New Year’s resolutions aren’t just about changing specific habits or behaviors. They’re also about refining our daily routines and making healthier, more efficient versions of ourselves. For 2022, we committed to skipping all the new diets and workout trends and starting with a simple, plant-based solution – greeting each day with fresh water.
We’ve all been guilty of passing to the left, only to realize it’s been a week since you last changed the water. This smoke-first-ask-questions-later mentality may not seem like an important issue until you stop and think about your rig like that favorite cup you love.
In an article, Jason Tetro, author of The Germ Files, compared the inside of your smoking device to one of those shaker bottles you find in the gym. “…any vessel where there’s going to be potential for backwash, whether it be a bottle or a bong, the liquid inside is going to be inoculated with bacteria from your mouth.”
Would we rather get 2022 started by working on that beach bod? Sure. But the truth is, there can be some scary stuff floating around in there… and we can’t stop late-night snacking spicy CBD shrimp chips.
- E. coli – a mainly harmless bacteria, not removed by most mass-market filters.
- Aspergillus – a fungus that can grow on cannabis plants.
- Flavobacterium – a bacteria found in household products that hold stagnant water.
- Staphylococcus aureus – a bacteria commonly found on the skin.
So while you can use filtered water in your rig, there are still things that an off-the-shelf water purifier doesn’t remove. It’s most important to remember water left standing in a container that isn’t regularly cleaned and sanitzied, opens up the door to bigger problems.
WHAT'S A BIOFILM?
A biofilm happens when different bacteria build up and organize into a network that can communicate with each other. Have you ever seen that pinkish slime that builds up in your shower? Well, that’s a type of biofilm, and the very same thing could be lurking on the surface of your water.
Stagnant tap water, combined with leftover resins and plant matter inside glass or plastic, provides an ideal environment for bacteria to reproduce safely underneath a kind of collective force field. Able to form in as little as 24 hours, biofilms result from microbes excreting substances that allow them to latch onto surfaces and let things like E. coli, Acinetobacter, or Streptococcus thrive.
If you’ve ever shaken your rig and thought the water looks a little thick, you’re probably looking at a biofilm. Interestingly enough, though biofilm grows well on leftover cannabis material, recent studies point to compounds like CBG and CBD as potential anti-biofilm agents. This means the filthy water in your bong might someday hold the key to unlocking powerful new antimicrobial agents.
HOW TO KEEP YOUR RIG SAFE
Until we unlock all the secrets cannabinoids hold, thorough cleanings are the only safe bet. Without leftover plant matter or resins to cling to and with a sanitized surface, the chances of a biofilm developing are slim.
Start with an overnight soak in an alcohol bath for more challenging jobs. Then use a mix of salt and 91% isopropyl to break down any built-up material on the bottom and sides. The higher concentration of alcohol works much faster at removing residues.
We also recommend getting a set of silicon plugs that can stop up the mouthpiece, downstem, and any carb holes. That way, you can give it a good shake to get the hard-to-reach spots without ruining your clothes.
After you’ve gotten things clean, give another rinse and wipe everything down with at least 70% alcohol. Even though the ratio of alcohol to water is lower, this better sanitizes surfaces by using its higher water concentration to dissolve bacteria’s cell walls.
FIELD pro tip: the critical final step is to let it dry all the way. Otherwise, when you add the water back in, it will form hydrogen bonds with the alcohol and combine into a weird, milky liquid. With regular water changes, you should only need to do this once a week, depending on how much you use your rig, but there’s another reason for having a clean reservoir, and that’s to enjoy the harvest properly.
FRESH RIGS MEAN BETTER HITS
Smoking from a clean rig enhances the smoking experience for yourself and others. Think of the rig as a canvas and the dabs, paint. Starting with a blank surface, you get to see all the shades of gold as it spreads out along the brushstroke.
There’s a lot of skill needed to take a snapshot of a cannabis plant, then transfer all those delicate smells and tastes inside a tiny jar. A clean rig gives your cannabis product a chance to develop all the subtle flavors the grower and the plant spent so much time cultivating.
Plus, when packing a hit for someone, it’s bad manners to serve your guest something you know is going to taste like swamp water. As Harrison Baum, the founder of Daily High Club, said, “don’t be that person who pulls out the dirty bong…If you had mold in your house, you’d probably freak out, so why would it be acceptable to inhale it?”