Keep dem slots clean!
Some of you are
wondering if Iíve lost my mind with the above opening line. So please
bear with me through this.
Keeping your pipes
clean is a ďfull meal dealĒ. Itís not sufficient to ream the tobacco
chamber and run pipe cleaners through the stem and shank. There are
other parts of the pipe that do require maintenance as well. The
mortise needs to be swabbed out on occasion. Sometimes the end if the
tenon needs to be wiped off as well. Thatís still not enough. Do not
forget the slot in the stem.
Tiny pieces of
tobacco, tar and food particles ( I know yuck ), will build up over time
and need to be attended to. Unless you are in the business of cleaning
hundreds of pipes per year you probably donít have all the equipment,
nor should you spend the money to acquire all the tools ďof the
tradeĒ. The good news is you donít need to go out and purchase dental
tools. A simple wooden tooth pick does a wonderful job.
For those tough
cases in which the build up is hard and a stiffer metal tool I required,
forgetaboutit. There is a little trick I will pass along.
Remove the stem
from the bowl. In a glass or mug put in about a half inch of warm
water. Not hot, just warm. Put the stem in, button first and allow 5
Ė 10 minutes of soaking time. Remove and wipe off any excess moisture
right away. Do not leave the stems in too long. Vulcanite, Ebonite,
and Brindle are not fans of water and we do not want them to tarnish and
require extra buffing. Once the water has been wiped off, use the
wooden tooth pick to gently remove any build up from the button. Then
bend a pipe cleaner in half and scrub / buff the inside of the slot.
Itís easy, and
takes very little time and will make those stems far better.
Your other option is
to buy an ultra sonic jewelry cleaner and give each stem a sonic bathe.
However for non acrylic stems you will then need to buff and re
polish. Trust me, unless youíre doing hundreds of pipes per year, itís
A clean pipe is a
happy pipe. Happy pipe = happy life.