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Briar Pipes and Water

(142 posts)
  1. davet

    davet

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    An experiment of sorts, I've placed this bowl in water and will see what the effects are over a short period of time. I'll dry it slowly as to minimize, perhaps, the chance of cracking. It's a NOS vintage German pipe that's only been smoked less than a dozen times. I'm thinking it may be fine, who knows....

    It's only been a short time and the water has turned a weak tea sort of colour. I'm not saying rinsing your pipes is a comparison, or wrong, detrimental or anything else. I'm of the opinion it's fine or the many members here using that method would have spoken up. I'm just curious and sacrificing a basket pipe ( maybe) is worth it.

    Posted 7 months ago #
  2. lightmybriar

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    I would imagine the coloring of the water is due to the remains of the few smokes this pipe has experienced, right?

    On a pipe adventure
    Steve
    Posted 7 months ago #
  3. davet

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    I assumed that as well... maybe the water nymphs are right

    Posted 7 months ago #
  4. haparnold

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    Did you weigh the stummell before submerging it? I'd love to know how much water it absorbs, and how quickly that water evaporates once it's out of the water.

    De Gustibus Non Est Disputandum
    Posted 7 months ago #
  5. crashthegrey

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    Did you weigh the stummell before submerging it?
    Time to start over?

    Posted 7 months ago #
  6. davet

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    Did you weigh the stummell before submerging it?

    Oops 21 grams

    Posted 7 months ago #
  7. jpmcwjr

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    Good stuff! I'd be gobsmacked if anything detrimental happens to the pipe given your care and methodology.

    Does it- did it- smoke all right prior to its baptism?

    I know that you believe you understood what you think I said, but I'm not sure you realize that what you heard is not what I meant.
    Posted 7 months ago #
  8. crashthegrey

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    Is that a semi wet 21g?

    Posted 7 months ago #
  9. davet

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    Does it- did it- smoke all right prior to its baptism?

    Smoked fine, I just never reached for it.

    Is that a semi wet 21g?

    Fluctuated between 21 & 22. We'll just tell everyone I pre weighed it, Shhh

    Posted 7 months ago #
  10. crashthegrey

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    We shall pretend. I am very interested in the results. In the interest of full disclosure, I will not start washing my pipes in running water. But I am curious nonetheless. I don't want to get lumped in with those heathens.

    Posted 7 months ago #
  11. jpmcwjr

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    It'd be great to have a scale accurate to at least tenths of a gram. I use a little scale every morning for espresso, and it's accurate to within a gram or so, bu that's it.

    My guess is after you remove the surface water and weigh it, your one gram variance may be all there is. Can't wait!

    Posted 7 months ago #
  12. haparnold

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    Second question (and maybe I'm a little slow here): how will you dry it out "slowly"?

    Posted 7 months ago #
  13. davet

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    how will you dry it out "slowly"?

    I'll empty the water and reseal the jar opening it for short periods of drying time and resealing. I'm thinking that will work but am open to suggestions.

    Posted 7 months ago #
  14. olkofri

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    Throw it in the oven?

    Not the sweet, new grass with flowers is this harvesting of mine;
    Not the upland clover bloom...
    Posted 7 months ago #
  15. saltedplug

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    I don't want to get lumped in with those heathens.

    Here here! Wood and water are only secondary to water and oil in their mixing. In general a very bad idea, topping, I think, another barbaric practice, microwaving tobacco.

    Posted 7 months ago #
  16. mikethompson

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    I can tell this thread is going places. I'm in to see the results. I'm guessing that the stem might not fit correctly, but it just may smoke just fine when your done.

    Posted 7 months ago #
  17. sablebrush52

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    I resisted the idea of flushing out my pipes in water for about a year before giving it a try. It works wonderfully well. Keep in mind that I'm exposing the briar to water for about 30 to 40 seconds. So a true test would be of about that duration. Also keep in mind that you're exposing your pipes to water in the form of steam - itself much more penetrating - with every smoke. Have fun!

    It is better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to open one's mouth and remove all doubt. - Mark Twain

    It is pointless to argue with a fanatic since a dim bulb can't be converted into a searchlight. - Jesse Silver
    Posted 7 months ago #
  18. craiginthecorn

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    Jesse, do you rinse all your pipes, regardless of value?

    Posted 7 months ago #
  19. hoosierpipeguy

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    Submerging the pipe for an extended time is not a fair comparison to flushing the bowl for less than a minute. However, I doubt the submersion will have any adverse affects on the pipe. I have been flushing out all my briar pipes now for around 6 months, couldn't be more pleased with the results. The only downside is having the discipline to take 5 to 10 minutes to flush 6 to 8 pipes and wipe out the inside of the bowl with a paper towel at the end of the day. Another side benefit is this helps minimize the buildup on tar, smoke, whatever on the rim of the pipe.

    Posted 7 months ago #
  20. davet

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    Keep in mind that I'm exposing the briar to water for about 30 to 40 seconds. So a true test would be of about that duration.

    Where would the fun be in that? What got me thinking of this was in the other thread, talk of wooden ships and such. How much time would saturate the briar? Would it split from soaking? Drying? I know it isn't a good comparison to a rinse with water.

    Submerging the pipe for an extended time is not a fair comparison to flushing the bowl for less than a minute[quote]

    See above;

    [quote]I'm not saying rinsing your pipes is a comparison

    This is all in fun, too many pipes, too much time and stupid ideas. (Mine)

    Posted 7 months ago #
  21. pappymac

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    Let's also remember that you are not soaking "bare" briar but briar that has previously been aged and cured as well as finished with some form of stain which may also provide some waterproofing. Additionally, it may have been waxed at one time or have some glossy finish applied to it which may also provide some waterproofing.

    You indicated that it is NOS (presumably New Old Stock) but it has been smoked 10 or 12 times. Throughout history people have been placing wooden stakes into fire to harden the sharp points. This also would tend to make the wood less likely to absorb water. I would guess that burning enough tobacco in the bowl would not only form a layer of carbon cake but the heat would harden the briar inside the bowl.

    In my opinion, soaking the pipe in wood for 24 hours or so, isn't going to harm the briar. I also know a few pipe restorers who will take extremely hard used pipes and soak them in alcohol for 24 hours to remove finish, stain and cake and they are very successful in their business.

    I am glad we have a good admin and responsible moderators.

    Heave to you dark colored ship under sail! Prepare to be boarded!
    Posted 7 months ago #
  22. davet

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    All good points. I'm thinking on soaking it for a week or two , there'll be no denying it will have a good chance to soak up some water.

    Posted 7 months ago #
  23. sablebrush52

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    Jesse, do you rinse all your pipes, regardless of value?

    There are a few that have been specially treated with a silicate coating due to their age that I don't rinse with water. The rest, yes. I don't rinse the vulcanite stems with warm water. Those get alcohol. The acrylic stems get the warm water treatment, not alcohol. There are also a few pipes whose dimensional stability is more variable and these I don't give the water treatment as often, as they require more time to return to their proper fit.

    Posted 7 months ago #
  24. craiginthecorn

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    Davet, I applaud your willingness to actually put assumptions to the test. My guess is that you’ll learn from it, as will the rest of us. I further expect that you’ll want to repeat the test with more specific goals in mind. The suggestion for a scale with greater precision is a good one. But the horse is already out of the barn on this test. Maybe next time. There will still be valuable observations from this test.

    Pappymac, I have soaked entire stummels in alcohol and in fact, have done so under vacuum in an effort to draw the alcohol into the briar to rid it of pernicious mildew flavors. The finish, of course, suffered, but once dried thoroughly, the stem fit just fine and there seemed to be no ill effects. The lone exception was the stummel that was soaked under vacuum. I had to sand that pipe as it had the effect of raising some of the grain. Once sanded and refinished, though, all was fine.

    Posted 7 months ago #
  25. craiginthecorn

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    There are few that have been specially treated with a silicate coating due to their age...

    I’ve seen your references to these coatings in the past, Jesse. Could you please enlighten me about these coatings? Are they a modern coating, or historical? Were these coatings original to the pipes, or applied more recently as a protective measure? Are they a bowl coating, or a finish?

    Posted 7 months ago #
  26. mso489

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    Stummels are submerged and/or rinsed in water in the process of carving, not to mention in the curing of the briar before that. I'd be a little leery about prolonged soaking, because it might cause the wood to expand and contract in soaking and drying. This is an interesting experiment, but as a scientific trial. For cleaning, a little running water is okay. Worked on my one estate Meer too, just fine with no ill effects.

    Posted 7 months ago #
  27. davet

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    I'd be a little leery about prolonged soaking, because it might cause the wood to expand and contract in soaking and drying.

    That's the whole point A long soak and a long careful drying, should be interesting if nothing else.

    I was curious about Meers and water though....

    Posted 7 months ago #
  28. craiginthecorn

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    I have read more than one comment recently that stummels are submerged in water in the process of carving. I submit this is not true. Perhaps I'm misinterpreting the comments. My position is that the briar is boiled to remove saps, then dried for extended periods, even years, before carving. I am unaware of any carver that uses water in the process of carving or finishing except while initially examining and cutting the briar to expose the grain, and that's just a tiny amount that evaporates in minutes and likely removed from the finished product in the process of shaping. Not that I'm an expert, by any means, but I did take the two-day pipe carving and finishing class at last year's Chicago Pipe Show. It was taught by no less than Jeff Gracik, Lee Erck, Ernie Markle, Andy Peterson, and assisted by Rex Poggenpohl. Not a drop of water was in use.

    This is not to say that water is inherently harmful to the briar. Several respected members of this forum have endorsed water rinses. It's time for all to consider the real possibility that it's in fact a good idea. I've done so myself on occasion with no problems apart from some dulling of the wax finish, which is easily remedied. In the end, I have chosen to fastidiously clean my pipes immediately after smoking with a simple pipe cleaner and to date, that's been effective for me. However, I have enough pipes that I do not smoke each one all that frequently and generally only smoke tobaccos which tend to leave little residue in my pipes.

    Posted 7 months ago #
  29. davet

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    Four or five hours in and the water has darkened but what is interesting, to me, is the rim and sides are covered in very small bubbles. The result of absorbing water expels air?

    Posted 7 months ago #
  30. jpmcwjr

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    That should make a delicious tea when done. Er, to be sure, I jest....

    Wetting the surface of wood is a time honored practice among woodworkers, cabinet makers and such. It raises the grain and when dry again, is sanded to a smooth finish. May be repeated several times with higher numbered grit paper.

    However, if no water was present nor mentioned in the workshop, it must not raise the grain with briar wood, or if it does, not necessary, as there are few if any flat surfaces, and what there are are small. And for most carvers much sanding is at least partly mechanized.

    Posted 7 months ago #
  31. pitchfork

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    A quick rinse is one thing, but the surface of a smooth pipe can become somewhat uneven over an extended period of time. For instance I know someone who left some pipes out in the rain for a couple of days and the surface was slightly grooved where there was straight or flame grain and slightly pock-marked where there was birdseye/crossgrain.

    Posted 7 months ago #
  32. jpmcwjr

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    Any chance those same pipes got dried out in the sun after the rain?

    Posted 7 months ago #
  33. ashdigger

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    For the sake of "science". I'm running a parallel experiment. A briar, weighed to the gram and water. Mine is a large billiard that was sandblasted. I'll post pictures here along with details.

    Ubi Ignis Est?
    Posted 7 months ago #
  34. haparnold

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    Let's get everyone to do it! I volunteer to run regressions on our data

    Posted 7 months ago #
  35. mikethompson

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    Dave you need to set up a webcam so we can watch this in real time!

    (I'm only half kidding, I think)

    Posted 7 months ago #
  36. ashdigger

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    This was started at 6:00 pm (PST) on 1-23-19. The briar weighs 35 grams. It is floating in 16 ounces of purified water.

    Posted 7 months ago #
  37. mikethompson

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    Posted 7 months ago #
  38. davet

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    A quick rinse is one thing, but the surface of a smooth pipe can become somewhat uneven over an extended period of time.

    I'll guess we'll find out We just might learn sumthin here

    + A parallel experiment as well

    Posted 7 months ago #
  39. davet

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    Dave you need to set up a webcam so we can watch this in real time!

    Trust me.... you don't want a webcam in this house

    Posted 7 months ago #
  40. sablebrush52

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    I’ve seen your references to these coatings in the past, Jesse. Could you please enlighten me about these coatings? Are they a modern coating, or historical? Were these coatings original to the pipes, or applied more recently as a protective measure? Are they a bowl coating, or a finish?

    It's a modern coating of the chamber walls. With very old pipes, at the century mark or more, the surface of the briar in the chamber may not be as resilient as it once was. It may have suffered some damage from an earlier owner, or it may have been charred, so the coating acts as a sort of "instant" insulation, returning the pipe to a safely usable condition. The coating doesn't interfere with the flavors, and a little cake over it provides added protection.

    Posted 7 months ago #
  41. sablebrush52

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    I have read more than one comment recently that stummels are submerged in water in the process of carving. I submit this is not true.

    I think this applies to meerschaums, not briars.

    Posted 7 months ago #
  42. crashthegrey

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    Just to clarify, when carvers wet a block to see grain, more often than not it is DNA, and not water. Yes, the blocks are boiled and dried to remove as much sap and water as possible. And sometimes oil cured. I think this has very little to do with the water cleansing technique, but I thought I would clarify.

    Posted 7 months ago #
  43. pitchfork

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    Any chance those same pipes got dried out in the sun after the rain?

    Not direct. But it was warm -- late summer, early fall.

    Posted 7 months ago #
  44. weezell

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    We are waiting to see the results.....

    "the weez"...
    Posted 7 months ago #
  45. jpmcwjr

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    Tension mounts!

    Posted 7 months ago #
  46. ashdigger

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    So does turgor pressure.

    Posted 7 months ago #
  47. olkofri

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    Oh, man, and here I was thinking **I** had lotsa time on my hands...

    Posted 7 months ago #
  48. luigi

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    A public confrontation of several preferred members, nice.
    Regarding a scale: I was using one accurate to 0.00 gram to see the difference between dry and wet pipes so I could know which one was back to its original weight and ready to go. A difference was minimal, 5-9 tenths of gram. I expect with two weeks of soaking your pipes should be much heavier, at least a few grams.
    Good luck!

    Posted 7 months ago #
  49. craiginthecorn

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    I think this applies to meerschaums, not briars.

    That, indeed, makes sense.

    Crash mentioned oil curing. I just recently read Alfred Dunhill's patent for his oil curing process. He specifically mentioned the use of olive oil, but IIRC, he said other oils might be used. The most interesting thing to me was that the process was all about appearance, not flavor. He mentions that oil curing produces an attractive finish that accentuates the grain, but that smokers objected to the oil which emanated from the pipe when smoked. His process removed those excess finishing oils at the factory. The perceived value to flavor was apparently a happy and unexpected byproduct.

    Posted 7 months ago #
  50. ashdigger

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    I pulled the briar out of the water at 6:37 am (PST) and patted the external water away and then set it on the scale. It weighs 40 grams. When it went into the water it weighed 35 grams. I don't need a scale that rounds to the nearest thousandth gram. The pipe gained 5 grams in 12 hours.

    AND the stem no longer sits quite right in the shank. The shank is now too loose and them falls right out.

    Posted 6 months ago #
  51. ashdigger

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    I've just wiped out the chamber and took cotton swabs to the shank. The pipe now weighs 39 grams. So I wiped out one gram of water/crud. The pipe has been out of the water 20 minutes.

    Posted 6 months ago #
  52. cosmicfolklore

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    So, as much as I appreciate the effort for entertainment, I see no correlation between this and rinsing out a pipe and then wiping it down. But of course we are going to have to deal with asswipes esteemed forum members referring back to this experiment every time water is mentioned as a method of cleaning, because of course members have always imagined the process of what we do to be akin to boiling the damned pipes for hours.

    Michael
    Posted 6 months ago #
  53. jpmcwjr

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    The only time I've had a problem with stem/shank fit is when I've left the stem out for long. Therefor, I just keep the stem in unless I have to de-gunk the mortise. (And water flushing keeps the build up to a minimum).

    Ash- Had the pipe been smoked recently? The moisture content will differ from a pipe that has been regularly smoked, especially in a very low humidity area such as Las Vegas. Cosmic's results would be different, whether or not the pipe had been smoked recently.

    Posted 6 months ago #
  54. crashthegrey

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    I don't think anyone should refer to this in reference to the water cleanse. It was a fun experiment to see. Obviously one should not soak their pipes.

    Posted 6 months ago #
  55. sablebrush52

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    I just finished giving a few of my pipes a good warm water flushing out. Cumberland tastes great!

    Posted 6 months ago #
  56. haparnold

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    I don't think anyone should refer to this in reference to the water cleanse.

    Exactly. This is fascinating, and provides, if nothing else, a benchmark for how much water can be absorbed by a hunk of briar in a worst-case scenario situation. However, let the record show that the parallels to the water flush method are small.

    I'm not a flusher myself, but I think I'll give less-prized several pipes a hot water flush to measure their absorbance over several different levels of water exposure, as well as the amount of time it takes the weight of the pipe to return to its pre-flush levels. you know, for science.

    Posted 6 months ago #
  57. ashdigger

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    Seems to be a lot of butthurt for entertainment.

    Relax, you water heretics, I'm not advocating either way.

    They're your pipes....do whatever you want.

    Posted 6 months ago #
  58. crashthegrey

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    I'm curious upon drying how the stem fits and aligns. Then we can dispel Cosmic's favorite myth of the pipe destroyed whilst fishing.

    Posted 6 months ago #
  59. mikethompson

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    I took this thread merely for entertainment purposes. Am I missing something?

    Posted 6 months ago #
  60. cosmicfolklore

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    I'm curious upon drying how the stem fits and aligns. Then we can dispel Cosmic's favorite myth of the pipe destroyed whilst fishing.

    Well, once again, a pipe dropped into the water for a few seconds is not even nearly as bad as one soaked overnight.

    Posted 6 months ago #
  61. cosmicfolklore

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    I took this thread merely for entertainment purposes. Am I missing something?

    Nope, I am here for entertainment as well. But, if I had not of said something, links to this thread would come up at every mention of rinsing pipes with water. And, I am looking at you, Duane.

    Posted 6 months ago #
  62. crashthegrey

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    a pipe dropped into the water for a few seconds
    Totally agreed. However if this thing realigns and smokes fine, it completely disproves the urban legend of the ruined fishing pipe.

    Posted 6 months ago #
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    Ash, how bad was the finish on the pipe affected? Minimal, moderate, etc.? Did a good wipe restore some of the shine? Or is it decidedly worse for wear?

    “I've been treating you with courtesy and respect because that's the way I choose to treat everyone. But never, ever mistake kindness with weakness.”
    ― Louise Penny, Still Life
    Posted 6 months ago #
  64. seldom

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    I like this. Keeps the forum interesting.
    In the whole flushing debate one thing I wonder is how the outside finish holds up regardless if the integrity of the briar holds.
    Anyhow, thanks Davet and Ashdigger! I'll look forward to the results and the resulting debates.

    Seldom Seen
    Posted 6 months ago #
  65. cosmicfolklore

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    In the whole flushing debate one thing I wonder is how the outside finish holds up regardless if the integrity of the briar holds.

    First, it's not a debate... some of us do it, some don't, and then a third group constantly post negative things when we talk about it. No one is trying to convince anyone else.

    However, if you are curious, my pipes used to get dull after smoking them a few times. I guess the briar was absorbing the wax. Even after freshly waxing them, after smoking it a couple of times, it was dull. When I started rinsing the pipes and then buffing them with a dry clean towel, they seem to be keeping their shine better. But, I attribute this to the buffing with a towel when done. There is no way a millisecond's worth of water and then instant drying with a towel would have any effect at all on the finish.

    Posted 6 months ago #
  66. cosmicfolklore

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    I'll look forward to the results and the resulting debates.

    Also, as the both of them have said... this all has nothing to do with water rinsing the pipes.

    Posted 6 months ago #
  67. crashthegrey

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    But, I attribute this to the buffing with a towel when done
    Absolutely. This is why some guys wipe their pipe after every smoke with a polishing cloth. Same effect. I personally like the patina of use, but this is reduced by a quick hand buff.

    Posted 6 months ago #
  68. sablebrush52

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    In the whole flushing debate one thing I wonder is how the outside finish holds up regardless if the integrity of the briar holds.

    Depends on how the pipe is finished. Doesn't affect stain. Doesn't seem to affect buffed on carnuba wax. However, it will affect Halcyon and Paragon, and probably other microcrystalline waxes. Re-applying those is no big deal.

    I use a very small stream to flow through the chamber and shank, so very little water gets on the exterior. And if some does spill over, clean up is no big deal.

    People who haven't actually tried this method are in no position to render an informed judgement concerning whether it works or not. They're pretty much limited to their personal fears surrounding it.

    And has been pointed out, as interesting as these experiments are, they in no way relate to performing a warm water rinse.

    Posted 6 months ago #
  69. scloyd

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    I perform the water rinse often. I flush with the stem in place, warm water for about 4-5 seconds. Then I wipe with paper towels and run a pipe cleaner through the stem. Works for me and it's quick and easy.

    Debate or not, I'm enjoying tbis thread and look forward to the final results.

    Posted 6 months ago #
  70. seldom

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    I see "debate" was a poor choice of words. Perhaps what I meant to type was "discussion". At any rate I am interested in the results of the test by Davet and Ashdigger.
    Thanks as always to the erudite members of this esteemed forum and humble apologies for any offense.

    Posted 6 months ago #

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