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My basic cleaning


CRASHtheGREY
Posts: 172
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Joined: 12 months ago

I discovered early on that cake is not for me. So, after every bowl I run a pipe cleaner up the stem and really clear out the shank, and then flip it around and do the same with the clean end, too. Then I form a U shape with the cleaner and wipe the bowl out. I get a good carbon layer without developing heavy cake. A little spit on the rim to reduce any creep and done. I rarely, if ever, require deep cleans or reaming this way. What is your technique? 

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Deckard Cain
Posts: 33
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Joined: 9 years ago

First off, I have to say that I am not the most tidy Piper.  Meaning I do not clean my pipes between smokes. Keep in mind also that I do not own any pipes that one would call a collector's item.  I have many pipes, and practically all of them get used quite a bit. Sometimes they are stuffed in pockets with loose change, other times they sit in a cubby in my car rolling around with a pocket knife and a lighter.  So they get used hard, and they show the wear. I probably have around 30 or 40 cobs, and probably 100 briar also.  I don't shop for estate tate pipes, but somehow I have acquired a lot of old pipes. Grabows, falcons, weird companies from the '70s that long went out of business.  I have some Petersons but they were gifts and I pretty much never smoked them.  And I have quite a few Morgan bonez, they are my favorites.  I tend to clean my pipes when they need it.  I've never worried much about ghosting, and I consider it a non-issue.  I've tried many techniques for cleaning pipes over the years.  The procedure I have settled on is this.

I run pipe cleaners in the shank from both ends if possible.  I also always clean a pipe when it is still warm, as the moisture usually helps to clean it.  I have various sizes of pipe cleaners, and I usually have one small enough to run up and down the stem also, I prefer the ones without the steel barbs for this.  Even though people warn against it, I often disassemble my pipe while it is still warm to clean it.  I've never had any issues with reassembling it, as long as it is reassembled immediately after cleaning.  Sometimes a pipe warrants a more thorough cleaning though.  In these cases I use alcohol as a solvent.  Everclear grain alcohol works very good for this. I am not a fan of a cake in my pipe.  I find it to be a little gross for some reason, and honestly I have seen some cakes that were quite alarming and had reduced the internal diameter by nearly 50%.  

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CRASHtheGREY
Joined: 12 months ago

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Posts: 172

Even my collector pipes get treated like this. I buy them to use them, regardless of their value. If I can't toss it on the dashboard with a knife I shouldn't own it. But a pipe cleaner after every bowl while still warm is key.

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Ted
Posts: 2135
 Ted
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Joined: 12 months ago

I do much the same as you, pipe cleaner every time. For the bowl though, I tear off a piece of paper towel about 3-4” across and pick which one of my fingers fits the bowl the best and I twist the pipe on my finger, fold the paper towel and do it again. It’s worked great to keep cake from building up. Occasionally, I’ll do a scraping with a knife when I feel the inside of the bowl is getting rough. 

I have been amazed by some estate pipes I’ve gotten in the past. I’ve had ones that had so much cake buildup in them that about 1” diameter bowls only had enough room to fit a pencil down the center. To each their own, but I don’t even understand how someone let that happen, or even smoked the pipe that long where you could only fit a little bit of shag cut in it. 

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CRASHtheGREY
Posts: 172
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I use a paper towel on meer but not briar, although I am pretty aggressive with the pipe cleaner. I just commented on Facebook about the heavy cake. Like smoking a single strand of ribbon in those estate pipes would be fun. Haha.

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Deckard Cain
Posts: 33
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There are piping subcultures where a heavily built up cake inside a bowl is a point of pride.  Decades ago you would hear people talk about it much more than you do now.  Always explaining how careful you need to be with the cake on the bowl, because it was fragile and would crack off easily. And apparently at the time the belief was that the cake was the only thing that protected your bowl from certain burnout.  Back in the '80s and '90s there was a lot of talk about Dr. Grabow using cheap wood for their bowls. Often having holes in them and being filled with putty. And as the story went if you did not build up a cake quickly it would burn through one of the holes.  I have many Grabows, and I've never experienced anything like this.  Truthfully, some of those old pipes are my most sturdy.  

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CRASHtheGREY
Joined: 12 months ago

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It is funny because when I make a pipe and discover a pit in the chamber, I keep it and smoke it. Two have holes all the way through so you can blow smoke through them. And yet, they never burn out. Most burn out is simply caused by smoking too hot, pit or no. Cake will definitely insulate that, but it will also crack the bowl sometimes. A lot of the old thoughts are based on poor technique. 

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BriarBerg
Posts: 231
Joined: 3 years ago

I mostly do the same, often with a paper towel, but pipe cleaner if that's all I have. Although, lately I've stopped doing it with a few pipes that seem to smoke a bit hotter. I got so in the habit of not developing cake, I realized I wanted to double check if maybe my preference had changed or if maybe I do want cake in certain pipes. 

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DeathMetal.org
Posts: 81
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Joined: 9 years ago

I agree. The U-bend is an important technique. If you keep the dust out, it does not get mixed with water and tar (or whatever it is) and form a heavy cake layer. The natural tar makes pretty good cake for the small amount that I like. Good post.

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CRASHtheGREY
Joined: 12 months ago

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Thank you. Polarizing opinion but definitely the way I like to go.

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Jon Bennett
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Hi all, I smoke a Falcon and I keep things very clean. I run warm water and pipe cleaners through and in the aluminum humidome. My briar bowls are wiped out with paper towels until they come out clean. I’ve seen pipes online that caused me to gag, falcons filled with crud and juice from dozens of smokes 🤮 absolutely foul.

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CRASHtheGREY
Joined: 12 months ago

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Some people really don't like to clean their pipes.

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I quickly realized that heavy cake buildup isn't my preference for pipes. So, after every smoke, I follow a routine I picked up from a <a href=" removed link " target="_blank" rel="noopener">plumber in Vaughan. I diligently run a pipe cleaner up the stem to thoroughly clean the shank, and then flip it to use the clean end as well. After that, I bend the cleaner into a U shape to gently wipe out the bowl. This method helps me maintain a good carbon layer without excessive cake. To keep the rim in check, I just use a bit of spit—a tip I learned from the same plumber. This routine means I hardly ever need deep cleans or reaming. How about you? What's your technique?

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Joseph
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At the end of each smoke, I tap out the dottle against a cork in my ashtray, (or the palm of my hand, if out lunting). Then, I lick my pinky and twirl the bowl on it, repeating as needed after wiping my pinky on a paper towel or pocket handkerchief (or my pants). When I get back to my desk where I keep my pipes on a shelf, and all my pipe paraphernalia, I run a pipe cleaner through both the stummel and stem after each smoke - usually separated by that point. And, the shank (mortise side) usually has a larger draw hole, so I sometimes tightly fold the pipe cleaner in half to clean any trapped tar at the bowl side of the draw hole. (P.S.: I wash my hands before touching anything with my tobacco-pinky afterwards 🙃 )

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Juan José Pascual Lobo
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After every smoke I use a pipe cleaner and rub the whole pipe with a microfibre cloth. From time to time I use abrasive pipe cleaners. When I finish the job with pipe cleaner, I fold it in half and clean the interior of the chamber. If the cake gets very thick I make a soft and careful reame. Each 3-4 months I clean stem and shank with Savinelli Nicosovol, and polish bowl and stem with Savinelli products.

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Zigmeister67
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I wait for the pipe to cool (most have filters) so I have to disassemble. Run a pipe cleaner with a dab of alcohol through the stem. Then one through the pipe. Tap out any left over dottle in my hand. Take a u shaped pipe cleaner to clean bowl. Then wipe down everything with a microfiber cloth.

I haven't been smoking long enough to run into much buildup.

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Relight
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Old thread and I do what others have said. 

Cleaner down the airway and I use a paper towel to wipe out the bowl. I usually use the paper towel to rub out or portion the tobacco and save it for cleanup. I do the same for cobs. 

However, my likely controversial practice is to leave a clean cleaner in the airway when I put the pipe away.

I leave it in while loading the next bowl and use that cleaner to clean the pipe after, stick a new one in, and repeat. Some might make valid arguments air is good for pipes. I agree. But I also see the stuff on the cleaner. 

And yes as recently as yesterday I sat down for a smoke and stuck the pipe in my mouth with the cleaner still in it. 

 

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