How To Clean A Silicone Pipe or Bong

Although cannabis consumption in general has boomed as a result of its incredible benefits and changing laws, silicone equipment in particular has risen in popularity at an incredible rate. There are many reasons for silicone smoking rigs popularity, perhaps most notably because silicone is 100% shatter-proof. As many smokers have dropped their favorite equipment at least once, it makes sense that “unbreakable” materials would thrive.

Not only is silicone simpler than other materials, it’s also super easy for producers to manufacture it.  Since these pieces are so easy to mass-produce, some silicone products are designed to be cross-compatible across the brand. This, in turn, benefits the consumer, because they can then custom-design their own ultimate smoking experience.

In addition to being practically unbreakable and widely available, silicone is incredibly easy to clean, provided you properly maintain your equipment. Regular cleaning and care does affect how easy the piece is to clean in the future. Here are five ways to clean your silicone smoking equipment.

Method #1: Freezing

While glass and metal can be temperamental about freezing temperatures, silicone isn’t. This means you can pop your equipment in the freezer without worrying about when you need to take it out. For best results, it should sit in the freezer for at least a few hours. Since the silicone is already at a solid state, it will remain flexible after it’s chilled.

Once your equipment is nice and chilled, you’ll want to take it out of the freezer so you can play with it. No, really! Since silicone stays flexible, you can bend and squeeze your device in order to push out all that gunky goodness. Since there are no chemicals involved, you can even save the resin and use it later, if you choose.

Unfortunately, the freezer method will not do anything to fix unpleasant odors soaking into your equipment — which, of course, is the biggest downside to silicone smoking equipment in the first place. However, with regular cleaning, you may be able to prevent the worst of the smells from developing in the first place.

Method #2: Alcohol and Salt

The alcohol-and-salt method is one of the most popular ways to clean any smoking equipment — and for good reason. Nearly everyone has easy access to alcohol, although it has been hard to find during Covid panic buying waves, and table salt. It’s fairly effective and doesn’t take a lot of elbow grease. It’s helpful to choose an alcohol that contains at least 70% alcohol by volume (140-proof in the United States, or 123-proof in the United Kingdom); lower concentrations may still work, but the process will take longer and may require scrubbing.

Many people choose cheap spirits or isopropyl alcohol as these are often the most widely available. Submerge each piece of your equipment in the alcohol and let it soak. Using warm alcohol may help to speed up the process. If you are soaking in a well-sealed container, you can add a generous amount of plain table salt and shake the container periodically. The salt crystals act like little scrubbers to get all the gunk out of the hard-to-reach places.

After cleaning your equipment with alcohol and salt, it’s essential that you thoroughly rinse and dry the equipment before using it. Not only will the alcohol affect the taste and smell of the cannabis products you consume, but it could also be dangerous. Alcohol is highly flammable in high concentrations, and inhaling the burnt fumes can be toxic.

Method #3: Dishwasher

If you’ve never thought about tossing your silicone equipment in the dishwasher, maybe it’s time to start. Silicone is entirely dishwasher safe, and many attachments and accessories are also dishwasher safe.

To clean your equipment in the dishwasher, simply pull all the pieces apart and put them in your dishwasher. Then run the dishwasher. It really is that simple. Of course, simplest doesn’t always mean best, but if you really need to clean up your bong or pipe and only have an hour or so to do it, the dishwasher may be just the solution you need.

There are downsides with dishwasher-cleaning your equipment, too, although not necessarily a deal-breaker: The dishwasher will not effectively remove hard-to-reach resin or clogs. Additionally, the more complicated the design, the less water will be able to flow through it in the dishwasher. And, of course, the biggest downside to cleaning your equipment in the dishwasher: it could get nasty resin and gunk all over your dishes! Consider this carefully before choosing this method.

Method #4: Silicone Cleaning Solution

Finally, for those who want a pre-packaged product with specific instructions, a variety of silicone cleaning solutions are on the market. These solutions are formulated to remove cannabis residues from silicone and plastic products. They are often the quickest cleaning method, although they may require a special shopping trip to find.

If at all possible, purchase a silicone cleaning solution from a company that specializes in cannabis equipment cleaning, such as Formula 420 or Eyce. These are recommended because they are designed to be non-toxic, easy to use, and effective against resin and reclaim. If you must use a cleaner that isn’t designed for cannabis equipment, take extra care when rinsing the residue.

Making a special shopping trip just to get silicone cleaning solution may not be ideal for those who live in rural areas, as it may be harder to find them in local stores. Additionally, those who aren’t ready to drop a chunk of change on something that’s only good for one thing might want to try one of the other methods, as they may be cheaper. However, if you need quick, simple, and efficient (and don’t mind spending a little extra), silicone cleaners are the way to go.

Which method is the best? That’s not so simple to answer. Different cannabis consumers have different priorities when it comes to their cleaning methods. Freezing is the most mess-free method, but not the easiest or the fastest. The dishwasher is the simplest method, but not the most thorough. Chemical cleaners (as well as alcohol solutions) are generally the most effective methods, although they require planning ahead of time. The method you use is entirely personal — try them all and decide for yourself.