Using a glass or ceramic bong can be a healthy way to smoke cannabis. The filtration of the water can take out the harshness people often experience when smoking. Water filtration also cools down smoke before it reaches your lungs, thus enabling a larger, Cheech and Chong-like hit.

‘A Hookah Smoking Caterpillar’

The bong is a compact knockoff version of a hookah, sans the hose or hoses. Using a hose was a way to cool tobacco smoke in many southern Asian and Middle Eastern countries. The concept of hookah originates along the border of India and Pakistan during the sixteenth century. Linguistically, the modern word can be traced from the word “huqqa” in Hindi-Urdu, which was the original term used for the first smoking apparatus.

Though different names were used, similar smoking instruments can be found throughout the history of other South Asian and Middle Eastern cultures. In Arabic, it was called an argileh, and in Persian it was named a shisha. Examinations of shisha history and hookah origins demonstrate how widespread the tradition of hookah was as a cultural ritual and pastime in the India-Pakistan and the Persian regions.

Hookahs are first accounted for in Western tradition when Roman Catholic missionaries arrived in southern India to convert the native of India to Catholicism during the mid- 1500s. The missionaries are said to have brought tobacco with them and introduced it to Akbar the Great, the Mughal emperor of the region. The first substances smoked are unknown, but probably got you high.

Whoever was the first to convert the concept of a bong for cannabis was a genius. The hookah was transformed into a glass upright cylinder with a reservoir bottom that not only looks good but can lead to a healthier cannabis lifestyle. Many people spend big bucks on a big bong to impress their friends. Big or small, the true intention of the bong is to get a lot of use and arguably a better high.

What happens when the bong gets full of unwanted resin? Most people have no use for that excess and are left with two choices: they can either throw the bong away and buy a new one; or clean it and make it look almost as good as new.

While there are often commercial cleaners that may or may not work sufficiently, there are some household remedies that are just as effective or more than spending big money. These are not costly items, but rather simple goods you may already have around the house.

To submerge or not submerge

The hardest part of a bong cleaning episode is submerging it. In order for you to get a top-to-bottom clean-out, there must be a submersion of the bong. Be careful — nothing worse than smelly bong water on your rug. Using a small sink or oftentimes even a plastic bag can be effective in turning your bong back into a new bong. If the bong is small but mighty, use a sealable plastic bag, but keep it in the sink just in case a leak or accident occurs. A bong in a bag can also be shaken to help expedite the process.

Another method is to find a creative way to plug the entrance for the bowl as well as the top of the bong. That can be messy unless you find plugs that fit, but that would entail another store purchase.

The items you may have around that can be effective include Isopropyl alcohol, preferably 99% if you can find it, along with vinegar, coarse salt or Epsom salt, dish soap, a small, stiff-bristle brush and patience.

Starting with alcohol will help loosen up all the gunk. This can take some time, depending on how much use your bong has seen. You have to give it time to work, so plan ahead for when you’re not using it and roll a change-of-pace joint.

There are many ways to combine coarse salt, Epson salt, vinegar and dish soap. Often, Dawn is used as the most effective soap. Once the alcohol has loosened up all the nasty stuff, you can add sea salt into the base and swirl it around to knock off all the particles. For the real nasty cleanups, a coat hanger is often used and bent inside the bong to scrape off big clumps of resin. The salt will come in after and take off a layer or two, followed by dish soap. A brush can be used for the open top of the bong as well as the bowl opening. Even an old toothbrush will work here. Vinegar is used to clean off all of the remaining residue.

After you feel that the residue has been removed to your satisfaction, fill up the reservoir, add back the bong’s glass tube (soaked in alcohol as well) or the bowl stopper.

Then it’s time to party on.