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The Ultimate Guide to Pipe Maintenance

Pipes are delicate pieces of furniture that can be easily damaged by even minor bumps and knocks. To keep yours in tip-top condition, we recommend you follow a regular cleaning routine.

If you do so, you’ll have a pipe that’s as good to smoke as it is to look at. Having a guide to help you get started is essential!

Plumbing & Piping

1. Clean the Rim

The rim of your pipe is the most susceptible to darkening from tar and carbon. It’s also where your mouth comes in contact with it, so keeping this area clean is important for sanitary habits and for reducing the need for deep cleaning.

For starters, make a habit of moistening your finger with saliva or water and running it around the rim after every smoke. This will help reduce the need for a deep clean and keep your pipe looking shiny and residue-free for your next smoke.

Once a week, you can also use a Q-tip soaked in rubbing alcohol to clean the rim of your pipe. Doing this will remove most tar stains and reveal the wood beneath them, but if a significant amount of tar remains, you’ll need to follow the steps below for a deeper clean.

For a more thorough clean, you’ll need to disassemble your pipe and scrub the mortise and shank with an alcohol-dipped Q-tip, feeding through the draft hole. This is the most time-consuming step in the whole process but it’s worth it, as this will remove most tar buildup and leave your pipe ready for smoking again.

2. Clean the Bowl

Keeping your pipe clean is essential to maintaining its performance and appearance. It also helps prevent resin buildup that can clog up your piece.

For the vast majority of smoking sessions, a quick clean is all you need to do to keep your bowel in good shape. But every once in a while, your piece may need a deeper clean to help it function at its best.

One popular method for deep cleaning is to soak your pipe in a solution of salt and alcohol. This can be a great option for removing excess muck from old pipes and can also be used to help sanitize new pieces.

Before you start the process, be sure to thoroughly clean your pipe with a toothbrush and hot water before putting it in the bag. Then, cover your piece with rubbing alcohol and add a teaspoon of salt to the mixture. Let it sit for at least 12 hours to allow the alcohol to completely dissolve the resin.

3. Clean the Joints

When joints are exposed, they can absorb water and become a breeding ground for bacteria. Mold also thrives on these rough surfaces, so regular cleaning of grout and pipes is important.

The best way to ensure that your pipe connections are leak-proof is by using a plumber’s tape or pipe joint compound. Apply a thin layer of joint compound to the male threads on the end of the water or waste pipe (the end that will be connected to the fitting) and wrap the connection clockwise with the plumber’s tape.

Use a pair of wrenches to hand-tighten the connection, and then tighten an additional half-turn before you remove the tape. Avoid overturning or over-tightening the connections, as this can lead to damage to the threads and the fitting itself.

When soldering, it’s important to be sure that the joint is dry before heating. If it’s wet, it may not be able to heat up enough to separate properly.

4. Clean the Smoking Area

The smoking area of your pipe is one of the most important components of good smoke. Periodically, this area should be cleaned and tamped to promote a smooth smoking experience.

The most basic cleaning solution for the smoking area is simply tapped water and white vinegar. Apply the mixture to the surface of your pipe and use a clean brush or cloth to wipe it off.

A more thorough cleaning can be accomplished using specialized cleaning equipment. These tools can be purchased online or at your local smoking store.

Another simple method for maintaining the smoking area is to simply tamp down ash residue after each session. This helps to keep tobacco packed and prevents excess ash from entering the chamber of your pipe.