In the earlier Pipe Tools article we talked about some quite important tools for the pipe smoker and a few that not everyone is going to be interested in using. This time though we’re going to be talking about a few tools and accessories that just about every pipe smoker is going to need in his kit.
Last time we started out with pipe cleaners so let’s start this session with cleaning brushes for pipe stems and shanks. Unlike pipe cleaners these brushes are not absorbent and are reusable although they’re so cheap you won’t need to worry too much if you have to throw one away.
If you’ve got an obstruction in the stem that just won’t budge then dip a cleaning brush in some Pipe Sweetener or similar pipe conditioner and you can scrub that obstruction away.
This is a fluid that cleans and sweetens your pipe. There are several different brands on the market but they all work in the same way. If you want to do a quick clean of your pipe just dip a pipe brush into the fluid and run the brush through the stem. (PipeMaster’s Clean & Cure Pipe Sweetener)
You can even use it on the bowl of the pipe once you have removed all the accumulated cake. Manufacturers recommend that you pour a small quantity into the bowl and allow it to sit for a few seconds. Then drain it through the shank before running a pipe cleaner or two through the shank to clean out anything that was softened by the conditioner.
Once you’ve done that you should put your pipe aside for at least 24 hours to allow it to completely dry.
Where you choose to store your pipe tobacco is a matter of personal preference. There are many who are prepared to leave it in the tin that it was in when it was purchased. That’s certainly the cheapest way of storing your tobacco but there are a number of other storage options available.
There are tobacco pouches that come in leather or vinyl … with a zip to fasten it or as a simple roll up pouch. Prices can vary from less than $10.00 to something over $30.00 and once again, which type you choose to use really is a matter of personal preference.
You can also choose to store your tobacco in glass jars that come with a press-fit lid that makes the jar airtight. Wooden containers are also available and most of these have a rubber seal around the lid that makes them airtight.
There’s no doubt that the wooden containers tend to look far more stylish than the glass containers and if that’s what you want for your tobacco then you will need to be prepared to pay something of a premium for that classy wooden look. Wooden tobacco jars tend to retail around $40.00 while the more simple glass jars can be had for about $15.00.
Regardless of what type of container you use to store your pipe tobacco … even if it’s only a pouch … you should be thinking about a humidifier for your storage. These devices can be as simple as a pouch button … metal button that you only need to wet with cold water before placing it in your pouch … humidifier that’s too big for a pouch but will certainly fit in some of the other storage options that are available.
So far we’ve talked about a whole bunch of accessories that keep your pipe in good condition and keep your tobacco fresh but we haven’t actually looked at what you’re going to need to actually light your pipe.
For beginners … and plenty of very experienced pipe smokers too … nothing beats a wooden match or two … or three or four. They’re somewhat convenient, controllable and very inexpensive but don’t let those puny little matches fool you, they can do some damage to your pipe if you’re not careful.
If you’re not careful when you’re lighting your pipe you can have the match too close to the edge of the bowl and if that happens it’s very easy to scorch and burn the rim of the bowl and if you keep doing that you will soon need a new pipe.
Of course there is an inconvenient side to matches too. They tend to go out if there’s a breeze, they can burn your fingers and they can get wet so for some the better option is to use a lighter.
Now you might think that any old lighter will do and many pipe stores both in the real world and online will sell you the cheapest lighter they have … if that’s what you ask for. But not all lighters were created equal when it comes to lighting a pipe and while you can even light a pipe with a cheap disposable lighter there are some better options.
Most lighters are designed to have the flame rise up vertically from the lighter in a clear blue flame. In some circles these lighters are called torches and some have extensions so that you can get the flame closer to the bowl of your pipe without getting the lighter right over the bowl.
These lighters certainly do an adequate job of getting your pipe lit but it’s easy to damage the rim of the bowl with one of these lighters and at least one pipe maker recommends that you use a very different type of lighter.
The makers of Meerschaum pipes recommend that you never use a torch lighter to light one of their pipes. They suggest that torch lighters will damage the material that the pipe is made out of and scorch the bowl as well. For these manufacturers the best way to light a pipe is with what is called a soft-flame lighter.
These lighters have a soft yellow colored flame that can be drawn down into the bowl when you puff on the pipe. Some soft-flame lighters even have an arrangement that allows the flame to come from the side of the lighter rather than from the top so that they’re easier to use. Unfortunately these lighters are generally more expensive than the torch lighters but then the extra cost is definitely worth it if it allows you to light your pipe without destroying it.
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The Zippo pipe lighter is made to the same high quality standards as a Zippo windproof pocket lighter, but designed for the special needs of pipe smokers. The ingenious design encases the flame in metal, allowing it to be drawn directly into the pipe without bending over the side. The result: perfectly lit tobacco, with no damage to the pipe.
A Pipe Rack or Pipe Stand is a nice accessory that offers aesthetics as well as functionality. They look elegant serving as a home decor accessory. As a pipe accessory they can actually serve two purposes. The obvious use is a place to put your pipes when you are not using them. This is much better than just having a pile of pipes laying around. After you smoke a pipe it needs to be given a rest so it has time to cool off and also to dry out. Moisture accumulates as a result of smoking. Your pipe rack is a good place to let your pipe rest to cool off and dry out
And that wraps up our review of tools and accessories for the pipe smoker. There are a few that I haven’t touched on and I’m sure that there will be more available in the future but the ones I have mentioned are all you will need to make your pipe smoking experience a very enjoyable one.