How to Clean a Glass Pipe

Knowing how to clean a glass pipe properly will ensure its useful life is as long as possible. Over time, glass pipes used for smoking dried herbs will develop residue buildup and need to be cleaned in order to function properly. The buildup can give the herb a bitter or undesirable flavor when inhaled, so proper cleaning is necessary to prevent this from happening.

When learning how to clean a glass pipe properly, remember that failing to clean the pipe regularly will only make it more difficult to clean. Some people prefer to wash it out quickly after each use, but at a bare minimum, it’s smart to clean your glass pipe every two to four weeks. Be sure to follow these steps, and keep the tips and warnings in mind at all times. Some guides recommend boiling glass pipes in water, but this can oftentimes be harmful to the pipe and cause it to shatter. The following guide is used by many glass pipe users and one we ourselves use at Cannsy. All-in-all, it is typically considered one of the best ways to learn how to clean a glass pipe. Enjoy!

What You'll Need To Get Started

  • Pipe cleaner
  • Isopropyl rubbing alcohol
  • Salt
  • Coarse sand
  • Very hot water
  • Quart-sized zippered freezer bag
  • Large plastic bowl
  • Paper towels

STEP 1: Prepare The Supplies

Work in an area with good lighting. Adequate light is needed to see if the pipe is clean, and it is nearly impossible to see thinner residue in some pipes with poor lighting. It is best to work in an area where a possible spill can be easily cleaned up. Spilling rubbing alcohol on furniture or carpet can be a mess to clean up. Work on a counter top or a table, and be sure to keep all of the supplies away from small children. Place some paper towels under the plastic bowl, and measure out about one cup or a handful of coarse sand into the zipper bag.

STEP 2: Prepare The Cleaning Mixture

Set the pipe in the bottom of the zipper bag carefully. Place the pipe and bag inside of the plastic bowl, and make sure the bowl is on a firm and level surface. If the bag accidentally tears or has a leak, the bowl will catch the spilling mixture. One of the most important parts of learning how to clean a glass pipe is to know how much alcohol to add. Some people make the mistake of adding just a tiny bit of rubbing alcohol, but the pipe must be submerged in it. Pour enough alcohol in the bag to cover the pipe completely, and slide the fingers across the top of the zipper seal twice to ensure it is tightly closed. Lightly shake the mixture for about one minute.

STEP 3: Let The Pipe Sit

Depending on how dirty the pipe is, let it sit for 15 minutes to one hour. People who have not cleaned their pipes during the past several months may need to let them sit longer. Make sure the pipe and zipper bag are in the plastic bowl. Nothing is worse than leaving a zipper bag on a wood table and coming back to find out it is slowly leaking. After letting the pipe sit, shake the bag lightly. If it looks like the residue is mostly gone, proceed to step five. However, follow the next step if the pipe still looks dirty.

 Add about one-fourth cup of salt to the mixture, and seal the bag tightly again. Shake the mixture around for a minute or two, and add more alcohol if necessary. If the pipe does not look cleaner, let the mixture sit in the bag for up to 10 minutes. Make sure it is sitting in the plastic bowl. When the time is up, take the pipe out of the bag. Discard the alcohol in the toilet or sink, and recycle the zipper bag.

STEP 5: Use A Pipe Cleaner For Stubborn Residue 

There may still be some residue on the pipe. Learning how to clean a glass pipe is a process that takes time, and some people may learn the hard way that they need to clean their pieces more often to avoid long and tedious cleaning processes. If there is buildup on the pipe, use a pipe cleaner to remove it. Keep swabbing the inside of the pipe until the tool comes out clean.

STEP 6: Dip The Pipe In Hot Water

For this step, use water that is too hot to stand when touched. However, it should not be boiling. Water can be heated up in the microwave or on the stove, but make sure it is not still bubbling just before the pipe is submerged in it. After cleaning the pipe with the alcohol mixture and swabbing the inside of it, dip it in the hot water. This water can be placed in a tall cup or a narrow bowl. Regardless of the container chosen, make sure the pipe is fully submerged in the water. This will help loosen up any extra residue that is left over from cleaning or swabbing. It will also rinse the alcohol off of it to make smoking smoother.

STEP 7: Wipe And Check The Glass Pipe

After the glass pipe has been cleaned using the steps above, use paper towels to wipe it. If there is still residue, dip it back in the hot water. Use the pipe cleaner to remove any other residue. Keep wiping and checking it until it is clean. In most cases, the pipe will be clean after it has sat in the alcohol mixture for a while. Let the pipe sit on a cloth or paper towel to finish drying completely. Set the pipe on the towel with the bowl part facing downward.

Helpful Tips

  • Always use quart-sized bags instead of gallon-sized zipper bags, because this means less alcohol will be needed to cover the pipe in cleaning mixture
  • For cleaning stubborn buildup around the mouthpiece when there is no pipe cleaner available, use a Q-tip or a heated pin to loosen residue
  • For best results, use sea salt as the salt ingredient in this process
  • Wash the pipe out well after every few uses with hot water, and this will help prevent thick or stubborn buildup from compiling between cleanings

Important Considerations & Warnings

  • To avoid getting alcohol in the eyes, always shake the mixture back and forth instead of up and down
  • Pipe users who have very sensitive skin can make the process of learning how to clean a glass pipe easier by wearing rubber gloves
  • Avoid using very fine sand for this procedure
  • Never smoke a pipe that has just been cleaned with only alcohol and has not been rinsed
  • Do not boil a glass pipe in water, because boiling a pipe will weaken the glass over time
  • Do not attempt to mix measurable amounts of alcohol with very hot water

How To Clean A Glass Pipe Guide: What Is A Glass Pipe, Anyways?

A glass pipe is a device made out of glass and used for smoking medical herb. The pipe has a long and hollow mouthpiece in most instances. The rounded and open part of the pipe is called the bowl. The size of the bowl typically refers to the amount of dried herb it can hold. There are different styles, designs and sizes of glass pipes.

Learning how to clean a glass pipe is an easy enough process that beginners will pick it up quickly. Always follow the proper steps and precautions to make correct cleaning a habit. Developing bad cleaning habits through the use of improper techniques or inadequate cleaning frequency will result in a rougher smoking experience. A clogged pipe will also reduce the amount of suction or air flow from the mouthpiece, making it more difficult to inhale. The most time-consuming part of learning how to clean a glass pipe is shaking and swabbing the piece. Having a clean pipe is well worth the effort, and knowing how to clean a glass pipe is a skill that can be taught to fellow patients or friends.

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