Still using alcohol to remove the residue from your bong? You may be rinsing it thoroughly because nothing wrecks the flavor of your terpenes like that great taste of ethyl alcohol. But that doesn’t mean it is the safest way to clean your bong.
Throughout the decades, tokers have passed on the wisdom of ages. The first law of smoking using a glass pipe is “Thou shalt clean your pipe before you pack a new bowl.” It is common sense. Many people think that the brown guck in the pipe is resin. But actually, those streaks of dark brown are something else.
You see, resin does get deposited inside your glass pipe. Sometimes, it is thick enough to scrape. And some people recycle the resin scrapings (even though they don’t taste good). But that’s not a good idea. What is sticking to the resin that you see is mostly bacteria, fungus, and mold. And if you are staring at your bong right now in horror, read on.
You must clean your bong before every smoke session. Which, for most people, means daily. But have you thought about how you are cleaning your bong? What you use to clean your bong can both impact your health and damage the environment. If you are using harmful chemicals that work fast to remove resins, you can remove the spots without toxifying your bong with the right cleaners.
How Serious are the Bacteria in Your Bong?
Hey dude, that’s great amber-colored glass. It’s not amber? It was clear glass when you started? Gross! But even if you are not a germ-phobic kind of toker, you may not understand how serious the bacteria can be in your pipe. Life-threateningly bad, believe it or not.
Maybe your bong just has residue and no bacteria? That is wishful thinking. But the most basic test of the bacterial load of your bong is with your nose. When you spill your bong water, does it stink so bad that you contemplate getting a new coffee table? Red alert! Unfriendly microorganisms that can make you sick have moved in.
Remember, when you inhale smoke over water, you breathe in more than terpenes, flavonoids, and THC. Little dark dots in your bong are mold. Long streaks in your pipe are likely to be harmful bacteria. When inhaled into your lungs, some of those bacteria can cause a condition called necrotizing pneumonia. It is as fun as it sounds. The bacteria eats away at your lung tissues and causes permanent respiratory damage.
That is just the start of the harmful stuff that you could be inhaling deeply daily. Yeast loves the warm and nutrient-rich environment of old bong water. Viruses can also live inside your bong (particularly if you “puff puff pass” regularly). Strep and E.coli are also commonly found in bong water and glass pipes that are not sanitized.
Substituting Water for Juice or Wine in Your Bong
Some people like experimenting with their bong water. There are recipes online that show you how to use cranberry or orange juice or even lemon water as an alternative. Some people steep herbal tea and use that for bong water. Fun fact? High-quality green tea can enhance your absorption of THC. Something you may want to try at home. Some people also use wine as a substitute for plain water or champagne. Talk about bubbles in your bubbler! But when you add sugar to the microbial environment, guess what else happens? Aside from a delicious flavor, you are also feeding sugar to the microbes like bacteria and mold.
Dat Special Sauce is another interesting way to play with infused bong water. If you dab or scrape your resin, you can create your own vape oil. We know the oil isn’t for your bong, but it’s an interesting way to reduce your expenses and recycle concentrates.
Isopropanol Alcohol is Bad for Your Lungs (And The Environment)
You head to the dollar store and pick up some cheap rubbing alcohol. That is what most people do to clean their bong. Economical? Sure. Does it work? Absolutely. Rinsing your bong with isopropyl alcohol quickly penetrates through the resin, and it kills any cooties that may be living inside your pipe.
Let’s say that you are a diligent pot smoker. As recommended, you clean your pipe every night after you have torched your last bowl for the day. That means once a day, you are also rinsing down a highly toxic chemical.
Ethyl alcohol is usually made from a substance called isopropanol. When inhaled or absorbed into the body, the chemicals in rubbing alcohol start doing damage right away. It can cause nausea, abdominal pain, and in extreme cases of poisoning, vomiting of blood. It damages the digestive tract and major organs.
Once ISO is poured down a drain, the impact on the environment is catastrophic. It breaks up natural chains of molecules. That is why it works so well to dissolve resins, bacteria, and fungus. How much ISO do you think goes down the drain every day in America?
If 50 million Americans clean their pipe this way. And use about 2 ounces of ISO each month. That means 1.2 billion ounces per month of a petroleum-based chemical entering our ground and water tables daily. It is a big problem, even while people assume it is harmless to flush it down the drain and dilute it.
Popular Colloidal Silver Is Another Effective (But Toxic) Cleaning Solution
Have you heard of Colloidal silver? It has many different medicinal uses, and it is commonly used for infant eye infections. So you know it is not toxic. Colloidal silver is silver particles suspended in a liquid form. It is odorless, tasteless, and mild, and you can find it in most health food stores.
About 3-4 drops of Colloidal silver in your bong water can make a big difference. It is antimicrobial. An antibacterial and an antiviral. It also kills fungus. You can use it to rinse out your bong and use it to wipe the exterior bowl and mouthpiece areas of your pipe.
So, it works, but is it toxic? The jury is out. Nanosilver particles do not break down in the environment. They are not water-soluble. So that means they remain in the environment and can be toxic to wildlife and plants.
Bacteria Resistant Bong Water You Can Buy
The better environmental approach is to replace your bong water. Choosing a store-bought solution that does not allow bacteria, mold, and fungus to grow in the first place is best. That is a proactive way to prevent the problem from starting in the first place.
Some people think that bottled bong water is expensive. Some brands are if you want to get fancy. Or experiment with natural flavor or CBD infusions. That’s right; you can find some pretty amazing bottled bong waters that can upgrade your smoke session.
The most important attribute though is bacterial and viral resistance. Natural organic additives (no chemicals) can make bong water an effective deterrent for microscopic organisms. One of the most popular brands of bottled bong water is Piece Water Solution.
Every year, there are more organic cleansers available at dispensaries. A nod to growing awareness about the harms of inhaling ISO with your weed over the long-term. Some of the best bong cleaners that are non-toxic include:
- Rez Block Concentrate
- Formula 420
- Klear Kryptonite
At a time when lung health is at peak awareness during the Covid-19 pandemic, a few extra precautions can help you avoid a respiratory infection. Make sure to clean your bong daily. And remember that boiling water can sanitize, but it may not be strong enough to remove pipe resins. Upgrade from ISO alcohol to another eco-smart alternative to protect your health and the environment.