If you want to cause the person next to you at the vape shop to lose their lunch just mention that you like drinking old bong water. You know, bong water: that fetid pool of bacteria, mold, and who knows what else that collects over the weeks and months in the chamber of a dirty bong. Bong water seems like a holdover from the medieval period. But even members of the Mughal Empire hundreds of years ago understood the need to keep their water pipes clean and so should we, being so modern and enlightened and all. So in the interest of public health, those of us at the Smoking Buddha vape shop in Parker are going to take a close look at why and how you should clean your bong on a regular basis.

The Importance of Keeping a Clean Bong

The bong exists for one simple reason: to filter impurities and contaminants from your cannabis smoke so that you can better enjoy the benefits of your herb. The water is how all the tar, bacteria, and chemicals in marijuana smoke are prevented from reaching your lungs, and that’s a good thing. However, when all those contaminants, especially the organic kind, are left to fester in the bong chamber for days or weeks at a time your water filter turns into a biology experiment and becomes a clear and present danger to your health.

We get all kinds of people in our Parker smoke shop who have questions about how often they should clean their bongs. And we’re always happy to answer them. We’ve even encountered some well-meaning folks who harbor the assumption that because the bong is glass bacteria, mold, and other malicious microbes won’t be able to gain a foothold on it or in it. Sadly, this is not the case. Bacteria are able to attach themselves to virtually any surface, including glass. Add water to the mix and you’re asking to be visited by the god of biofilm.


Biofilm. The word itself has unsettling connotations. Biofilm is that slimy substance you can see clinging to the sides of a dirty bong chamber, floating greasily on the surface of the bong water, or nestled comfortably onto the bottom of the water chamber. What is biofilm? It’s a type of mold and it loves stagnant pools of water like that found in a bong that hasn’t been cleaned in weeks or months.

Biofilm is every bit as nasty as it sounds and is capable of releasing spores into the water chamber that are then inhaled by the unsuspecting stoner. Should this happen our intrepid cannabis connoisseur runs the risk of developing respiratory illnesses, skin rashes, and serious infections that may include histoplasmosis.

But biofilm isn’t the only organic intruder lurking in a dirty bong chamber. Algae also thrives in the warm, wet, closed environment of the dirty bong. And just as no one with their head screwed on firmly wants to swim in a pool full of algae, so too no reasonably self-aware individual should want to pull smoke into their lungs that is laden with algae spores. Why? Because doing so can lead to the aforementioned respiratory distress while also producing a sore throat, nausea, vomiting, and other very unpleasant health problems.

Signs Your Bong Needs Cleaning

Because a dirty bong has the potential to produce such a wide variety of health problems, some of them quite serious, it’s vital that you keep an eye on your bong and learn to identify the signs that it needs to be cleaned. Those signs include:

  • Funky smelling water
  • Black specs on the inside of the glass
  • A slimy film in the water chamber
  • Things floating in the water

If you notice any of the above in your go-to glass bong, you should take it out of commission immediately and set to cleaning it. Here’s how you do that:

  • Remove the bowl and the downstem.
  • Place them into separate ziplock bags.
  • Add isopropyl alcohol and salt to each bag.
  • Shake the bag gently for 30 seconds to a minute, then set aside.
  • Remove the skanky bong water by pouring it into the sink.
  • Add the same alcohol and salt mix to the bong chamber.
  • Cover the mouthpiece and carb.
  • Shake the bong vigorously.
  • When the bong appears clean, pour out the alcohol mix.
  • Rinse the bong thoroughly with water.
  • Let it air dry.
  • Remove the bowl and downstem from their bags.
  • Rinse them thoroughly and allow them to air dry.
  • When everything is dry reassemble the bong.

The most important thing is to make sure the various components are clean before putting the bong back together. That means repeating the above steps if necessary. Your lungs will thank you for your diligence.

Stop by the Smoking Buddha Smoke Shop

If you want to enjoy the many and diverse benefits of the contemporary bong it’s vital that you engage in regular maintenance. That means one thing: keeping it clean. Of course, the best way to prevent algae and biofilm from taking up residence in your bong in the first place is to change the water every time you use it. That’s right. Every time. By doing so you’ll avoid having to engage in the above-detailed cleaning process because mold and bacteria won’t ever have a chance to move in.

Bongs remain the best way to enjoy weed but like every other device, you need to take care of them. Stop by our Parker vape shop and check out our extensive line of custom bongs.