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How do I clean my clay pipe?

The best ways to clean a clay pipe

Except for the 15-inch tavern pipes we have found that a pipe tool and a pipe cleaner work well. Just be careful when inserting the pipe cleaner that you don’t cause too much pressure on the stem. Try holding the pipe at the bit and slowly push the pipe cleaner into the stem. Do not force it. If you hold the pipe by the bowl you may not be able to gauge the amount of pressure being placed on the stem and you may break the pipe. It’s all good, though. We have plenty more clay pipes in stock. We also have a clay pipe care sheet which you can download.

For the two colonial pipes, we found the stems to be too narrow to accommodate a pipe cleaner. A very thin wire – about the thickness of a paper clip – can be used. You can also try burning the residue out on hot coals, in an active fire, or possibly with a butane lighter.

Our friend Cecil W. has used the self-cleaning oven cycle to clean his clay pipes. He tells us it worked like a charm, stating they came out looking brand new. And we have second on this method from Sherman Carr who called in results on a successful cleaning in his oven. If you do have a self-cleaning oven, we think this is probably the preferred way to go.

Ken Brewster says: When we used the hot coals from our wood stove, the pipe was cleaned out but the pipe came out gray. We don’t appear to have a self-cleaning oven. Our oven just sits there getting crustier and thick with who-knows-what (almost like the inside of one of my briar pipes) and has never, ever tried to clean itself like a self-respecting oven. Well, I’m not going to stoop to the task!

DISCLAIMER: We cannot be responsible for anything that may go wrong if you try any of the methods above to clean your clay pipe. If you use a self-cleaning oven, we do not recommend adding any chemical agents to the oven to aid the cleaning process. If you use a denture cleaner and it works, let us know. If it dissolves the clay, let us know. You may want to try it out on a broken pipe first, and please rinse the denture cleaner off before sticking the pipe back in your mouth with your dentures!

I have a clay bowl with a reed stem.

If the seal where the stem is inserted into the bowl isn’t tight enough to get a good draw, what should I do?

Unfortunately, the reed used for the stem did not evolve specifically to fit the clay bowl. Over the last 100 million years the variety of bamboo that we use with the bowls developed in an environment devoid of the presence of the Pamplin clay bowl (circa 1880 – 1950), but they still work pretty well. Stan D. let us know that a few drops of wax around the opening where the bowl and stem meet forms a nice air-tight seal which allows the pipe to be smoked without pulling in air through the shank end of the bowl. It may not be necessary for a good smoke to seal the reed this way; we found that the “Magic Inch” patented by the Carey Company can actually make a cooler smoke by allowing air to be drawn in along the stem.

We have gotten word from Michael M. in California that wax, when heated will give off toxins and may not be the best thing for creating a good seal. His preferred method is to whittle small shreds at one end of the reed and char it and that makes the end fit snugly into the stem of the bowl.

Another suggestion comes from John Tolbert, a Civil War re-enactor for many years, who tells that wrapping a little thread, or very small bit of cloth around the end of the reed will keep the stem snug in the pipe. This same method can be used on briar pipes if the stem becomes a little loose.

How are clay pipes made?

Most of our pipes are made using a slip cast method where the clay is made into a wet slurry and poured into the molds to dry before the pipes are fired. Some of our pipes, particularly the Old German Clay Pipes, are hand rolled and pressed into the molds.

What’s your most popular pipe for women?

Our pipes are not gender specific so choose a pipe that looks good, feels right and smokes well. If you are new to pipe smoking and would like to try a sleek, elegant model, we recommend the Italian mini churchwardens which are similar to the pipe Stephen Fry smoked in Gosford Park. Also, any of our longer churchwardens are well suited to both male and female pipe enthusiasts.

Another good choice would be our Dutch Gouda-style pipe. It smokes easily and makes a tremendous hit at any social gathering where smoking is allowed. Good luck finding one of those!

Of course, any of our briar pipes makes a great gift for today’s pipe curious woman.

Anyone who thinks pipes are a man’s smoke is probably as old as Ken Brewster and somehow missed everything that happened in the past forty years.

What is International Pipe Smoking Day?

According to the United Pipe Clubs of America, pipe Pipe smokers everywhere will celebrate IPSD by raising their pipes in a unified toast to show their shared passion for pipes and the strong bonds of friendship and camaraderie that exist in the worldwide pipe smoking community. IPSD provides an opportunity for pipe smokers to stand up side by side with pride to educate others about the traditions and pleasures of pipe smoking and to promote our hobby in a positive way.

All UPCA member clubs, informal pipe smoking groups (for instance, those that get together to share a bowl in their local pipe shops) and individual smokers are encouraged to take part in IPSD. Inform your members and schedule a special IPSD meeting on or around February 20 to celebrate with your friends. If you are smoking at home, take a moment when you light up to salute your fellow briar lovers across the nation and the world.

If you belong to club get together with our friends, or if you are like us here at Pipeshoppe.com – out in the hinterland – we encourage you to choose a favored briar, or a nice clay pipe, perhaps the 16″ colonial tavern pipe which by its nature offers the prospect of a relaxed, leisurely smoke, sit back and partake in the pleasure of pipe smoking knowing that thousands of fellow pipe smokers are celebrating the occasion with you. Enjoy!

Do you ship outside the United States?

We ship to most countries and have many happy customers worldwide. We use Priority Mail or First Class for domestic orders. It may be possible to ship international orders first class international. If that option is available for your order it will show up on the shipping calculator on the cart page.  If you have ordered from us and encountered a problem with your shipment, please email us.

Close If you live in Utah state law restricts Internet sales of tobacco paraphernalia, such as pipes. Until we have information to the contrary, we will no longer sell any tobacco related product or smoking instruments to consumers in Utah and other locations where there are restrictions on our products.