Bongs are an amazing way to clean all the tiny, sticky particles out of your smoke. Many bongs have removable downstems which are supposed to easily slide in and out of their joint. These downstems serve the purpose of connecting your bowl to your bong. They provide a pathway for smoke to move from the bowl to the water inside your bong or dab rig. Unless you are using an ashcatcher, this should be the first point of contact smoke has with your glass piece. Because of this, smoke will be largely unfiltered as it passes through your downstem. Sticky particles are likely to accumulate in your downstem.
Tar or resin is the biggest culprit. As you light up tobacco, the leaves burn and break down. Smoke is the most visible output, but small amounts of tar drip out of the leaves each time you light them. Your water pipe probably does a great job at filtering this out. But in most cases, the downstem gets covered in tar. The joint connecting your downstem to your pipe could expand as hot smoke pushed through it, causing some tar to leak into the crack between the joint and downstem. As you continuously smoke, this tar could build up and eventually you’ll find it very difficult to remove the downstem. Here is a guide on how to unstick a downstem from a bong:
If you’re reading this, you might have overlooked this stem. But the easiest way to stop your downstem from getting stuck in your pipe is by preventing it from happening in the first place. You should remove your downstem with every smoke session and rinse it off with soap and water. Even light washing can be effective if done often.
Another way to prevent your downstem from sticking to your bong is by applying a small amount of petroleum jelly to the joint before you smoke. This will reduce the friction of the joint and stop smoke particles or tar from adhering to the surface. You might find that this also makes pulling the joint out much smoother.
2. Cold Water
Running the downstem under cold water will cause the glass to slightly condense. As the glass particle lose heat, they will compress and the circumference of the downstem will shrink. This is a good solution if you are facing a mild situation.
3. Salt Water Bath
If your pipe is filled with black soot, it might be time for a bath. Grab a bucket of water and add plenty of salt. Salt water is great for breaking apart sticky particles. You should mix the salt water well and swirl your water pipe around the bucket, making sure water penetrates every crack. Leave the pipe in the bucket over night and let the salt water do its magic.
4. Rubbing Alcohol and Salt
Another solution is a mix of rubbing alcohol and salt. Pour the rubbing alcohol-salt mixture into the bowl and around the joint’s seam. Use a towel or rubber glove to get a good grip on the downstem as you try to twist the joint free. Take your time here. Depending on the level of tar stuck in the downstem, this might take a while.