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How to Properly Clean Your One-Hitter

Whether you’re a fancy stoner or the kind who smokes carpet kush, we have a cleaning method for you

Finally, the time hath come: After wandering the astral plane for many weeks, adrift in an opaque cloud of dank marijuana smoke, you temporarily suspended your celestial voyage to bathe your vehicle: your means of penetrating the Golden Gates of Stonerdom, your humble but faithful one-hitter. Such frequent pilgrimages to the High Zone have left quite the mess, though, and you, my dear traveler, may require a helping hand. Thus, I invite you to come along as we examine several powerful methods of cleaning a one-hitter, so that you can be on your nebulous way once more.

Clean Your Weed One-Hitter: The Deluxe Method

If you have the money, you may choose to purchase any number of products, such as the popular Formula 420, made specifically for pipe cleaning, which appear to work quickly and without much effort. Formula 420 in particular claims to be non-toxic and has plenty of positive reviews online. However, the ingredients in their products are nowhere to be found, leaving some to speculate that Formula 420 could simply be glorified rubbing alcohol mixed with kosher salt (other products commonly used for pipe cleaning), both of which you could find for cheaper at your nearest drugstore.

If you still decide to go this route, though, you may also want to consider snagging some cleaning caps, which hold the product inside your pipe, where most of the cleaning takes place, and small detailing brushes (or pipe cleaners) to wipe out any stubborn interior gunk.

The Commoner Method

As I hinted at, soaking your pipe in a mixture of high-percentage rubbing alcohol and kosher salt is one of the most common methods of cleaning. As MIT postdoctoral fellow Michael Pegis explains, the molecules in the weed resin gunking up your one-hitter are essentially organic hydrocarbons, which are hydrophobic, meaning they repel or fail to mix with water — hence why running your pipe under water does virtually nothing in terms of cleaning. But he says rubbing alcohol and other “liquids that are organic in nature have more similar structural properties to those molecules in the resin,” which allows them to come between the surface of the pipe and the resin, contributing to an easy removal. The salt, meanwhile, simply serves as a coarse material to help rub off the resin.

I generally find that placing my one-hitter in a mason jar with rubbing alcohol and kosher salt, then leaving it to soak overnight does the trick, but you may also need to use some Q-Tips (the cheaper, more readily available alternative to pipe cleaners) to remove any pesky gunk inside the pipe. Pegis adds, though, that volatile solvents like rubbing alcohol should always be handled in a well-ventilated area; that you should avoid sparking any fires nearby (rubbing alcohol is highly flammable); and that you should clean your pipe thoroughly with soapy water afterward to rinse away any residual alcohol.

The Cheap-Ass Method

If nothing else, you can always place your pipe in boiling water for 20 minutes or so, which should at least help somewhat. Pegis explains that the consistent heat simply encourages the resin to become more fluid, which can result in it clumping together and dislodging itself from the pipe. He adds, however, that you should consider placing your pipe in a strainer or something that suspends it in the boiling water, as opposed to having it touching the bottom of the pot, which could result in uneven heat distribution and therefore cracking. I should mention, though, that I’ve tried this method with, eh, mixed results.

One thing of note if you have a wood pipe: While many people successfully use both the boiling and rubbing alcohol methods on their wooden pipes, use caution and be more delicate, because wood is a lot more porous and can be easily damaged.

Now venture forth, my friend. You have much ethereal exploring (and Dorito eating) to do.