top edge of the device. It’s probably the most common style of glass pipe. They usually come equipped with a carburetor on the side of the bowl for improved airflow.
Steamrollers are named because of the way the smoke “rolls” through the pipe’s chamber. Both ends of the steamroller are open, with a bowl close to one end. Despite their simple design, steamrollers have a quite difficult learning curve.
Bubblers are a neat transition between traditional pipes and bongs. Similar to bongs, bubblers have a special chamber that can hold a small amount of water to cool and filter the smoke.
Bongs are the most iconic of all smoking devices. They can be as simple as a large tube with the base, bowl, and a mouthpiece, or come with fancy filtration systems, precoolers, and other extra features that take your smoking experience to a new dimension.
Are There Any Downsides to Using Glass Pipes and Bongs?
Glass is hands down the best material if you really savor the flavor of your cannabis strains, but this doesn’t mean glass is flawless.
Obviously, glass is fragile and it can easily break. There’s nothing more heartbreaking than seeing your beautiful pipe or bong shatter into small pieces.
Then, of course, not all glass blowers are masters in their craft. Many glass bongs tend to show signs of wear-and-tear very early due to heating and cooling it repeatedly through normal use. That’s because all glass has minor stress point that can fracture over time, causing your pipe to shatter for no apparent reason.
How to Clean Your Glass Piece
As with any smoking device, regular maintenance over your glass pipe is crucial for keeping it in good shape. You don’t want to contaminate your smoke with the tar collected on the sides of your pipe, nor do you want to inhale those toxic particles into your lungs.
Here’s how to take care of your glass pipes and bongs the right way:
Alcohol and Salt
This is the best method for speed-cleaning your dirty glass pieces.
You can buy any rubbing alcohol from a pharmacist or supermarket with preferably 91% of alcohol. The higher the alcohol content, the quicker the cleanse you will get.
Salt, which is essentially sodium, helps create additional friction to remove the tars and cover the tough part of the gunk. When it engages with alcohol, bubbles of hydrogen gas start to form, creating a corrosive sodium ethoxide.
This process helps soften the tar and remove it completely from your piece.
This method, however, is bad for your health, as it causes you to inhale high-proof alcohol. With such a high percentage of alcohol content, you can accidentally set your piece on fire if you clean the glass pipe near the source of heat.
White Vinegar and Soda
If you want a safe and house-friendly cleaning solution, consider mixing white vinegar with baking soda. Vinegar is perfect when it comes to removing resin and wax; it’s also a natural deodorizer, while baking soda softens water.
When you combine baking soda with vinegar, it will create a frizzly reaction, resulting in a slightly abrasive solution. This can help you easily get rid of any forms of grease on your glass piece.
It may not be as fast a method as using alcohol, but it doesn’t pose any threat to your health and is 100% safe.
Cleaning Your Glass Pipes and Bongs Step-By-Step
- Grab a Ziploc bag — it will save you a lot of time and effort when cleaning your piece.
- Put your pipe into the bag, then pour salt or baking soda.
- Give it a decent shake so that the salt/soda covers most areas of the glass pipe.
- Pour in some alcohol or vinegar solution.
- Soak it for at least 30 minutes. If there are signs of heavy use on your piece, give it a few extra minutes.
- Shake the contents of the bag again, giving the pipe physical scrub if needed.
If you want to clean a bigger piece such as a glass bong or dab rig — especially one with many trouble spots, you’ll need to pour the solution from both ends to cover everything. Once done, give it a gentle shake and reapply the solution if you find the residue on the inside difficult to come off.
How do you clean your glass pipes and bongs?
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