One of the best aspects of glass smokeware is it’s impermeability. Smoke and Vapor leave residue behind, and having a surface that does not absorb this residue means it can be cleaned and sanitized to brand new. That said, glass is not invincible, which leads to our first topic.
Pipes are crafted from Borosilicate glass, the purest glass there is. Borosilicate glass has a dense geometric molecular structure, which makes is stronger and more flexible than soda glass. But in the end, it is still glass! As such, the wrong impact at the wrong angle can be catastrophic! While you don’t want to ever bump your glass into anything, know that denser materials like stone, granite, tile, and concrete will usually shatter a piece on impact!
Always keep your eyes on your glassware when handling it, as many people break their pieces when they are holding/reaching for them but not looking at them. But beyond that, think about the environment your glassware lives in. When storing it, it should be out of reach! If you have pets or hyphy roommates, consider a high and sturdy shelf. And when your piece is out, a dedicated smoking space is your best bet, usually on a solid table near a wall. Dab Mats and Moodmats are a great accessory to cover your area with, and folks with hardwood can put a rug in their smoking area too!
When glass breaks, it's heartbreaking, but also dangerous! When borosilicate breaks, it can leave behind razor sharp pieces and bits! Make sure to clear the area of friends and pets, and carefully handle the broken glass. If there is a chance for the piece to be repaired, try to collect every piece. Make sure to thoroughly vacuum and/or mop the area after initial cleanup! Remember that while your emotions may be raw, take extra care not to injure yourself!
CASES & BAGS
While glass is pretty impermeable, it can still be heavily stained with certain chemicals and minerals. Your tap water may contain calcium and other minerals that can collect on your glass over time, and are quite difficult to remove. With that said, Spring Water can be high in minerals as well! If you want to keep your piece crystal clear, the best water to use is Vapor Distilled. This can usually be purchased from Grocery Stores or Medical Supply stores, and a gallon will be enough to fill most water pipes, dab rigs and bubblers multiple times over.
With flower pieces, most folks change their water before each sesh. Dab rigs can usually go longer between water changes, but some folks like a fresh rip every time! Residue, plant material and water can lead to bacteria forming over time, so it's best to change your water and of course clean your piece often!
CLEANING SOLUTIONS & SETUP
If you have ever tried to clean your piece with dish soap or some other random cleaning solution, you probably didn't have much luck. Smoke and dab residue really stick to glass pretty tough, and a solution to break it down is required. There are multiple Glass Cleaners in our industry, and we carry some of the best ones!
First, decide where you want to clean your glassware. Plastic Laundryroom/Garage sinks are popular because they are a little softer and roomy. Some folks clean their pieces in the shower/bathtub, but a kitchen/bathroom sink are fine too. Many cleaning solutions can be noxious, so make sure you have an open window and/or fan running!
For those who want to clean their pipes and accessories right now, Shake Cleaners combine a solution with salt-like crystals, allowing you to scrub your piece out quickly.
For those who want to clean their pipes and accessories with less effort and aren't in a rush, there are Soak Cleaners, which are especially popular for smaller glass accessories like Slides, Downstems, Carb Caps and the like!
HOW TO CLEAN GLASS
Whether you shake or soak, the first step is to run very hot water through your glassware. This will soften up the residue and knock out plant matter. It will also require less cleaner to finish the job.
If you're shaking, make sure you have an open area to shake, as you don't want smack your glassware against anything. Shake up the cleaner bottle to make a slurry of the liquid and crystals, as you need a mix of both. Smaller pieces should only need a couple ounces, while larger ones may take a percentage of the bottle.
After pouring the cleaner in, block off all of the openings of the your pipe with your hands while keep a firm grip on it. Higher Standards' Supreme Clean Kit includes a set of silicon stoppers that are great for freeing up your hands and keeping residue off them.
Shake in short motions, giving the crystals a scrubbing momentum. Rotate the pipe between shakings to make sure you hit all walls, and don't stop until all of your residue is off the glass and in the liquid.
Empty the piece and rinse it with cold water, as hot water can cause lathering of the cleaner and take much longer to fully rinse out.
Inspect the piece to make sure all residue is gone. If there is any residue left, it now has cleaner soaked into it, and you definitely don't want to smoke through that! If this is the case, add some more solution to the piece and shake it again! Some pieces may need a pipe cleaner/brush to reach certain areas. You can finish your piece off with hot water again, as it will help with any remaining cleaner.
Soak cleaners keep it simple, but can require quite a bit of liquid if you are soaking larger pieces. After the initial hot water rinse, fill your pipe with cleaner. Block off the lower openings so you can fill it high, or lay it down in tub and pour the cleaner over it. Many soaking cleaners are reusable, so you can literally just keep a soaking tub for all your glassware! Soaking can take 6-24 hours to complete.
When glassware is done soaking, it must be washed thoroughly with cold then hot water until there is no scent left.
We like to let our glassware air-dry, but if you're in a rush, at least dry off the outside so it doesn't slip out of your hand! Also make sure to dry off any ground glass joints well. Water left in them can cause accessories to water-lock and get stuck!
CALCIUM BUILD-UP AND STAINS
If your piece has hard water stains that won't come off with normal cleaner, there are other steps you can take. The least noxious and cheapest solution is to soak the piece for 24-48 hours in white vinegar. This may be enough to break down the stains. If White vinegar doesn't work, the next step would be an industrial Calcium cleaner, like CLR. Be careful with this stuff as it is quite volatile! Make sure to follow all safety warnings when using it!
Glass can also devitrify over time, primarily from heat wear, which is where the surface molecules start to degrade and microscopic pits and cracks form. This usually makes the glass look hazy, and is irreversible through cleaning. If you ever had a glass hand pipe or slide for a really long time, you may have seen this start to happen from continual exposure to the lighter flame. Using torch lighters for your rips can contribute to this faster.
This is also why it's important to be weary of heat-splash when torching a dab rig, as you don't want to expose the glass to extreme heat. Besides causing devitrification through repeated exposure, shocking glass with the heat of a torch can shock it and cause it to crack or even explode!
Handle your glass carefully and place/store it in sturdy and out-of-the-way location. Use distilled water in your piece, and change after leaving it sitting for more than a day. Clean the piece by rinsing it out with hot water and using one of our Cleaning Solutions! Always clean completely, and wash glassware out multiple times before using it again! Make sure to dry off your piece when you're done so it doesn't slip out of your hands, and dry out the ground glass joints so they don't stick!