How to Clean a One Hitter

Cleaning your one-hitter makes sure every hit is flavorful and keeps your pipe safe to use, and luckily the cleaning process is really straightforward. Here’s what to do.

Using a one-hitter cannabis pipe
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A one hitter is a type of cannabis pipe intended for just one hit, as the name suggests. They’re usually a simple tube shape (resembling a hollow, metal cigarette for example), but there are also dugouts, which contain a chamber for storing some ground weed and one for the one hitter itself. If you’ve been using your one-hitter for a while, you might notice some build-up of gunk around the inside. While it’s less dangerous than the water film in a bong or dab rig, a dirty one-hitter can still be a breeding-ground for bacteria, and keeping it clean is crucial for smoking safely. So here’s how to do it.

What You Need

The main method people use to clean one-hitters is the familiar isopropyl alcohol and salt method, which is also used for bongs and dab rigs. For this approach, you’ll just need a few things.

  • Ziplock bag or resealable container: This just has to be big enough to fit your one-hitter in, and sealable so you can shake up the mixture.
  • Isopropyl alcohol: A.k.a. “rubbing alcohol.” You can use strong drinking alcohol too, but this is cheaper and just as effective.
  • Coarse salt: Sea salt, Epsom salt or anything big and coarse will get the job done
  • Water: This can just come straight from the faucet but should be warm or hot
  • Pipe cleaners (optional): This is technically optional but really helps you get into the difficult places.

If you don’t want to use alcohol and salt, there are some alternatives, and you’ll need to gather different things if you want to use another approach:

  • Vinegar and salt or baking soda: This approach basically works like the previous one, except you use white vinegar in place of alcohol and salt (ideally) or baking soda (still effective) to produce the abrasion you need.
  • Pot or saucepan, water, metal tongs and bobby pins, q-tips or paperclips: This approach only works for metal one-hitters, and basically involves boiling the one hitter in water to clean, then finishing off with the bobby pins/paperclips.

How to Clean a One Hitter (5 Steps)

Time needed: 10 minutes.

  1. Take Your Pipe Apart and Add to the Bag

    First, deconstruct your one hitter (if it has multiple pieces) and add it to the zip-lock bag or sealable container. Since one-hitters are quite small, you won’t need a particularly big container to have the solution completely submerge the pipe.

  2. Submerge the One Hitter in Alcohol

    Cover the one-hitter with isopropyl alcohol. This forms the bulk of the cleaning solution, so it’s important to ensure that your pipe is well covered. You can also optionally add two ounces of hot water at this stage, but many sources don’t include this part.

  3. Add a Tablespoon of Coarse Salt

    The salt is responsible for the physical cleaning in this method, so you’ll need to add a tablespoon of coarse salt to the mixture next. Give it a little swirl to mix, but don’t worry so much because the next step will take care of this too.

  4. Shake it Up and Wait

    Close up your container or zip up the bag, then give it a thorough shake for 10 seconds or so. This gets the salt all the way through your one-hitter, which is important because most of the gunk will be on the inside. Once you’ve shaken up the mixture, leave it to sit somewhere and soak. Ideally, you can wait three hours or even overnight, but as long as possible will probably be enough. The minimum effective soak time is about half an hour – if it’s been a while since your last clean or it looks really dirty, longer is better.

  5. Rinse and Scrub

    Once you’ve left the mixture to sit for a while, you can drain it out and examine your one-hitter. Rinse the one-hitter under warm water to clean all the isopropyl alcohol out. It’s really important that you do this thoroughly, because you don’t want to be inhaling alcohol fumes when you take a hit. Some sources recommend rinsing it out 10 times to be extra sure.

    At this point you can also use a pipe cleaner (or a paperclip, bobby pin, q-tip or similar) to get to any stubborn build-up that wasn’t already removed. After the soak, it should at least be very loose and much easier to remove. Once you’ve done this, you can rinse again and leave it to completely dry.


How to Clean a One Hitter Without Alcohol

The simplest approach to cleaning a one-hitter without alcohol is basically using the same approach as above except with vinegar in place of the alcohol. This works essentially for the same reason, and you can use salt or baking soda to provide some abrasion. Salt is better but both work. Then you can simply go through the method above except with these substitutions.

How to Clean a Metal One-Hitter

If you want to clean a metal one-hitter, you can get a pretty good result by simply boiling your one-hitter in a pan of water. Make sure your pipe is disassembled (if needed) and the pieces are completely submerged in water, and then bring it to a boil. When it starts boiling, you can remove it from the heat and let it cool. Use some metal tongs to swish the pipe around and dislodge any debris. When it’s cooled enough to remove, you can get at any final bits with Q-tips, pipe cleaners, bobby pins, paperclips or anything similar.

Then give it a final rinse, let it dry and you’re ready to go.

Conclusion

Man smoking a one-hitter pipe outside
Photo: The Dart Company

Cleaning a one-hitter pipe is a very similar – but less awkward – process to cleaning a bong or dab rig, and really most cannabis accessories. Although the risk of a dirty one-hitter is less than that of a dirty bong, you’ll still get a better smoke and purer flavor if you keep on top of cleaning. Getting hold of some isopropyl alcohol really helps, but if you can’t – even if you can’t get one of the alternatives – it’s still worth trying to clean, even just with warm water and dish soap is better than nothing. Then you can just focus on enjoying your next hit.

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