The beauty of a well made glass bowl is something to behold, but it doesn’t last forever as gunk builds up inside these little pieces of art. It doesn’t affect the flavor and you don’t have to clean off this gunk anymore than will be accomplished with a quick rinse and a light scrub. Why have a glass bowl if it’s not going to be beautiful? Time to clean that little gem and make it gleam.
I’ll start with the best method I’ve found and then go over some alternatives that are also helpful if a bit more labor intensive and less spectacular.
The OxiClean Method
This method is surprisingly simple and I wish I’d tried it years ago. The following are some before pictures. Those with weak hearts may want to look away.
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Take a pot, fill it with enough water to submerge the head of the bowl, and turn your burner on. You want the glass and water to slowly come up to boiling temperature. Don’t drop a cold bowl in boiling water. Even the best glass could crack from stress and there is no reason to run that risk.
Now take a tablespoon of OxiClean or some similar alternative and pour it down the stem of the bowl.
Now wait. It won’t take very long before the water turns a brown, dirty color and all of the bubbles or foam has gone away. Turn your burner off and let the whole thing cool down. When you pull your bowl out it will be just about spotless. My Crown Classic Mini had years of gunk built up before I tried this method and it took off all but the tiniest amount of char just inside the holes. Had I been using this method from the start that wouldn’t be a problem. My Lust Hookah bowl from my Halo XL came out absolutely perfect.
There will be a layer of OxiClean on your bowls, so clean everything with dish soap and rinse well. The newest version of OxiClean has a lot of fragrance, foaming agents and fillers in the recipe and you want to make sure that’s all going down the drain.
Let’s see the results. Remember that I’ve been very rough on my Crown Classic Mini and it is scratched to hell after years of heavy use.
The Solvent/Abrasive Method
Getting the outside clean is pretty easy. Hot water and Barkeeper’s Friend will get the outside shining in short order. Barkeeper’s Friend is an acid cleaner with no abrasive qualities, so it’s great for glass. Make sure that you don’t use high abrasives. If you do, you’ll scratch and dull your bowl. That’s why there are cleaners made specifically for glass. If you don’t want to shell out that kind of money, salt will do the trick. It’s abrasive while being fairly soft.
The inside is another story entirely because most glass bowls like those from Crown Hookah are a kind of double walled design. Even those like the Lust Hookah bowl can be hard to clean on the inside because of small openings and curvy interiors. Getting into those spaces where gunk builds up takes some serious effort. You can use specialized cleaners that are designed for glass pipes and some of them seem to be quite good while others are just household products with jacked up prices and drug associated branding. If you’ like to take this route, just follow the instructions on the bottle and make sure to rinse it well with water. My major problem with these products is that they tend to be way over priced as well as heavily scented and that sticks to the bowl for a while.
I’ve usually had good success with just alcohol and salt. Put the bowl in a plastic bag with a seal, cover it half with with isopropyl alcohol and then dump in a few table spoons of table salt. Seal it up and shake the hell out of it. I suggest gripping the bowl through the bag and keeping a hand on the seal to prevent drops and spills. The iso acts as a solvent while the salt is an abrasive. It’s far from perfect, but this will help clean out the majority of the junk. Thick and puffy pipe cleaners will help reach harder spots. Don’t try to reach these spots with anything rigid or you might crack the glass and hurt yourself.