Removing the Stem of a Warm Pipe

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lawdawg

Preferred Member
Aug 25, 2016
897
542
Like a few other forum members have mentioned of their own pipe practices, I rarely remove my stems from my pipes. I probably take a stem off any given pipe once every couple months. If you use a pipe cleaner or two after each smoke, as you should, then I just don't see any reason to remove the stem very often at all, and especially not while the pipe is still warm.

For those of us who remove stems only on occasion, the question of whether it is safe to remove a stem from a warm pipe is a non-issue.
 

jpmcwjr

Preferred Member
May 12, 2015
14,627
2,862
Monterey Peninsula
Agree on the point of removing the stem fewer times. Just to clean the funk out of the mortise. At the same time, the famous—or infamous— practice of a hot water flush after most smokes will help keep the mortise clean, save on pipe cleaners, and save time. You can do it immediately after a smoke, while the pipe is till hot.
 
Reactions: anotherbob

Mr.Mike

Member
Nov 11, 2019
129
186
Pennsylvania
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.
I'm not knocking you cleaning methods, but it's hard to clean your mortise without removing the stem, and that's where the nasty stuff usually collects. Again not knocking, there's no wrong way as long as your enjoying your pipes!
 
Reactions: olkofri

cosmicfolklore

Preferred Member
Aug 9, 2013
18,624
1,536
but it's hard to clean your mortise without removing the stem, and that's where the nasty stuff usually collects.
I preface this by stating that I do remove my stems freely without worry.
But, if you run warm water through the pipe and then dry a bit with a pipecleaner down the draft, even without removing the stem, you will have a much cleaner stem than when someone removes a stem dry and uses a pipecleaner.

What causes most of the sourness in the stem is the water infused with tars and smoking by-product. Wash this out, and your pipe won't be nasty. YMMV
 

olkofri

Preferred Member
Sep 9, 2017
2,967
1,259
I remove my stems. Every. Single. Time.

I have to, as I'm fastidious about cleanliness and I duly clean my pipes after every smoke, and part of that cleaning includes washing the mouthpiece with soap and lukewarm water, using a pipe cleaner soaked in dish soap to scrub the lumen. If I don't finish a pipeful, which has been happening lately, I still remove the stem when the pipe is cool and wipe the tenon, run a cleaner through it, or even wash it with soap and lukewarm water. I use said cleaner to wipe the mortise.

Never had an issue, a cracked stem, or a loose one.
 

lawdawg

Preferred Member
Aug 25, 2016
897
542
I'm not knocking you cleaning methods, but it's hard to clean your mortise without removing the stem, and that's where the nasty stuff usually collects. Again not knocking, there's no wrong way as long as your enjoying your pipes!
I smoke each of my pipes several times per week on average, and I only remove the stems once every couple months for a deep clean, especially focusing on the mortise with 190 proof alcohol and pipe cleaners. Years ago, I used to keep a much more strict cleaning regimen, including the removal of the stem and cleaning of the mortise after every smoke. Now, I just swab the airway with a pipe cleaner or two and wipe the bowl out after each smoke. I've found that there is basically no difference in the smoking experience between how I used to do it versus how I do it now, so I've done away with all the "extra" cleaning.

Additionally, I've read people say that repeatedly removing the stem causes wear on the tenon and/or the mortise, which makes sense, so it could be the case that frequent stem removal actually shortens the longevity of the pipe. However, like most "wisdom" in the pipe world, it seems pretty speculative, and I've got no data whatsoever to back it up puffy
 

anotherbob

Preferred Member
I'm a professional artist. In this culture and economy that's plenty of living on the edge and flirting with danger.
Well thanks a bunch for making me feel stupid. I mean with a name like that I should have figured it out. But nope I was over here thinking you were just bragging about your mustache.
 

sablebrush52

Preferred Member
Jun 15, 2013
9,985
1,180
To remove the balsa filter before it stinks up the briar, and so you can get a cleaner down through the stem.

I wait a few minutes, but when the shank is more or less room temperature, I pull the stem on Savinellis to change out the balsa filter.
I've smoked pipes with the balsa filters and still found no need to take them apart warm.
 
Reactions: kurtbob

ssjones

Moderator
Staff member
May 11, 2011
14,394
514
Maryland
postimg.cc
Not all briar acts the same. With some pipes I own the wood will swell a little more from the moisture released during smoking.
Why does one need to remove the stem when the pipe is still warm? What is the point of that?
I pull the stem after a days use to clean out the mortise. I have zero desire to smoke a dirty pipe.
So I wait till the pipe has cooled and remove the stem as part of the cleaning process. 48 years, no cracked shanks, no problems with the fit.
Why would I do it any other way?
I'm with Sable and almost never remove my stems at all. (99% pass a cleaner)

One time at Boswells, JM said that was "BS" when I asked him about it, so opinions on this are always galvanizing!
 
Reactions: kurtbob

Spa32

Member
Oct 2, 2019
180
231
Green Bay, WI
I never remove the stem of a warm pipe. I only remove the stems once a year for a deep cleaning. All my pipes pass a pipe cleaner so I'm able to keep them relatively clean after each smoke.
 
Reactions: anotherbob

cosmicfolklore

Preferred Member
Aug 9, 2013
18,624
1,536
I've taken mine apart warm every time over the past thirty years without a break or a loose stem.
I'm really confused, and I could have this all wrong,.. We have been friends for quite a while on here, and I could have sworn that you've said that you are like 40 years old.
 

diamondback

Preferred Member
Feb 22, 2019
570
381
49
Rockvale, TN
(Somewhat related tangent):

Something I learned here: if I’m smoking it and it’s gurgling and won’t pass a cleaner unless the stem is removed, I’ll pull the stem (gently of course) and run a cleaner then replace the stem.

I try to give credit to the posters who give me the tips, but I can only recall the balance of posters agreeing with doing this and not the original source.

Before I got this tip I’d always chastised myself as a slovenly drooler. Now I just fix it and move on, though underneath I’m still a slovenly drooler lol.
 

Rebub24

New member
Nov 26, 2019
6
9
Briar reacts differently as compared to other materials. When briar is warm/hot the wood in the shank will expand causing it to tighten around the tenon creating a tighter fitting. When briar cools or becomes cold the wood will contract away from the tenon creating a looser fitting. Unless the pipe has an army mount fitting, you should never take a pipe apart while it is warm/hot because there is a greater risk of breaking the shank or the tenon on the stem.