If you smoke a pipe or are thinking of smoking a pipe to save money, you know how expensive a pipe can be. Whether you own a five dollar corncob or a thousand dollar masterpiece, you need to keep it clean to enjoy it for many years to come. Here are a few guidelines to help you protect your investment.
Take your time and smoke slowly. A pipe is not a cigarette, you can actually damage your pipe if you try to smoke it like one. Puff, don’t suck.
As soon as you are done smoking, blow any condensation and loose tobacco down into the bowl.
Run a pipe cleaner through it. Try to push the cleaner all the way down to the bowl, but not into the bowl.
Use a pipe cleaner that fits snugly, but not tightly.
Tap your pipe out. Tap it on something soft, like the cork knobs you can buy to put into an ashtray. Don’t bang it or hold it by the mouthpiece when tapping, that can break or chip it.
Once a week I use a thicker pipe cleaner and pipe sweetener on my pipes to remove the varnish and tar that can build up. Make sure to let the pipe dry and don’t let the liquid touch the finish on the outside.
Every few months, you should trim down the cake (burnt tobacco which “cakes” up over time inside a pipe bowl) with a wire bore brush. This helps keep small bits of tobacco from plugging the smoke holes.
If you have a meerschaum or corncob pipe, use a bowl scraper and prevent a cake from developing. While a cake is a good thing on a briar pipe, it WILL crack a meerschaum. I use a sharp pocketknife.