Breaking In a New Pipe

This post written by Mr Brizzi.

A common complaint of new pipe smokers is the hot pipe, and tongue bite. Together, we will review a few points which hopefully, will result in easing that problem.

Years ago, it was unheard of, to simply purchase a pipe, fill the bowl and smoke ‘pall mall’, going for broke. That seemed to make the old-timers laugh when they would see that. It had been commonly known throughout the planet where tobacco pipes are encountered, that any, new pipe, or overly reamed pipe, would require it to be broken in. It was called: The Rule of Thirds.

Making sure the pipe is clean, run your finger under water and completely wet the inside of the bowl, without drowning it, of course. Place not more than, 1/3rd of the capacity of the bowl filled with pipe tobacco. Remember, in this case, less, is more. So go easy and pinch your bowl offerings in a way that would make Uncle Scrooge smile with admiration.

gentleman smoking a pipe

Bring your source of flame to where you like it, and get the pipe lit, not a raging forest fire, just lit. Slowly, and easily, gently draw the smoke. Use your hand to make a flue damper on your pipe bowl chimney. You can use a thumb, the first two fingers, or the palm, to regulate the air flow. This is helpful especially if you over pack the tobacco too tight. Breathe with your stomach muscles. Slowly and relaxed. Draw the smoke easy with long volume, and you are now doing a number of things. You are teaching yourself relaxed breathing which will effectively reduce stress, and breaking in your pipe. The carbon will immediately form, from the 1/3rd mark to the heel. By pre-wetting, you reduce the possibility of burnouts. Repeat this at a very minimum of three times, better at five, best at ten cycles. Your pipe must rest and cool between smokes, a minimum of a half hour or until dead-cold to your touch. You can hasten the cooling off process simply by placing your pipe into a glass ashtray. Glass is a heat sink. Crystal, being best. Cold absorbs heat, for all the science majors. Next, repeat the process filling to 2/3rds, multiple cycles, then eventually you will reach a point where you can top off the bowl. Bear in mind, you must, smoke whatever the loading cargo of pipe tobacco, to the very heel, each time.

Only in recent years has factory pre-lined bowls lessened the need to break a pipe in, but I don’t know. All these pre-lined carbon offerings have a raunchy taste. A pipe needs to be properly broken in, no matter what. A pipe that smokes lousy, can be corrected by thoroughly cleaning it, and mildly leeching with food grade alcohol [190-proof Everclear, is best. Invite me over if you buy too much! >HickUp<]. Then follow the process to break in the pipe, using the Rule of Thirds.

Gurgly, wet pipes are a nuisance, like a dog that keep doing their business inside the house. You may need to lay paper out and place tobacco on top to dry out overnight, or a few hours. You may need to age other tobaccos a few months. You may need to remove any filter element that is not immediately serviceable. You may need to sand the bowl with 320-grit paper and remove the heavy and often shiny, finish. Your pipe should gently sweat, and breathe. If you must use varnish, the best one I like is Min-Wax Wipe On Polyurethane. Wipe it on, wait half a minute,then wipe it off. Allow the pipe to dry eight hours between applications. You may want to apply carnuba after te final coat has dried eight hours. I like Min-Wax Paste Furniture Wax. Rub the pad of your finger onto the wax and gently massage the wax onto the briar. A few coats will be needed. Buff, buff, buff. It cannot be overstated.

Remember: Anything that you do to your pipe will result in changing the way it will taste and smoke. You may shift where the flavor tones rest. From the top of your tongue, to the back of your mouth, or to the roof of your mouth. In fact, what you light your pipe with, also accounts for taste. I cannot use butane. I simply can’t stand the taste of butane, so I use a fuel Zippo. Scorches the rim of the bowl, but I am a longtime and serious pipe smoker, so it doesn’t bother me. On many of my previous pipes, I colored the rims, black.

With this information, many of the newer and perhaps a few older pipe smokers, may want to purchase other type of pipes. Rosewood, Pearwood, Cherrywood, Maplewood, Lemonwood, Etc. All very nice pipes.

Now you know how to properly break a pipe in. Now you know how to correct a pipe that does not smoke well. Now you know how to correct a pipe that does not taste too good. It’s worth the effort. A pipe that smokes beautifully, is priceless to its owner.

Mr Brizzi’s Bio: Tinker, tailor, soldier, spy [BBC television series: Smiley]; I have done all sorts of work to keep a roof over my family’s head, food on the table, a log on the fire… What can be said of a man who is a direct descendant of the Roman General, Brittius? I try to live my life with a measure of modesty, and walk quietly before others, humbly. Leadership by example [“Follow Me”]. I look like Brittius, resembling George C. Scott’s, Patton, and have the quiet demeanor of the late actor, Henry Fonda. I am not a complainer, nor busybody, nor gossip, nor rumor monger. I have earned my place in this world the hard way, and am most honored to bear the exalted title of, Grandpa.

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