How to Clean a Wood Pipe
Last Updated: September 12, 2020 References
This article was co-authored by our trained team of editors and researchers who validated it for accuracy and comprehensiveness. wikiHow’s Content Management Team carefully monitors the work from our editorial staff to ensure that each article is backed by trusted research and meets our high quality standards.
There are 11 references cited in this article, which can be found at the bottom of the page.
This article has been viewed 36,497 times.
Smoking from a wooden pipe can be a relaxing pastime. Wooden pipes are beautiful pieces that their owners take pride in. However, if you do not clean your wooden pipe regularly, you can limit the life of the pipe. To clean the pipe, clean it after each smoke by removing the ash and running a pipe cleaner through it. After every 10 to 20 uses, do a deeper cleaning where you take the pipe apart and clean it with alcohol.
About This Article
Before you clean your wood pipe, make sure it’s cool to the touch, since removing the stem while it’s warm can cause cracks in your pipe. Once it’s cool enough, put your finger over the bowl and shake the pipe a few times to loosen the ash. Then, dump the ash into the trash and blow through the stem to get rid of any remaining debris. Follow up by pushing a pipe cleaner through the stem and removing it once the tip of the cleaner is visible. Repeat the process with a new pipe cleaner until the pipe cleaner comes out clean. Finish by running a pipe cleaner dampened with saliva around the mouthpiece to remove any lingering debris. To learn more, including how to deep clean your pipe with rubbing alcohol, scroll down!Smoking from a wooden pipe can be a relaxing pastime. Wooden pipes are beautiful pieces that their owners take pride in. However, if you do not clean your wooden pipe regularly, you can limit the life of the pipe. To clean the pipe, clean…
How to Clean a Wooden Pipe in 5 Minutes
Cleaning your pipe keeps it functioning as best as it can, and also helps it last longer. Here are simple steps that will help you maintain your wooden pipe regularly.
*Note: Let your pipe cool entirely before you clean it. Removing the shank while the pipe is warm will cause a change in the fitting, causing irreparable damage to the pipe.
How to clean a wooden pipe
Regular cleaning is easy to do, and it takes less than 10 minutes to complete. For routine maintenance, you will need:
- Bristled pipe cleaners
- Shank cleaners
- Cotton swab
- Isopropyl alcohol
Make sure to use the picture below as a reference when we mention several wooden pipe parts. This will help you get the general idea of what the pipe looks like inside and out.
Parts of the wooden pipe.
Now for the cleaning process. As a reminder, please make sure that the pipe is thoroughly cool before cleaning.
- Hold the pipe securely in your hand and cover the bowl with your finger. Shake the pipe for several seconds to loosen the ash and also to help it form a cake inside the bowl.
- Dump out the ash in a receptacle. If nothing comes out, use a spoon end of a pipe cleaner to take out the residue.
- Take the pipe apart firmly but gently to prevent breaking the parts. Lay the stummel and the stem in separate paper towels.
- Dip the pipe and shank cleaner in alcohol. Tap out any excess to keep from saturating the pipe.
- Take the stem and run the shank cleaner through the airway from the tenon to the mouthpiece.
- Run the shank cleaner through the stem several times, and then change to the pipe cleaner. Follow it with a dry pipe cleaner to prevent saturating the parts. Keep doing this, changing pipe cleaners as you go. Continue until the pipe cleaner comes out clean.
- Using a Q-tip, wipe around the outside of the mortise
- Do the same thing with the stummel. Push the pipe cleaners through the mortise until you see a hint of the tip through the bowl. Blow through the mortise to force out any dislodge ash or resin.
- Once the pipe cleaners come out clean, leave the pipe to air dry for 24-48 hours
If there’s a clog that’s preventing you from pushing the cleaners through the pipe, it’s time to do some deep cleaning.
How to Deep Clean a Wooden Pipe
Deep cleaning should be done only if you have too much resin build-up, and you want to strip your pipe so that you can taste a new herb strain.
- Bristled pipe cleaners
- Shank brush
- Uncoated metal paper clip and a lighter or a candle
- Plastic wrap
- Reamer for breaking out the caked resin (only if you want a “new” pipe)
- Egg carton – keep the pipe in place. You can also use a wide bowl with beans or rice in it.
- Kosher salt – not table or sea salt because kosher has better moisture absorption without expanding.
- High-proof drinking alcohol – 151 proof vodka is ideal because it has a neutral flavor. You can use isopropyl alcohol provided that it’s 99%, so it evaporates completely.
- A small pouring cup with a spout or needleless syringe to keep the alcohol from spilling on the outside of the pipe.
Once you got all the materials ready, let’s get started with deep cleaning your pipe. Reminder: do this only when the pipe is at room temperature.
- Separate the shank/stummel from the stem. Check where the clog is coming from.
- Straighten out the paper clip and heat it using a lighter or a candle.
- Carefully and gently push the paperclip, twisting it gently to help it gently melt the resin. Once you get the clog out, you can use the shank and pipe cleaners to get out as much resin as you can.
- Keep going until you’re satisfied with the level of cleaning. It’s okay if It’s not thoroughly cleaned yet. You’re going soak the pipe later in alcohol to get rid of the rest of the resin.
Use the reamer to thin out the cake or “reset” the wooden pipe for smoking a new herb or tobacco flavor.
Optional: get your reamer to thin out the resin, or “reset” the pipe and remove the cake out to make it fresh. Insert the pointed “clipper” end of the reamer inside the bowl’s chamber. Do this carefully and feel the vibration as you scrape. Don’t do it too hard or you will scrape off part of the chamber. Gently tap out the residue that you scraped out on a tissue paper.
Leave the pipe to dry out for a few days or a week to make sure that the alcohol has evaporated completely before use.
Regular cleaning is necessary for wooden pipes, especially with this Rosewood Churchwarden Shire Long Pipe because of the thin stem.
Why should you clean your wooden pipe
- To take out any unwanted resin that can ruin the taste of your herbs
- Ensure that the airflow remains clear.
- Eliminate left-over flavors from your previous herb if you want to switch to a different tobacco or herb mix.
When will you deep clean your wooden pipe
There’s no exact period when you need to deep clean your wooden pipe. That will depend on how heavily you use the pipe and how often you maintain it. Generally, deep cleaning is done when:
- There’s an unpleasant taste to your smoke. The taste can be salty, sour, or plainly unpleasant, something very far from the original taste of your herb.
- The cake is too thick and there’s a danger of it cracking the wooden pipe due to uneven heat distribution.
- If you don’t notice any difference in your smoking experience, you have to do the cleaning once a month to keep it functioning as good as new.
Tips for keeping your pipe clean
- Keep the flame within the bowl and not on the rim. Frequent flaming of the rim leads to that blackened, charred appearance on the pipe. Should you accidentally flame the rim, get a pipe cleaner and moisten it with your saliva. Rub it on the rim to remove the black char. You can do this while smoking your pipe.
- Don’t boil your wooden pipe, or expose it to moisture for too long. Wood is porous and absorbent. Water can cause the wood to expand, which can cause cracks or moisture problems with your pipe.
- Do regular cleaning before and after each smoking session. This practice will keep your pipe clear and easy to use, and you don’t have to soak your pipe often or suffer through the blockage.
Now you have a pipe that gives you the clean flavor of your herbs — no more weird flavor or hard puffs during your sesh. Of course, drying your pipe would mean you won’t be able to use it for a day or more. It’s better to have another pipe to use as a stand-in while the other one is busy drying. Check out our collection of wooden pipes here. We’ve got a simple selection of great wooden pipes made out of the right material for a warm, earthy smoking experience.
How do you clean your wooden pipe? Please share your tips and tricks in our comment section below!Cleaning a wooden pipe is simple. With the use of alcohol, shank and pipe cleaners, you'll have a pipe that is clean and clog-free. ]]>