How to Clean Your Glass Bowl Naturally

As a beginner cannabis user, I was NOT aware that my bowl needed to be cleaned on a regular basis. I would just pull it out when I wanted to smoke and put it back a little bit dirtier. This was my pattern over the course of 2+ years and man did that pipe get dirty. Fast forward to quarantine where I now have a ton of time on my hands. Instead of baking sourdough, I asked myself “how do I clean my burnt glass pipe?”. Here’s everything that I learned about cleaning a glass bowl – one type-A, stoner to another.

Why Do Glass Bowls Get Dirty?

It is completely normal for your glass pipe or bowl to get dirty over time. Why? When you light up your bowl, most of the flower you’ve packed is burned and turns into smoke. The leftover flower forms a residue that can build up on your glassware making it dirty and difficult to use as time goes on. This residue is a combination of plant matter and resin (tar and some amounts of ash and carbon).

Why Do You Need to Clean Your Glass Bowl?

When you allow residue (resin and leftover plant matter) to build up on your pipe, you risk it becoming unusable over time. Trust! This is what happened to me. My pipe became so clogged that I could no longer use it.  

If you are at all familiar with the mechanics of a pipe, you’ll know that smoke is pulled into the pipe through a small hole at the bottom of it’s bowl. This hole can easily become clogged with the leftover plant matter and resin from past uses. If you don’t clean your bowl it can become clogged, making it difficult (if not impossible) to smoke out of. 

Aside from potentially ruining your favorite bowl, here are 4 reasons why you should clean your glass bowl regularly:

1. Smoking resin is harmful to your health.

Resin is the sticky, dark substance that is left behind after you smoke. It is composed mostly of ash and tar (ew!). It’s no secret that tar ain’t good for your lungs. If you’re not cleaning your pipe regularly, odds are you’re inhaling some resin.

2. A dirty bowl affects the flavor of your weed.

As smoke passes through a dirty pipe, it collects a little of whatever resin and residue is present. Resin and residue have pretty distinct flavors which can negatively impact the taste of your premium flower.

3. Get rid of those germs!

Ever pull your pipe out at a party and pass it around? Germs inevitably cling to your pipe. Save yourself from catching the common cold or worse, a cold sore, by cleaning your pipe after use.

5. Cleaner is better.

It’s no secret; a clean bowl looks nicer than a dirty one. I personally love being able to admire the colorful swirls and designs in my glassware which is hard to do when it’s dirty. Plus, if you like to leave your pipe on top of your bar cart or coffee table (like myself) make it more of a centerpiece and less of an eyesore by giving it a good clean.

How Often Should You Clean Your Glass Bowl?

I cannot stress this enough: it is important that you clean your bowl on a regular basis. What does that mean? If you use your pipe every day, there is no harm in giving it a quick daily clean. For those of us that don’t have the time to do this (*cough* *cough* myself), aim to clean your bowl on a weekly basis; this will keep it from getting too unruly. 

How Long Does it Take to Clean a Glass Bowl?

The time it takes to clean a glass bowl depends on one variable: how dirty it is. I recommend letting your pipe sit in hot water for 30 minutes to an hour to loosen any caked-on grime. If you are cleaning your pipe weekly and it’s not too dirty a quick 5-minute soak should do the trick. 

How to Clean a Glass Bowl

There are many different ways to clean your glass bowl. Some methods require you to use harsh cleaning agents like bath salts, acetone or isopropyl (rubbing) alcohol. These products can leave a residue on your glassware which you risk inhaling later. A good rule of thumb is to avoid using any materials that you wouldn’t consume yourself. Isopropyl alcohol for example is listed as toxic by 8 different government agencies including the Environmental Protection Agency, Occupational Safety and Health Administration, and the International Agency for Research on Cancer. 

Steer clear of any tutorials that encourage you to use chemicals like acetone or Isopropyl alcohol and opt for good old fashioned boiling water. Hot water will naturally loosen the resin and leftover plant matter from your bowl and leave it looking as good as new. Best of all, it’s FREE and environmentally friendly!

What you’ll need:

  • Non-stick pot
  • Stove
  • Tap water
  • Tongs
  • ¼ Cup baking soda
  • Your dirty bowl

Step 1

Fill your pot with enough water to fully submerge your pipe. Carefully lower your pipe into the pot and bring to a rolling boil.

Step 2

Once boiling, reduce water to a simmer and let your pipe sit for 30 minutes to an hour (depending on how dirty it is). The water in your pot should turn dark from all of the resin and leftover plant matter coming loose.

Step 3

Once time is up, turn off the stove and use tongs to remove your pipe (be careful it’s HOT!). Use a cotton swab to remove any residual grime from your pipe and allow it to air dry.

TIP: If a cotton swab just isn’t cutting it, you might want to invest in some pipe cleaners. These sturdy tools are great at cleaning those hard to reach nooks and crannies. I recommend using them once and then throwing them out as they tend to get coated in sticky resin.

Step 4

Pour the dirty water from your pot down the sink. If your pipe had a lot of built up resin, you might find this resin stuck to the sides of your non-stick cookware. Not to worry! Fill your pot with water. Add ¼ cup of baking soda and bring to a boil for 10 minutes.

Step 5

Remove your pot from the stove and clean with soapy water. Any remaining resin should easily scrub off your non-stick pot!

Looking for a new glass bowl?

Check out some of my favorite pipes made by small glass artists!

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