A Beginner’s Guide to Briar Smoking Pipe Care

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!

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36 Responses to A Beginner’s Guide to Briar Smoking Pipe Care

  1. avatar Adrian Reading says:

    Very pleased with the two Carey pipes and aromatic tobacco that I recently purchased.

    It is such a shame that Carey’s will soon be no longer.

    I have always enjoyed reading the catalogues regularly sent.

    Could not a gang of us buy Careys and keep it going, say manned by volunteers?

  2. As you mentioned, every once in awhile, it will be necessary to run pipe cleaners through the stem and shank. Is there a suggestion on how often that should be done, or signs that point to it needing to be done? I will have to keep these tips in mind if I ever find myself needing to clean a pipe.

  3. avatar James says:

    Dear Marcus, I have just received my second pipe, a Missouri Meerschaum corn cob. I am very pleased with it and the first smoke has improved my day significantly, even in the good Scottish weather. It is very different to my Magic Inch Tacon Cherry Full Bent Billiard (which I also love by the way) and I would certainly recommend a corn cob as a first pipe. Could you please include a guide on packing, breaking in, and cleaning etc of corn cob pipes?

    • avatar Jenny says:

      Hi James, great to here you are enjoying the Corn Con pipe. They are extremely popular and don’t require any breaking in as such. I will send you some further information via email.

  4. avatar Henry says:

    Thanks for finally talking about > Beginners Guide to Briar Smoking Pipe Care < Liked it!

  5. avatar Wiliam says:

    Thanks for your kind reply of 25/1/17 at 10.12am

  6. avatar William says:

    I am a light smoker who for over 30 years have obtained tobacco from a tobacconist who stocks a range of his own blends. Recently thought as a treat I would try my old regular Three Nuns. On breaking the seal knew
    that it was not the tobacco I had known and loved. Your comparison chart refers to “Three Nuns Original.” Are there 2 blends

  7. avatar Catherine Pilling says:

    I am buying for two pipe smokers who have smoked for many many years. The sampler 5g tobacco caught my eye and the reviews on the corn cob pipes am I doing the right thing?

    • avatar Jenny says:

      Hi Catherine, The mini tobacco samplers are a great idea and allows you the opportunity of trying out several different tobaccos at low cost. Corncob pipes are equally valued by both learners and experienced smokers who simply desire a cool, clean smoke so yes, you’ve made two very good choices.

  8. avatar Ernst Meijer says:

    I use your 9 mm filters. Do I change it after every smoke?

    • avatar Marcus says:

      Hi Ernst – it depends of course on how long each smoke is, but no the 9mm filters should last for a good few smokes. I recommend changing them when the ‘barrel’ becomes darkly stained…

    • avatar ian martin says:

      Some years ago I was given a tin of
      Dobbies of Edinburgh pipe tobacco the aroma still haunts me and a lovely smoke any history of DOBBIES and I am going to try your blends to find a comparison if possible

  9. avatar len clark says:

    Hi Just to let you know that the product I ordered arrived very quickly and safely.i
    am just trying to see how much I will use in
    a month before joining the tobacco club.
    Thanks again.

    • avatar Marcus says:

      Pleased to hear it Len, and we look forward to welcoming you to the TC membership soon!

  10. avatar jim rigby says:

    i find my tobacco goes dry very quickly
    can you give any tips on keeping it moist yet dry enough to light.
    iv’e tried spraying my tobacco with red wine
    and its not to bad . yet still dries out quickly

    • avatar Marcus says:

      Hi Jim – firstly apologies for the delay in replying. Tobacco drying out is usually an issue with storage. If possible you should use a sealed tobacco jar, either wooden or ceramic, and keep in a cool dry place. With the recent weather any air reaching the tobacco will dry it very quickly. As for rehydrating, red wine would not be my recommendation as I expect that will be an astringent. As the alcohol evaporates it will take remaining moisture with it. I would suggest taking an atomizer and mixing a tiny amount of vanilla extract with water. Spray lightly, mix the tobacco and leave for a couple of days. That should do the trick, but as I say the best thing is to not let it dry out in the first place. I hope that helps…

  11. avatar David says:

    Hi, Carey’s. I have just returned to pipe smoking after many years, still having my collection – Carey, Peterson, Comoy, Plumb and a meerschaum. Of them all, the Carey and the meerschaum are my favourite.
    I have just spent 3 hours on the web looking for another pipe to buy and I must say that your range and prices are the most attractive. Will order another pipe soon (a bent, to park alongside my straight in the rack) and look forward to enjoying your usual great service.
    Your ‘Magic Inch’ system suits my smoking best, delivering a cool, dry, satisfying smoke. Must get some more of your filter papers, too!
    Keep it up, guys, glad to see you still prospering.

  12. avatar Kevin O'Dea says:

    I’ve just decided to start smoking a pipe. I used to smoke one years ago but stopped because my pipe used to get very wet and taste yukky!
    I’ve just ordered the Standard Starter Kit Full Bent and the Traditional Blend Mini Sampler Packs.
    If you could point me in the direction of any good advice I would be grateful.

    • avatar Marcus says:

      Pleased to hear that you’re giving it another try! Best advice is ‘trial and error’, but specifically the Magic Inch system should help you avoid the wet smoke problem. Make sure you break the pipe in with small bowls to start. Also with the MI don’t pack the tobacco too tight as this will draw too much air through the vents… that’s about it from a general point of view. If there’s anything more specific you need, just let us know. Enjoy!

  13. avatar B Pirez says:

    Hi! Do you guys sell Boston whaler aromatic? Is it sold at all in the UK?

    • avatar Marcus says:

      Hi. Sorry we don’t sell the tobacco you mention, and to be honest its not one I’ve heard off before…

  14. avatar Derrick Powell says:

    More of an observation rather than an enquirey.Over the last six months my tobacco is becomming harder to obtain and not being stocked by majority of shops. Also I cannot obtain the Gas refill cylinders to recharge my lighter, and to top it all I cannot obtain the flints to go in my lighter. I have just ordered the flints from you but not sure about obtaining the Gas. I live in Bristol Sth Glos so it is a large community.

    • avatar Marcus says:

      Hi Derrick. Thanks for your observations… If you let us know what tobacco you favour we can have a look and see whether we can stock it for you, or alternatively you could try our samplers and see if there are any you prefer? Then you will know that you can always source it… Regarding the gas, unfortunately we are unable to post this kind of item.

  15. avatar Mark Bezzina says:

    I used to receive the brochure book with prices but now you have stopped sending it. I used to order pipes & other items from you. I would like to know if is it possible to puchase from the internet and have product to Malta.
    Thanks for your assistence.

    Mark Bezzina

    • avatar Marcus says:

      Hi Mark – thanks for getting in touch! We send products worldwide at a very low p&p charge so feel free to order from the website and we’ll make sure it arrives quickly and safely!

  16. avatar Brian Ritchie says:

    I collect Savinelli and Peterson Sherlock Holmes and smoke Bruno Flake. Interested to know what you can offer. Also do you have a 24 pipe rack?

    • avatar Marcus says:

      Hi Brian – thanks for getting in touch. Savinelli, Peterson and Bruno are all ‘currency’ we deal with on a regular basis so I’m sure there will be something we can do for you. As for the 24 pipe rack, we don’t stock it as a matter of course but shouldn’t have any trouble sourcing one or having one made. Probably best if I pass your email to Jenny and you can discuss your requirements with her in more detail…

  17. avatar graham phelps says:

    Is it natural for a pipe to burn your mouth and tongue when you first start smoking it or is it the tobacco i am using?

    • avatar Marcus says:

      Hi Graham – it could be that you are suffering from ‘tongue bite’. The following excerpt is from our Beginner’s Guide… ‘The problem with simply stuffing a practically solid column of tobacco into the bowl of the pipe is that there is very little air for the combustion to take place when you light the pipe. The result is you find yourself having to light it over and over again, creating a very hot and wet smoke. And a hot and wet smoke often results in what is called “tongue bite”, a sharp stinging sensation on the tongue.’ Have a read of the Guide and see if the tips it offers make a difference…

  18. avatar Raymond Hill says:

    I am very interested in your products. Please keep me informed…especially of Meerchaum pipes.
    Raymond Hill.

    • avatar Marcus says:

      Will do Mr Hill. By subscribing to our email newsletter you will be kept up to date with any new products, offers, etc. And regarding Meerschaum, please look out for more about this over the next week or so…

  19. avatar jack says:

    i like your selection

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