Proper cleaning and care for your pipe is vital to optimal performance and enjoyment. If you do not maintain your pipe it can lead to foul odor, bad taste, and even to burn out and/or cracking. Many pipe enthusiasts find pipe maintenance relaxing and actually look forward to it. Mark Twain, an avid pipe smoker, is said to have turned down lucrative speaking engagements because they fell on the one night a month that he cleaned his pipes!
A pipe cleaner is not actually designed for crafts or children to use in the fine art of doll- making but rather to clean out the residue that builds in the stem, shank, and bowl of a pipe. Before any pipe is smoked, a pipe cleaner should be run through these parts of the pipe to ensure that it has been cleaned. Take care to remove all pieces of tobacco that may still be left in the bowl as this can lead to future burn out if the cake builds over it. If you do this every time you smoke your pipe it will smell and taste much better.
Reaming a pipe is necessary when the cake is built up around the inside of the bowl over a nickel’s width in thickness. This can be done with a pipe reamer that is available in fine tobacco shops such as Tobacco Place. Many of such shops will do it for you at either no or minimal cost. If the cake is not kept even burn out or cracking can occur as the pipe will literally pull itself apart. When the cake is properly maintained the pipe will last much longer and smoke much better.
Sometimes, if a pipe has been over smoked, one has to recondition the pipe bowl. There are several ways to do this but the method that I have had the most success with is to pour either Bee pipe sweetener or any 80 proof sipping whiskey into the bowl until it is filled. Be careful not to spill any whiskey on the outside of the pipe as this will strip the finish. Let the pipe sit with the whiskey in the pipe for a minimum of 10 minutes after which you pour out the solution. Wipe the inside of the pipe with a paper towel and pipe cleaner and allow to dry over night. The alcohol seeps into the pores of the briar and pushes out the moisture thus allowing it to dry quicker, taste sweeter, and smell better. Never do this to meerschaum as it will ruin the pipe.