Techniques for Proper Pipe Cleaning - Puff Cigar Discussion Forums
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post #1 of 24 Old 05-09-2016, 03:54 PM Thread Starter
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Techniques for Proper Pipe Cleaning



"Pipes can be a great way to enjoy tobacco, but it’s important to remember that they require regular maintenance if you want to continue enjoying your smoke for years to come. Without proper cleaning and care, your smoke will get harsh and your pipe may start to clog. If left uncleaned for too long, your pipe may even become damaged. Cleaning a pipe isn’t difficult, though like most things associated with pipe smoking it does have its own bit of routine surrounding it."

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post #2 of 24 Old 03-22-2019, 01:28 PM
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Thought I'd revive this thread to post a few pictures of a pipe I reamed this morning. This is a Dunhill shell bent billiard from 1976 (520A). I probably purchased it in the late 70s, smoked the heck out of it for four decades and rarely if ever reamed it. (I know, you're supposed to trim the cake to the thickness of a dime. There are even people on the forums who believe you need no cake at all. But when I started smoking this pipe building a cake seemed desirable—I just never got around to controlling it.)

This shell briar had always been one of my best and most reliable smokers. But recently I'd find myself reaching for it, then changing my mind. It just wasn't appealing to me. It wasn't smoking well—a bit dull and bitter—and it wasn't looking good either. I had been thinking of selling this pipe, along with some others, to offset some recent purchases but realized I'd probably get very little for it, especially considering how grotty it looked. And I love this pipe. It's been with me from my earliest days in New York, is comfortable to clench and, until recently, smoked like a champ. I couldn't bring myself to discard it just for a little cash. I decided to ream it to see if I could spruce it up a little and revive its former smoking qualities. I'll let you know what I find.

I didn't think to photograph the bowl before starting to ream it but I think you can get an idea about the thickness of the cake from the amount of carbon I got out of it.

BTW, that's me in the picture at the top of this thread!
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post #3 of 24 Old 03-22-2019, 02:33 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Piper View Post
Thought I'd revive this thread to post a few pictures of a pipe I reamed this morning. This is a Dunhill shell bent billiard from 1976 (520A). I probably purchased it in the late 70s, smoked the heck out of it for four decades and rarely if ever reamed it. (I know, you're supposed to trim the cake to the thickness of a dime. There are even people on the forums who believe you need no cake at all. But when I started smoking this pipe building a cake seemed desirableóI just never got around to controlling it.)

This shell briar had always been one of my best and most reliable smokers. But recently I'd find myself reaching for it, then changing my mind. It just wasn't appealing to me. It wasn't smoking wellóa bit dull and bitteróand it wasn't looking good either. I had been thinking of selling this pipe, along with some others, to offset some recent purchases but realized I'd probably get very little for it, especially considering how grotty it looked. And I love this pipe. It's been with me from my earliest days in New York, is comfortable to clench and, until recently, smoked like a champ. I couldn't bring myself to discard it just for a little cash. I decided to ream it to see if I could spruce it up a little and revive its former smoking qualities. I'll let you know what I find.

I didn't think to photograph the bowl before starting to ream it but I think you can get an idea about the thickness of the cake from the amount of carbon I got out of it.

BTW, that's me in the picture at the top of this thread!
Nice find on the article! It should make a big difference in the way it smokes! I do my best to not build a lot of cake, what you have there is about max for me. I use a Decatur Tri Blade for trimming.

Techniques for Proper Pipe Cleaning-4fa545d1-1a30-45b7-86c9-34f563536256.jpg

Techniques for Proper Pipe Cleaning-81ca324c-fd09-42f1-8687-6bfed33bf823.jpg
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post #4 of 24 Old 03-22-2019, 03:09 PM
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Nathan @OneStrangeOne, that's a great tool. I've had a reaming kit for years but rarely used it. Despite smoking since the 70s, I've been lazy about maintaining my pipesó basically a pipe cleaner through the stem and back on the rack. Since getting more involved on Puff, I've started to pay more attention to pipe maintenance. After smoking, I now clean the stem with alcohol, screw a wad of paper towel into the bowl and wipe the rim. I'm going to stay on top of trimming the cake too.

Nathan, reading your posts has made me a better piper. I take better care of my pipes, make minor improvements, try out more blends, pay more attention to flavors, and try to share my little knowledge with others.
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post #5 of 24 Old 03-22-2019, 03:20 PM
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Techniques for Proper Pipe Cleaning

Great discussion gentlemen! Iíve been using a slightly damp paper towel folded in a way that it can be inserted into the chamber right after smoking and spun a few times to keep the cake thin and well distributed. Iíve only used a reamer similar to the Decatur to recondition an estate pipe. Pipe cleaners with 151 proof through the stem to clean and a final one inserted and left between smokes. Unscented Carmax on exterior of stems and bowls to keep them protected. Need to get some Halcyon wax but itís always out of stock when Iím buying tobacco online.


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post #6 of 24 Old 07-22-2019, 10:35 AM
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Jumping on the band wagon here. What tools or kita would you guys reccomend. I have watched some videos on maintenance but trust my brothers here more than something on youtube. I have a couple of pipes that I have yet to ever trim or ream. (I have literally never done it on any pipe ever). I just want to start maintaining my stuff better and figure you guys probably have it down to a science and can lead me into what I need to invest in. Thank you all in advance.

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post #7 of 24 Old 07-22-2019, 10:48 AM
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BTW, that's me in the picture at the top of this thread![/QUOTE]

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post #8 of 24 Old 07-22-2019, 11:24 AM
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A lot of the 3 in 1 pipe tools have knives that work well for scraping out a bowl. I don't know if some of the 3 in 1 tools include knives, or if you need to look specifically for "tobacco pipe knife." I scrape out my cobs more than anything else, and have occasionally used a cheap pipe reamer tool on my briars. Although I've read that reamer tools can weaken the bowl or potentially cause cracks? I tend to build cakes that are uneven so I figure every now and again I want to smooth things out. Not sure if that's entirely the way to go, but it seems logical.



And what say you guys on using bourbon soaked (or whatever alcohol) pipe cleaners to clean the inside of the shank?



David @Piper, I knew that was you in the picture above. Your look says, "I'm a waiter, but I also solve crimes in Victorian era London." And I respect that.
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post #9 of 24 Old 07-22-2019, 12:58 PM
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I'm just going dog pile here about the tools all the crusty codgers are using. I actually don't like the idea of a reamer because it seems to easy to damage the pipe when you have 3 blades cutting at the same time.

I have never actually built any substantial cake in any of my pipes because I'm always wiping the bowl with a paper towel to keep it from going sour.

For the 1st time, recently, I used a cheap 151 Proof Grain Alcohol to clean the stem and shank of a couple pipes that I've smoked a lot (for me) lately. I must have done something wrong because those pipes are now unsmokeable. Super ashy tongue burning flavor during smoking a few days after this cleaning. I'm wondering if I just broke some of the contamination free in the shank, but didn't actually get it clean. To make matters worse, I then smoked a brand new Cob and it was the sweetest smoke I've ever experienced from any other cob or briar. Makes me shy away from actually cleaning my pipes. I actually like the smoke from brand new pipes compared to pipes with 10+ smokes on them. I'm sure I'm doing something wrong here.
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post #10 of 24 Old 07-22-2019, 01:06 PM
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I've read that clear acrylic and isopropyl alcohol don't like each other, is grain alcohol as aggressive?

Or perhaps the darker colors protect the acrylic somehow?
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