Ok, Please don't use heavily caustic chemicals to try to clean this out. Its not that complicated Go find some Isopropanyl/Rubbing Alcohol, and just use it. Its the easiest thing in the world, i guarantee you. Also, Im not qute sure where washers come into the equation. Use nylon zipties (notice i said nylon? they have to be nylon) and brown paper coffee filter, trimmed of all the excess. I believe theres pics in this thread of one all ready to go. If not, i'll find some. As far as preperation goes...Cryovac? no. Just use dry bud, in at least pea-sized chunks (keep it bigger, if you shred it too far you'll get green oil). Where did oyu read it shouldnt be packed too tight? Its pretty hard to pack it too tight, and the tighter you pack, the more efficient your extraction will be. However, if you pack it unevenly, you will cause the material in the tube to shift while blasting, and cause a blowout. The taper at the end is something I've seen in absolutely every SSTB iv ever seen, i dont think its specific to your brand.