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How to Get Reclaim Out of a Bong

How to Get Reclaim Out of a Bong

There's nothing worse than seeing your bong marred by layers of resin - that black gunk is a big killjoy. This sticky buildup is found inside dab rigs/bongs, making them smell gross and hurting the overall smoking experience.

However, the good news is, you can clean your bong and return it to its former glory with only a few steps. Also, while doing so, you'll also get some reusable wax as well that you can smoke later.

The Steps Involved in Getting Reclaim Out of a Bong

If you don't know what reclaim is, here's a brief description to get you in the loop: reclaim is the dark gummy substance that builds up in the bong over time.

Most people mistake reclaim for concentrates. But, if you look closer, you'll notice that instead of the amber color that concentrates usually have, this particular residue has a much darker brown, orange, or yellow tone.

Now, let's get right on to business and talk about how to get the dirt and smell off your precious bongs. Here are the steps involved in getting reclaim out of a bong:

Gather Your Materials

A bong's original glory can be restored only if the cleaning supplies, their quality, and techniques are chosen carefully. All of these can impact the effectiveness of your bong cleaning. Here are some of the essentials you can't exclude from the list of supplies:

  • Isopropyl alcohol or grain alcohol
  • Coarse salt
  • Pipe cleaners or cotton swabs
  • Plastic bags
  • Zip ties
  • Warm water

Aside from these essentials, you can throw in these side basics to the mix too:

  • White vinegar for heavy stains
  • Old toothbrushes - for stubborn stains
  • Commercial cleaning solutions for quick cleaning

Empty the Bong

There's likely to be old water in your bong whether it's a glass or a water bong. When emptying a bong, you must employ utmost caution so you don't risk breakage or spillage.

Do not pour out the old water into the drain. It's quite sticky and it can cause clogging. It's ideal to dispose of it in the trash, although most people just pour it outside. Also, bong water contains an unhealthy amount of germs and bacteria. So, you must make sure that none of the water gets on your plants.

Disassemble the Bong

The dismantling process for glass and water bongs differs slightly. However, in both cases, you need to handle the components with care. They may not be fragile but they are prone to surface damage and corrosion if mishandled.

Now, let's talk about the dismantling process for both water and glass bongs.

Water bongs

The dismantling process for water bongs is quite straightforward.

  • First, remove the bowl or slide from the downstem to gain access to the bong's insides.
  • Carefully remove the additional components (e.g. percolators). Do not use force else they might shatter in your hands.

Glass bongs

With glass, you have to be extra careful.

  • Start by carefully removing the bowl or slide.
  • Then, gently and slowly extract the downstem from the bong's body.

Soak in Isopropyl Alcohol

Most people prefer to make a solution out of alcohol and coarse salt. Others prefer to simply soak the components in a bowl of white vinegar and rice, especially when the stains seem to be stubborn.

The chemical components of each formula are quite efficient for removing resin. However, isopropyl alcohol should always be your first choice for safety reasons.

The alcohol helps to dissolve the reclaim while the salt works to scrape the buildup.

Note: The level of alcohol solution you’ll be using depends on what you plan to do with the reclaim. If you plan to smoke the residue, then ISO alcohol is what you should use. However, if you intend to eat the reclaim (and yes, it's quite edible), consider using grain alcohol instead.

Scrape Reclaim

For the scrapping process, you'll need to fall back on the supplies you gathered at the beginning of the process.

Gather smaller components into plastic bags and fill each with the cleaning solution and shake them aggressively. This is the best way to ensure the solution reaches every part.

Alternatively, you could use a pipe cleaner or cotton swab to rub the solution all over the parts.

Your scrubbing must be gentle, yet diligent. The percolators and tight corners where reclaim tends to accumulate should have all your attention. Remember to use the toothbrush for areas with persistent stains.

Shake and Rinse

Now that you've given the components a thorough cleaning, it's time for a good rinse to wrap up the process. Use warm water to rinse each component. Rinse until you've flushed out every loosened reclaim, salt, and alcohol.

It's always best to rinse each piece individually, especially if you use any commercial cleaning product in the process. Once the water runs clear, it's a sign that the piece is completely clean. Set it aside and begin the process for the next piece.

If you do a good job with the rinsing, you'll notice that the next batch of herbs you prepare will give you the pure and unaltered herb flavor that you've missed so much.

Dry and Reassemble

After successfully removing reclaim from your bong and thoroughly rinsing all components, the final steps of drying and reassembling are essential to ensure your bong is ready for its next use.


There are two primary ways to dry out a bong. The first and most common method is air drying.

To air-dry your bong, you'll only have to place all the components on a clean, dry surface so they can get natural air. The warm, dry air will evaporate any remaining moisture from the component.

The other method involves the use of cotton swabs or pipe cleaners. This is ideal for all the intricate components and narrow passages that natural air may not be able to reach.

This method involves more time and effort, but the results make it all worth it. Insert cotton swabs or pipe cleaners into hard-to-reach areas to absorb any remaining moisture.


When all the moisture is dried from the bongs, the next step would be to gather them and fit all the components back together.

Ensure that each piece fits snugly but without forcing, as glass can be fragile. Gently tighten any connections, such as the bowl or downstem. Be careful not to tighten them too hard, or else they might break.

For water bongs, ensure that all seals, including rubber grommets and O-rings, are securely in place to prevent any air or water leaks.

Safety Precautions

Removing reclaim from bongs comes with its own set of complications. However, with a few safety precautions, you can easily complete the process with as little hassle as possible. Here are a few of these safety precautions:

  • Gentle handling is quite essential all through the process.
  • You should only use mid-cleansers for glass bongs.
  • During cleaning, inspect your bong for potential leaks.
  • Use warm water to clean and reclaim. Using excessively warm water can crack the bongs.
  • Change the water after rinsing each component.
  • Give the bong components ample time to dry out. Rushing the process can result in residual moisture which can affect your bong in the long run.


The whole bong cleaning process only takes about 15-30 minutes. Once all the dirt is out, you can go back to enjoying the best of herbs as you did before.

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