Updated: Aug 15
The bong. Or, sorry, any smoke shop attendant circa 2009 reading this, "water pipe." Yes, sir, this will only be used to smoke tobacco...
Many have said humanity's best invention. As someone who almost exclusively smokes out of a bong, I say...no, it's not our best, but they are nice. I mean, the microwave is way cooler.
But I'll be damned if the bong isn't the best way to burn, even if just for the bubbling sound alone. It's a fun smoke when that's factored in. "I'm forever blowing bubbles, pretty bubbles in the air!" Is that what West Ham is singing about? Bong bubbles?
If you want a couple other reasons, well, here you is:
Pack a bowl, spark, and hit the thing. Let the smoke charge up in the bong until you see the smoke roiled into milky clouds.
If you're like me and your bong has an ice catcher, or "ice dimples," in the neck, do yourself a favor and toss in a few cubes. Chilled smoke is best smoke. There's all kinds of smoke temperature science out there that some dab nerd can tell you about, they care way more about the specifics. I'm not trashing dabs, they're great every once in a while, but some people take this smoking "weed" thing to a place you maybe don't want to go every day. The whole butane torch thing is a lot.
Fresher, better taste with the water filtration
"I smoke a bong, it filters out the addictive shit." Yes, Dale Denton (aka Seth Rogen), bong on. Pineapple Express is a good movie.
Back to the purpose of these words that assuredly almost no one besides our family and friends will half-read but, We Proceed On!
Cleaning your bong
Right. 'Cause, yes, it is the best device to enjoy your herb with, no doubt in my mind. There is significant doubt in his mind, don't let him convince you otherwise. However, because of the many moving parts of a bong compared to other inhalation methods, the bong can also be a giant pain in the ass. These moving parts, along with the water, allow for resin to creep into tight, hard-to-reach spaces many are just too lazy to try and clean.
Okay, to clean or not to clean. Judging by the ocular offensiveness of your glass, I'm guessing that most, if not all of you, do not clean your bong on a regular basis. Oh, you rinse it out every couple of days? One whiff of that brackish concoction brewing in its beaker base tells me that that is a lie. Gross. Gross, dude.
This res ain't for scraping. Just clean it and dump it. Or just keep letting it build up until hitting your piece is like trying to suck an egg through a garden hose. Or some other stuff that you guys do in your spare time, I don't know.
And, hey, I'm not above scraping a pipe for resin smokes, I get it. Well, I'm above that shit now and would rather give up smoking for a year than hit another res bowl, but there was a time when res was all we could muster and I wasn't above it then. But that's pipe resin, usually a bit more pliable and resembling black hash mixed with street tar. Smokeable. Bong resin looks more like something you'd lift on the edge of a stick from the marshy side of the black lagoon. It drips. And not in the parlance of 2023, more like Ol' Drippy. That's an Aqua Teen Hunger Force reference for youse kids out there that think youse guys know comedy.
Alright (all right? again, I'm an idiot, I have no idea why you're reading this), let's get started.
Step 1: Assemble your mise-en-place
We prefer simple simple simple. Cheap and effective. Coarse Kosher salt, 91% rubbing alcohol, one Ziploc sandwich bag (but any zipped plastic pouch should do, or maybe you're better than me and prefer the beeswax bag option), and five or six segments of Kirkland paper towels (3 for plugging purposes, 3 for any cleanup).
I try to clean my bong at least twice per week. Actually clean, too. Not just rinsing out the old and sticking the down stem under hot water from the kitchen faucet. Bad form there, bud.
In the interest of showing the effects of a good clean, I resisted my routine and let Ol' Blue dirty up a bit. If your bong is much worse than this, just repeat the process, step 1-whatever-the-end-step-is until the bong is sparkling and sniffing inside won't cause your belly to swell up a yak.
The first two pictures here will show you just a little bit of what a semi-dirty bong can look like. In the third and fourth photos, notice how the 0ld bong water is cut with Fresh California Tap, then poured in small quantities down the drain before diluting the nastiness further and further until the beaker is completely empty. Leaving water in the beaker will reduce the effectiveness of the isopropyl and salt. You do this first rinsing business in an effort to both alleviate some of the resin smell and the potential clogging effect this swampresin could have on your kitchen / bathroom sink. Use caution here, you don't want to have to call the building supervisor to come scoop spoonfuls of congealed bongmatter from your gunked garbage disposal...what? no, that didn't happen to me.
Step 2: Prep your piece for shakin'
Check the slideshow to the right
2(a): Fill bong with the alcohol and salt. If you're pouring the isopropyl through the spout (as pictured to the right), a classic ten-second pour will do just fine with 3-4 spoonfuls of salt.
2(b): Down stem into the sandwich bag.
Pinch the down stem through the bag in order to prop it up vertically and pour a couple of tablespoons of salt into the down stem, then add another tablespoon or two to the bag itself. Pour isopropyl to cover your down stem. Zip.
Pro tip: To get a full soak of the down stem, fill a cereal or mixing bowl with warm water and set the bag inside. The water will hold the bag upright and keep the down stem submerged entirely in the cleaning mixture.
Step 3: Paper Towel Plugs
3(a): Down stem plug
1st, take one segment and fold three times vertically.
2nd, turn and fold three times horizontally.
3rd, You should have something resembling the 3rd photo. Fold twice along the width created by the first two steps. You should then have the 4th photo.
4th, Fold extra material in so you're left with a square. Then fold that square in half to form the final plug.
5th, Push plug into down stem opening on your bong.
Note: if you have a larger bong, use two paper towels on this step and then use three towels for the mouthpiece.
3(b): Mouthpiece plug
Repeat steps 1-5 of the down stem plug process but use an additional towel segment. That's pretty much it.
Step 4: Shake it, before you bake it.
This is kind of the fun part for you. Double-check your plugs and hold a palm in place over the mouthpiece, then jangle about. Shake your arms, shimmy your shoulders. Tilt and roll the salted alcohol all about the bong. Hold the bong up to the light in order to see any trouble spots with stubborn ganja-grease. Patience, keep shaking. Don't forget to shake the Ziploc bag, as well. Salt agitation + elbow grease = clean glass.
Step 5: Dump the contents and prepare to be at ease
Once you've determined the glass to be clean, proceed to the sink.
Run warm water and fill up your bong, diluting the dissolved mess again with clean tap.
Dump and fill, dump and fill again.
After rinsing a few more times, hold your hand beneath the next dump and ensure no more salt remains in the bong.
Finally, switch to cool water and fill your newly cleaned bong to the desired water level.
Repeat this dumping process with your down stem and dry the glass completely with a paper towel.
Step 6: Add some cubes and be at ease.
We've reached the end of our time together. Again, I can't believe you're still here. Clean your bongs, people. It only leads to more enjoyment of your flower. You won't be getting the cast iron effect of bowls long since smoked interfering with the taste of fresh bud.
Treat yourself and add the ice if you've an ice-catcher. You won't regret it.
Looking for a bong?
Just get the standard beaker like Ol' Blue pictured above. Blue's done well for over a decade now. Shoutout to High Tide Glass on Anacapa in Santa Barbara. The first purchase I made in California and they gave me a free nug, too. Good people.
Yes, the percolators found in many bongs are neat and can smooth out your sesh but they're not worth it. Not to mention that any bong with a perc immediately goes up by 20-30% in price, once you christen the thing, it's nearly impossible to return it to original shelf cleanliness, even with repeat scouring.
Can never go wrong with simple, straight-neck, ice-catching beakers.