​​Is Your Rig Cleaner Than Your Cell Phone?


How about the inside of a dumpster? Even if you only smoke with close friends, you’ll be surprised at where it stacks up.


Two years ago, Moose Labs, the makers of silicone mouthpieces, did an independent study at two public consumption events. They wanted to test and see how much organic residue builds up after an afternoon of use. Using a commercial bacteria meter, they went around swabbing the smoking stations, as well as a few nearby surfaces. You can read the study or watch their video summary by clicking the link, but after averaging the scores and tallying up the numbers, here’s how the race went down.

The average score on a clean, unused rig was 8. After an afternoon of public sampling, these same rigs registered bacteria counts ranging from 5,000 to over 8,000

The average starting score on a clean, unused rig was 8. After an afternoon of public sampling, these same rigs registered bacteria counts ranging from 5,000 to over 8,000. Random stations around the event marked only for use with mouthpieces scored far lower, with a range of 200-500.

It’s important to remember that there is no one pass or fail number to use for every surface, and the amount of residue left behind after cleaning depends on many different things. However, 3M, a popular maker of these commercial meters, states that a common starting point for most facilities “is to set 150 as pass and 300 as fail.”

After the scores were averaged out, the results were pretty shocking.

  • 90% higher than the inside of a dumpster
  • 62% higher than the handle of a shopping cart
  • 92% higher than an ATM keypad
  • 49% higher than a public toilet seat
  • 530% higher than a cell phone screen

This study also revealed how little we think about cleaning a piece before using it, especially with friends. A pipe placed out next to some alcohol wipes was only used by 5% of people who passed it around for a session. While this was a few years ago, and sanitizing is much more on people’s minds today, it just goes to show how easy it is to ignore the common bacteria that builds up on shared surfaces.


Field Dabbing

After looking at the numbers, there are two easy solutions to promote a healthy dabbing experience for you and everyone: clean rigs & mouthpieces. A mouthpiece can be a quick, portable option when smoking in crowds. Moose Labs makes a number of varieties to fit every rig and even the Puffco Peak for those not lucky enough to snag one of the commemorative tips at this year’s inaugural Puffcon.

The #1 most important thing is maintaining a clean, sterilized smoking piece. Looking at this study, it’s easy to see how even keeping a strictly personal piece won’t eliminate the germs that can build up throughout a daily session. When Rolling Stone sat down and asked budtenders and education coordinators for the best way to keep your things clean, the most popular answers were three simple items.

  • Strong Rubbing Alcohol
  • Salt
  • Elbow Grease

There are a lot of products on the market, but nothing can truly take the place of patience, coarse salt, and isopropyl. As a rule of thumb, you should give your rig a good cleaning at least once a week, wipe the mouthpiece with alcohol after each hit, and change the water every day (but more on that next time). We also recommend letting your alcohol air dry for at least sixty seconds when wiping down between dabs.

At FIELD, we’re busy planning some of the most incredible cannabis events to bring together the worlds of art, fashion, music, comedy, & technology. Together, we can make sure these spaces are as safe and healthy as possible.

Matt Jackson

Matt Jackson

A writer, content creator, & event coordinator, Matt Jackson is a polymath whose been working with cannabis for almost two decades. Check out more of his work.