Filters... What's The Point?

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Senior Member
Feb 17, 2014
Jacksonville, FL
Ok, granted that I'm a newbie who hasn't a clue what I'm talking about (to be perfectly honest, that I know not whereof I speak is true of most things. But I digress...).
I have smoked a few pipes - Savinelli and MM Cobs - with and without filters and as best I can determine, a filter is simply a partially constructed dam in the river where no dam is needed.
My gut says to just let that river flow naturally and see where she takes you. ;-)
What say you?



Preferred Member
Sep 13, 2013
Your river analogy pretty will straight on. One reason for the filter is that it can help smoke dryer, so less bit, etc. I do not usually employ a filter, but I know smokers that do and it is primarily to keep the wet heat to a minimum.



Preferred Member
Oct 10, 2013
The balsa "filters" used by Savinelli and others are not filters, per se, but absorbents. The balsa absorbs the moisture in the smoke stream, preventing it from condensing inside the stem, (which causes the pipe to gurgle) and keeping that steam out of your mouth (which can cause "bite").
I've used them, and they work, with no noticeable loss in flavor and only a minor pressure drop. The pipes that I have which will accept the balsa filters are wide open, anyways, so whatever flow is restricted is inconsequential.
As a side benefit, you can save the used balsa pieces and pop them between the cheek and gum, for times that you can't smoke.



Senior Member
Feb 17, 2014
Jacksonville, FL
" can save the used balsa pieces and pop them between the cheek and gum, for times that you can't smoke."
Now there's a use I hadn't considered. :lol:



Preferred Member
Jan 8, 2013
I have 2 9mm filter pipes. One has an adapter in it that only leaves for heavy cleaning. I have a pipe dedicated to english blends that I do use the filters in. Biggest reason, I just don't care for how overpowering latakia is that much, so I intentionally dull the flavor.
Like woodsroad said, the balsa system is designed to pick up moisture, and seems like a good idea to me. Unfortunately the only 6mm pipe I owm got ruined on day one, and now resides on top of my fridge, permanently.



Preferred Member
Feb 21, 2013
I have two filter pipes, a Dr. Grabow and a MM cob. I don't have a moisture problem with any of my

pipes, so filters aren't needed for that. When you smoke a filter pipe, the filter does screen out some

particulate "stuff," so reduces what your mouth and digestive tract have to process. Also, a

filter can soften a strong or harsh blend, if you want the flavor, but less of it, for that particular smoke.

European pipe smokers have what seems to be a majority acceptance of filters, mostly 9 mm filters,

whereas U.S. pipe smokers use filters of any kind much less. I see it as an option, even if I mostly

smoke filterless. I'm a moderate smoker, a bowl or two a day, and some days none. A pipe smoker

doing many bowls a day might want the filter to reduce the amount of tobacco products they ingest.



Preferred Member
Nov 3, 2013
Normally I don't like filters, but like many things, they can be a useful tool. I have a couple of Savinelli pipes that use the balsa filters, which are the only filters I like to use. I find them helpful with some aro blends that smoke a little wet, but I do enjoy smoking them. Using the balsa filters mitigates the higher moisture, but I still get all the flavor. I don't like the paper filters though, along with moisture they absorb some flavor and draw harder too.

The only way to determine what you like is to try some different filters and see what you think. Different people like different things. Not really a huge investment to do this, and it can be another step in your pipe smoking education, and adventure.

Go into it with an open mind, fun attitude, and a bottle of your favorite spirits. And if you put that used balsa filter in your mouth, you're gonna need a drink! :wink:



Preferred Member
Jun 1, 2013
If you live in a colder climate, filters can offer a real benifit. When I smoke outdoors during the winter, I find I get excess condensation built up in the shank. I can only assume this is caused by hot inside and cold outside. Now, if I am smoking a filtered pipe like a Sav or a Brigham, this is not an issue as the filter absorbs this excess moisture.
Nonetheless, 98% of the time, I smoke filter free.



Preferred Member
May 3, 2010
Las Vegas, NV
The point of the filters is mostly to catch moisture to prevent gurgling and tongue bite.
I have a few Savinellis with the balsa filter and one Brigham with the rock maple filter. I usually leave the filters in. The Brigham has absolutely no restrictions on the draw because it's hollow. The Savinelli balsa filters do seem to tighten the draw a bit, but not too seriously. I don't find that the blend loses flavor when smoked with a filter.
It's all a matter of choice.



Preferred Member
Dec 14, 2013
I have a few Savinelli pipes that use the balsa filter, albeit I don't use them. That's not to say they don't do there intended job as they do it quite well in absorbing some moisture. The reason I don't use them is because I'm one of those smokers that likes to occasionally run a pipe cleaner all the way through to the bottom of the bowl to dislodge any tobacco bits that can at times block it up. Ya just can't do that if a filter is in the way. Also, its one less thing I have to be concerned about, i.e. how long did I use it and then the need to dry it out, and of course the need to purchase them.
Try them and see what satisfies you, or not. As for the idea of placing a used balsa filter in your mouth an emphatic... YUK!! :wink:



Dec 3, 2013
I don't use filters in my briars, but I do use filters in my cobs. I find the cobs have too open of a draft hole and allows debris, whether it be ash or tobacco, to come through. I think it was someone on here who mentioned they used the Savinelli balsa filters in the cobs and I've been doing it ever since. Worked wonders for me.



Preferred Member
Dec 25, 2013
I always appreciate your hygiene tips woodsroad. :roll: I use my filter pipes with Latakia blends that I really don't care for that much. But sometimes the paper filters do cause me to draw too hard which can carryover as a bad habit when smoking a regular pipe. Savinelli makes a 9mm balsa filter which I prefer to the paper/charcoal filters. Vauen adapters work quite well when you want to convert to nonfilter status.



Preferred Member
Jul 30, 2012
I have a couple Savs with the balsas & I like them.

When you change them & see what they kept out of your mouth, a plus.

That doesn't mean I miss them with the other pipes I have that don't have them.

I guess I might use them when I am a health kick!

Way friggin better than broccoli.



Preferred Member
Feb 13, 2013
There's a fundamental difference between filters and what someone above rightly called "inserts." The paper filters that go in MM cobs or medicos are actually filters in that the smoke must be drawn through a filtering medium. The Savinelli balsa inserts and Brigham maple inserts are rightly called inserts because, in Savinellis, the smoke goes around the insert in the open areas left by the triangular balsa insert in the round tube, while in Brighams the insert is a hollow tube and the smoke goes through the middle. The inserts absorb extra moisture as the smoke goes by without impeding the draw.
The pipes are designed for the inserts and the draw is not impeded. In fact, Savinelli provides an insert to fill up the draft hole a little bit if an insert isn't used. I usually use a balsa insert, and they're usually quite wet after the smoke. But to be honest I've smoked them without the insert (and without the adapter) and didn't really notice a difference. Personally, I'd rather not have the moisture in the smoke so I usually use the insert.
I never use filters in my cobs because I have Forever Stems, which preclude filters.