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Pipe Mud and Pipe Cement (WARNING: GIANT POST)

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  1. dimm

    Dimm

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    So you probably know what pipe mud is. If you don't it's pipe ash mixed with water (or saliva) to form a paste. This paste is used in a pipe chamber to fill defects and change the chamber geometry (usually in the bottom). This can be used to fill a sandpit on the inside of a chamber, raise the bottom of a bowl to the level of the airway, or plug the sides of the shank in a corncob chamber. This paste dries in a day or so and over the course of many smokes the pipe mud will absorb tars, oils, and moisture and will harden to become an indistinguishable part of the surface of your chamber. Pipe mud is a great tool and is pretty much like duct tape when it comes to doing anything in your chamber. Now, most people use pipe ash for this but you could just as easily use cigar ash or cigarette ash. They all pretty much act the same. They stick together when wet and form a workable paste. What I've found to work the best is actually wood ash such as from your fireplace. This performs the same function as pipe mud but, as I've found, more effectively. Although it is similar to tobacco ash it is also quite different. I actually call it pipe cement and I'll tell you why.

    A major component of wood ash is calcium carbonate. This is what makes this ash a good fertilizer, especially for plants which need a lot of calcium. Calcium carbonate is also known as limestone and happens to be the major component of... *drumroll*... portland cement. In manufacturing the limestone is crushed into a powder and heat treated at high temperatures to become chemically active. Your fireplace burns hotter and more completely (in a chemical sense) than your pipe. This creates ash which not only contains more calcium carbonate but which is also much finer and which contains calcium carbonate which has been heat treated at a higher temperature. This makes your fireplace ash chemically different than your pipe ash. To put it shortly: your fireplace ash is a cement, your pipe ash is not. Take a look at this picture:

    Left is pipe ash, right is fireplace ash. Notice that the fireplace ash is much whiter and has a fine grain size. Notice that the pipe ash is black and clumpy.

    So you're thinking: so what? Who cares if fireplace ash is a cement, pipe ash has worked to make pipe mud for generations why should I switch now? Well, you're right there is no reason to switch and pipe ash works perfectly fine as pipe mud. I'm just an engineering student that works in a cement lab so I find this interesting. And also, as I'm about to tell you, pipe cement has some up sides where pipe mud falls short.

    First of all, pipe cement has much more agreeable working properties. That is to say it handles nicer as a paste. Since pipe cement is a fine powder you can slowly mix water into it with your pipe spoon until it becomes the consistency of play-dough. Pipe mud on the other hand tends to be a crumbly mess like dirt or... well... like mud. Take a look at the following photo:

    Notice how the cement has been made into an even mass while the pipe mud is an uneven and crumbly. At this point you can simply put the ball of cement on the end of your poker tool and lower it into your chamber, then you can press it and form it into the perfect contours in your chamber. Pipe mud does not handle half as nice as pipe cement

    Next there is the drying time. Pipe mud dries, meaning the moisture from it needs to evaporate before you can smoke your pipe. This takes 24 hours or so. After that the pipe mud is delicate until it has been smoked enough to absorb tars and oils and become hardened like cake. Since pipe cement is a cement it cures rather than drying. By this I mean that it reacts chemically with the water and the H2O molecules become part of the cement. This takes about 4 hours and you have a smokable pipe. After 24 hours you have a fully cured cement which makes a satisfying "clink clink" sound when you tap it with your tool.

    Your pipe cement will also cure to be much harder than the pipe mud. Take a look at the following photo: I pressed with the same amount of force with my spoon (3 hours after initial mixing) and you can see the difference in strength.

    So now you're thinking: so what? This is a pipe not a bridge why should I care how strong my pipe mud is? And you're right it's not that important but if you drop your pipe and your lump of pipe mud falls out that would not be great.

    There is also the matter of porosity. Pipe cement is amazingly porous! I estimate it can absorb at least its own weight in water. And dries fast. It is definitley superior to pipe mud in these terms. It's actually so great at picking up moisture and oils and tars that I've even thought about lining a briar pipe's chamber completely in pipe cement (kind of like meerschaum lined briar pipes).

    So there you have it... there's my little blurb about pipe mud and pipe cement. I don't claim I "invented" this or anything. I'm sure this has been thought of before but I have not found it in my search on this forum so I thought I should write this down here. If anyone does this I'd love to hear your personal experience with it. And if there is a reason people don't do this I'd love to hear it too! Although, from my personal experience I have not found any negative side effects of pipe cement.

    Posted 7 years ago #
  2. nsfisher

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    awsome post mate, very good read and well written!

    If at first you don't succeed, have another bowl.
    Posted 7 years ago #
  3. ace57

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    Nice post. Will have to try it.

    U.S.M.C. (SEMPER FI)
    Posted 7 years ago #
  4. dimm

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    Thanks! I'll be selling Pipe Cement for 29.99/lb starting next week.

    Just kidding

    Posted 7 years ago #
  5. ejames

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    Great post! I will have to try this!
    If it works out I believe I can beat your price though!!

    Posted 7 years ago #
  6. rickpal14

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    Great timing!! I was just about to research pipe mud as I need to fill in the beginning of a burnout on one of my Dr. Grabows (Starfire). Awesome!!!

    Proud Member of the BlackBlood Society...........
    Posted 7 years ago #
  7. rickpal14

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    This thread should probably become a "Sticky"!!!

    Posted 7 years ago #
  8. dd951

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    what nsfisher said

    Born Again Heathern
    Posted 7 years ago #
  9. drsam

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    I agree. Make it a sticky.

    Now if I just had a fireplace......

    Sir Walter Raleigh, name of worth, how sweet for thee to know.
    King James, who never smoked on earth, Is smoking down below.
    Posted 7 years ago #
  10. spartan

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    I did think any actually used ash from pipe tobacco for pipe mud.

    Everywhere I have read uses cigar ash.

    I would be interested in how cigar ash hold up to the firewood ash.

    I actually need to use a good amount of pipe mud in one of my pipes to raise the bottom to the airway and I intend to try it out with cigar ash first.

    "I was born to lose. So I'll die to win." -Breaking Benjamin
    Posted 7 years ago #
  11. yohanan

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    Thank You for your very informative post. I will most certainly save me some ash from the fireplace and give it a go.


    Smoke What You Like, And Like What You Smoke...Regardless Of What Anyone Else Thinks...
    Posted 7 years ago #
  12. dimm

    Dimm

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    It's true most people use cigar ash. And it is better than pipe ash because its finer which makes for better workability but it is still closer to pipe ash than it is to wood ash.

    Posted 7 years ago #
  13. olderthandirt

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    That was indeed a nice writeup Dimm.

    Must say I have never had the issues you describe using the ash from a pipe.
    "Pipe mud on the other hand tends to be a crumbly mess like dirt or..."
    What you have pictured as being from a pipe looks as though it's heavily laden with dottle. If that's the case I can see where you may have issues using it.

    I have posted a few times on this forum and others in that I don't smoke cigars I use pipe ash.
    I always sift it before use and end up with the exact results you describe having had working with wood ash from your fireplace.

    It is good to know that wood ash will work if that's all that's available.

    Snus, snuff and briar.
    Not much more required in a day.
    Brian from Oregon USA
    Posted 7 years ago #
  14. ssjones

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    Very interesting, thanks for sharing your engineering expertise. I'll have to save some of our firepit ash for future use. One gentleman over on the Smokers forum has used pipe mud to rebuild a calabash bowl that had a meerschaum liner, with good results.

    Al

    Posted 7 years ago #
  15. dimm

    Dimm

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    To tell you the truth the left image is actually a mix of cigarette and pipe ash from some black cavendish which left a lot of dottle (cause I couldn't smoke it all the way because I thought it was awful stuff) it was used simply for picture purposes. I usually use something that does look more like cigar ash, either from cigarettes or from pipe ash that was well burnt, and I sift out the dottle. I'm not a big cigar smoker so I don't often get a hold of cigar ash but I have done this with cigar ash. And, as I said, it is usually finer which gives it better workability (as in you'll be able to make it more play-dough and work it better) but it does not have the same drying/curing results. From what I've seen, no tobacco ash forms what I would call a cement. As in I have seen no sign of a chemical reaction. So you wet it, work it, and dry it. It does not cure fast and it does not cure to be as hard as the wood ash. The wood ash cures to be literally a rock.

    Anyways, having said all that this is not as scientific as it sounds. I do have some expertise in the field but I do not claim to know it all. I actually work mostly with chemical cements which do not resemble portland cement at all and which have no calcium content. There are general rules for cements but even then... these things have a tendency to become really complicated the longer you look at them. At the same time every tobacco is different. If there's something I've learned from working in a cement lab is that details do matter. A change from ph7 to ph8 in your solution might mean the differnce between a cement that cures to a rock and one that doest react at all. Your experience with pipe mud will depend what you smoke as the different tobaccos and additives as well as how you smoke can have a butterfly effect on what you end up with. I can see how some cigars and tobaccos might actually give you something that closely resembles the wood ash and some other ones (especially heavily aromatic ones) might give you pure crap. In fact what kind of wood ash you have might even make a difference! Mine seems great but yours might be crap. So yeah... things get complicated fast haha.

    I think I'll get a hold of a cigar and try the 3 (cigar, wood, and pipe) ashes side by side. I think I opened pandora's pipe mud box.

    Posted 7 years ago #
  16. olderthandirt

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    In fact what kind of wood ash you have might even make a difference. Mine seems great but yours might be crap. So yeah... things get complicated fast haha.
    I think I opened pandora's pipe mud box.
    Now you REALLY have opened it up, lol
    Pine vs oak vs maple vs .... hehehe

    Posted 7 years ago #
  17. dimm

    Dimm

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    Good evening everyone,

    So I went out and bought a little captain black cheap cigar and made a pipe mud ball out of its ash (left). I also did the same with wood ash pipe cement (right).

    So as you can see there is a bit of a difference in scale haha. That's cause you can't get a lot of ash out of those little cigars. But that doesn't actually affect the experiment.

    So ... if both of these pipe mud balls were simply wet particles that dried by evaporating water (rather than curing by chemical reaction) you would expect the small cigar ash ball to dry and harden significantly faster than the big pipe cement ball. In fact, the exact opposite happened. The big ball hardened much faster. As well, it became much harder than the cigar ash ball which simply crushed back to powder with little pressure. This is what gives me the impression that the wood ash cures and pipe ash simply dries.

    But the cigar ash was finer than pipe ash so its workability in the paste was quite similar to wood ash.

    Posted 7 years ago #
  18. unclearthur

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    I may give the wood ash a try after I run off the lye from what I have been saving back for a soap making experiment. I am thinking I would rather use the ash after the lye has been extracted.

    If at first you don't succeed you are running about average.
    Posted 7 years ago #
  19. ssjones

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    I've read recently from folks who write articles in "The Pipe Collector" (NASPC) who use honey or other to coat new pipe bowls. I've never tried that myself. In fact, now that I think about it, they have an article on the subject. I have it in my Kindle, but haven't read it yet. Read it free here with about another dozen pipe articles:
    http://www.naspc.org/Archives/breakin.htm

    I'll put in a plug for the NASPC, $10 a year for their email newsletter membership. Six 40-plug page newsletters a year is worth many more times that small cost. I paid $5 extra for the 2010 newsletters and just finished those, all worthy of that cost individually.

    Posted 7 years ago #
  20. olderthandirt

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    I've only used water and sifted pipe ash, never tried the honey or jam.
    Using water, I've raised the bottom of the chamber on 5 or 6 pipes and fortified the bottom on a few cobs. The mud used in these applications is still in place, hard as you could wish for.

    Posted 7 years ago #
  21. dimm

    Dimm

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    So since I posted this I've been wondering how I could confirm any of my speculations about wood ash making a cement and tobacco ash not. Because theories are great but some sort of hard evidence would be nice. Luckily a simple test popped into my head today.

    So geologists have been using a simple field test for identifying limestone for more than 100 years. This test is called them acid test. What you have to do is drop a drop of acid onto the rock and if it bubbles it is limestone and if it doesn't its not. This because acid reacts with (and dissolves) calcite which is what limestone is made of. This also happens to be how acid rain wears away limestone statues and buildings over the years. Calcite is also know as calcium carbonate which is what cement is (remeber limestone is one of the major ingredients of cement). So this same test should he able to disinguish cement from non cement.

    Basically, I'm going to make 3 balls, one from pipe ash, one from cigar ash, and one from wood ash. Then, I'll drop some acid on each and see if they bubble. If it bubbles it confirms that the ball is made from a calcium carbonate cement.

    I'll give this a shot with household acids (lemon juice or vinegar) and if that doesn't work I'll take it to my lab and try some stronger acids.

    Posted 7 years ago #
  22. dimm

    Dimm

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    Now... if you're confused about the chemistry here don't worry... so am I (and how). Chemistry is not simple and as I said previously, Portland cement is not my specialty. However, I think I have finally put all the pieces together. And I can finally answer the silica question. But let me reexplain some things from the beginning...

    So... calcite is calcium carbonate and it is what both limestone and cement are made of. The reactions that make cement and limestone are different, however, the final product is the same: calcite (calcium carbonate). In that sense it is acurate to think of limestone as natural Portland cement. Or to think of Portland cement as artificial limestone.

    Now... having said that you cannot simply take calcium carbonate, mix it with water, and get a cement. That doesn't make any sense because calcium carbonate is a product not a reactant. It would be like grinding up hardened cement, mixing it with water and expecting another solid cement. You won't get that you'll just get a wet muck that dries back to a powder. However, ground limestone IS a raw material for cement, however the ground calcite is then heat treated and mixed with other materials to become a mix of calcium oxide, silica, and magnesium oxide. These three together will react with water to form calcium carbonate, the cement!

    Now we can procede to wood ash. I found answers to many of my questions about wood ash in the following paper: http://www.fpl.fs.fed.us/documnts/pdf1993/misra93a.pdf its a little hard to read but contains all the information we need. So basically, when wood is burned it produces lots of minerals including forms of Mg, Ca, Na, Si, C etc. However, theprecise products depend on the type of wood and the temperature its burned at! This where things get interesting. Burned at a low temperature the product is largely calcium carbonate, calcite. As we just said, this IS cement so mixing this with water does not make a cement. It will simply dry up to the original powder of calcium carbonate. However, when it is burned at a high temperature you get a mix of calcium oxide, silica and magnesium oxide! The exact ingredients of Portland cement (with a bunch of impurities. This, when mixed with water will react to form calcium carbonate, cement. Now... what's even more interesting is thst not all wood forms these products. in the paper ash, pine and Douglas fir do but oak does not. So yes the pandoras box has been opened...

    So right now my theory on this whole thing is that tobacco either does burn to produce ash which contains the mix of chemicals which produce calcium carbonate or the tobacco does not burn hot enough to produce them and, instead, produces unreactive calcium carbonate. The acid test should tell me which of the two it is.

    Posted 7 years ago #
  23. dimm

    Dimm

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    The last paragraph should read: " So right now my theory on this whole thing is that tobacco either does NOT burn to produce ash which contains the mix of chemicals which produce calcium carbonate or the tobacco does not burn hot enough to produce them and, instead, produces unreactive calcium carbonate. The acid test should tell me which of the two it is".

    Posted 7 years ago #
  24. lifeon2

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    ok so what kind of wood should we be burning? Also wouldnt this work just as well

    http://www.lowes.com/pd_89400-73069-1666-0408-2_0__?productId=3593040&Ntt=laticrete+unsanded+grout&pl=1&currentURL=%2Fpl__0__s%3FNtt%3Dlaticrete%2Bunsanded%2Bgrout&facetInfo=

    or even jb weld?

    You may call me "HerrDoctor"
    Posted 7 years ago #
  25. jaysin

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    Surly u could sell it theres a sucker born every minute

    When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro.
    Posted 7 years ago #
  26. bailey331

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    Thanks for the information. I have an estate pipe I just got today that looks to need a little attention to the bottom of the bowl. I will give this a try and let you know.

    Posted 7 years ago #
  27. tokerpipes

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    Realisticly couldnt you just put the ash in your bowl up to the level you desire and just add some water and let it dry? Or possibly add too much water and let it set till it dry/cured all the way?

    If you can't pack it, light it, and smoke it then why do it. It's a dieing art that must be rekindled in all of us as fortold by our forefathers.

    Words to live by for all pipe smokers.
    Posted 7 years ago #
  28. olderthandirt

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    Well that's thinking outside the box toker.
    Would be akin to mixing cement for a fencepost in the hole rather than in a wheelbarrow.

    Give it a try and tell us how it works out!

    Posted 7 years ago #
  29. lordnoble

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    I swear, I've read this thread twice and can't figure out.... Is Portland Cement just fireplace ash? So in theory, I can get a bag of Quikcrete and patch up the pits in my bowls? Should I be saving some of the fine ash from my outdoor fireplace? Or should I only be saving the ash from Douglas Fir or pine logs that I burn?

    -Jason

    The preceding statement is not to be construed as fact, but merely conjecture.

    Proud member of the BlackBlood Society
    Posted 7 years ago #
  30. rhogg

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    Portland cement is toxic. I would put it in a pipe.

    Posted 7 years ago #
  31. rhogg

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    The idea of burning down a forest to create a parking lot sounds like one hell of a misplaced science experiment that will likely not yield the desired results.

    Posted 7 years ago #
  32. lordnoble

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    The idea of burning down a forest to create a parking lot sounds like one hell of a misplaced science experiment that will likely not yield the desired results.

    I think you're on to something there! LOL!

    -Jason

    Posted 7 years ago #
  33. dimm

    Dimm

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    Okay so filling up your pipe with dry ash and then putting some water in will not really work because if you've ever mixed pipe mud you know that a big pile of cigar ash makes a tiny little ball of putty. Also you would wanna mix it seperately to get the proportions right.

    On the topic of putting actual cement in a pipe I would not do that. Wood ash is not the same thing as regular Portland cement even though it is similar. Portland cement has lots of additives which wood ash does not. Portland cement is corrosive.

    Anyways I would love for you to experiment with differentt wood ashes and report your findings. After reading into just how complex this all is I think some trial and error is in krder. So let's hear how your pipe cement works out!

    Posted 7 years ago #
  34. rhogg

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    I let burnt matches get in the mix and it seems to make it a little harder.

    Posted 7 years ago #
  35. oakbear

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    Anyone tried sodium silcate and activated charcoal for this?
    Or am i better with cement?

    I'm thinking of giving it a go for a pin hole in an antique briar...

    Posted 7 years ago #
  36. tokerpipes

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    So i tried leaving some ash and adding some water to one of my MM cobs. I put a pipe cleaner in the shank so it was just in the opening of the bowl. Using a match stick I mixed it around a bit, once it was a little less squishy and more like a putty I used the tamper and my pinky to smooth it out. I let it dry for a week. IT WORKED. I will probably have to do this a few times to get it to the right level, but it does work.

    Posted 7 years ago #
  37. group4

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    My days as a potter reminded me that fireplace ash can be extremely caustic, due to high alkalinity. Before attempting more experiments I encourage you to do a little further chemical investigation. Good luck.

    Posted 7 years ago #
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    My 2cents:
    Anyone against honey for break-in, tell it to yello-bole who ran ads in 1950's mags boasting their mfg process using it. I found it necessary for all my homemades carved off of my seasoned cherry tree logs. Without honey, any pipe made from cherry, black walnut or maple will have you your own mini-fireplace scent until carbon buildup. I read of maple syrup doing well; anything sugary/syrupy that you would eat may suffice for break-in.
    Briar doesn't really need it.

    My fireplace sometimes burns a parrafin log whose ash chemistry may be questionable. I'll stick to pipe mud from my own pipe ash. I've only used it in cobs, anyhow. Just my opinion..........

    Posted 7 years ago #
  39. bailey331

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    Used your cement idea last night in an estate Whitehall I picked up a few weeks ago. the bottom of the bowl had several cracks in it but none that had gone all the way through. I packed and lined the bottom of the bowl with wood ash and spit. I formed an easy to work with putty and dried fast too. I let it sit over night to set up all the way and will most likely smoke that bad boy tonight. Thanks for the info. It was spot on.

    Posted 7 years ago #
  40. bentmike

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    I just got a bent pot shape the other day and it looked like the vent hole was drilled just a touch too deep leaving a divot at the bottom of the bowl. I had just read your post so I asked my brother-in-law for some fine ash from his woodstove. I mixed with water until a thick paste developed and packed it into the little hole with a broken off cotton swab. Worked like a charm -now the bottom of the bowl transitions smoothly into the vent hole. Probably would have been fine as it was but little details like that irritate me and surly nasty dottle would have lodged in the hole.

    Very interesting post by the way.

    Posted 7 years ago #
  41. dimm

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    I would like to agree with group4. Experimenting with science is fun but be careful. If I've learned anything from this its that not all woods are equal. You should not use ash if you don't know what wood it came from. I found some information online about woods used for smoking meats. It was a very large list of woods which were safe and woods which were not. I don't know how it relates to the safety of the ash. If anythingit simply goes to reenforce the notion that not all woods are equal. And that some are bad for you. Also make sure that only pure wood was used. I know that people burn scraps of anything in fireplaces. Paint, glues, varnished, and lots of other things can be very toxic for you.

    I actually like the idea of ash from matches qs it is something readily availabe to pipe smokers and obviously time tested as safe in a pipe.

    So be careful At the same time I know that people used to and still light their pipes by taking an embers from a fire and sticking it right in their pipes. So wood ash is not something that is historically foreign to your pipe.

    Posted 7 years ago #
  42. maineyachtie

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    Great thread Dimm, you're a bright guy.

    See what I did there?

    Anyway, very interesting topic. I appreciate your dedication and enthusiasm. For me though, I'm just gonna stick to pipe or cigar mud since I already know it's safe to smoke.

    Posted 7 years ago #
  43. wildcat

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    Great thread Dimm

    +1
    I missed this earlier and I sure am glad I was directed her tonight! I have a bent Wally Frank Chadwick with an interior bowl crack or sand-pit that needs repair. As stated earlier, this would make a great sticky!

    For whereas men of an older school, like myself, smoke for the pleasure of smoking...
    A.A. Milne
    Posted 7 years ago #
  44. jcinpa

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    Great thread, thanks! I have a bent with an air hole drilled way too high, this is perfect!

    It is middle of summer and our fireplace is cleaned out. Anyone know how the fine ash from regular Kingsford Briquets from my Weber kettle might work? I do note that if it gets wet in the grill it can be hard to get out, lending credence to the cement thing.

    I am hoping to get good results, but in the meantime was wondering if anyone else had tried it.

    Posted 7 years ago #
  45. gmwolford

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    Wish I'd read this thread before I mudded my cob; Toker's idea would've come in real handy then! LOL

    This is a good read but, like the title says, huge. I actually had to read it in segments.

    Greg
    Posted 6 years ago #
  46. topd

    TopD

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    "Overheard one afternoon in Egypt about 3500 years ago"

    Make Bricks without straw? How can we make bricks without straw?

    HaHahahaaaa!

    Steve 'Top' Downey
    Master Sergeant
    USMC - Retired
    Posted 6 years ago #
  47. numbersix

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    This is weird - but I needed this exact info at this moment and there it was, a the top of the recent posts list. Great info!

    "Be seeing you"


    Posted 6 years ago #
  48. taerin

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    Time to take out some ash from my fireplace and mud a cob with it to test it out. The ash is all from firewood cut down from our property so I know it is safe.

    "The fear of death follows from the fear of life. A man who lives fully is prepared to die at any time."
    Mark Twain
    Posted 6 years ago #
  49. morton

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    I used some birch ash from my fireplace. After I sieved it and experimented with the right water/ash mix, I mudded two new cobs that I have now smoked for about 30-40 times each. Works like a dream with no ill effects and no breakdown of mud. These cobs are my work truck pipes and as such, take a beating on a regular basis. I highly recommend this technique. Thanks for the great info, Dimm!

    Be careful what you wish for, as you just might get it.
    Posted 6 years ago #
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    piperphil

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    A word on safety: If using wood ash to make pipe mud be sure to use ash that came from woods that are nontoxic or have little to no health hazards such as allergic reactions and the like. If the ash is pure white then most likely all the problem compounds like the big C's (carcinogens) and allergens have probably been removed or degraded to the point of inert or harmless. But IMO i wouldn't use woods known to be or have toxic compounds in them.
    Here's a few: Cedar, Satinwood, Teak, Mahogany, Beech, Cyprus, Birch, certain Maples, Elm.....
    Many people probably don't use many of these for fire wood but a wood worker or amateur pipe maker might burn scraps and decide to use it for pipe mud. Just looking out for y'all. Smoke happy, smoke safe.

    Posted 6 years ago #
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    piperphil

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    Oh while it's on my mind i was wondering while I have seen that cigar ash is the most popular material as a base with pipe ash a close second i have seen much more solvents used. Honey, water, saliva, and jams/jellies being the most popular. But i have yet to see anyone use liquor. Why? Water would be an inert substance that would leave only the ash in the bottom which would crumble until one smokes some tobacco in the bowl which would add tars and oils to the mud finally "curing" it. While Honey or Jams/Jellies would add a taste (at least for the first few bowls) and make a mud that would be more of a true paste and "cure" even harder than just ash/water because the sugars would caramelize and form kind of a "hard candy"/ash cake when heated by smoking. But in theory wouldn't liquor be the best of both worlds? Lets consider an aged whiskey or rum: these would allow for the ash to emulsify/solvate and form a mud and would dry quicker because 35-50% of the solvent (the liquor) would be alcohol which evaporates much more quickly than water. Plus upon heating by smoking the sugars in the liquor would caramelize and form a cake more easily and readily than just water without adding all the other compounds found in fruit preserves. Just thought I would throw this out there. Anyway I have a Bertram (grade 80) that I got for $1 at an antiques barn that I will try a 101 turkey/cigar ash mud on and report back in a few weeks.

    Posted 6 years ago #
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    Anonymous

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    A word on safety: If using wood ash to make pipe mud ...

    Thanks for the warning, but using wood ash for this is not a good idea and not just for toxicity concerns.

    Cigar ash works best. If you don't smoke cigars, I am sure a friend who smokes hand-made cigars won't charge you too much for some cigar ash.

    Honey, water, saliva, and jams/jellies being the most popular ... wouldn't liquor be the best of both worlds?

    While familiar with the "standard" recipe for pipe mud, I could see the small amount of a consumable alcohol such as rum to mix up the ash as feasible. That said, I never did that as I personally don't want to put any alcohol inside any pipe bowl.

    Honey does not work because honey drips and goops as it melts. Jams have more components and in larger pieces than I want. I only use grape jelly (as I mentioned in another PM post) as a component in a non-pipe-mud repair method. I wouldn't use any of these substances to make pipe mud.

    Posted 6 years ago #
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    piperphil

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    Ok so I used bourbon and cigar ash for pipe mud and it is by far the hardest I have seen yet. Literally went off like dried clay. Dries and sets in less than 24hrs. Absorbs moisture like a sponge and dries super quick as well.
    So: dryer, cooler, and easier to clean. If any one wants to try I recommend high proof whiskey and cigar ash.

    Posted 6 years ago #
  54. mlyvers

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    hey gents, i tell ya i have used honey and reamings from my pipes. this really works. no taste of any kind from the paste. this is good for inner bowl repairs. however i would like too try cigar ash honey for my next repair. i do think that all these suggestions will work for us. great topic here.

    take care.

    mike.

    Posted 6 years ago #
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    vermonter

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    Thanks for the warning, but using wood ash for this is not a good idea and not just for toxicity concerns.

    Could you elaborate on your concerns, about toxicity or other issues? I'm curious and I'm sure others are too, given that the rest of this thread makes wood-based pipe cement sound like rather useful stuff...

    Posted 6 years ago #
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    vermonter

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    Having researched a bit myself, I'm putting my vote in for sodium silicate solution and cigar ash. This is mostly because I don't have a wood stove, and would not be able to guarantee that the ash was free of chemicals and was burned at high temperatures.

    Sodium silicate has been mentioned a few times on this thread, and I believe it is relatively non-toxic. From what I've read, a mix of sodium silicate and water will turn into silica gel when heated, the hard little balls that come in packets with your vitamins. The cigar ash helps to make a paste that can be applied to the inside of a pipe, which will then dry. When the pipe is smoked the paste should harden even further from the heat.

    As you might expect, there isn't much scientific research on using this stuff in a pipe bowl, but it seems relatively safe. I ordered a bottle to fix a Kaywoodie I have with some cracks in it. I will post the results. Does anyone else have experience using sodium silicate? Or concerns?

    Posted 6 years ago #
  57. taztime

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    >> I'm still trying to locate some quality cigar ashes so I can make some pipe mud for my corn cob pipe. I emailed Scott at Aristocob for some; but I haven't heard form him yet. I don't smoke cigars .... so with that in mind what I would like to ask any of you cigar smokers out there if you could be so kind as to send me a couple of packages of quality cigar ashes. I would be more then willing to pay you for some quality cigar ashes. .... -- taztime
    My mailing address is as follows:
    taztime
    633 Texas street
    Longview, Texas 75601
    email - taztime@att.net

    Posted 6 years ago #
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    ragman

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    I have a theory. I'm starting out as a knife maker, but I found a website that shows a number of handmade pipes with wooden bowls and mouthpieces fixed to a brass stem. I wanted a way to sort of pre-carbonize the bowl to protect it and give it a longer life. I have a wood stove, but the talk about some wood ash being harmful has me a little concerned. The wood ash pipe mud sounds to be quite superior to using tobacco ash, but I have to wonder, what if you take your tobacco ash and keep burning it in a hotter fire until all that's left is the fine grey ash you get from a wood stove? I might have to look around a thrift shop for a ceramic mug to sacrifice for the cause. The nights are getting colder and I'll be lighting fires soon, might be a good time to experiment.

    Posted 5 years ago #
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    pipebastard

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    What I've found makes the best pipe 'cement' is the ash from a burnt hookah coal. These coals can be purchased at most smoke shops, they burn clean and smoke free, and are obviously used for smoking hookahs so one would assume they are somewhat toxin free.

    I just happen to smoke a hookah regularly, so once I stumbled across this thread I tired using the coal ash and it has outperformed any other type of pipe mud or cement I had previously made; including various wood ashes, cigar ash, pipe ash, and various combinations of each (perhaps I have too much time on my hands, but this thread interested me). Let it dry for at least 24 hours, 48 is probably better. I make it slightly wet, so its thin and goes into small spaces - applying it while thin in consistency also allows you to shape it babies butt smooth yet still allows you to make a fairly thick application, if required. It's the best.... particularly once it absorbs some tar and oil to really bond it to the pipe. That being said it bonds strongly to the pipe even before it's 'broken in'.

    edit: I even repaired a broken bowl in a glass pipe with this cement with outstanding results.

    Posted 5 years ago #
  60. ssjones

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    I'm not sure if anyone is still following this thread (OP, Dimm?).

    I have a problem bowl that pipe mud doesn't seem to be able to fix permanently.

    Today, I picked up a small tub of black "Fireplace Mortar & Cement" at Lowes. It is silica based and is already mixed, ready to apply. It dries fast and hard. I tried it in one of my pipes. It is drying now, but I believe one could even sand the bowl interior smooth with this stuff.

    http://www.lowes.com/pd_64843-85334-GA0188_4294856693_4294937087?productId=1191571

    The MSDS Sheet is here:
    http://www.greentek.ca/userfiles/file/GA0188%20Stove%20&%20FP%20Mortar.pdf

    Posted 5 years ago #
  61. yaddy306

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    (bump)
    Any new thoughts on pipe cement (from wood ash) vs. pipe mud (from tobacco ash)?

    Roth seems to warn against wood ash, but never said why.

    Some have concerns over toxicity, and I can see that if it's from a wood like cedar or teak.
    Is the Imperial Stove and Fireplace Cement & Mortar toxic?

    Just want to fill in the bottom of my MM cobs.

    Posted 5 years ago #
  62. woodsroad

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    I just read through this thread, and lo and behold, I happen to have a Wood Ash Generating Machine in operation right now! I'm going to try mudding some cobs later today.

    Observation:

    I have many buddies that smoke cigars and save their ash for me

    Well, a friend is loyal, but a loving friend will save their ash, just for you.

    Posted 5 years ago #
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    charlespe

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    I did think any actually used ash from pipe tobacco for pipe mud.

    Everywhere I have read uses cigar ash.

    I would be interested in how cigar ash hold up to the firewood ash. I think this article can be helped http://www.vipcubancigars.com/blog/age-improving-cuban-cigar/

    I actually need to use a good amount of pipe mud in one of my pipes to raise the bottom to the airway and I intend to try it out with cigar ash first.

    Posted 5 years ago #
  64. jarit

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    Well, the cigar ash/water recipe described by Fred Hanna came first, and that's what I trust and use. OP may have found another way, and good for him. This thread certainly is the first result when googling "pipe mud". Good SEO.

    Pipe tobacco ash isn't as fine as cigar ash and doesn't work as well, IMO. I've tried.

    Posted 5 years ago #
  65. redbeard

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    I can not see the pics, seems like I must be the only one...

    **EDIT**

    Ok, well being two years old could be the problem :lmao: anywayssss... Very informative post. I'm not sure if any of my pipes need to be filled but if I ever see they do I will definitely do a nice experiment for myself.

    Posted 5 years ago #
  66. elduderino

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    I love this forum! So many ideas and opinions without harsh ridicule. Just got a Karl Erik Freehand (0) estate from my girlfriend for a 2yr Anniversary present. She's a keeper, the girlfriend too.lol

    I got to move the bottom up a 1/4 to the draft-hole. Thinking of using honey, whiskey, and cigar ash mix. My theory is the whiskey and it's alcohol will loosen the honey thus binding more ash. I'm going to make a couple mud balls with this method alongside ash/water mixture and try to compare hardness before applying it to my pipe.

    "So we shall let the reader answer this question for himself: who is the happier man, he who has braved the storm of life and lived or he who has stayed securely on shore and merely existed?"
    -Hunter S. Thompson.
    Posted 4 years ago #
  67. jruthledge

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    The idea of using ash from matches has come up a couple of times, so I thought I'd share my little experiment. I cut the heads off of a few dozen wooden matches, because I just wanted burnt wood, not sulfur and whatever else. I burned them all down so that they were all black and had nothing flammable left. I crushed the remains up in a little baby food jar, and then added water until I had a paste to plaster into the bottoms of a couple of my pipes.

    After sitting overnight, they both look the same as they did when I left them. I didn't want to mess anything up by touching them before they had a chance to dry, but I checked out a little mud that was left out on the pipe tool I used to apply the mud. It was still damp and not hardened at all. My guess is that burning wood matches this way just doesn't get them hot enough to create the right kind of ash. I also would have created a finer paste with a mortar and pestle, and that might have worked better. But we'll see. I plan on having an update once they've really had a chance to dry.

    Anybody else try this? I know rhogg mixed in some match ash, but has anyone else done it with match ash alone?

    Posted 4 years ago #
  68. jruthledge

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    Update: This actually ended up working... a little. After one really awful smoke, and another just bad one, this stuff started to harden in the bottom. It did stop the gurgle I was trying to fix and allow me to smoke the whole bowl. If I were to suffer through a half dozen more bowls that tasted like charred nastiness at the end, this might actually work out ok once the cake had built up enough. But instead I picked up a cigar and made myself some tradition style mud. I'll be on the look out for some good wood ash over the summer.

    Conclusion, I wouldn't recommend using ash from matches by itself except in the most dire of circumstances.

    Posted 4 years ago #
  69. uncleblackie

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    The pipe mud sold by Aristocob works extremely well. At a dollar for two pipes worth of mud, it's a great add on if you're ordering a pipe or two. Much better than fussing with cigars or other potential sources of ash.

    Posted 4 years ago #
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    pipebender

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    Great post, my antique store no-name pipe has some cracks inside the chamber. I just scraped my fireplace and got a few table spoons worth so will try this very shortly.

    Posted 3 years ago #

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