When it comes to consuming cannabis, having proper equipment makes a world of difference. Rolling joints is great, but for frequent consumers, having supplies like pipes, bongs, or vaporizers makes consumption easier, smoother, and provides a more tailored experience. Even using a grinder is much more effective- and less messy- than “hippie-picking” (aka, using your fingers to tear apart cannabis).
A great analogy for cleaning your supplies is car ownership. Routine maintenance ensures that your vehicle stays in tip-top shape, is functioning properly, and will have a long life. Avoid visiting a mechanic for too long, and you’ll have much bigger engine problems to deal with.
Just like you would your car, give your cannabis supplies some regular TLC. Cleaning your cannabis paraphernalia really ensures you’re getting the best out of your items. Your cannabis will taste better, heat better, and hit better when it’s not mixed in with months-old residue. Trust us: sticky, clogged, or grimey supplies don’t offer the same functionality as clean pieces.
On top of that, health comes into play. With COVID-19 as a global cause for concern, it’s integral that folks sanitize their most-used items; and yes, this includes all things cannabis.
The short answer is: Whenever your items need to be cleaned. Regularity of cleaning depends on the items at play and the amount you use them. Keep a vigilant eye; if your grinder isn’t grinding properly or your pipe is clogged and blackened, it’s probably time to break out the scrubber and get to work.
It’s pretty easy to spot a gunked-up pipe. If the bowl or pipe itself is crusted with blackened residue, or the mouthpiece feels clogged and ineffective, it’s time for a shine. The simplest and arguably most effective method of cleaning a pipe is a good soak.
Cotton swab and/ or toothpick
Run hot water through the piece to dislodge any chunks of cannabis and make the residue more malleable. Use a cotton swab or toothpick to manually remove as much residue as possible.
Put your piece in a Ziploc bag and cover it with isopropyl alcohol. Add a tablespoon of coarse salt to the bag.
Gently and carefully shake the bag, so as not to break or damage the pipe.
After a few minutes of shaking, examine the piece. If you feel it could be cleaner, leave it to soak in the mixture for 10-20 minutes. For extremely dirty pipes, consider letting it soak overnight.
Once the pipe is clean, give it a good rinse under hot water, and let air dry. Now it’s ready to use! It’ll look just like new, and inhalation will likely be way easier.
Out of all the cannabis supplies, bongs are the most important to keep clean. Bong water should be changed daily (if not each session) as stagnant H2O creates a great home for bacteria, fungi, yeasts, and microorganisms alike. Since the whole idea of bong water is to help filter out harmful material, it's less than ideal to be inhaling harmful microorganisms that could be breeding in your water.
If your bong water has developed a grungy layer on top (called a biofilm), you’ll know it needs to be changed. This could be harbouring nasty pathogens like E. Coli, or even parasites.
And, most importantly, never consume bong water. It can contain toxic levels of mold that can even be too much for plants to handle. Always pour it down the sink and start fresh.
2 Ziploc bags
Cotton swab and/or toothpick
Carefully place the bowl and downstem in two separate Ziploc bags. Separating them helps ensure they won’t be broken and offers a more thorough cleaning.
Cover both the bowl and downstem in isopropyl alcohol and a teaspoon or so of coarse salt. Give them a little shake, and let them sit to the side submerged in the liquid.
Pour out your old bong water. Fill the bong with isopropyl alcohol and a tablespoon or so of coarse salt. Fill with the same amount of liquid as you would bong water.
Use a standard rubber stopper to plug the mouthpiece and the downstem areas. These specific bong stoppers can be purchased online- just ensure you know the correct size of the holes. Give the bong a hearty shake to disperse the liquid.
Once you’re satisfied that the resin has been removed, pour the mixture down the sink. Give it a good rise with hot water to remove any residue or alcohol.
Check on the downstem and mouthpiece soaking off to the side, and examine to see if the resin is gone. Use a cotton swab or toothpick for any stuck-on grime. Give both pieces a good rise with hot water to remove any residue or alcohol.
Note that this process may need to be repeated a few times, depending on how much resin is stuck to the pieces.
It’s important to clean cannabis grinders regularly. After a few uses, they get quite gunked up with cannabis matter, kief powder, and sticky resin. When this happens, it becomes a challenge to use them. The lid may not rotate properly, or the sharp teeth might not be grinding well. If this is the case with your grinder, it’s time for a good cleaning.
Jar or Ziploc bag
Stiff toothbrush or cleaning brush
Disassemble your grinder so that each compartment is separated from the rest. Dump out any residue that you want to keep for later use!
Place pieces in a jar or Ziploc back. Fill the container with enough isopropyl alcohol to fully submerge all parts of the grinder. Let it soak for 20-30 minutes, and gently shake or stir the mixture every once and a while to help any plant matter break apart.
Drain the mixture. Grab an old toothbrush or stiff-bristled cleaning brush, and begin scrubbing each part of your grinder. Make sure you get in between each of the grinding teeth, and don’t miss the outside!
Give each section a solid rinse in hot water and dry with a cloth.
Oggle in amazement at your brand new grinder! You’ll likely notice that your herb is ground more evenly, and each rotation is smooth and effortless. Once it’s dried completely, load it with some green and take ‘er for a test drive.
If you use a vaporizer to consume your cannabis, you’re in luck. Cleaning a vape is relatively simple. Whether it’s for dry herbs, concentrates, or oils, it only takes a few minutes to get your vape shining like new.
Cotton Swab/ toothpick
Warm, lightly dampened cloth
Optional: disinfecting wipes
Begin by removing the chamber from the device, and use a cotton swab (and/ or a toothpick for any stuck-on grime) and gently wipe out the inside of the chamber until any residue is gone.
Next, check out the mouthpiece; it may just need a gentle wipe with a damp cloth, but if it’s clogged, run it under warm water and get in there with a cotton swab.
After it’s reassembled, give the outside a wipe down with a disinfecting wipe or warm (but not soaking wet) cloth.
As a side note: Folks can also purchase cleaning solutions specially designed for bongs, pipes, and the like, but these can be expensive. Isopropyl alcohol is very effective at killing germs, and much cheaper than other options. We recommend going with this simple, age-old method to get your equipment sparkling.