How to clean a glass pipe

My preferred method of consuming cannabis is by burning it in my trusty glass spoon pipe. It may not be the healthiest method to get high but it’s quick and effective.

Over time and normal usage the tars that are released through combustion start to build up on the glass. Once this sticky tar is in place pieces of burnt plant matter start to stick and it starts to remind you why vaporizing is a good idea.

Tars and plant material build up in glass pipes
Tars and plant material build up in glass pipes

Above you can see how the tars have built up and ash has started to get stuck inside the pipe. The question is how the heck can you get your pipe looking as new again?

Here’s how I do it.

Submerge the pipe in methanol
Submerge the pipe in methanol

First I submerge the pipe in methanol (sometimes called wood alcohol) for degreasing glass or crystal. You can buy this cheaply from any supermarket or hardware store. I put enough in a glass jar to ensure that the dirty parts of the pipe are submerged. I use a glass jar as I’m paranoid that a plastic container may leech chemicals into the alcohol, how scientifically proven this is I’ve no idea but it satisfies me.

I then leave it over night to soak, though an hour or so should be enough time to loosen up the oils and release the particles that have stuck to it.

After an hour or so the tars start to dissolve in the methanol
After an hour or so the tars start to dissolve in the methanol

You can see from the picture above that the methanol has taken the color of the tars and also the burnt plant matter has sunk to the bottom of the jar.

I then take a few pipe cleaners and bend and poke them inside the pipe to clean out the remaining gunk. I wore rubber gloves as I did this as the methanol dries out your skin something rotten.

Using a pipe cleaner to clean your glass pipe
Using a pipe cleaner to clean your glass pipe

Once you’ve managed to scrape out the remaining tars and burnt plant matter I then give it an extremely good rinse in plain water. Methanol is poisonous so you don’t want to be inhaling any when you burn your medicine.

Nice clean glass spoon pipe
Nice clean glass spoon pipe

Leave your pipe to dry and it’s back to it’s former glory. You’ll be rewarded with a clean tasting toke to rechristen your smoking device. If your pipe is a color changing pipe like mine then you’ll see it reset to the original color.

Happy toking!

If you are a new visitor to the site then you may not know I have a book out that documents everything that you need to know to be self sufficient in your cannabis supply. From seed selection, growing and even processing and consumption. I discuss various options for consuming your cannabis and their pros and cons.

The book is called Windowsill Weed: A home growers cannabis journey and is available on Amazon in print and Kindle formats.

Windowsill Weed book cover
Windowsill Weed book cover

What’s your preferred method of consumption? How do you keep it clean? Why not share in the comments below and keep the conversation flowing.

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Equipment list

Originally, this was a stand alone page but I’m moving to a blog post to free up some space in the menu for new events and contact pages.

Stuff you need

As with any hobby you will need a few things to make your life easier. Here is a list of useful items. I describe very briefly what you need it for. More details on when to use these items are described in the Windowsill Weed book. The following items are listed more or less in the order of which you will need them.

Incubator – This is basically a mini plastic greenhouse and keeps your seeds humid and warm for germination. You can get electric heated ones that are quite expensive or unheated ones that are not so expensive. I don’t use a heated one and get a near 100% germination rate. This is not an essential item to start with. In the germination section I describe some techniques that only require a sandwich bag!

Coco or peat pellets – if you don’t want to germinate your seed directly in the pot this is a easy way to germinate your seeds and is described in the germination section in this book.

Pot (for organic grows) – As in a plant pot. If you are growing organic you’ll need something to put the growing medium in. Get as big a plastic pot as you can for the space you will be growing in. For example, if it has to fit on a windowsill without falling off you may need a smaller pot. If it is sitting on the floor then a larger pot will be good to keep it stable. I use 12 litre pots which have a 30cm (12”) diameter at the top. I tend to move the plants around a lot to catch the sun so this size is comfortable to carry. The plants get to be about 70cm (27.5”) to 1 meter (40”) high in this size pot. Depending on where you will put your pot you may want a small tray underneath to catch the runoff water.  In most shops where you buy pots the trays are sold along side so you can buy one that fits. I buy sturdy black plastic pots that I reuse each year. People use plastic pots as the medium tends to dry quicker in clay pots.

Soil mixing tray – A large tray to mix your soilless mix can be helpful. Failing that you could use a large plastic bin, or mix on a piece of tarpaulin laid out on the floor.

Gardening sieve – I use a large gardening sieve to sieve my home made compost. This removes the large chunks of organic matter that have not composted yet.

Plastic tabs – to label your plants. I include the germination date and strain. These can be bought from any garden center.

Thermometer and hygrometer – this is highly recommended. It will allow you to measure what the temperature and humidity of the air is around your plant. This will allow you to take action to ensure you grow in the optimum temperature and humidity zones. I use several of these dotted around the place.

Bamboo canes – These are always handy for gardening. You can use them to prop up small plants or help support large ones laden with buds. You can also use them for stirring in the various things you’ll be adding to your water.

pH meter – to get the best result it’s important to test the pH of the water you are adding to your plants. pH meters can be picked up for around 10-15 euros/dollars. Alternatively, you can buy a pH testing kit which may be a little cheaper. However, the faffing around to measure the pH this way is really not worth the small saving that you will make.

pH up/down – a chemical liquid that will allow you to adjust the pH of your water. You’ll need a pipette to measure how much you add. Usually this will come with the bottle. Organic versions of these are available and are recommended.

Watering can – or any other vessel that will hold water and allow you to mix things into it. It’s important to know how much water you have in your watering can for when you have to mix nutrients into it to get the ratio correct. I have a nice four litre watering can with a large opening on top which allows me to stir.

Neem oil – This is an amazing organic product that will protect your plant from many pests and diseases. I use neem oil premixed with rimulgan. This allows the oil to mix with the water and is preferable to using washing up liquid as some people will recommend. See the vegetative growth section of Windowsill Weed book for instructions on how to use neem oil.

Pressurized water sprayer – this is to apply the neem oil diluted in water.

Oscillating fan – this helps to circulate the air around your plant. The movement keeps the fibrous stem strong and also allows fresh carbon dioxide to reach the plant. This is what it breathes.

Timer switch – this helps save you money for powering your fan. In normal conditions (i.e. not too humid) I turn it on and off every 15 minutes. This halves the electricity required.

Magnifying loupe – this is to see when your buds are ready to harvest. It also helps to identify bugs, some of which are only small specs to the human eye. Find at least x30 but not more than x60. Some have an integrated LED, this is very useful when you are poking around in buds and dense leaves. Stamp collectors use this kind of thing so they are readily available. Grow shops also sell them.

Secateurs – use these to chop down your plant.

Trimming scissors – you’ll need them for trimming off the leaves and manicuring your buds. Get a comfortable pair, you’ll be thankful you did when it comes to trimming. Even a small plant can take an hour or so to trim.

Drying rack or basket – this is to dry your buds on. Mesh hanging baskets with multiple layers are a god send.

Dehumidifier – this is not a cheap item (to buy or run) but if you are growing in humid conditions it maybe essential to help you avoid moulds when your plant is flowering, particularly towards the end of the grow before harvest. You may also need this for when it comes to drying.

Mason jar or other large glass jars – This is to cure your freshly trimmed and dried buds. We buy our peanut butter in bulk from the local organic shop. It comes in a box that contains 6 large glass jars. Once the PB is finished I clean the jars and keep 6 of them in the box for curing. White lids are useful to date and mark the strain with a non-permanent marker. Any large glass jar will do though.

Weighing scales – some accurate weighing scales will allow you to see how much you successfully harvested. It will help you to compare your grows and assess what impact any changes you made to your technique. I use one that gold and diamond dealers use. It accurately measures from .1 grams to 1 kilo.

Amber glass stash jars – small jars that block UV light to keep your buds in great condition in your stash box. The glass ensures no unwanted taste is added to your marijuana.

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Strain Hunters: All expedition movies on one page

Here’s all the Strain Hunters documentaries on one page. Arjan and Franco from Green House Seed Company travel round the globe gathering quality stock for their seed bank. They also do a nice line of autoflowering seeds.

[Full movie] Strain Hunters: Jamaica (2014)

Strain Hunters get the Jamaican vibes from their friends Bigga, Shanti, Nampo and Taleban.


[Full movie] Strain Hunters: Kings of Cannabis (2013)

Strain Hunters hooked up with Vice in Columbia for this expedition. Vice’s wonderful production values make the latest adventure really shine.


[Full movie] Strain Hunters: Swaziland (2012)

Swaziland is a small country landlocked between South Africa and Mozambique, with just over 1 million inhabitants. Swaziland produces very large amounts of cannabis considering the limited geographical extension it occupies. According to the United Nations Drug Report of 2008, Swaziland is in the top-5 cannabis producing countries on the African continent.


[Full movie] Strain Hunters: Trinidad & St. Vincent (2011)

The Strain Hunters have found a new Strain Hunter, Dr. Green. Check out their latest adventures in Trinidad and St. Vincent. See how they grow weed in paradise. See how the strong enforcement of prohibition in Trinidad has an effect on the whole ambiance of the island. Meanwhile on St Vincent a more liberal attitude has a positive effect.


[Full movie] Strain Hunters: Morocco (2010)

The Strain Hunters are back on their quest to find the best hashish and landraces on the planet. This time they visit Rif, a relatively small mountain region in the North of Morocco which produces up to 70% of the world’s hashish. See the semi-autoflowering Moroccan landraces and also the high yield imported Pakistani and Afghanistani crops. We also learn about different genetics, philosophies of production and the manufacturing process of hashish itself. 


[Full movie] Strain Hunters: India (2009)

Arjan and Franco team up with Italian cannabis author and connoisseur Franco Casalone on a trip to the Indian side of the Himalayas. Home of the best charras and creams hashish. In the mountains and valleys of Himachal Pradesh they meet the best growers and charras makers.


[Full movie] Strain Hunters: Africa (2008)

Arjan and Franco set out on a quest to find seeds of the original Malawi sativa land race to add to the Green House Seed Companies seed bank. This weed is known throughout the world as Malawi Gold and Malawi Black. Franco says “The Malawi Gold high is incredibly clear, intense, long lasting, and very complex.” The black is more fermented and “has a very earthy, almost mouldy taste, and a much more stoned and body-like effect.” 


Check out all the Greenhouse Seeds Co autoflowering strains or all the Strain Hunters strains.

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Turn your trim to into bubble hash

In the world of cannabis concentrates are where it’s at. In the middle east and India where people have been growing for centuries most, if not all, cannabis grown is for the manufacture of hashish. This removes all the plant matter from your buds or trim and concentrates the trichomes into a solid hash. The end result has many advantages over dried herb.

  • It lasts longer.
  • It is more potent.
  • It contains no plant matter, so is kinder to your lungs when smoked.
  • It’s smaller (and less stinky) so easier to stash.
  • It’s easier to transform into medicated edibles.

The online headshop/seedshop/smartshop Zamnesia generously donated an Ice-O-Lator set along with a pollen press so I could have a go at producing my own hash. Zamnesia are a great choice for shoppers in Europe offering discrete packaging and even accepting Bitcoin for payment.

Detail of the well made Ice-O-Lator bags
Detail of the well made Ice-O-Lator bags

I had a jar containing 20 grams of cannabis “sugar leaves” (the small leaves covered in trichomes that surround the buds) and some small “pop corn buds” (small buds that are not really big enough to trim properly) from my grow over the summer. I used the four bag set to make some solventless bubble hash. Here’s how I did it.

You will need:

  • Trim, sugar leaves or small buds – not fan leaves.
  • Grinder
  • Ice
  • Ice-O-Lator bags, I used the small model with a four bag set; 1x 220mc, 1x 185mc, 1x 70mc, 1x 38mc which can process up to 200 grams of trim at a time.
Four small Ice-O-Lator "Bubbleator" bags
Four small Ice-O-Lator “Bubbleator” bags
  • Bucket – size depends on the size of bag. In my case I should’ve used a 20 litre bucket but the largest I had was 15 litres. In hindsight buying a 20 litre one would’ve been preferable.
  • Heavy duty mixer, I used a drill with a plaster/paint mixer attachment.
Hardware for making bubble hash
Hardware for making bubble hash

Step one – grind the trim

This is the most time consuming of the steps. I used the biggest grinder I have which has about a 12 cm diameter. It still took a while to work through my small amount of trim. I then put it all in a jar to store, the same jars I use for curing my buds.

20 grams of ground cannabis trim
20 grams of ground cannabis trim

Step two – prepare the bucket

Put the Ice-O-Lator bags into the bucket to line it. The smallest mesh size first. Once you have all your bags in the bucket pour in water until it rises just above the screens, then add your trim and finally more water and ice. According to this High Times piece you add some water first as most contaminants will float, you therefore prevent them from falling through the top mesh.

Ice-O-Lator bags in a bucket
Ice-O-Lator bags in a bucket

Step three – mix for 20 minutes

Now mix everything up for 20 minutes. Here’s where I discovered that it would’ve been better had I used a larger bucket. I lost some liquid as I played around with the speed on my drill. Hopefully, not too many trichomes were lost in this little mishap. What’s happening here is that the ice cold water is making the trichomes and their stalks more brittle so they snap off when you mix. They then sink to the bottom of the bag and pass through the mesh. The plant matter is caught in the 220mc mesh and the trichomes are caught in the next smaller mesh sized bags.

Mix cannabis trim in ice cold water for 20 minutes
Mix cannabis trim in ice cold water for 20 minutes

Step four – drain out the water

Let the mix sit for around half an hour to allow the trichomes to sink and plant matter to float. Once you’ve mixed for 20 minutes take out the bags one at a time and squeeze out the excess water. The first bag contains all the plant matter and can be discarded. As I was using a four bag set the three other bags contained varying amounts of trichomes. I found that the 70mc bags caught the most.

Trichomes in the bottom of a Bubbleator bag
Trichomes in the bottom of a Bubbleator bag

Step five – dry

I emptied all the pollen from the bags onto a large plate and allowed the trichomes (that look like sand) to dry out. It’s important you let it dry fully or else you hash may get mouldy.

Remove from bag and dry on a plate
Remove from bag and dry on a plate

Step six – press into hash

Now you have a fine dry sand like powder. There is just one more step to turn it into hash. You breakdown the trichomes into hash through applying pressure and heat. In the past I’ve processed it by rubbing in the palm of my hand with my thumb. This is how hand made charas is produced in India. I’m afraid my wimpish western hands are not up to the task. I soon created a painful blister and sought alternative ways of processing this step. Now I use a pollen press. I opened this model up from one end and put the harvested trichomes inside. I then tightened it up. Finally, I popped out my new hash pellet.

Pollen press with a freshly pressed tablet of hash
Pollen press with a freshly pressed tablet of hash

In the end from my 20g of trim I ended up with a half gram pellet of cold pressed, solventless, bubble hash from organic sun grown cannabis. Seeing as though the trim would end up in the trash it’s a nice little bonus.

A tablet of pressed trichomes
A tablet of pressed trichomes

If you’re interested in experimenting with your own home made hash a good place to visit is Zamnesia’s after harvest section for a selection of high quality hash making equipment. Please note that they only ship to Europe.

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Would it be possible to grow weed on Mars?

With the recent discovery of water on Mars and the release of the movie adaption of Andy Weir’s gripping book The Martian the red planet is grabbing everyone’s imagination.

If you’re anything like me I’m sure the number one question on your lips is “is it possible to grow cannabis on Mars?”. Let’s take a look at the facts.

When setting up a grow on Earth the main factors that you need to take into consideration are, light, growing medium, good genetics, nutrients, temperatures, water and humidity level. Growing on Mars throws a few more issues into the mix. Asides the remote location and extreme travel costs there are a few other things to bear in mind. Here’s some of the biggies, low atmospheric pressure, high radiation levels and 40% Earth’s gravity.

It’s clear that if humans are to survive on Mars they’re going to need food. Luckily for wannabe martians NASA’s been working on greenhouses fit for Mars for a few years. These pages on NASA’s site (last updated in 2003) cover experiments on a Mars greenhouse called the Mars Dome.

Light would be an issue, as Mars is 49 million miles further away from the Sun than Earth. Sunlight on Mars would be more or less like daylight on Earth during a slightly overcast day. Cannabis grown in these conditions may experience some stretching as it searches out the light. The resulting buds may not be so dense so don’t expect a spectacular yield. I recommend sticking to indica dominant strains.

As for growing medium, I think we’d stick to hydroponics for this experiment. Which means potentially a greater yield and avoids contaminating Mars with microbes. We’d have to ship the nutrients over which would increase travel costs further. If we do this we need to make sure that we don’t overfeed the plants and must ensure that we flush them of excessive nutrients before harvest to avoid an unpleasant taste and sore throat when burning.

Atmospheric pressure is less than 1% of Earth’s which means any water within a plant evaporates almost immediately. According to molecular biologist Rob Ferl, director of Space Agriculture Biotechnology Research and Education at the University of Florida even if plants were given all the water they needed they would still respond as if they are in a drought due to the movement of the water out of the plant. The conclusion back in 2004 was that they should bioengineer the plants to cope in such conditions.

Fast forward to 2015 and things have moved on. Rather than finding ways to modify plants genes so they can grow in near zero  atmospheric pressure NASA’s been working on pressurized greenhouses and plans to get them to Mars by 2021.  They even have a prototype.

These proposed greenhouses will be pressurized, heated and have supplemental lighting, not only that, they will also be growing the plants hydroponically. Now we’re talking.

At -62°C, Mars is cold,  so they better be packing some good greenhouse heaters to keep the cannabis at the 27°C it finds comfortable.

On a positive note, a Martian year is twice as long as Earth’s so the growing season would be longer. If you were growing autoflowering plants you’d be able to squeeze in a couple more crops per year, which is good as the winter would be twice as long too. Another plus would be that there are no spider mites, powdery mildew or bud rot to deal with. Though I would not be at all surprised if spider mites could survive the harsh conditions of Mars.

To answer the question, in theory, we should be able to grow weed on Mars, but it’d be pricey, would have a low yield and it wouldn’t be organic. Oh and it’d be radioactive, so there’s that.

Mars has less than half the mass of Earth so whatever your end harvest is it’ll weigh 40% of what it would back home. Which kinda sucks given all the effort that went into the grow.

I think I’ll stay on Earth.

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