4 Easy steps to clean a dirty pipe screen
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Staring at a pile of high-grade buds and all you have is a pipe and one very nasty, resin-clogged screen? Bummer!
No need to harsh your chill. With a little bit of effort, you can actually clean a dirty pipe screen.
Don't let a little caked-on resin get in your way. Follow these four simple steps and you'll be back in business in no time.
STEP 1: REMOVE THE SCREEN FROM YOUR PIPE
Hold your pipe over an ashtray, trash can, or sink to catch the mess, then gently remove the screen from your pipe. Old resin can be as strong as Super Glue; be careful or you could rip it. Tweezers help…a lot.
STEP 2: BLOW THROUGH THE SCREEN
If your pipe screen isn't too dirty, just blowing through it might do the trick. A can of compressed air will work, too. When most of the tiny holes are clear and you're getting plenty of airflow, you're good to go. Insert the screen back into your pipe and enjoy. If your screen is still pretty dirty and clogged, move on to the next step.
STEP 3: BURN AWAY THE GUNK
Hold the screen over a sink or other non-flammable surface using tweezers or something similar and hand pass a flame slowly across the screen. Your trusty lighter or a match will do, but a grill lighter would come in handy right about now.
Here are a few words of caution:
Heat the screen for no more than five seconds at a time. The screen might catch on fire. If it does, lay it down on a non-flammable surface and let it go out. Let the screen cool, then blow through it and reinspect for airflow and damage. Take your time and be careful not to burn your fingers or start a fire.
You're ready to light up as soon as you have sufficient airflow, but if four or five burns don't get you there, it's time to move on to the next step.
STEP 4: DISSOLVE THE RESIN WITH ALCOHOL
Alcohol is a great solvent, and it can dissolve thick, burnt-on resin quickly and completely.
The stronger the alcohol, the faster it will work. Standard rubbing alcohol will do, but go for at least a 91% strength if you can. If you're using vodka or something similar, use 100 proof or higher.
If you have alcohol on hand, there's nothing wrong with bypassing the burn we explained earlier altogether. While you're at it, give your pipe a thorough soak while you're cleaning the screen. You can thank me later.
Pour enough alcohol in a cup to cover your screen and/or pipe, then relax while they soak. Some people add some salt, but it's not absolutely necessary. Letting it soak for about 30 minutes should do the trick, but a little longer won't hurt anything.
Rinse well with clean water, remembering to handle your screen with care. Dry with a paper towel if your screen looks strong enough to handle it. Another option is to just let it air dry.
And voila, you’re good to go!