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Vulcanite Stem Care

(42 posts)
  1. faziduke

    faziduke

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    Well I've removed all the oxidization off of my stem with a baking soda paste. The problem now though is the stem is a matte black than a shiny black so it's in need of some polishing.So I ask what exactly should I do to polish it up? Should I use obsidian oil? Do I need to buy tools? What exactly?

    Edited by jvnshr: Title capitalization.

    Posted 1 year ago #
  2. paddypiper

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    Alright, I'm going to tell you what I do and I can guarantee there will be at least three guys telling you I'm completely wrong. From the point you're at I use a dremel set to its lowest speed setting, with a 1" buffing pad. First I'll go over the stem with tripoly using the lightest touch possible. Then I go over the stem again with a different buffing wheel and mineral oil. Always produces a nice, like new shine.

    Posted 1 year ago #
  3. chasingembers

    chasingembers

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    I just wet sand from 1000-12,000 grit micromesh pads.

    I like coffee exceedingly.
    - H. P. Lovecraft
    Posted 1 year ago #
  4. chasingembers

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    And nope, won't disagree with paddypiper's method at all. Both work to the same end.

    Posted 1 year ago #
  5. michaelmirza

    Michael Mirza

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    The best way to deal with vulcanite/ebonite is to buy pipes with acrylic stems instead.

    Sometimes I take pictures: http://instagram.com/michael_mirza
    Posted 1 year ago #
  6. cosmicfolklore

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    I think that the biggest problem with suggesting tools like Dremels or pocket knives for cake, or removing the stem while hot, is that we don't know the hand-eye skill level of who we are making the suggestion to. When I suggest it is ok to remove a stem from a warm pipe, and then a big gorilla of a dude uses his big meaty hands to just yank the thing out, then there is a problem. Or telling a guy to use a pocket knife to gently shave out the cake, and he pulls out a hacked up crappy convenience store knife and hacks at the bowl rim.
    If you are going to master a Dremel, don't try your Dunnie or Becker as your first attempt... or do, for a valuable life experience, ha ha. But, don't blame me.

    A wet micro mesh pad is almost ham handed safe. A newbie can easily pick them up and figure them out... easy enough for a gorilla to use, ha ha. Then I will coat mine with a touch of a microcrystalline wax, like Renaissance Wax, or a paste carnuba. The Ren Wax is warmed in your fingers and just worked in, massage it like a... well, just massage it in till it is coated. Then wipe it away after it has dried to a haze. Easy Peasy.

    Michael
    Posted 1 year ago #
  7. mawnansmiff

    mawnansmiff

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    I'd go for the micromesh myself followed by mineral oil. Obsidian Oil is just mineral oil sold at vastly inflated prices for what it is.

    Regards,

    Jay.

    ...take up thy stethoscope and walk...
    Posted 1 year ago #
  8. chasingembers

    chasingembers

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    ChapStick works as well.

    Posted 1 year ago #
  9. paddypiper

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    Ok does Chapstick actually work or is it a joke that many people are in on?

    Posted 1 year ago #
  10. chasingembers

    chasingembers

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    Nope, it actually works.

    Posted 1 year ago #
  11. mso489

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    For the real basics, be sure not to store your pipes in direct sun, like by a window; wipe the stem down vigorously after every smoke; use a polishing cloth or other slightly abrasive cloth from time to time. You can do more, if a stem needs it. In one case, with an estate pipe that would turn gray and grainy after each polishing and one smoke, I just replaced the stem with an acrylic.

    Posted 1 year ago #
  12. paddypiper

    paddypiper

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    Chasingembers: A reply like that makes me suspicious that it's a joke.

    Posted 1 year ago #
  13. chasingembers

    chasingembers

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    I never joke about pipe care. ChapStick is just as useful as mineral oil and obsidian oil.

    Posted 1 year ago #
  14. weezell

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    The best way to deal with vulcanite/ebonite is to buy pipes with acrylic stems instead

    I agree. Getting to hate the above mentioned and opting for acrylic...

    "the weez"...
    Posted 1 year ago #
  15. craiginthecorn

    craiginthecorn

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    I too prefer acrylic, since I'm not a clencher, but we often don't have a choice with estate pipes. Essentially, you need to sand them. You'll get them kind of shiny buffing them, but they will be a little pebbly and not super smooth. The micromesh brand abrasives are fantastic, but I strongly prefer the sheets over the pads. The pads are not very flexible and deteriorate much faster than the sheets. It's also harder to identify the grit of each pad. The pads are color coded while the sheets have the grit printed on the back. The sheets come with a semi-firm foam rubber sanding block. Although seemingly expensive, they are extremely durable. They're worth every cent. I bought mine at Woodcraft.

    Posted 1 year ago #
  16. chasingembers

    chasingembers

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    I prefer ebonite and actually enjoy the upkeep. Sort of meditative.

    Posted 1 year ago #
  17. nevadablue

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    Carmex in the little jar works wonders too. My tool kit includes a jar and one sits on my desk.

    ---
    Ken
    Posted 1 year ago #
  18. newbroom

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    I don't remember who it was, but on one of Brian Levine's radio shows a guy mentioned that he uses a little dab of toothpaste on a cloth to wipe his stems apres smoke. There's just enough mild abrasive to help maintain and clean the stem and it leaves them minty fresh! (or I guess you could go with cinnamon )

    Posted 1 year ago #
  19. oldmansmoking

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    Not sure about mineral oil.

    According to the Environmental Working Group, mineral oil is derived from petroleum and may be contaminated with cancer-causing polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs). Mineral oil aggravates acne and negatively impacts skin function, causing it to age prematurely

    I always use vergin olive oil and have no problem, use a cloth to buff off.

    A pipe is the fountain of contemplation, the source of pleasure, the companion of the wise ☪️
    OLDMANSMOKING
    Posted 1 year ago #
  20. woodsroad

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    Chapstick/Carmex/Blistex all work fine.

    Dremel: As with all buffing, a few tips are useful. First, you need a light touch. Pressing harder doesn't work better, it actually generates more heat, embeds the compound or wax and risks deforming the stem. Second, always keep the tool moving, do not dwell in one location. Third, alternate buffing direction by 45° periodically. Run in one direction for a short time, then tilt the direction 45°.

    Micromesh works very well (perhaps even better, in the hands of a skilled restorer), but it is more labor intensive, and if you have arthritis in your hands that may be an issue.

    Posted 1 year ago #
  21. paulie66scandinavian

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    Reading and learning,,

    Paul The Scandinavian'
    Posted 1 year ago #
  22. draco

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    As noted above mineral oil is in reality petroleum oil and can contain traces of undesirable compounds. My objection on using mineral oil on vulcanite is based on what petroleum oils do to rubber. Petroleum oil basically softens, weakens and damages many rubber compounds. Vulcanite is just hard rubbed and I wonder if mineral oil I the long run may be detrimental to it. I mean more towards natural oils. Vulcanite is made of basically rubber, carbon black, sulpher...required for vulcanization but the source of our oxidation problem...and linseed oil. Raw Linseed oil is likely the best oil to use for vulcanite maintenance but it can take forever to dry and can be tacky. Now some may suggest using boiled linseed oil but as it contains Japanese Driers which are highly toxic I will pass on that. Usually use virgin olive oil or coconut oil and have heard walnut oil is good. Also I will use a touch of Renaissance wax but stay away from other paste waxes as they contain petroleum distillates.

    Posted 1 year ago #
  23. mawnansmiff

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    Renaissance Wax is made from refined crude oil as is of course mineral oil.

    Regards,

    Jay.

    Posted 1 year ago #
  24. madox07

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    Back in the day I used to put extra virgin olive oil after cleaning my stems with baking soda. More recently I have managed to get some briar polish, which also works wonders on stems. This exact brand actually: PfifenKopf Just apply on stem, allow 30 minutes for it to seep through, and then just polish using a cotton cloth.

    Sea Wolf Pipers

    "Like the mariners of old, a loner is acceptable but a pipe is best enjoyed in a pack"
    Posted 1 year ago #
  25. newbroom

    newbroom

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    I use micro mesh, and it's not a bad way to become even more intimate with your pipes, but it does require the initiative to start the process and work through the set of pads I have.
    I've got 9 pads of successively smoother surface that I can use either wet or dry.
    The satisfaction of a clean, bright stem makes it worthwhile.
    Amazon mistakenly sent me some scented Castor Oil (banana) instead of Vitamin B, and I've just now tried that as a finish. Jury's out.
    (sometimes I've used a pre soak of oxyclean to bring up as much oxidation as possible, and it does help immensely.)
    an example:

    Posted 1 year ago #
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    bigpond

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    Picked up a ‘35 Kaywoodie a while back. Absolutely gorgeous shape but practically welded shut from 80 (delightful) years of drool and goo. Finally got it open and cleared and began work toward sanitizing the stem when, wouldn’t you know it, that first drop of alcohol immediately turned a jet black stem a deep, rich shade of turd.

    Well, no amount of Burt’s bees brings a luster to this thing. It just seeps in. I’ve taken to putting one of those pipe condom thingies on the end and it’s worked out alright, but I’ll give those pads a go.

    Posted 1 year ago #
  27. paulie66scandinavian

    Paul

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    Not long ago I went thorough hell and high waters when I was removing an oxidation on ebonite stem, nothing seemed to help, tried this all,micromesh pads, sanding papers, Pfeifen Kopf paste,soaking in bleach,and I thought I can get rid of this oxidation no way, but finally the solution was found, Dremel drill with polishing pads combined with white diamond paste and finished with carnauba,(spent five hours struggling with that stem, oh I hate them vulcanite stems ,

    Posted 1 year ago #
  28. cosmicfolklore

    Cosmic

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    Ha ha ha, so it's ok to fret over whether putting a microscopic amount of microcrystaline wax or mineral oil (which is in about 90% of all skin care products around the world, and many doctors recommend it as a laxative) on the outside of the stem. This is somehow way worse than burning tobacco in a tar lined nasty pipe and sucking it right into our mouths? Ha ha ha ha!!!! You guys are putting me on, right?

    Posted 1 year ago #
  29. sablebrush52

    sablebrush52

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    I use Micromesh pads. Depending on whether there is significant discoloration, or not, I'll either go through the whole series of grades, or go from the middle to the finest grades. With faceted stems I like the extra control I get with the pads. I can keep the edges crisp. The final sanding polish I do under flowing water.

    Done properly the result is a glass-like surface. Then I'll coat with a TINY amount of Paragon or Halcyon wax and literally hand polish, as in polish with my fingers and palms, not a cloth, resulting in a much glossier surface than I get with a cloth. The wax is to help protect from further exposure to oxygen. If I need to do a little touch up, I use Simichrome Polish and a cloth to bring up the slightly dulled surface, and coat with the wax. Works great!

    My pipes are stored in fitted pipe cases, 12 to 21 to a case, so they don't get much exposure to light.

    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 1 year ago #
  30. paulie66scandinavian

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    learning more

    Posted 1 year ago #
  31. buckaroo

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    literally hand polish, as in polish with my fingers and palms,

    Wow, that's a new one on me. I'm game. I'll give it a shot. Thx for posting your full regimen, Sable. Appreciate it.

    Posted 1 year ago #
  32. briarblues

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    I guess I've tried almost every possible way of cleaning Vulcanite, Ebonite, and Brindle stems. Until last week.

    I ordered this from Dave Wolf and gave it a try.

    http://www.walkerbriarworks.com/html/stem_restore_kit.html

    My first attempt did not work so well, so I thought I'd better read the instructions. 2nd attempt made me a believer. For stems that have not been bleached / Oxy cleaned and just buffed into oblivion, it works great on the first go round. For those that have been cleaned with other methods it did take a little longer and a bit more work, BUT no damage to nomenclature. No rounding of stems ends. Easy to get tight near the buttons. Easily rinses off and the carnauba wax ( a little thicker than Vaseline ) works well. I wish I'd found out about this years ago.

    I have no affiliation with Walker Pipe Works. Nor is Walker Briar Works paying me for sharing this information or my endorsement. It just works great. Any hobbyist can use it simply and easily, while watching tv. It is easier than polishing your shoes!

    Regards
    Michael J. Glukler

    Posted 1 year ago #
  33. sablebrush52

    sablebrush52

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    Mike,

    I'll have to give that a try. Oxidation has to be removed and while the micromesh pads do that, it's a lot of work to do it properly. 10 minutes sure beats 30!

    Posted 1 year ago #
  34. briarblues

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    Jesse;

    I do not know how it works. But instead of the green "rising" to the surface, it removes the "stain", rather than need to buff with Tripoli or Micro Mesh , which can create problems for nomenclature. That being said ...... IF the stem has been "cleaned" the old school ways of bleach / Oxy Clean / or just heavy hands with Tripoli, it does require an application of the paste, rubbing it in, allowing 30 minutes of " seeding", then rinse and wipe. On a few really bad stems it did take a few applications, but the huge advantages are, ease of application, and no need to use heavy hands and Tripoli. I plan on doing a video on how to use the products. I only need a few 36 hours days to get caught up.

    Regards
    Michael J. Glukler

    Posted 1 year ago #
  35. jorchamp

    jorchamp

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    Try Mr Clean eraser sponge with Bar Keepers Friend and finish with olive oil.

    Posted 1 year ago #
  36. paulie66scandinavian

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    again Walkerbriar says'we do not ship these kits internationally due to extremly high shipping costs'the statement which made me laugh out loud and is of course an obvious misbelief.

    Posted 1 year ago #
  37. briarblues

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    Paulie, don't laugh too hard. Shipping Internationally with USPS Air Priority, insured with tracking is expensive. Even a small 4" square box weighing only a few ounces is costly. Shipping basic air or surface mail is not bad. Still one must fill in customs declarations, which is a royal pain.

    Regards
    Michael J. Glukler

    Posted 1 year ago #
  38. User has not uploaded an avatar

    jguss

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    there's another product that sounds very interesting. here's steve laug's blog about it: https://rebornpipes.com/2017/09/15/a-review-before-after-pipe-stem-deoxidizer-and-fine-and-extra-fine-polishes/

    anyone here tried it?

    Posted 1 year ago #
  39. paulie66scandinavian

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    Happily I got mailing address within the States.

    Posted 1 year ago #
  40. uperepik

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    I'll say there's no replacing sanding with micro mesh. However I get really tired of it, and at times messes with my joints after hours of sanding (multiple pipes). This is the best thing I've tried so far.

    1. Bon Ami cleaning powder: it's only a few bucks. this is a micro abrasive like bar keepers friend but without the harsh chemicals. It pretty much consist of limestone, soda ash and baking soda. I think it works better than bar keepers anyway

    2. Flitz Plastic Polish- so much for harsh chemicals. Actually I don't know what's in this but it can give you a pretty good shine.

    I do wear nitrile gloves because all the abrasives tend to work on the hands. I will say I do not know the longevity, I would guess any of these "easier" methods will not last as long as sanding. Both of these products can be found at TruValue hardware store. I haven't had any damage to nomenclature or rounded edges from this method

    I am interested in the walkerbriarworks kit. They also have a carbon softener I'm curious to see in action.

    -
    "A pipe gives a wise man time to think and a fool something to stick in his mouth."
    C.S Lewis
    Posted 1 year ago #
  41. uperepik

    uperepik

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    I do usually take it to the buffing wheels afterwards for a light hit of white diamond and carnauba but if you don't have that some of the other waxes that have been mention work just fine

    Posted 1 year ago #
  42. joeman

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    My own preference is that the stem isn't shiny from any kind of oil or wax which feels slippery, and rubs off. I want the stem itself to shine like a mirror once the oxidation is gone. Once I get the stem to the point you've mentioned (which comes from a multi-grit wet-sanding process...after the oxidation was dealt with either with Oxyclean or bleach/water soak), the shining itself comes from a very quick buffing process. I have a bench buffer with dedicated wheels for different compounds. Tripoli, followed by white diamond, followed by either jewelers rouge (that's the Ed James method), or a j.r. equivalent - Simichrome polishing compound. The result is a mirror-like finish.

    However, I've used most of the methods shared, and echo much of what's said above. Not everyone has these tools, and not everyone wants them. Many methods work just great (as evidenced above), this is just one more.

    JoeMan
    Posted 1 year ago #

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