How to Fireproof a Wooden Tobacco Pipe

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People have used wooden pipes to smoke tobacco for hundreds of years. Consisting of a bowl to hold the tobacco, a mouthpiece, or stem, and a shank that connects the two, pipes carved out of wood are usually made from briar, a tough, heat-resistant wood. As tobacco burns in a wooden pipe, a residue of carbon and ash is left behind. Called the cake, this carbon buildup helps insulate the wood from the heat of the burning tobacco. Building a cake a little thicker than an American dime can protect the pipe from heat and fire damage.

Things You'll Need

  • Pipe tobacco
  • Lighter or matches
  • Pipe cleaners
  • Pipe tool with tamper and scoop
  • Pinch a small amount of tobacco in your fingers and pack it into the bottom of the pipe bowl. Tamp down the tobacco. Repeat until the bowl is half full. Light and smoke the entire half-full bowl. Let the pipe rest, or dry out, for at least a day before smoking from it again.

  • Smoke at least a dozen half-full bowls in the pipe. This builds up the cake inside the bottom of the bowl. Let the pipe rest between smokings. Use pipe cleaners and a pipe tool to remove any tar from the stem after each smoke. Lightly run a pipe cleaner around the inside of the bowl to remove any loose ash or unburnt tobacco.

  • Fill the bowl three-quarters of the way full and light and smoke the entirety of the bowl. Smoke about a half dozen three-quarters-full bowls in the pipe to build up cake in the top half of the bowl. Continue to clean the pipe and let it rest between smokings.

  • Fill the bowl completely full of tobacco. After lighting, tamp down the tobacco. Most pipes will need very little cake along the top part of the bowl, since tobacco is usually only briefly burned there.

Tips & Warnings

  • Smoking can cause health problems.

References

  • "The Pipe Collector"; The Mysteries of the Briar Break-in Process; Fred Hanna; Aug 2007
  • Photo Credit Scott Barbour/Getty Images News/Getty Images
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