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Rubbing Alcohol to Clean Pipes

(43 posts)
  • Started 5 years ago by doublebassmusician
  • Latest reply from hunterwold1
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    doublebassmusician

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    I know alot of people like to use vodka or rum to clean their pipes, but I'm not much of a drinker. I've read that if I don't use a drinkable alcohol to clean my pipes that I should use a "non-denatured" alcohol. Where can I find this? I've already checked all the drug stores and X-marts. If I can't find it anywhere, should I use ethyl or isopropyl rubbing alcohol?

    Posted 5 years ago #
  2. python

    Bob

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    Some people use rubbing alcohol but I never have, so I can not comment on the pro's and con's of using it.

    I use grain alcohol to clean my pipes. I do not drink grain alcohol and buy to use just for cleaning of my pipes.

    "When the Government Fears the People, There is Liberty;
    When the People Fear the Government, There is Tyranny." - Thomas Jefferson
    Posted 5 years ago #
  3. midniteryder

    midniteryder

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    Yeah, i'm with Python on this one. Don't play around with denatured or isopropyl alcohol. I don't drink either but buy grain alcohol to clean pipes. Everclear or any high proof alcohol works great and you know it won't poison you.

    Posted 5 years ago #
  4. admin

    Kevin

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    There's also "Clean & Cure".

    You can BUY IT HERE.

    Check Out Our - Pipes Podcast
    Posted 5 years ago #
  5. dunendain

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    I use rum. I have used whisky. Both work. If you don't drink. Just buy the little miniatures. You can start with Q-tips, an then finish with pipe cleaners. Let the pipe sit for a day. My biggest mistake when I was newb. was not cleaning my pipes often enough. I guess that works for many things in life.

    Posted 4 years ago #
  6. admin

    Kevin

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    dunendain said: My biggest mistake when I was newb. was not cleaning my pipes often enough. I guess that works for many things in life.

    LOL! Yes, you must always clean ALL your pipes! Even the ones you don't smoke.

    I cleaned all my pipes (literally) the other day. While leaving them sit for a day, I smoked my corncob pipes.

    One lesson I learned the hard way about cleaning pipes and balancing out too much cleaning and not enough cleaning. When I was a newb, I constantly cleaned my pipes, removing the stems. Now, my first pipe, an Aldo Velani that is actually the one pictured in the site logo, has a cracked mostise and a very loose fitting stem.

    You shouldn't remove the stems too much, and especially right after smoking while the pipe is hot.

    My practice is that regular cleaning is just running a pipe cleaner or two through after smoking. I only take the pipe apart, removing the stem, and running cleaner-dipped pipe cleaners through after 5 - 6 smokes.

    Posted 4 years ago #
  7. dunendain

    dunendain

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    I hope to lucky and do some pipe cleaning tonight. I am going use rum on her.. er them.

    Posted 4 years ago #
  8. tomsoles

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    Rubbing alcohol won't kill you if you use it to clean your pipe as long as you let it dry out well before you use it again.
    You should not drink it though.
    The best thing I have found is a product that you can get at most good tobacco stores is Arango Pipe spray. Use as directed and you will love what is does for your pipe. I get mine at Iwan Ries & Compnay, Chicago.

    Tom

    Posted 4 years ago #
  9. analogmoz

    analogmoz

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    I have used 91% isopropyl alcohol in my pipes to no ill effect, but certainly it would seem logical to use potable spiritous liquor in lieu of poison. I am not logical. I am, however, youngish, poor, and brave.

    Posted 4 years ago #
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    reformedpastor

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    Must rubbing alcohol that is denatured state it on the label? Mine says nothing of it.

    Posted 4 years ago #
  11. dunendain

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    I think any rubbing alcohol is safe. It is going too evaporate. If you want save a buck, just buy a mini of rum, vodka, or whisky.

    Posted 4 years ago #
  12. chuckw

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    Rubbing alcohol contains water. Water will soak into the wood and hurry the need to clean the pipe again by expanding the pours of the wood. Rubbing alcohol and denatured alcohol are poisons.
    If you are just cleaning your own pipes, any potable adult beverage will do the trick.
    If, however, you are cleaning/restoring estate pipes,you will need at least 150 proof alcohol to make sure you kill any nasty little bugs that may be lingering. Pappy's White Lightnin'(Grain alcohol) or 150 proof rum is called for in that instance.
    If you happen to be a recovering alcoholic and can't have the potable stuff around, the Arango pipe spray mentioned earlier will work. It's taste and aroma will disappear within two bowls.

    I've always been crazy but it's kept me from going insane.
    Posted 4 years ago #
  13. thegussbus

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    "Denatured" means that they have added poisons to it so that it cannot be consumed. Now, these poisons will most likely evaporate with the rest of it, but just to be safe I would go with non-denatured alcohol. What you'd want is 99.9% isopropyl alcohol. If it does not say "Denatured" anywhere on the bottle, it is not denatured.

    Chuchkw said: 'Rubbing alcohol contains water. Water will soak into the wood and hurry the need to clean the pipe again by expanding the pours of the wood.'

    As far as water is concerned, Everclear contains more water (10% or as much as 24.5%, depending on which type of Everclear you get). Other liquors contain more. If water is your concern, going with 99.9% isopropyl alcohol (only 0.1% water) is your best bet.

    Having said that, I haven't tried it.

    Posted 2 years ago #
  14. mrenglish

    mrenglish

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    I have used denatured alcohol for years to clean my pipes. Granted, they need to set a day before smoking them again, but in fifteen plus years I have been smoking pipes, I have never had any issues. I clean my pipes (without removing the stem) after every smoke by running soaked bristle pipe cleaners thru the stem and into the shank. No issues except for being careful as it the denatured stuff could remove stain on the briar.

    After a day of sitting, there is no residue or smell from the denatured stuff. You can buy a quart at the big box hardware stores for seven or eight bucks. That will usually last me a year or more. I have an empty bottle of the Clean & Cure that I fill with the denatured and dip the cleaners into that.

    Then every so often I will remove the stem and give it a thorough cleaning.

    The Clean & Cure is good stuff and I use it if I plan on smoking the pipe soon.

    Michael
    Posted 2 years ago #
  15. barkar

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    In Ontario we can't get everclear or 150 proof. I use 99% Isopropanol which is isopropyl alcohol. I get it at the drug store. Now there are similar bottles at same drug store that are much lower percentage so make sure you get the higher one.

    Keep your stick on the ice!....Barry....
    Posted 2 years ago #
  16. nsfisher

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    Yup, that is all I have used for years. Sometimes a cleaner dipped in Brandy through the stem afterwards.

    If at first you don't succeed, have another bowl.
    Posted 2 years ago #
  17. ejames

    ejames

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    91 % Isopropyl is all I have ever used,and I have often smoked them immediately after cleaning,use dry pipe cleaners and or Q-tips to dry them.It evaporates quickly.

    Posted 2 years ago #
  18. topd

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    I'm with Kevin on the 'Clean and Cure' if you don't drink....

    Steve 'Top' Downey
    Master Sergeant
    USMC - Retired
    Posted 2 years ago #
  19. ruraldean

    ruraldean

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    If you are just cleaning your own pipes, any potable adult beverage will do the trick.

    I misread that as "any potato adult beverage" and thought of vodka.

    I was once given a VERY cheap bottle of brandy and it will last me for ever. The pipes always smell great too, one advantage of not using proprietary cleaners.

    Posted 2 years ago #
  20. pipedreams101

    pipedreams101

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    As I commented on another thread, I used to use liquor or pipe sweetener, but I recentley switched to mentholated rubbing alcohol. I have never had any problems and in my opinion as far as taste goes it tastes the same as clean and cure.

    I have some friends, some honest friends, and honest friends are few: My pipe of briar, my open fire, a book that is not too new.
    Posted 2 years ago #
  21. tiltjlp

    tiltjlp

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    I completely clean every pipe after every use, which means using 91% Isopropyl, pipe cleaners, and dry reaming the bowl. That way I never have to worry about ghosting or sour pipes. I’ve done this for over 50 years with no problems.

    John : The CobFather : Have Cobs, Will Smoke

    Posted 2 years ago #
  22. cigrmaster

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    I use everclear after 5-6 bowls. I use a shank brush, bristle cleaners and regular cleaners. I have always been afraid of rubbing alcohol. The guy at my local b/m who has been cleaning and repairing pipes for 40 years suggested I do it that way. I was thinking about using the everclear after every use to see if I notice a difference. So far doing it after every 5 or 6 I have never run into a foul tasting bowl, but hey I am always up for trying something new.

    Harris
    Posted 2 years ago #
  23. nightmarejones

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    I too use iso and never had any ill effects, just let it sit for the night and it's fine with no after taste.

    Posted 2 years ago #
  24. clyde

    clyde

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    I never smoke a pipe more than one day. Use ordinary rubbing alcohol through mortise and draft hole. Use none within bowl. Clean stem dry and then a little "Bee" pipe sweetener after that. Pipe rests five or six days before it's smoked again. You would never guess it was cleaned with any alcohol. Depends on what you consider "clean". For me when you put a pipe cleaner through and it comes out as clean as it went in, then it's clean. Also found cleaning just one at a time is much less of a chore than spending an hour or two on a weekend day just cleaning pipes. Found out many years ago if you let the pipe sit around dirty everything dries out and makes it much, much harder to clean. Your life style will determine what's acceptable when it comes to maintenance so this is just what I've found works for me.

    C.M. George
    Posted 2 years ago #
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    burnface

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    Hello! I know this is kind of like....7 months since the last post...but all the answers in this thread seem really helpful and I just have a question that sort of adds on.

    A good friend of mine just bought me my first pipe and I absolutely love it.

    I was in an antique store the other day and found a sort of unique looking one for $2 and decided it was maybe worth getting and trying to clean it out!

    I see lots of people saying that isopropyl alcohol works fine as long as you leave it to dry for a while first. So here's my question:
    Doing it with iso alcohol, is that using the same method as posted HERE for example? Still use salt and do the same basic steps even though it isn't everclear or something similar?

    Thanks a lot!!

    -Shaun Z

    Posted 1 year ago #
  26. peckinpahhombre

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    Isopropyl alcohol is what you want. I use 99%. Far less water content than booze, unless you can get your hands on pure !00% grain alcohol, but I have never seen it. It is not poison (at least anymore than any other alcohol) - they use it to clean open wounds. I understand that in some countries it is "denatured" - which simply means they add something to make you sick otherwise whines would be buying it to drink.

    Posted 1 year ago #
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    burnface

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    Isopropyl alcohol is what you want. I use 99%. Far less water content than booze, unless you can get your hands on pure !00% grain alcohol, but I have never seen it. It is not poison (at least anymore than any other alcohol) - they use it to clean open wounds. I understand that in some countries it is "denatured" - which simply means they add something to make you sick otherwise whines would be buying it to drink.

    Cool thank you. Same steps to cleaning with salt and stuff like here:
    http://www.capitaldistrictpipeclub.com/lounge/index.php?topic=69.0 ?

    Thanks again.

    Posted 1 year ago #
  28. quincy

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    So, is it the consensus that Clean and Cure is better to use than Ispropyl? I'm a recovering alcoholic and can't see coming home with 151 and trying to explain that it's for the tobacco pipe and not me!

    Posted 1 year ago #
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    Anonymous

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    Many use the 90+% isopropyl alcohol, $2-$3 a bottle in any pharmacy (ask you pharmacist).

    I'd avoid so called "rubbing alcohol," for two reasons, first, it's only 70% alcohol and as Peck said contains a lot more water, so the higher 90%+ evaporates more quickly and second, the "rubbing alcohol" contains added ingredients that are not a nice scent for your pipe.

    Posted 1 year ago #
  30. quincy

    quincy

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    Awesome Roth! Thanks for the advice. I'll get a bottle tomorrow. I was afraid to use it. I also didn't know that water damaged a pipe. This thread has been most helpful!

    Posted 1 year ago #
  31. peckinpahhombre

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    Two clarifications:

    - make sure your alcohol does NOT say "denatured"

    - second, for the salt method, I would strongly suggest (unless you have a very steady hand) that you buy an eye dropper to put the alcohol in the bowl filled with kosher salt. Alcohol of any type will take off the stain on the outer part of the pipe. I find an eye dropper helps me get the alcohol in the bowl while ensuring that no alcohol touches the rim or the outer bowl.

    Posted 1 year ago #
  32. nsfisher

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    I use the Isop*** and have for 18 yrs or better. I use a syringe to fill my bowls after the salt is put in. Due to evaporation, one must add a bit after an hour or so, and then add a bit more before going to bed. Usually by morning, it's good to go for the cleaning. Few hours of sitting time to evaporate, and it's good to go for a smoke without any ill taste. Just my opinion. Oh ya, almost forgot, while water is generally taboo for a Briar, I have used boiling water to remove extra stubborn, iron hard cake from estate bowls. Boil the kettle, leave the shank hole unplugged, set the bowl in the sink drain and trickle boiling water in untill it runs out the shank hole. Let it sit for a minute and repeat. After 2 or 3 repititions, you can actually remove the hardened cake in pieces, easily. Downfall is, the bowl must sit for 4 days to a week to make sure it is dried out well before you smoke it.

    Posted 1 year ago #
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    burnface

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    Perfect thank you. Is just normal isopropyl something I can get at like Walmart or something?

    Posted 1 year ago #
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    Anonymous

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    Perfect thank you. Is just normal isopropyl something I can get at like Walmart or something?

    Ask your pharmacist.

    90+% isopropyl alcohol, $2-$3 a bottle in any pharmacy (ask you pharmacist).

    make sure your alcohol does NOT say "denatured"

    Posted 1 year ago #
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    burnface

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    Thank you

    Posted 1 year ago #
  36. nsfisher

    nsfisher

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    Unless your in Canada hahahhahah, then add $1.50 and 15% sales tax. lol

    Posted 1 year ago #
  37. peckinpahhombre

    peckinpahhombre

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    nsfisher - great idea on the syringe - i like that better than an eye dropper.

    Isoprop here in Ontario is $3.25 for a lire.

    Posted 1 year ago #
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    ghibli

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    Isopropyl (most if not all rubbing alcohol) is widely used by the medical community for disinfection such as swabbing before an injection. It is poisonous to drink, but is much less toxic than DENATURED Alcohol. Denatured has poisons added to grain alcohol so that one cannot drink it (and so the government can get their taxes on any alcohol consumed). I would never use Denatured Alcohol to clean a pipe. Shops do use Isopropyl (Rubbing Alcohol) to clean pipes & it is probably harmless. Best is the 91% versus the 70% (less water, faster evaporation, less wetting of briar). EVERCLEAR is 151 proof (75.5% grain alcohol) taxed for consumption & available at liquor stores. Years ago it was 190 proof (95%). But I have only found it in 750ml & liter sizes. I didn't want to buy such a large bottle to clean my pipes, so I am going to buy BACARDI 151 PROOF RUM, available in half-pints & pints. I THINK IT IS THE PERFECT SOLUTION! I suggest anyone wanting to know about isopropyl & denatured alcohol go to WIKIPEDIA & read about the difference.

    Posted 1 year ago #
  39. pstlpkr

    Lawrence

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    EVERCLEAR is 151 proof (75.5% grain alcohol) taxed for consumption & available at liquor stores.

    Here it's 190 proof.


    "Ending a sentence with a preposition is something up with which I will not put." Winston Churchill
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    Posted 1 year ago #
  40. captainsousie

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    Here it's 190 proof.

    Here too but I found it too expensive for estate cleanings and now I go with 91% iso.

    Eagles may soar, but weasels don't get sucked into jet engines.
    Posted 1 year ago #
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    Anonymous

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    I think the "proof" of grain alcohol, like Everclear, can vary by state law and/or can be found in different proofs up to 190. In my state, you can't buy it at all.

    Unless you restore and clean a boatload of pipes, for the "average" puffer, a "fifth" (750 ml) of Everclear or Bacardi 151 will last for many years (assuming you don't drink it up LOL). So for guys like me, it's not expensive at all.

    90+% Isopropyl alcohol, though, works just fine and sells for about $2-$3 a bottle in pharmacies. I just prefer using something potable so I use Bacardi 151.

    Posted 1 year ago #
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    drcarlo

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    I suggest isopropyl alcohol. Denatured ethaol is made toxic, so you do not drink untaxed alcohol (or IMO so you can't consume alcohol at all). The toxin may or may not evaporate, so there are a risk of a light poisoning.

    Posted 1 year ago #
  43. hunterwold1

    hunterwold1

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    I know this is somewhat extravagant but I use Jim Beam Bourbon to clean my pipes after every 5 - 6 smokes. Does the job for me. Because I always clean my pipes thoroughly with a pipe cleaner after every smoke, I find I do not need to use a lot of alcohol. I use this also to restore pipe stems of estate pipes I have purchased. Soaking for 24 to 48 hours brings up the oxidization. Then it is straight to the buffer wheels(Beall system) and soon I have jet black shiny sparkling stems that look like they just arrived from the factory.

    Posted 1 year ago #

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