How to Clean A Pipe

How to Clean A Pipe

Cleaning your pipe is crucial for both hygiene and a prime smoking experience. Regular and diligent clean will keep your pipe from becoming soggy and tasting messy. Keeping up with pipe hygiene requires extra care that doesn’t come naturally for everyone, unfortunately.

What you’ll need:

  • Pipe Cleaners (tapered, bristle, or fluffly)
  • Pipe sweetener
  • Cotton swabs
  • Pipe reamer
  • Pipe pick

Pipe Rotation

A smoker’s rotation refers to the number of pipes they currently own, as well as the order in which they’re smoked. Knowing your own pipe-smoking behaviors is key to establishing a good maintenance regimen. You have to know which ones need to be cleaned next, and when.

Ideally, if you have enough pipes, you should allow each one to sit for 2-4 days before being used again after a cleaning.

Before Smoking

The pipe-care cycle begins with your very first puff. If you want an optimal smoking experience each time, clean the stem each time, before and after, with a pipe cleaner. This will dislodge any leftover ash or dottle. Then, gently tap the pipe on the palm of your hand to remove the debris

While Smoking

Another technique for maintaining your pipe while you smoke is by paying attention to how you smoke. When you’re lighting the pipe, do your best to burn the tobacco, not the rim. (Charred rims eventually happen, however, so if you notice a dark tint, try removing it by rubbing the defected area with a moistened pipe cleaner.) Sour, salty, or just plain bad taste is a good indicator that a cleaning is in order. It can even give clues as to what exactly is wrong.

After Smoking 

Never, ever remove the stem of a pipe before it cools, because this will cause it to loosen, which in turn may cause a crack to form in the shank or tenon. Allow at least a couple minutes, and then start the cleaning. Stir up any ash or dottle left in the bowl, cover the bowl with the palm of your hand, and shake it. This will help speed the formation of what is known as the bowl’s cake, a protective layer of carbonized tobacco and ash that acts as a natural guard against burnouts. Dump out the remaining ash, run a bristle cleaner all the way from the stem to the bottom of the bowl, remove it, and repeat. 

After a few bristle cycles the pipe should look clean; any leftover spots can usually be polished off with a wet pipe cleaner—the residual moisture of which you can simply blow away with your own mouth.

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