It's the marijuana smoker's chore that everyone hates! Cleaning out dirty glass pipes. But you have to do it if you ever expect to enjoy the flavor of the cannabis you are smoking. This article and video will show you how to clean glass pipes with a minimum of muss and fuss.
One tip before we begin. Don't do what I did for the video and allow your pipes to get really dirty. The dirtier the pipe, the harder it will be to clean. So clean your glass pipes often and you won't have to work as hard.
But for this demo I did let the pipes get dirty, just to show that with a little work and some 90% or higher alcohol, even the dirtiest of glass pipes can be cleaned as good as new.
Ok ready? Let's show you how to clean glass pipes!
Step One Gather Supplies
The first thing to do is to gather your supplies. Depending on how dirty your glass pipes are, you may or may not need everything here. For instance, if you take my advice and clean your pipes often, you can use Dawn Dishwashing liquid and forego the alcohol. The stuff is amazing (they even use it to clean wild sea birds after oil spills). Just pour some liquid into your pipe, add hot water, let it soak a few hours and proceed the same way as if you were using alcohol.
Of course, if your pipes are very dirty, nothing beats 90% or higher alcohol. Find it at the drug store. If you live in or near a Latin neighborhood check the botanica stores as they often sell high percent alcohol as well.
Other supplies include paper towels, coarse salt or Epsom salts to use as scrubbing agitators (I have used uncooked rice for this purpose in the past as well), and some pipe cleaners or cotton swabs, and sometimes a pipe poker is handy. And of course, gloves are a must. Cleaning glass pipes is dirty, stinky work, plus the alcohol is drying and can sting any cuts you may have. You are going to want to wear gloves!
Glass Pipe Cleaning Step 2: Rinse Well
I like to begin by giving the pipe a rinse in very hot water. Add hot water, cover the holes, and shake. You can eliminate a lot of gunk this way before even beginning to clean.
Step 3: Soak Glass Pipes in Alcohol
Since I have a lot of glassware, I save up a bunch of pipes and clean them all at once. You might only have one or two. Either way, put your pipe in a small container and pour in alcohol. Use enough alcohol to at minimum submerge the bowl. If you have long tall pipes like Chameleon Glass' Gandalf pipe, don't worry about submerging the entire pipe, get the bowl end under alcohol and you can always turn it over to soak the other side later.
Once your pipes are in alcohol, walk away and go do something else for a couple of hours while they soak.
Step 4: Rinse and Add an Agitator (like salt)
After soaking for several hours, remove the pipe from the alcohol, add a little hot water and shake, shake, shake! Dump things out and rinse with hot water. If the pipe is still dirty, pour in an agitator like coarse sea salt or Epsom salts, which will act as little scrubbers.
Step 5: Add More Alcohol and Shake, Hake, Shake Your Glass Pipe
Add a little alcohol to the salt in the pipe, cover the holes and shake vigorously. The salt and alcohol should be dissolving the last of the residue in the pipe. Rinse and repeat a couple of times, if necessary, until nearly all dirt is gone.
Step 6: Don't Forget to Clean the Glass Pipe's Bowl
It's not unusual for the bowl of the pipe to still have black buildup on it. Just dip a piece of paper towel in alcohol, swirl it around the bowl, rinse and the bowl should be perfectly clean.
Step 7: Use a Pipe Cleaner for Any Last Bits
Sometimes, despite all this effort, there will still be one or two "klingons" of black residue on the inside of the pipe. To get rid of every last speck of debris, take a pipe cleaner or a cotton swab, dip it in alcohol, and use to reach those stubborn last bits of dirt. They should come right off.
Step 8: Rinse Well, Dry, and Spark It!
Give everything another good rinse with hot water to make sure you have gotten rid of any residual alcohol. Dry with a kitchen towel or paper towel and you are ready to spark it up and start getting your pipe ready for its next cleaning.
The Cupcake Pipe, Gandalf Pipe, Cherry Pipe, and Chile Pepper Pipes used in the video and on this page are all by Chameleon Glass. Click through to the Chameleon Glass website and check out their enormous collection of creative, high quality, American made glass pipes.