The short, albeit incomplete answer, is yes cannabis tar can ruin your hookah. Marijuana, dried or fresh, becomes a sticky tar when it is burned. This residue can build up in your hookah pipe after repeated uses and can ruin your hookah.
Thankfully, this tar buildup can be kept to a minimum if you regularly maintenance and clean your hookah. This is something you should be engaging in to begin with, but it becomes all the more necessary when you are using weed shisha.
What is Cannabis Tar?
Put simply, cannabis tar is partially combusted plant material and a byproduct of smoking. Whenever you smoke, you are ingesting tar. This is the primary cause of lung diseases such as cancer. Diseases develop as the tar and smoke damage essential mechanical and biochemical processes. Specifically, tar damages the cilia of the lungs, leaving the alveoli unprotected. The alveoli, when exposed to the carcinogens in tar, are at risk of mutations in their cellular DNA – a precursor for developing cancer.
Chances are, if you are smoking cannabis or shisha, you have assumed the inherent risks associated with the act of smoking. That being said, there is no reason to compound your risk by allowing cannabis tar to accumulate in your hookah. Not to mention tar residue also imparts an unpleasant flavour to the shisha smoke you’re inhaling so its best to keep it to a minimum.
Tar Buildup and How to Clean it
Hookah smoking is an enjoyable experience, but it is an involved process. The setup, the effort expended maintaining a quality smoke, and the cleanup process can be daunting – especially with the addition of weed shisha.
You may even question why you bothered going down this road to begin with, but, rest assured, there is a way to make this process easier -particularly when it comes to cleanup and maintenance.
Tar accumulates in the hookah because the diffusion of smoke deposits small amounts of tar in every attachment that facilitates the inhalation of smoke into your lungs. This includes, the bowl, the stem, the basin, the connecting grommets, hose and mouthpiece.
Think of it this way, just like tar is deposited in your lungs and adheres to the cilia and alveoli, it also sticks to the hookah and its parts. You cannot clean your lungs, but you can clean your hookah.
How to Clean Tar from Your Hookah
The goal when cleaning your hookah is to breakdown the tar residue. However, this needs to be done with the right products for two reasons:
First, any chemical used must evaporate quickly in ambient oxygen, or must be easy to rinse off so that you don’t inhale its fumes or residue during your next smoke session.
Second, any chemical used must be mild enough to not degrade or rust any of the hookah attachments, but abrasive and powerful enough to remove stains and tar.
So, what can you use to clean your hookah? Well, isopropyl alcohol is the best option. Pure isopropyl alcohol will evaporate 100% in our atmosphere which makes it a safe and effective disinfectant and cleaning agent. However, you should be careful when using it, it is harmful to our skin and eyes and shouldn’t ever be ingested. The only issue is that by itself isopropyl alcohol is not very abrasive. You should use it at the end of the cleaning process, when you set the parts aside to dry.
To start, it is perhaps best to soften the accumulated tar by soaking the hookah in a vinegar and water solution. This will ensure that the gunk in your hookah will wash away easier. It will also remove any stale smoke odours. Rinse throughly with water afterward.
You may also want to try a water, lemon juice, and coarse sea salt mixture in your hookah. The abrasive salt and citric acid will degrade and scrub away any sticky smoke residue – especially in the glass basin, stem and hose. Again rinse thoroughly.