Briar tobacco pipes will last a lifetime if properly smoked and cared for. If not cleaned regularly, tobacco pipes can develop a sour taste due to the tar and oil residues that are allowed to build up. To help prolong the longevity of your pipe therefore we have put together a basic guide to caring for your tobacco pipe.
After smoking your tobacco pipe, wait a couple of hours to allow it to cool before separating the mouthpiece from the bowl. Remove the filter if disposable. To begin the cleaning process take your smoking pipe tool and with the “spoon” end, scoop the tobacco ashes from the bowl into an ashtray. Don’t scrape the inside of the bowl too vigorously as you want a coating of ash to build up over time into what is called “cake” (see our Beginner’s Guide to Pipe Smoking – How To Break In Your Pipe). Knock out any remaining contents from the smoking pipe, being sure to handle it by its bowl and using your hand, or preferably a cork knocker affixed to an ashtray. It’s not advisable to bang the briar pipe against the side of an ashtray or other hard object as this can damage the wood and will almost certainly remove the finish from more decorative pipes.
Use a quality pipe cleaner and run it gently through the stem, pushing it back-and-forth several times to soak up any excess moisture and oils. Use as many pipe cleaners as you need until the last one comes out almost completely clean. After you have run several cleaners through your tobacco pipe, gently knock out the bowl once again. Then take another pipe cleaner, bend it in half and swab the inside of the bowl, making one complete revolution. This ensures you avoid building up too much ‘cake’, the carbonized tobacco mentioned above.
Cake insulates the pipe bowl and allows good air flow around the pipe tobacco promoting a clean, even burn and also prevents bowl burnouts by ensuring your pipe burns cool and dry. Any thicker than approximately 1.5mm however and it can expand while you are smoking, potentially cracking the bowl. If the cake has been allowed to become thicker than 1.5mm, use a tool such as the Senior Pipe Reamer to scrape it back down to the desired thickness.
Once in a while, it will become necessary to run pipe cleaners through the stem and shank of your smoking pipe with a cleaning solvent such as Clean & Cure Pipe Sweetener, in order to keep your smoking pipe fresh and to prevent it from absorbing the moisture that’s generated by smoking. This specialist product will break down tar and resins, and sterilize your tobacco pipe whilst being non-toxic, having minimal taste and not affecting the finish.
Once clean, reconstruct your tobacco pipe and store in a pouch or display stand until you are ready for the next use. It is advisable to give pipes a day’s rest between smokes as this gives the briar time to absorb the moisture and oils from the smoke.
Remember, a good smoking pipe is an investment that will give you years of enjoyment if taken care of properly… Enjoy!