This has never been my favorite method of cleaning a hookah hose but it’s definitely effective. While most flavors will wash away with a few rinses of clean, warm water it’s sometimes necessary to take things up a notch when strong ghosts refuse to vacate. Think of this like calling the exterminator when the ant traps just aren’t cutting it.
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What you’ll need: Baking soda (not baking powder) White vinegar A funnel that will fit in your hose Optional eye protection Easily washed clothing or a lack thereof I suggest setting up shop in a bathtub or outside as this will get messy. Make sure that the hose and funnel are completely dry for this first step. If your hose has a removable mouth piece take it out and clean that separately. Insert the funnel into the end of your hose and pour in a little baking soda. If you pour to much at one time it won’t get through the funnel, so go slow. You don’t need a lot. Maybe a teaspoon or so.
Now remove the funnel, cover the ends of the hose with your thumbs and swish it back and forth to help the baking soda reach the entire interior surface. This is why you want things dry. If it’s wet the baking soda will just clump up and won’t move freely. Baking soda alone is great at absorbing of flavors and scents, so I usually let this sit for a while before moving onto the next step. A few minutes for light ghosting and as long as a few hours for a full on haunting. Below you can see the Palace hose withe the interior coated in baking soda and showing off how badly it really needs to be cleaned.
Now we return to the funnel for the big event. I like to hold both ends together and near the drain as you see here because a violent chemical reaction is about to occur and most washable hoses are only washable on the inside. Try to not get the exterior wet or you may see some color bleeding, staining or structural weakening on flimsier hoses. Insert the funnel once again and pour a small amount of vinegar into the hose. You should only need a few table spoons and you’ll immediately start hearing a hissing sound. This is the reaction between the vinegar and baking soda that produces CO2 gas bubbles and acts like a scrubbing action where brushes can’t reach. Check out the bubbles below. Science!
I now take the hose and slosh it back and forth to help the vinegar reach every little nook and cranny, adding more as the hissing fades to keep the reaction going. Most of us have childhood memories of building baking soda volcanoes for science class. This is not very different except the smaller opening of the hose will cause the foam to come out with a bit more speed than it did in your science fair project. That’s why we go slowly and add small amounts at a time. The cleaning action comes from the reaction staying inside the hose and not from the jet of foam I’ve seen some people shoot for when using this method. If it foams over then you’re using too much and wasting the cleaning reaction down the drain.
When the hissing starts to fade off entirely it’s time to dump the solution down the drain and rinse with lukewarm water. Don’t use hot water as it can loosen the glue holding your hose together. I usually rinse it three or for times with fresh water each time and then draw through it to check the flavor. It should taste clean with little to no residual flavor from the vinegar and baking soda. Once you’re satisfied just blow through it to removes excess water and hang it up to dry.
It’s as simple as that. Go forth and enjoy your first truly clean tasting session in a long time.