Pipe Academy: Accessories for Newbies

New Pipe SmokerOne of the most frequently asked questions from new pipe smokers is “What do I need other than a pipe and some tobacco?” Here are some ideas for you.

Pipe cleaners– you should run a pipe cleaner through the pipe after every smoke, and if the tobacco you are smoking tends to smoke wet, you will probably need to use one while smoking. There are a number of different types- regular, which are thin; extra absorbent, which are thicker for larger-bore pipes or particular wet smoking pipes; bristled, which have nylon bristles to help scrub out an exceptionally dirty stem and/or shank; and, tapered, which are best for pipes that are hard to pass a cleaner through.

Pipe nail/pipe tool– The purpose of a pipe tool is to tamp the burning tobacco and to clean out the chamber after smoking. The nail is the simplest, with a tamper at one end and a scraper at the other. A pipe tool or Czech tool has three parts- a tamper, a scraper or rounded-tipped knife blade for reaming and a pick for dislodging items from the shank or loosening damp tobacco from the heel.

Pipe rack– The best way to store a pipe is vertically, and pipe racks generally do this. Some hold them horizontally, but this is more for display or longer-term storage.

Lighter– A dedicated pipe lighter can make your life easier. Most are soft-flame butane, and the flame comes out the side to keep the flame from hitting your fingers while lighting. Many have tampers that come out of the bottom. Butane is tasteless, and the soft-flame shouldn’t scorch the pipe. There are two liquid fuel pipe lighters as well- Zippo makes one with a hole in the side of the chimney for placing over the top of the bowl, or the Sportsman, which looks like a large bolt and nut. These work well in windy conditions, but are less desirable to use, as the fuel has some taste that can be unpleasant.

Pouches– There are a number of cases and pouches available that will allow you to transport your tobacco and or pipes. What you should use is dependent upon your circumstances.

Cleaners and polishes– There are cleaners that are meant to freshen a pipe, usually by dipping a pipe cleaner in it and running through the pipe. Most pipe smokers don’t use these, but many swear by them. There are also polishes available for the wood, which are non-aromatic so they don’t have a noticeable smell while smoking the pipe, and there are mildly abrasive polishes for stems which help to clean, shine and remove oxidation from stems.

Humidors– These are tightly-sealed jars which normally have a humidification device in them for keeping your tobacco at optimum moisture levels.

Reamer– These tools are used to shave back the carbon build-up in the chamber when it builds up too much. They use a blade which takes a small amount of the cake off at a time while not damaging the pipe.

About Russ

Russ Ouellette is the blender/creator of the Hearth & Home series of tobaccos for www.pipesandcigars.com in Bethlehem, PA. He has been a pipe smoker and blender for over 30 years, and enjoys feedback from the pipe smoking public. You can reach Russ at russo@pipesandcigars.com or by calling 1-800-494-9144.