Step By Step Guide to How to Clean a Weed Pipe

Smoking marijuana from a clean, glass pipe.

When was the last time you cleaned your weed pipe? 

While it’s true that Boveda humidity packs preserve freshness—and by extension flavor and aroma—many factors can affect your enjoyment level when smoking cannabis. And one glaring factor that influences taste and overall enjoyability is the pipe itself. 

An ashy, resinous pipe can make an otherwise terpene-rich, sticky weed nugget taste… well, ashy and resinous. Moreover, pipes can be a favorable breeding ground for microorganisms like bacteria and mold. (This is doubly true for bongs filled with standing water.)

It’s best practice to give your pipe a good scrub occasionally. How often should you clean your weed pipe? That depends entirely on your smoking frequency, cleanliness standards, and whether or not you plan on collecting and saving the resin inside your pipe. 

Need to clean a weed pipe? Follow the steps below for two tried and true cleaning methods.

The Slow and Comprehensive Method (Recommended)

This is by far the most popular method for cleaning a pipe. Developed by old-school smokers back in the day, the technique leverages two ingredients available in most homes: Isopropyl Alcohol and salt. 

It works like a dream on even stubbornly resinous pipes but be warned: it requires a waiting period. Here’s how to pull it off.

Step One: Gather Supplies

For best results, you’ll need the following supplies: 

  • Isopropyl alcohol with an alcohol content of 90% or higher (the 70% stuff doesn’t yield the same results). Most people have a bottle of the stuff somewhere in the back of their cabinets. 
  • Salt, preferably coarse—its job is to act as an abrasive, so reach for options like Kosher salt, sea salt, or Epsom salt.
  • A clean zip-top bag and optional bowl in case of leakage
  • And a pipe cleaner for detailing

Some people swap the alcohol for hydrogen peroxide or vinegar, but alcohol works best and doesn’t smell quite so strong.

Step Two: Submerge, Salt and Shake

Clean the bowl of your pipe as thoroughly as you can muster using a rag, Q-tip, or wetted pipe cleaner. Next, pop the pipe in a zip-top bag and pour enough isopropyl alcohol to cover it. Add a teaspoon of salt. 

As mentioned, the salt acts as an abrasive for the built-up materials. However, the only way to make those abrasions happen is to agitate the bag. Be vigorous. Get out all your pent-up fury and energy, shaking that bag as ferociously as possible!

Step Three: Play the Waiting Game/Consider Other Smoking Methods

Time to wait. 

For best results, leave the pipe soaking for 24 hours, during which time you can contemplate other ways to level up your cannabis game. Pop a new Boveda hydration pack for weed in your stash bag to keep things fresh. Read up on the harmful effects of mold on cannabis, and how to prevent it. And finally, with your trusty pipe temporarily deposed, consider other smoking methods for the next day or so. Dust off the rolling papers, break out the vape, or get in touch with your DIY side and make a bong from household items

Step Four: Rinse, Scrub and Detail

After 24 hours elapse, remove the pipe and rinse it thoroughly. If any residue remains, it should easily come off with some scrubbing. Gently work at the stains with a pipe cleaner until the whole thing looks as good as new. 

Open hand showing two clean glass marijuana pipes.

The Fast Method (Smelly, Inefficient, but Gets the Job Done)

Maybe you don’t have isopropyl alcohol handy, or perhaps you don’t have 24 hours to wait. There’s a quicker way to clean up, and it’s particularly advantageous for ceramic or metal pipes. 

It’s not the prettiest method, but here’s how to clean a weed pipe with hot water

Step One: Boil Enough Water

Boil a fair amount of water—at least two quarts for a standard-sized saucepan or four quarts for a larger stock pot. You’ll be boiling this for roughly half an hour, and you don’t want the water to evaporate to the point that your pipe becomes exposed. Kick the heat down to medium or medium-low. 

Step Two: Submerge Your Pipe Carefully

Delicately submerge your pipe. You don’t want the agitation of the bubbles to knock your pipe against the bottom of the pot (which can crack a glass or ceramic pipe), so take this step slowly. If you have a wire basket that can act as a buffer, here’s the time to use it. You might also consider wrapping the pipe in a tea towel to keep it safe. 

Step Three: Open All the Windows

Cleaning a weed pipe this way is a smelly process, even with a closed lid. All of the unwanted aromatic compounds locked in that ashy resin are going to escape. Even in a well-ventilated area, it’s going to be indiscreet. The best you can do is open as many windows as possible. In the meantime, take your mind off the creosote and ash smells by reading up on fresh cannabis. Check out this article on how to revive dry weed with Boveda’s 2-way humidity control packs.

Step Four: Remove, Scrub and Detail

After 30 minutes elapse, gently remove the pipe with a pair of tongs and set it somewhere relatively warm—next to the stove, for instance. You don’t want to “shock” a ceramic or glass pipe by introducing it to a cold environment immediately. If you have the windows open in cold weather, consider keeping the pipe away. 

Lastly, detail the pipe with a gentle pipe cleaner, scrubbing away any stubborn stains. 

There are other ways to clean a pipe—denture tablets, baking soda/vinegar, Simple Green, Dedicated weed pipe cleaner, etc.—but the two methods above are by far the simplest and most common.