How to Clean a Bubbler Pipe
Estimated 7-minute read
Bongs and bubblers are great and definitely a favorite form of consumption for experienced cannabis users. With the right bud and a bong, you are definitely going to feel the full effects of cannabis. But as all pipes, bongs also tend to get dirty, especially when you use them with regularity. Moreover, their intricate designs and the way they work can make them easily become clogged.
For this reason, the process of cleaning a bubbler pipe can be very annoying sometimes depending on the methodology you use. However, just by following the right steps, you can avoid a lot of problems like water stains, mold, or scratches, and have a crystal clear glass always be the norm for your bongs or bubblers.
If you are wondering how to clean a bubbler pipe the right way, we have a quick and easy way to have your bong as good as new.
How to Clean a Bubbler Pipe
Drain the Bong
Before you begin cleaning your bubbler pipe, you have to make sure it is completely empty first. For this purpose, just pour the used water down the sink and shake any remaining moisture out of the pipe. After that, remove the stem and set it aside for a while. You will be cleaning it separately in a moment.
Rinse The Bubbler With Hot Water
Turn the pipe under the hot water stream as you rinse and let the water run through the top and out the opening for the stem. This will help flush out loose particles and wash away residue that hasn’t yet set off the walls of the bubbler pipe. Hot water will help loosen gunk and grime. But remember, glass bubbler pipes can be slippery when wet, so be careful not to drop it..
Use Rubbing Alcohol and Salt:
Isopropyl alcohol with a higher purity between 91 to 99% is an ideal choice and it will work best for cleaning and sanitizing your bubbler. For the salt, the one that comes in large and coarse pieces won’t dissolve as quickly when immersed in liquid, making it more effective as an abrasive. Raw sea salt will work perfect for this.
Once you have gathered all the materials, proceed to pour the alcohol in and slowly through the top of the pipe. A good rule of thumb is to fill the pipe to roughly the same level as the water line. After this, add a couple of spoonfuls of a coarse-grained salt. Aim for about a 2:1 balance ratio of alcohol to salt. For extremely dirty pipes, leave the solution to soak for about half an hour before going to the next step.
Shake The Bubbler
Now that your bubbler pipe is correctly filled with the alcohol-salt solution, place your thumbs over the opening holes of the pipe while you shake. You can also use another type of object, such as a cotton ball or cork, as a stopper for the opening holes. As the solution sloshes through the pipe, the alcohol will kill any bacteria present and sterilize the walls of the inner chamber while the salt flakes scour stains and residue off from the glass.
Sweep Up What Remains
Pipe cleaners are especially useful for this because they can bend around tricky corners and contours. However, depending on the size and shape of your bubbler pipe, you might also be able to use a toothbrush or a Q-tip to spot-clean it. Shaking the alcohol-salt solution through the bubbler pipe should take care of the worst of the buildup and discoloration. If any problem areas remain, you can deal with them directly by inserting a Q-tip or pipe cleaner through one of the opening holes and scrubbing them by hand. By the time you are finished, your pipe should be stain spotless.
Now that you have the body of your bubbler totally clean, it is time to move on to the stem and bowl. Follow these simple steps to get the rest of the pieces of your bubbler to the same level of cleanliness that your bubbler pipe’s body.
Pour Hot Water Into The Stem and Bowl
Just as you did with the body of your bubbler, grab the stem and run some hot water over it. Give the stem and bowl a preliminary scrubbing if necessary using a clean paper towel. Pay particular attention to the bowl since that is where the residue will be thickest and most stubborn. Scrape the inside of it with a toothpick or paperclip to chip away at thick residue that usually gets stuck in there.
Place The Bowl And Stem Into A Container
The stem and bowl won’t hold water the way the pipe does, so they will need to be cleaned in a separate container. You can either use a lidded Tupperware container or a Ziploc bag to hold the stem and bowl depending on the size and form of the pieces.
If the stem you are using consists of multiple parts, it is better to disassemble it and clean each component separately to avoid damaging them. Make sure the material of the container you are choosing is not hard to avoid breaking any delicate glass pieces.
Fill the Container With Alcohol and Salt Solution
Again, use about one part salt to two parts alcohol as you did for the bubbler body. When you hold up the container, the stem and bowl should be completely submerged in the solution. For containers like Tupperware, try to find a recipient large enough for all the pieces to fit in. A small or medium size one should work perfectly. Just make sure the material is not hard enough to break any delicate glass pieces.
If you are using a Ziploc bag, carefully try to squeeze the excess of air out of the bag and close the top. There should be enough space in the bag for the alcohol-salt solution to move around freely.
Slosh Your Stem
Grip the bag by the top and bottom and shake it from side to side. Be careful not to handle the bag too forcefully, or it might leak or burst open. As you shake the bag, massage the stem lightly with the tips of your fingers. This will create more friction to rub off persistent residue. For stems and bowls that are severely stained or have a lot of buildup, let them soak for 15 to 30 minutes so the alcohol and salt solution can do a better job on them.
Rinse and Shine:
Open the bag and pour out the dirty alcohol and salt solution. Proceed to retrieve the stem and wash it under hot water once more. Then, place the stem and bowl alongside the pipe to air dry. Allow the pieces to dry completely before using them. Lingering moisture can lead to mold growth and unpleasant odors, which can affect the quality and flavor of the smoke.
Remember that the frequency in which you clean your bubbler pipe depends on how much you use it. Nevertheless, there are some tips you can use to make sure it remains clean for a long time.
Care For Your Bubbler Pipe
Whenever you are holding or moving your bubbler, use a light touch to avoid accidents. This is especially important for bubbler pipes made from materials like glass or ceramic, which have a tendency to scratch and may shatter completely if dropped or mishandled. Repairing or replacing a pipe can be expensive, so the best way to deal with accidents is by preventing them altogether.
Store your bubbler somewhere where it won't be in danger of falling or getting stepped or sat on. Set your pipe on a small pad or coaster when it is not in use so that it doesn't come into contact with hard surfaces. Moreover, it is good to consider investing in a protective sheath or hard-shelled storage case if you smoke frequently or plan on doing any traveling with a breakable pipe.
Keep Mold Away
Clean and disinfect your pipe regularly to fight off mold growth. The inside of your pipe is warm and moist, making it an ideal breeding ground for bacteria. For that reason, if you don't keep a good maintenance of your bubbler, you could end up with slimy, discolored residue, foul odors, and a generally unpleasant smoking experience.
There is no good way to remove mold that is stuck on other than by scrubbing it, which can be tricky if you have a small or rarely shaped pipe. Refilling your pipe with fresh water every time you use it will help create a less hospitable environment for bacteria and mold.
Prevent Water Stains
Ordinary tap water can leave unsightly mineral deposits on the walls of your pipe. These deposits may also contain traces of chemicals like chlorine and fluoride, which are obviously not good for your lungs. By using filtered or distilled water, you can eliminate harmful contaminants from your pipe while also enjoying a purer and softer smoke.