Illustration by James the Stanton

How to Clean Your Pipes

Whether you’re using glass, metal, or bone, these tips will help keep your smoke smooth and tasty.

It happens to everyone: dirty pipes. It’s nearly impossible to truly enjoy the flavors of cannabis with unclean pipes, and honestly, it’s kinda gross. You wash your dishes, you wash your clothes, you wash your body (when you can)—it’s time to clean your pipes!

Before you start, you’ll need isopropyl alcohol. Now, there is some concern over using such a volatile chemical, but it is as safe as the alcohol in your hand sanitizer. Still, if you don’t want to use alcohol, you can use baking soda and vinegar. You will also need rock salt (small enough to get into and through the cracks of your pipes), pipe cleaners (duh!), zip-ties, paper clips, Q-Tips, rubber gloves, paper towels, and a Ziploc bag or a plastic container with a lid.

Glass If you are just cleaning one piece, a baggie will do, but if you are cleaning multiple pieces, consider using a container. A container is also good if you want to add a pipe-cleaning routine to your chore list; doing so will help you save resources and reduce waste.

Place your piece in the container and add just enough alcohol to cover everything. Add 1-3 tablespoons of salt. Seal the container and gently swirl it around to allow the salt to “scrub” the glass surfaces while floating around in the alcohol. Leave it alone for at least an hour—overnight for really dirty pieces or pieces with intricate parts. But what if this is your only piece, you ask? Take this as an opportunity to either support a local glassmaker or practice your joint-rolling skills.

Open the container away from your face. It will not smell good. The alcohol will have turned all that hard, funky resin into a sticky goo. Very. Sticky. Try to not touch it. Use more alcohol to wipe up any remaining trouble spots, then take your pipe to the sink. Run hot water, then lay a paper towel over the drain to catch the resin. Prop your pipe up in the drain and let the hot water sluice through it, in at the mouth and out like geysers at the bowl and carb. The hot water will wash most of the resin out in just a few moments if you let the pipe soak long enough, so you shouldn’t need to use much water. If there is still a fair amount of resin in the pipe, soak it again in alcohol, and this time leave it overnight. Any little bits left after the hot-water wash can be fished out with pipe cleaners or Q-Tips soaked in alcohol. Rinse with hot water as the last step. Leave on a towel to dry.

Stone & Ceramic You can still use alcohol to clean these, but don’t soak them; instead, soak Q-Tips, pipe cleaners, or strips of paper towels in alcohol and swab out the insides of your smoking device. Let them air dry, preferably overnight.

Metal The very best way to clean metal pipes is to boil them for 20 minutes or so, but be prepared to lose a pot to the sticky goo. You can swab these guys out with alcohol, too. If there are tiny parts, put tape over all but one opening, fill with alcohol and salt, and shake to clean the inside.

Wood, Antler, or Bone Put the alcohol away. These organic materials are too delicate. My best advice is to gently scrape the insides with zip-ties, paper clips, and pipe cleaners. Just be patient, and you’ll be enjoying a tasty smoke in no time. 

stashbox@seattleweekly.com

More in Eat Drink Toke

Bud in the Bedroom

The best results for bold lovers who are just starting a cannabis courtship is to start slow.

Feel at Home With Seattle’s Ambassador of Senegalese Cuisine

La Teranga serves authentic West African lamb, fish, and more in tiny Columbia City spot

The Rise of Maillard Browned Pan Pizza in Seattle

Satisfy your love of deep-dish without a knife and fork.

Tales of THC Terror

Every last horrible thing has been blamed on weed.

The Great Pumpkin Bong

This will beat your pumpkin spice latte any day.

Poutine Rules at Seattle’s Best Hockey Bar

After the explosion, Tim Pipes nearly threw in the towel. Then, a… Continue reading

The culinary thrills of the PBS favorite come to life during <em>America’s Test Kitchen</em>’s live events. Photo courtesy America’s Test Kitchen
Fall Food Events Guide

Some of the best happenings for the culinarily curious.

Top 12 Spots for Cheese Addicts in Seattle

You might say I’m something of an Emerald City cheese expert.

The Most Magical Fried Chicken in Seattle

I almost didn’t write about this place. I didn’t want to ruin the mystery of it.

Baked Kitchens

Eating cannabis is a millennia-old tradition and just as tasty today.

Treat or Trick?

A new ban on a variety of edibles has some cannabis producers running scared.

Did Wildfires Contaminate Your Weed?

Most apparent effects might be seen in outdoor grows, with plants showing traces of ash, cinders, and mold