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As more states move to legalize and decriminalize marijuana, even more Americans are getting their smoke on. Whether you’re new to toking up with a water pipe or you’re a seasoned bong smoker, regular maintenance is key for keeping your weed flavorful — which also requires that you keep your precious piece in proper working order. If your artful glass accouterment has accumulated some gunk or stink, then it’s high time for a refresher on how to clean a bong.
“Most folks prefer bongs for the water filtration. Like any filter, which in this case is our bong water, it’s bound to collect some gnarly stuff on the biofilm,” says Ivanna Navarro, a budtender at Canada-based dispensary Burb. “You wouldn’t reuse the same paper filter on your joint, right? Well, the same rule applies to your bong water. That same bacteria and mildew can cause you to cough more than needed and can even cause lung issues, which sounds pretty wack to me, so be obsessive about regularly cleaning your bong.”
Yvette Reyna, training and education coordinator at California-based cannabis brand Wonderbrett, reminds us that “everything we smoke goes into our body. Bacteria, mold, fungi, and viruses can quickly grow inside your bong overnight and cause respiratory problems down the line or even in your current state of health. Just like we test and check to make sure our flower is clean, we should be making sure the items we use to smoke them in are clean, too.”
To both experts’ points, there are still potential health risks no matter how or what you smoke, so keep that in mind as you’re enjoying responsibly. (You must be age 21 or over in most states where cannabis is legal.)
When Is It Time to Clean Your Bong?
“You know it’s time to clean your bong if a ring starts to form around the waterline of your bong or when you pour purified water into it and see some little floaters of weed, resin, or residue in there,” explains Reyna. Those particles, combined with bacteria and mildew, “is what results in that really specific bong smell,” adds Navarro.
Both experts suggest cleaning your bong or pipe once a week. “A lot of connoisseurs clean their bong every day,” says Reyna. “If you want to keep it clean and prevent things like this, just dump the water when you are done using your bong every single time and clean it anyway.”
Navarro adds: “While we clean bongs (hopefully listening to some good tunes or a podcast at the same time!), it’s important to reflect on all the sacrifices made by Black and Brown people in order to achieve legalization. The legalization that allows you to clean your bong free of worry!”
How to Clean a Bong, According to Experts