Whenever anyone mentions that something is ‘best’ take it with a grain of salt – they’re likely giving you a good piece of advice AND their preferred method of doing something. This isn’t inherently bad but should be remembered in case that method doesn’t work as well for other people. In general, the same applies to cleaning a pipe. Cleaning is a necessary bit of maintenance that keeps a pipe functioning perfectly. There are different types of cleaners and cleaning methods preferred by different people and neither is necessarily better than the other. Some are also easier with different types of materials and others should be avoided. All told, make sure to consider all the possible variables and then go with whatever personal preferences might exist.
For starters, glass pipes are by large the most popular type of pipe on the market. Glass is translucent, easy to obtain and cheap to manufacture, and can be molded and decorated in a variety of shapes, colors, sizes, etc. Essentially, odds are that most people have some sort of glass pipe that needs cleaning. As such, it is vitally important to discuss the details of cleaning a glass pipe.
First and foremost, make sure that the pipe is completely clear. This means make sure that the bowl is empty and that there isn’t any lingering material. Don’t worry about scrubbing the pipe down just yet but make sure any large, loose materials are removed for optimal cleaning.
Next, obtain whatever preferred cleaner is to be used. There are tons of options available: boiling water, vinegar, commercial cleaners (like 420), rubbing alcohol, the list goes on. In addition, particularly if using vinegar or water, obtain some grit. This can be salt or something equivalent. Grit will help physically break down the caked resin left behind by the liquid cleaner. Whatever the decision, make sure to have plenty on hand for a dirtier pipe. Also obtain a container to soak the pipe in such as a piece of Tupperware or plastic bag.
Now that there is a container and some cleaner, make sure to place the pipe into the container and then fill it so that the pipe is mostly submerged in the cleaner. This is important because there needs to be enough cleaner (as well as grit if applicable) in order to properly remove the resin. Feel free to shake and/or whatever else works best to move the cleaner (and grit) through the pipe and break down the resin. Don’t worry about being too thorough, the more resin that is shaken off the easier the rest of the cleaning becomes. Remember to let a REALLY dirty pipe soak for a little bit. This will help break down the resin even more.
Next, once having thoroughly shaken the pipe and cleaner, go ahead and safely dispose of the cleaner and the container (if applicable). Now what needs to happen is to manually remove the remaining resin from the rest of the places on the pipe. This can be done with rags, q-tips, pipe cleaners, or whatever else is preferred. Just make sure not to leave behind any small fabric pieces and to get all the resin possible.
Lastly, make sure to thoroughly rinse out the pipe. There may be additional residue or resin and that means that another round of shaking, rubbing, and rinsing needs to happen. Continue to repeat until the pipe is sufficiently clean and that there is no more cleaner left on the pipe itself. Otherwise, it will at best taint the flavor of the pipe later on or at worst can be unhealthy to inhale.
Plenty of commercial cleaners are available at local smoke shops or online but there are also plenty of home remedies that can be used as well. As far as commercial cleaners, 420 cleaner is often considered to be an effective and inexpensive solution. However, there are some that prefer not to use commercially synthesized chemicals.
For those, there are plenty of options like rubbing alcohol, vinegar, or boiling water. Rubbing alcohol is strong and will break down resin rather well. Some are worried about residue but that doesn’t mean it can’t be washed away. Vinegar is a natural solvent that will also break down resin with its acidity. Vinegar is a little more dilute than rubbing alcohol and will probably work best with something gritty like salt that is also non-toxic. Make sure to thoroughly rinse out the salt. Finally, there is also the option of boiling water. This can be a little more dangerous than some of the others but it is certainly possible as long as someone is careful.
When not cleaning out a pipe with cleaner or rubbing alcohol, vinegar is often the best option. It’s available in large quantities, cheap, in most grocery stores. Not to mention that it is completely edible and non-toxic. For some, the pungent odor is not desired but this can be washed away. Remember, vinegar is not quite as acidic as rubbing alcohol and doesn’t break down resin as quickly. To help speed things up, make sure to add some grit such as salt that will help break down and scrape the resin away. Salt will also rinse out easily and is non-toxic.
Boiling water is also an option. Please take great care when using boiling water. Glass can withstand high temperatures but skin certainly cannot. Make sure to take the proper precautions to avoid being burned by boiling water or the stovetop burner. Also of importance is that, while glass is certainly able to withstand hot temperatures, make sure that the glass isn’t cooled off immediately using cold water. This will cause the glass to shatter. Not only will the pipe be destroyed but someone can be seriously injured if not simply mildly inconvenienced.
Silicone pipes are similar to glass pipes in terms of cleaning. The instructions listed out above are all essentially the same and the silicone can withstand boiling water as well. The only substantive difference is that silicone is likely easier to clean than a glass pipe. Silicone is bendable, will not stick to the resin, and essentially indestructible. Of note, some silicone pipes are able to be disassembled. This is a tremendous advantage because no longer is it necessary to use additional cleaner or cumbersome techniques to get to the hard to reach places. Basically, a silicone pipe takes out some of the harder parts of cleaning a glass pipe. Just remember to exercise caution and pay attention to rinse out the silicone thoroughly.
Water pipes are going to be cleaned the same way as well. However, remember that the water chamber is an additional area to be cleaned and that the connecting parts will want to be sanitized properly. Water can grow some nasty things if not cleaned often enough and the chamber of a water pipe is no different.
Metal pipes are going to be cleaned in much the same way but remember that they will remain much hotter much longer than the others if boiling is the preferred option. Also, make sure not to let the metal sit in a strong solution for too long because this could corrode the metal depending on the cleaner. None of the cleaners listed in this article will result in corrosion.
Tobacco pipes require some attention to be paid to them because they are often made of porous material that will hold onto flavors of whatever cleaner is used. Make sure to keep this in mind and avoiding soaking them too long. This can also remove the varnish found on wooden pipes. Probably best to stick to pipe cleaners when removing the resin from a tobacco pipe.
Wooden pipes are going to need to be treated like the tobacco pipes. They are a porous material that can also be covered in a protective varnish able to be damaged by some chemicals like rubbing alcohol. Just thoroughly and routinely use pipe cleaners to manually clean wooden pipes.
Glass blunt pipes are cleaned the same as any glass pipe except they’re easier because they lack any tight spots compared to other pipes. Basically, just avoid shattering or chipping during cleaning.
Pipes and pipe cleaner are available almost anywhere there is a local head shop or smoke shop. There are also plenty of items available throughout the internet. Make sure to check out vapevetstore.com and the incredible inventory of products available. Remember, all orders shipped in the USA ship 100% FREE!
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