Removing the Stem of a Warm Pipe

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Nptrucker

New member
Nov 1, 2019
4
3
I am fairly new to pipe smoking and have seen many comments that one should never remove the stem of a pipe while it is warm(hot) because it can crack or damage the shank.
As a long time service tech, I have learned that materials expand slightly when heated. Many times I have used a torch to heat a frozen nut so it will expand and be removable. My logic tells me that a warm shank would expand slightly and actually loosen the stem some.
I do not understand the science or physics of the cautions to not remove a pipe stem while hot. Can somebody please enlighten me.
Thanks for any help you might give.

EDIT: Fixed Capitalization in Title
 
Last edited by a moderator:
Reactions: danimalia

dmcmtk

Preferred Member
Aug 23, 2013
3,032
200
Think about the shape of the mortise, the heat expands the briar inwards against the tenon, it's that simple.

:)
 

jojoc

Member
May 10, 2019
183
77
Adding to dmc, I believe the mortise itself can also expand some, making the fit against the briar. On most pipes, the shank is rather thin, so there is the risk of the extra force applied to overcome the additional friction could cause the shank to crack.

Having said that, I have taken pipes apart while still rather warm without problem. If the stem will rotate without any significant additional force, I think you are most likely fine, but if there is resistance, I think there is a risk of damage.
 

anotherbob

Preferred Member
I've only once seen a persons stem break being pulled from a hot pipe and that guy did it all the time, like while still smoking the pipe. I feel like this either was more applicable to pipes made at a certain time, or like the lies we tell children. You know the thinking is if we say it's fine to do sometimes some idiot is going keep doing it in the middle of a smoke so we just say never knowing people are still going to do it always. Or like that always wear a condom stuff people talk about, when you really only need it during sex.
 

Nptrucker

New member
Nov 1, 2019
4
3
Thank you all. I had not thought about the mortise and the different materials between shank and bit. You all are a lot smarter than me. That's why I joined this forum. Many thanks.
 

irishearl

Preferred Member
Aug 2, 2016
921
83
Yep, in 40+ years of smoking, never had a problem when removing a stem from a warm pipe. Would, though, second the caution if there is significant resistance in the attempt to remove the stem. Of course, whenever I've encountered that, the pipe has typically required the freezer treatment to remove period.
 

cosmicfolklore

Preferred Member
Aug 9, 2013
18,622
1,535
I remove the stem whenever I want. But, after a few years of telling guys that it’s ok, I watched a guy just rip his warm stem out with his meaty hands like an ape pulling at a banana, and his did snap. So, I keep my mouth shut, because some guys just don’t have the gentle finesse of dexterity to do this. So, IMO it’s better to just let that superstition live on.
 

Ctbill

Junior Member
Sep 6, 2019
81
154
CT & VT
I have a slightly different thought on the warm/hot pipes and the mortise/stem connection. I believe the swelling is more from the moisture (steam) generated from the tobacco smoke (a natural byproduct of combustion), combined with the heat.
I generally don't pull stems on warm/hot pipes, except for army mounts. If you get them out, many times you cant get them back in, and that tends to suck when you're mid bowl or so...
BUT - just because I believe this, does not mean anyone else needs to. :)
 
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hoosierpipeguy

Preferred Member
Jan 28, 2018
2,321
938
I remove the stem whenever I want. But, after a few years of telling guys that it’s ok, I watched a guy just rip his warm stem out with his meaty hands like an ape pulling at a banana, and his did snap. So, I keep my mouth shut, because some guys just don’t have the gentle finesse of dexterity to do this. So, IMO it’s better to just let that superstition live on.
I've done it plenty of times myself without ever breaking anything. But with great care. I've also seen people grab the stem at the end and the bowl and twist with a bad ending. Perhaps a better warning is to not remove the stem unless you properly know how. You can certainly break the stem when the pipe has been sitting for months as well.
 

mso489

Preferred Member
Feb 21, 2013
26,949
1,604
Owning a lot of pipes and with a regular cleaning regime otherwise, I only remove stems about once a year per pipe, except for one Kaywoodie drinkless where the stinger is cleaned every smoke. The stem and stinger screw in.
 

irishearl

Preferred Member
Aug 2, 2016
921
83
I've done it plenty of times myself without ever breaking anything. But with great care. I've also seen people grab the stem at the end and the bowl and twist with a bad ending. Perhaps a better warning is to not remove the stem unless you properly know how. You can certainly break the stem when the pipe has been sitting for months as well.
I'd never remove a stem by grabbing the end of the stem and the bowl. I grab the stem section adjacent to the bowl to twist.