How To Clean Your Cannabis Vaporizer (All Types)

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My cannabis vaporizer is one of my favorite possessions, but this favoritism comes at a price – the time and effort regularly spent in its cleaning and maintenance. So why do I do it, and why should you?

Because vaping is all about airflow, it is about releasing the insane bits of buzzy goodness trapped in the prison of the bud/wax/oil and setting them free in the wild where they belong – our brains. Heck, vapers are almost ‘Greenpeace.

A dirty, clogged-up vape inhibits the flow of air and contaminates it with the stale flavor of leftover residue. The buildup also affects heat transfer, which is essential to the vaping process, so any temperature settings you make on your vaping device are effectively meaningless. Besides a drastic reduction in the intensity of the hit, this makes for erratic highs and can even leave an unpleasant aftertaste that kills your buzz.

Fortunately, you can avoid all this by learning some effortless cleaning and maintenance techniques. Because cannabis vaporizers vary so widely in design and operation, there is no single solution. This article covers all the basic types of vaporizers and their different components. Just follow the tips here, and you will get your money’s worth of highs with every pot session.

Before You Start to Clean Your Pot Vaporizer

Don’t jump headlong into cleaning – not all vaporizers are built alike, and it pays to know yours so you can learn the best way to clean it.

Identifying the Type of Cannabis Vaporizer

The first step is to determine the type of cannabis vaporizer you use. Vaping machines generally fall into three categories:

This guide will cover each of the three different types of vaporizers individually. There may be some overlap because some components are common to all of them (even if their appearance and exact function may differ slightly). Among these are the:

Mouthpiece: this may be a short cylinder for an e-pen or a long tube (whip) for others

Chamber/tank: a container where the fresh or concentrated cannabis is placed.

Battery: vaping requires heat, and this is supplied by a battery via a coil

Coil: this is the heating element that vaporizes the marijuana by either direct or indirect application of heat

Apart from these essential elements, vapes may contain screens and bags, too. While you can choose to clean them, they are generally replaced altogether after a period.

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Vaporizer Cleaning Tools

By using the right tools for the job, you will be done quicker and have an easier time of it. Most importantly, you will not damage your vaping implement. These are the basic requirements:

Solvent

The solvent is what loosens the residue from the insides of the vape machine. Ensure your solvent does not come into contact with the battery! Depending on how much residue there is and how thick it is, you can choose from:

  • Plain or soapy water warmed for 2 minutes in a microwave
  • Isopropyl Rubbing Alcohol
  • Propylene glycol

The instruction manual that came with your vaporizer is your best guide to what is most appropriate for your model.

Cleaning Fabric

After the solvent has done its job of loosening the residue, you will need to apply some elbow grease to get every last bit out and leave your vaporizer sparkling. All of these can come in handy:

  • Flannel or any absorbent cloth (old cotton towels are great)
  • Q-tips and/or cotton swabs
  • Pipe cleaners for exceptionally narrow passages
  • Cylindrical brushes or old soft toothbrushes

Small towels are convenient. I generally place all the disassembled parts on one before I start cleaning and replace them thereafter. This helps to ensure that I do not miss or lose any component and it is also great for absorbing excess solvent.

Vaporizer Cleaning Tips

Here are some quick but useful tips that I have picked up over the years.

Tip 1: Regardless of the type of vaporizer, the make or the model, you have to disassemble it beyond what the instruction manual shows to get the best results. Remember not to force anything apart or risk breaking it unduly.

Tip 2: With a new vape, I usually take pictures of how the parts fit together as I disassemble the device, making it easier for me to put it back together, even if I do not have the instruction manual handy.

Tip 3: Remember that water and electronics do not mix. While most of the parts of any cannabis vaporizer can be rinsed clean, be careful and refer to the manual for guidance. Also, ensure that each component is completely dry before you reassemble your vape.

Tip 4: If the vape is warm, the components may be easier to clean. I don’t want to state the obvious but ‘warm’ and ‘hot’ are different – err on the side of caution and your vaping fingers will be fine.

Now, if you want to get right into your vape cleaning education, click the appropriate link:

• Dry herb vaporizers
• Wax pens
• E-juice pens

Cleaning a Dry Herb Vaporizer

A dry herb vaporizer is the most basic vaping device and just one small step above popping a blunt in your mouth. Still, there are two families of dry herb vaporizers:

Conduction vaporizer

Essentially a glorified blunt, this gadget has a chamber (usually a ceramic or stainless steel oven) where there is direct contact between the cannabis and a hot surface.

Convection vaporizer

Hot air passes through the chamber containing the crushed buds, releasing the good bits into the air, which is then inhaled.

Dry herb vaporizers are the easiest to clean because there is no sticky residue from concentrated liquid or wax left in the chamber. They are also generally made up of fewer components than other types.

Cleaning Dry Herb Vaporizer Parts

Battery

The battery does not usually require much maintenance. A simple wipe-down is enough, but you can use a Q-tip soaked in alcohol if you want. Never immerse the battery in liquid.

Heating Chamber

A cleaning brush is usually sufficient to loosen bits stuck to the inside of the chamber. You can then tap the debris out. Do not use this method if the chamber is still hot; the bristles may melt and stick to the walls.
Take special care not to damage the exposed heating coil.

Mesh Screen

Rinse screens with warm water and use Isopropyl Rubbing Alcohol to remove stubborn residue, then leave to dry. Screens should be replaced regularly to ensure proper airflow.

Mouthpiece

This can be cleaned easily using a cotton swab dipped in Isopropyl Rubbing Alcohol. Rinse and leave to air dry.

O-rings (rubber seals)

Note that many vaporizer instruction manuals do not go into in-depth disassembly such as removing O-rings. However, this is often where a lot of the residue (and stale flavor) is trapped, so I recommend you remove and clean them as well.
Note that these small components are essential to maintaining a tight seal and preventing leakage. You have to be careful about not distorting them through either scrubbing vigorously or immersing in liquid for too long. Instead, wipe them clean with a solvent-soaked cloth or Q-tip.

Cleaning a Wax Pen

Wax pens generally require the most cleaning because the sticky wax concentrate solidifies when it cools. It can be quite a chore to remove hardened residue if you have left it there for some time.

Two Common types of device use cannabis wax – dab pens and e-nails. They both use flash vaporization, the production of vapor that occurs when the concentrate is placed on a hot surface. The difference is that an e-nail has a metal, glass or ceramic spike attached to a water pipe, just like a bong.

Cleaning a Dab Pen Vaporizer

A dab pen may use conduction, convection or both. The parts are generally the same.

Battery

The battery does not usually require much maintenance. A simple wipe-down is enough, but you can use a Q-tip soaked in alcohol if you want. Never immerse the battery in liquid.

Ceramic Dish

Not all dab pens have a dish placed above the coils, but in those that do, this is where the concentrate goes. The minor buildup is easily scraped away with your dabbing tool. Resistant stains can be loosened by firing the vaporizer and merely blowing or scraping away the remainder. Use alcohol swabs for a more thorough job.

Chamber/Atomizer

The wax chamber is the focus of all the action and should be the focus of your cleaning. Fortunately, a simple 30-minute soak in isopropyl alcohol works wonders. Leave it to air-dry and then wipe it down before your next use.

Coil

The coil of a dab pen tends to stay pretty clean compared to e-juice pen coils because most of the wax is burnt off in the chamber. A little rubbing alcohol on a Q-tip will clean it out quickly. Ceramic coils make it easier because they can just be soaked in alcohol – half an hour works fine.

Mouthpiece

This can be cleaned easily using a cotton swab dipped in Isopropyl Rubbing Alcohol. Rinse and leave to air dry.

O-rings (rubber seals)

Note that many vaporizer instruction manuals do not go into in-depth disassembly such as removing O-rings. However, this is often where a lot of the residue (and stale flavor) is trapped, so I recommend you remove and clean them as well.
These small components are essential to maintaining a tight seal and preventing leakage. You have to be careful about not distorting them through either scrubbing vigorously or immersing in liquid for too long. Instead, wipe them clean with a solvent-soaked cloth or Q-tip.

Threads

Residue can also travel to the threads between parts of the vaporizer that screw together, making it difficult to disassemble them. Clean the threads with Q-tips or cotton balls soaked in Isopropyl Rubbing Alcohol.
Just remember that solvents can damage the battery so take care when you are cleaning the threads near the battery compartment.

Cleaning an e-Nail Vaporizer

Where a traditional nail requires an external heat source – commonly a blowtorch – an e-Nail heats a nail directly via the battery.

Battery

The battery does not usually require much maintenance. A simple wipe-down is enough, but you can use a Q-tip soaked in alcohol if you want. Never immerse the battery in liquid.

Coil (and Wick)

The coil and wick assembly is very delicate – be very gentle with the circuitry when you use a Q-tip dipped in rubbing alcohol to remove residue here. Ensure also that the Q-tip is damp but not dripping in the solvent to reduce the chances of damage.
Repeat this process on the heating wick/coil and the area around it. If you choose to use alcohol to clean this piece, use as little as possible. You don’t want to run the risk of any liquid seeping into the delicate areas. It’s also important to make sure you don’t scrape or put too much pressure on the coil, as they can be damaged easily and might need to be replaced, or can render the vaporizer useless, depending on the design.

Nail

If the buildup is minor, you can use your dab tool or even a paper clip to scrape it away. More stubborn residue can be removed by firing up the device to burn away the reclaim on the nail. Let the nail cool on its own as rapid changes in temperature can make it brittle and prone to cracking. After the nail is cool enough to handle, scrape away the remaining residue with your scraping tool.
You can go the extra mile by soaking the nail in 91% isopropyl solution for about 15 minutes.

Threads

Residue can also travel to the threads between parts of the vaporizer that screw together, making it difficult to disassemble them. Clean the threads with Q-tips or cotton balls soaked in Isopropyl Rubbing Alcohol.
Just remember that solvents can damage the battery so take care when you are cleaning the threads near the battery compartment.

Water Bubbler

This is relatively simple to clean – fill it with 91% isopropyl solution and leave it to soak for half an hour. Swirl the solution around a few times for good measure. Once might be enough but you can also repeat the process if needed.
Rinse the bubbler out with water a few times and leave to air dry.

Whip

Long, narrow tubes are most easily cleaned with an alcohol solution. If there is excessive residue on the inside, add some sand or salt for a more abrasive clean. Drain and run water through it for a few minutes to clear all traces of all that grime you do not want to vape.
I find that cutting off the ends of an older tube can help it fit better.

Cleaning an e-Juice Pen

As ‘juice’ indicates, an e-juice pen uses a liquid form of cannabis extract, usually referred to as an ‘oil.’ As a liquid, oil tends to flow everywhere it can, meaning that it will get in tight spots like screw threads. Its viscous nature makes it coagulate into a sticky residue that becomes surprisingly hard over time.

Cleaning e-Juice Vaporizer Parts

Battery

The battery does not usually require much maintenance. A simple wipe-down is enough, but you can use a Q-tip soaked in alcohol if you want. Never immerse the battery in liquid.

Coil

A lot of residues accumulate at the coils because it is located adjacent to the absorbent wicks. To clean it, fire up your vape until the coil starts to glow red-hot. Dip the coil (and ONLY THE COIL) in cold water to remove the caked black gunk. Fire it up again to dry.
You can use a brush to scrub clean, if necessary. Plastic bristles can melt from the heat so use a brush with metal bristles.
Coils also have to be replaced regularly.

Mesh Screen

Rinse screens with warm water and use Isopropyl Rubbing Alcohol to remove stubborn residue, then leave to dry. Screens should be replaced regularly to ensure proper airflow.

Mouthpiece

This can be cleaned easily using a cotton swab dipped in Isopropyl Rubbing Alcohol. Rinse and leave to air dry.

Tank

Rinse the tank out with warm water. Then, clean the inside with a cotton swab or alcohol pad. Just wipe down the outside.

Threads

Residue can also travel to the threads between parts of the vaporizer that screw together, making it difficult to disassemble them. Clean the threads with Q-tips or cotton balls soaked in Isopropyl Rubbing Alcohol.
Just remember that solvents can damage the battery so take care when you are cleaning the threads near the battery compartment.

Wicks

Wicks cannot really be cleaned and should instead be replaced approximately weekly. The frequency depends on the e-juices that you use – those with higher sweetener content tend to be harsher on wicks – and the rate of your vape sessions.
Give wicks some time to absorb the juice before your next escapade. If they are too dry, the material will burn, and there is no cure for that except new wicks.

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Conclusion

Some ganja traditionalists/purists who are appalled at the rising popularity of e-vapes point to the maintenance aspect as one of the ‘Aha!’ reasons to stick with traditional smoking methods.
Personally, I see it more as an investment of time and energy. For a relatively small price, I am rewarded with the purest and most potent cannabis indulgence experience possible, something that traditional smoking cannot replicate.
I really believe cannabis vaporizers will come to dominate as more people discover the euphoria of the highs that a clean, well-maintained device consistently delivers. I hope this article helps you get there.

If you have any questions or would like to share your opinion on the article, we would love to hear form you.

Thanks

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