January 23, 2018, 12:43 am
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Pipe Care

Breaking in your pipe
Firstly, be aware that you need to smoke your new pipe slowly. You don't want the pipe to get too hot and damage the briar before a cake is built up. I recommend smoking only a half or a third of a bowl of tobacco until the pipe is fully broken in. This can be up to four or five smokes, though exactly how many depends on your smoking style. Whatever you do, don't try to rush the break-in, you might damage the pipe.
  • Pack half a bowl of mild tobacco
  • Light the tobacco while taking long, slow draws and moving the match or lighter in a circular motion. Be sure to get the entire top of the tobacco lit.
  • Take a couple long, slow draws. Be sure these are slow draws. Fast, short puffs will creat hot spots in the tobacco and may damage the naked briar.
  • Tamp down the top layer of ash, the pipe will probably go out anyway while you're drawing it after lighting. If it doesn't go out, tamp down anyway.
  • Re-light the pipe as above. Again, be sure to take slow draws.
  • Smoke slowly. Smoking the pipe quickly will make it too hot, create hot spots in the tobacco, and may burn the briar.
Don't be surprised if you have to re-light your pipe regularly. Until a cake is formed, there isn't much insulation in the bowl, and the pipe may go out periodicaly. Once it has broken in, though, it will stay lit much longer - depending on how you smoke.

Letting your pipe rest
This holds true for all of your pipes, but is especially true during a break-in period. After smoking your pipe, allow it to rest for at least 3 days. Doing this gives the pipe time to air out and "relax". If you smoke it more often, the pipe may go sour, and taste unpleasant. Let it rest, and let it keep the wonderful flavor that you like so much.

Pipe storage
Your pipe doesn't require any special environment for storage, however be sure to take care not to mar the finish. All of my pipes come with a soft drawstring bag ideal for storing the pipe if you need to pack it in luggage or a briefcase. However, under normal circumstances, setting the pipe on a "pipe couch" or a display stand is quite sufficient. A display stand with soft fabric where the stem and bowl rest is prefered. Even though the pipes are finished with a hard carnuba wax, they can scratch if you drop them, store them on a hard or rough surface, or place them in a pocket with keys and pocket change. Also, make every attempt to kep your pipe away from water. Water is the enemy of pipes, and even a small amount on the finish can remove the wax and mar the pipe.

Cleaning your pipe
Use a pipecleaner to clean out the stem and shank periodically. I suggest doing this just after you've finished a bowl, or periodically throughout your smoke with a churchwarden. Churchwarden pipes require more frequent cleanings, in my opinion, due to the cooling of the smoke as it travels up the stem. As the smoke cools, it tends to lose moisture, and that moisture has nowhere to go except the inside walls of the stem.

I don't suggest trying to clean the stummel of your pipe at all. Most cleaners will remove the wax that gives the pipe its shiny surface, and make it susceptible to water damage. Also, water can seriously damage your pipe. If a pipe become wet, it may crack and deform as it dries out. Periodicaly buffing your pipe with a soft cloth will keep the finish strong and shiny, and that should be all your pipe needs under normal use.
This site and all images and documents copyright Kurt Huhn, unless otherwise noted.