Change in Pipes you own

cboukal

New member
Evening everyone!
I am slowly getting into pipes and I was curious what people are choosing to smoke from. I have 2 Briars and a metal corn cob now (just because it looked neat and was about the same price as the shipping I would have had to pay anyway). I have seen a lot of pictures that people post with wider bowls now and lots of white pipes (I think they are called Meerschaum pipes? What are advantages/disadvantages?
 

Moe Smoke

Active member
Hi cboukal... The three most common materials for pipe bowls are (in no particular order): corn cobbs of which you are already familiar, briar (very hard wood, root of the heath tree) and the white pipe material that you mentioned, Meerschaum (a natural product found in just a few places in the world, look this one up as there is a lot to it). Hard woods other than briar are also used (cherry, olive, strawberry, pear) but far less often. And then there is morta, which is a semi-petrified wood as I understand it; and fired clay as well (old school). So LOTS of choices. And, as with most things, much of it comes down to personal preference.

That said, one of the key aspects of a good smoking experience is the dryness of the smoke itself. This is influenced by many things including packing technique, puffing technique, external factors such as air temperature and relative humidity... but a big part of it also has to do with the material of your pipe bowl. The more absorbent, typically the better they perform. Corn cobbs are highly absorbent and make a great affordable pipe, however there are limitations as you referred to... that being, you are typically stuck with a bowl size of .75" or less (inner bowl diameter). Meerschaum, although it appears stone-like or porcelain-like, is very porous and also is known for the quality of the smoke. Drawbacks to meerschaum is that they are brittle (and finding one with a half-way decent stem can be a bit of a challenge, especially if you are on a budget). Likewise, briar, as the root of a tree, is quite absorbent as well. Briar, as a pipe bowl material, is pretty versatile... it is absorbent (maybe not as much as the other two materials) but typically performs well and, as it is a type of wood, it can be made in various shapes and sizes and isn't as brittle as meerschaum. Because of this, you will find that the majority of pipes produced are made of this material. The one drawback of briar wood (albeit a small one in my opinion) is that it has a tendency to hang onto the flavors of past tobaccos that were smoked in the pipe... pipe smokers call this "ghosting". Some people have little care about this, and for some people it bothers them a lot... for those that take exception to a pipe's tendency to ghost, they often will have certain pipes dedicated to different styles of tobacco (Aromatics, Virginias, English blends, etc.)... and some people will even go as far as dedicating certain pipes to specific blends! To each their own... in the pipe smoking hobby, there are many differing opinions and preferences - there is no shortage of dissension and it is one of the things that makes the hobby so interesting!

I'm barely scratching the surface here. I recommend that you hop online and do your own research... there is no shortage of information out there and the YTPC (YouTube Pipe Community) has any numbers of videos on this subject. Just know that:

- For the most part, if you do some research, you shouldn't go terribly wrong
- Like most things, you usually get what you pay for (some notable exceptions apply - cobbs are a great value for example); and
- Take your time and... Enjoy the journey!

All the best... happy smokes

Moe

P.S. Metal is not absorbent and I expect you will find that the one you own smokes a bit "steamy". If not, well then it works for you - great! And if so, then you likely will want to slow your puffing cadence way down to keep it as cool as possible. (which isn't bad advice for any type of pipe)
 

cboukal

New member
I really appreciate all the information, maybe its my eyes playing tricks on my when I see people post pictures that the bowl looks wider. Could be the camera angle also. I got that metal pipe for Aromatic tobacco and so I can avoid those in my Briar's. All the insight on the different pipes is very helpful. I will keep learning and trying new things!!
 

Middle Earth

New member
As a general matter for me, all pipes smoke just fine if the airway is open
Cobs, Meerschaum, Briar, Clay, whatever

Lately, I have been into estates briars that have been cleaned/refurbished from sellers I trust
I am not into cleaning and polishing
Tried it and not rewarding, so not for me

Been on a roll with $50 estates

As the years pass, you may find your preferences changing
Memo to myself would have been, go slow and let experience be your guide
 
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