Glass bong on black background next to a pencil used to pull out a broken down stem

Is Your Bong's Downstem Stuck? Here's How to Fix It

Removing a stuck downstem should be in a manual that comes with every bong. Unfortunately, there's usually no manual and people are find themselves struggling to fix their downstem.

The urgency of fixing the issue and starting your next smoke session can make it seem even more imperative. If rushed, forcibly removing the downstem could lead to a disaster, like a broken downstem. You can prevent this by removing and cleaning the downstem, even when it's in perfect condition. The downstem is the tube that connects the bowl to the inside of the glass bong.

A long cylindrical tube effectively seals the bong, allowing the smoke to flow into the chamber without dispersing. Resin build-up or incomplete drying (after cleaning) can result in a stuck downstem. In this post, we'll explore how to properly remove your stuck downstem.

1. Removing Your Stuck Downstem The "Proper" Way

The most effective way to prevent your downstem from getting stuck and keep your bong safe would probably be cleaning your bong every single day. If you have the time to wait for two days, and aren't in dire need of a good rip, then a glass cleaning item for bongs may be the right thing for you. These methods involve applying the cleaner to the downstem and joint. Then, simply wait for everything to absorb into the build-up on the glass pieces long enough to be easily removed.

If you have a graphite stick for bongs and bowls, you can easily push this into the downstem opening. From here, add a little twist of the wrist and gently wriggle. Then, you'll be able to pull your downstem out safely.

2. Using Only Household Items

You can use simple household items, such as things that vibrate like an electric toothbrush or razor. For safety, wrap the item in a cloth or napkin and gently press it along the joint. You may be tipping the bong at an angle downward to help remove it. Therefore, it's a good idea to have someone ready to catch the glass stem as it loosens.

Another option is trying rubbing alcohol which is cheap and widely available.  Pour rubbing alcohol where the downstem's stuck. Then, use a toothpick to slowly loosen the space between the downstem and the glass. Some people even try using WD-40 instead of alcohol. But you'll need thorough and proper cleaning after freeing the downstem to remove any remaining chemicals and residue.

You can turn the pliers around and use the handle by squeezing it tightly around the top of the downstem and turning in a clockwise or counterclockwise motion. Also, by using a pair of pliers right at the top of the downstem where it slides into the opening and lever it with pressure to release it. However, this method can be dangerous due to having the metal on glass potentially causing a break. A more dangerous method can also include using a larger-sized screwdriver. Forcefully pushing the screwdriver in and using wiggling rotations allows the downstem to become dislodged.

3. The Hot Water Method

Another method or two that you could try is hot water and boiling water. Running hot tap water or pouring boiling water into the stem and bong may help loosen the thick built-up resin allowing you to pull or twist the downstem out safely. However, being safe and not burning yourself is of utmost importance, so you need to use safety gloves or oven mitts when handling hot glass or boiling water.

If that does not work, you can even try the reverse and use the cold water approach! Running the bong and downstem under cold water and using your fingers to relieve the stuck piece from its trap slowly is said to work quickly and efficiently.

Honorable mentions for removing a stuck or broken downstem with convenient household items include; using a wire metal coat hanger by reshaping and hooking the end so that it fits down into the hole at the bottom and can be hooked on the end and pulled out. Placing the whole bong by itself in the dishwasher and giving it a complete wash and taking it out while it is still warm at the end, and removing the downstem that way. A final mention by putting a small ice cube into the opening of the downstem and tapping all around the joint with a wooden spoon or kitchen utensil while lightly pulling is said to release the hold.

4. Using Glue to Remove the Downstem

An easy way to get out a broken downstem would involve using a powerful glue like welders glue and a wooden dowel or wooden spoon. Once you coat the glue on the dowel, you place it into the broken downstem and wiggle it lightly with some twisting. Once the glue has taken hold, it should be easy for you to lightly twist and remove the broken downstem out of the bong.

You Should NEVER Try And Remove Your Downstem Using These 2 Methods:

Tapping with items! No tapping, ever. This method can easily mess with the integrity of the glass and cause it to break. This includes banging on or hitting the bong with your hands, onto a surface, or with objects to get the stem out, as it will destroy the make-up of the glass, making a future break even more probable.

Heating with a flame or hot stove element is another way you should not try. It can happen quickly, and your glass gets too hot. Too high temperatures can cause it to shatter and lead to potentially hurting yourself or others. This method is one way that may seem easy but the risk is too high for the reward! Using a lighter or torch to heat the glass is usually only successful if the culprit is built-up resin.


At Toker Supply, we're a community of smoking and bong enthusiasts. Therefore, we love helping our clients with any and all of their smoking needs. Whether you're in need of a bong or a little advice with CBD or dab rigs, we're always ready to help out and assist you.

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