Keep It Clean: How to Make Your Glass Pipe Last

by Julia Abney June 07, 2017 5 min read

Keep It Clean: How to Make Your Glass Pipe Last

So the scientific glass that sang its siren song in the store has become a bit of an embarrassment? We feel ya.

Whether spring cleaning has you “sparking joy” with the magical Marie Kondo or you’re planning ahead in the care of your new precious piece -- don’t worry -- we’ve got you covered.

WHY CLEAN YOUR WATER PIPE?

  • Reduce waste, save money. Sticky clogs drain time and money on wasted material and lighters. Not only that, the fresh material sitting on top won’t be tempted to bring along any unwanted byproducts stuck beneath. So make your supply stretch in intensity and value with clean delivery.
  • Each piece is a work of art. Today’s glass scene is driven by quality design. A team of talented artists and engineers have devoted their inspiration to each pipe you buy, and many are now becoming collector’s items. Rather than dooming a dirty piece to a wasteful existence in the back of a closet, bring it back to life with a little TLC. If you’re really over it, drop it in the glass recycling bin or regift to a friend.
  • It’s better for you.Keep in mind that you’re ingesting this stuff. Herbal enthusiasts tend to have a body-friendly bent, so we want to remind you that the point of water pipes are their cleansing power--it’s not about how many layers of residue you can collect.
Snoop Dogg POUNDS Collection Water Pipes

STOP GRIME IN THE FIRST PLACE:

A light wash now saves you from a gruff and gritty scrub later. It also reduces the chance that stains set in places you’ll never be able to reach. If you’ve invested in a real quality piece of glass with lots of complicated parts: change the water as often as every use to keep it dazzling like the day it reached your doorstep. Many glass fans swear by a drop or two of citrus juice (lime/lemon) in your water to stop grime from clinging to the walls. That means you can carry on with the carefree fun, without the overly frequent packing of a pipe that's overdue for a rubdown.

8-Arm Tree Perc Ash Catcher
Grav Labs Upline Ashcatcher
Ronin Glass Honeycomb Showerhead Perc Ashcatcher

Pro Tip: Ash Catchers are where it's at for stopping loose debris from getting stuck in your precious percs. They're also a more maneuverable size that saves you time struggling with a full-sized water pipe under the sink.

On a fun note -- they also add lots of awesome percolation to simple (and easy to clean) water pipes like a straightforward beaker.

HOW TO CLEAN A GLASS PIPE:

There are two routes you can take in cleaning a water pipe: you can buy a kit with all the properly pipe-shaped tools, or you can round up the supplies yourself -- most of which can be found at any corner store. The downside to a DIY approach is that the supplies aren't as acutely oriented toward pipe cleaning (Isopropyl Alcohol is in the First Aid section!). A curated kit will get you a squeakier clean; but DIY-ers have been getting the job done for decades, too!

DopeBoo Water Pipe Cleaning Kit

Higher Standards:
Supreme Cleaning Kit

Curated specifically to quality glass enthusiasts, this kit includes every tool you might need to for a high quality clean. It includes:

  • 99% Pure Isopropyl Alcohol
  • Salt Rox + Salt Schute
  • 12 Pipe Cleaners
  • 12 Pipe Dreamz Sticks
  • Resin Rag
  • Stem Brush
  • 6 Tube Tops
Rubbing Alcohol Cleaning Glass Bongs and Pipes

DIY Supplies:

You can also gather the following supplies from your local corner store:

  • Isopropyl Alcohol (91% or higher)
  • Salt
  • Toothbrush and/or Pipe Cleaners
  • Appropriately sized, disposable container if cleaning a hand pipe or ash catcher. (Such as a milk jug.)

The Cleaning Process:

Gather Supplies on A Durable Surface

ISO and salt are the absolute essentials. ISO is supercheap, so you may as well grab a large size to keep around the house. It might make you more likely to refresh your glass collection regularly if it's on-hand! Find Isopropyl Alcohol in the First Aid section. Cutting the top off a milk jug makes a great soaking container for hand-sized glass.

Learn from our mistakes -- if the alcohol is strong enough to sanitize, it’ll certainly leave a mark on your nice wooden table. Stick to a laundry room sink or bathtub with gentle water pressure near surfaces you can wipe right off.

We also save old toothbrushes (and the endless freebies from the dentists office) just for this occasion -- gentle electrics have an especially powerful effect.

The Rubbing Alcohol

Full-Sized Water Pipes --> Remove the slide and any other attachments. Pour ISO as high as you can into the pipe, without it overflowing from the open joint.

Hand Pipes and Bowl Slides -->Place glass in a container that's similar in size. Pour ISO until submerged.

Add Salt

Add a generous amount of salt. This is what really activates the cleaning mechanism to get tough, set stains moving. You’ll have to use your best judgement based on the size of your piece. Pour some in the main spout as well as the open joint. Soak bowl attachments with your other small glass pieces.                                              

Shake & Swirl

Cover the water pipe joint with your thumb, and give it a solid shake. Get it looking like a dishwasher in there, taking care not get too rough with any fragile percs.

Hold your jug by the handle and swirl the alcohol around with the pieces--again using as much steady force as you can without risking breakage. This is a big reason why pipe enthusiasts prefer thick, sturdy glass with removable downstems.

Let it Sit

Allow the mixture to go to work against grime by letting it rest. Don’t leave it around particularly nosy pets. In general, the longer you can soak it the better. You might even take the time to dump it, and give it a second salty soak without the first layer of filth to overcome. This depends on how dirty your piece is and how strong your OCD-tendencies.

Rinse It Out

Use warm water to give it another shake and rinse. Get in there with a gentle cleaning tool (pipe cleaners and toothbrushes). Give it a spin in the joint if you’ve removed the downstem, and don’t forget to wash the exterior where spills and fingerprints like to accumulate. Use tools to get into carb holes and mouthpieces.

Let her dry off in the sun -- or on the kitchen counter. And, voila!Your piece will be crystal-clear as the day you two first fell in love.

Julia Abney
Julia Abney

Julia, a flower child hailing from Spain, discovered her love of fresh herbs years ago when she accidentally became head of product at a farm in Oregon. She promises to not bias her guides too much towards vaporizers, but no guarantees!



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