Dear Annalee:

Recently I was over at a friend’s place when they pulled out the dirtiest bong I’ve ever seen. Of course, me being me, I asked if we could clean it before using it. My friend said that they preferred to not use harsh chemicals, to save the earth from unnecessary chemicals, and a dirty bong doesn’t hurt anyone. Is this true? And if not, how can one clean their bong without dangerous chemicals.
-Grossed out

Dear G.O.,

Clean and healthy bongYour friend needs gentle education on the virtues of a clean bong.  I almost understand their logic of not wanting to pollute the earth, but there’s an easy way around this with non-toxic household products. The best way to clean your bong is with 99% isopropyl alcohol and coarse salt. You can learn how at the bottom of this answer.

But to the point: A dirty bong can hurt you. Let me count the ways…

Let’s separate the issues. There’s making sure your bong has fresh water and there is cleaning the bong itself. Both need to be done regularly.

Keep Fresh Water in a Glass Bong

First off – like your signature notes, it is gross. But aside from this obvious visual bias, and respecting the continuum of people’s habits, mold and bacteria grow in the water. I hear it now, so what, I’m not drinking it (ugh).

Dirty bong water is just unhealthy. The mold and bacteria in your bong’s water WILL get into your lungs as you take that deep pull. The mold is rancid and can make you vomit. Mold and bacteria can even give you bronchitis. Change your bong’s water after every use if you are sharing with someone. Change it out at least daily if you’re the sole bong user.

Some rinse out their bong before bed and let it air dry overnight. They say this will help it stay cleaner, and longer.

It’s all about the flavor

You lose the sweet terpene flavors. A dirty bong has the residue from past smoke sessions. Unless you clean out your bong that sweet taste will get lost. Much Cannabis these days is grown to highlight various terpenes, which makes certain strains smell and taste the way they do. Deep cleaning your bong (at least weekly, if not more often) allows you to get that sweet wonderful taste.

A clean bong has a smooth draw. Just to bring home the point, not only do you lose the sweet taste of your weed, it’s just harsher. The draw-off that residue layered bong, not only tastes bad, it’s harsh on your throat.

Using household products to clean your bong

Now that we’ve covered the pros of keeping a clean bong, let’s highlight that there is no valid reason to not clean your bong. And, puhleaz, let’s not use the environment as any kind of excuse. There are regular and environmentally safe, products to clean your bongs – easily.

gallon of 99% alcoholFirst, purchase 99% isopropyl alcohol instead of 70% isopropyl alcohol. The 99% is better at cleaning residue, while the 70% is better at sanitizing. You can get 99% isopropyl alcohol by the gallon at most hardware stores.

Get yourself some coarse salt as well.

After I’ve rinsed out my bong a few times, I fill my empty bong about a third full of the 99% isopropyl alcohol and pour about a tsp (I don’t measure) of the salt into the bong as well. Then I use some glass plugs I purchase at my local head shop in both ends and shake up my bong until it’s clean.

If your bong has gotten super dirty, you may want to leave it to sit for a while after you’ve shaken it up. Then come back to it and shake it some more.

Depending on how dirty your bong is, you may need to use a small brush or pipe cleaner to rub the insides a bit. If you keep your bong cleaned regularly, this is generally not necessary.

As for your friend, treat them kindly as you relay these clean bong and your health facts. I completely understand and relate your desire to want to use a clean bong. But not everybody reads up on bong housekeeping techniques. It’s up to us to educate and support them without bias.

Dear Annalee is written by AnnaLee Xander.

Annalee cuts through the BS to offer solid and timely advice in this complex world of ours.

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