Bowl Coatings….Why!?

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Briar Lee

Lifer
Sep 4, 2021
4,836
13,904
Humansville Missouri
I won't buy a pipe without a proper bowl coating, I hate breaking in new un-coated briar.
Every pipe smoker hates breaking in a new pipe and every pipe maker knows it.

The few of us immersed in the cult of Pipes by Lee know (or at least have sure and certain faith) that any Lee pipe is still a pleasure to the taste buds to break in,,,

But even a Lee gets hot and smells like briar during break in, although the smoke tastes sweet.

The maker can only do two things to help a customer through the break in period.

He can somehow boil or otherwise treat the briar using methods invisible to the customer, like Lee did.

Otherwise he’s got to devise a bowl coating.

I recently got in an old generic large billiard from France that had an extremely thick cake. I not only took all that cake out, but I used steel wool and Everclear to make the chamber brown again.

At the very bottom of the chamber I caught a taste of briar and the pipe got hot for a few smokes, until the briar was totally broken in.

Harry Hosterman smoked Dr Grabow pipes that had been machine broken in.

The rest of us need to trust the maker’s judgement of what slurry they apply is the best way to get through the break in process of heat curing out the briar.
 
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Aug 11, 2022
2,310
18,123
Cedar Rapids, IA
Yes, sorry... when I get back home I tend to have 100's of things to get done, and I haven't really even had time to post much here. Lots of family issues... but, a good one is that last night, I did become a Grandpa!... but, since you are anxious, I will get on that when I get back home. I know, I know... I've said that, but I've rarely been back to the Alabama house since Summer began.

Congratulations, cosmic!
 
Aug 11, 2022
2,310
18,123
Cedar Rapids, IA
I just now spotted this thread.

Regarding stain penetrating briar to a significant distance, it absolutely can, but rarely does.

It seems to be a "block specific" phenomenon.

Double weird: If the FAR surface is finished, it doesn't happen. It "refuses" to go through.
Perhaps the other end needs to "breathe" for the capillary action to do its thing?
 
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FLDRD

Lifer
Oct 13, 2021
1,736
6,524
Arkansas
Scrap piece of briar, unsanded. Deep red stain applied only to the first side and it penetrated instantly.

Cut in half for further internal visual.

View attachment 164759View attachment 164760View attachment 164761View attachment 164762
Looks like some briar has more "breathability" than others.

Last time I used that term here I think it caused some eye-rolling among a few members. But this sure seems to indicate that it's not entirely an inappropriate adjective.

Wouldn't varying "porosity" account for the variability of some of the pipe qualities we appreciate? Seems to me that it would.
 
Jan 30, 2020
1,906
6,289
New Jersey
Looks like some briar has more "breathability" than others.

Last time I used that term here I think it caused some eye-rolling among a few members. But this sure seems to indicate that it's not entirely an inappropriate adjective.

Wouldn't varying "porosity" account for the variability of some of the pipe qualities we appreciate? Seems to me that it would.
Maybe a little for the first bowl or three? And I’d have to imagine only on a 100% natural pipe. Once you start adding different stain layers, sanding to higher grits, and adding things like oil, wax, shellac or combinations of all, the pours are going to be filled pretty quick with chances of a deep leach progressively being reduced.

That’s my experience anyway, which could be completely inaccurate. I just have a hard time believing slight density variations having significant impact on the habits of the user assuming no hidden flaws. You can overheat a natural cob just as much as you could a briar, so I just don’t see it having a mechanical impact.
 
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Ok ok ok… I’ve just run inside and took a few pics… then I am back on the road to North Alabama for family stuff. :::sigh:::

This was an estate Hilson that I reamed and smoked for a few years, and it started getting tar on my fingers seeping through the walls. So, I knew it was porous. Take it for what it is. You’d really want to do this to hundreds of briar pipes to get a larger sample size to deduce just how porous briar can be and to what percentage they can be dense and/or porous. Lots of variables; type of briar, region it was harvested, age of root when harvested, curing, etc…

The last pic, I wet the briar to get a better view of the grain/porosity.

At this point, I can’t remember how this tied into the bowl coating conversation, ha ha. Hell, at this point, I just crave a bed. I’m so damned tired.

D971BDB8-CC86-4EA6-9300-77B4CBD6D20F.jpeg

76CEBDE9-36C8-4626-9457-F4D89431C155.jpeg

I have a couple of more pipes that I cut, one is unsmoked, just to show the grain difference. But, hell if I know where they are at this moment. Maybe I’ll use them for a future post.

Now, I am off to postpartum world to get my girl ready for rug ratdom, ha ha. Then we are back to the beach for R&R before the art shows season starts.

I hope you enjoy the pics
 

timt

Lifer
Jul 19, 2018
2,844
22,730
Ok ok ok… I’ve just run inside and took a few pics… then I am back on the road to North Alabama for family stuff. :::sigh:::

This was an estate Hilson that I reamed and smoked for a few years, and it started getting tar on my fingers seeping through the walls. So, I knew it was porous. Take it for what it is. You’d really want to do this to hundreds of briar pipes to get a larger sample size to deduce just how porous briar can be and to what percentage they can be dense and/or porous. Lots of variables; type of briar, region it was harvested, age of root when harvested, curing, etc…

The last pic, I wet the briar to get a better view of the grain/porosity.

At this point, I can’t remember how this tied into the bowl coating conversation, ha ha. Hell, at this point, I just crave a bed. I’m so damned tired.

View attachment 170468

View attachment 170471

I have a couple of more pipes that I cut, one is unsmoked, just to show the grain difference. But, hell if I know where they are at this moment. Maybe I’ll use them for a future post.

Now, I am off to postpartum world to get my girl ready for rug ratdom, ha ha. Then we are back to the beach for R&R before the art shows season starts.

I hope you enjoy the pics
Great pics Cosmic. Was looking forward to seeing more discussion on this from people asking to see them.....bump.
 
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I wish there was a way to know what the source was. Possible it’s oils or Tannin still in the briar from poor harvest processing?
I may be way off, since you didn't use "reply", but if you are talking about the pipe I cut, I can guarantee that when I smoked it tars would seep out the surface of the outer bowl. Smelled just like tobacco tars. This was why I cut it. I knew I didn't want to keep getting nasty tars on my fingers when I smoked it, and I couldn't put it in my shirt pocket. And, I wanted to see how large the pores were.

If your question wasn't intended for me... my apologies.
 

mingc

Lifer
Jun 20, 2019
3,993
11,118
The Big Rock Candy Mountains
Ok ok ok… I’ve just run inside and took a few pics… then I am back on the road to North Alabama for family stuff. :::sigh:::

This was an estate Hilson that I reamed and smoked for a few years, and it started getting tar on my fingers seeping through the walls. So, I knew it was porous. Take it for what it is. You’d really want to do this to hundreds of briar pipes to get a larger sample size to deduce just how porous briar can be and to what percentage they can be dense and/or porous. Lots of variables; type of briar, region it was harvested, age of root when harvested, curing, etc…

The last pic, I wet the briar to get a better view of the grain/porosity.

At this point, I can’t remember how this tied into the bowl coating conversation, ha ha. Hell, at this point, I just crave a bed. I’m so damned tired.

View attachment 170468

View attachment 170471

I have a couple of more pipes that I cut, one is unsmoked, just to show the grain difference. But, hell if I know where they are at this moment. Maybe I’ll use them for a future post.

Now, I am off to postpartum world to get my girl ready for rug ratdom, ha ha. Then we are back to the beach for R&R before the art shows season starts.

I hope you enjoy the pics
I wonder if you could have stopped the seep by building a codger amount of cake.
 
Jan 30, 2020
1,906
6,289
New Jersey
Y
I may be way off, since you didn't use "reply", but if you are talking about the pipe I cut, I can guarantee that when I smoked it tars would seep out the surface of the outer bowl. Smelled just like tobacco tars. This was why I cut it. I knew I didn't want to keep getting nasty tars on my fingers when I smoked it, and I couldn't put it in my shirt pocket. And, I wanted to see how large the pores were.

If your question wasn't intended for me... my apologies.
Yes, to your post so thank you. It’s interesting, I have messed with heating stummels and penetrating with thick oils on various briar and I’m still surprised simply smoking would be enough to do it (on any briar, however porous). That must be a rarity to achieve that type of seepage so easily!
 
Y

Yes, to your post so thank you. It’s interesting, I have messed with heating stummels and penetrating with thick oils on various briar and I’m still surprised simply smoking would be enough to do it (on any briar, however porous). That must be a rarity to achieve that type of seepage so easily!
There are so many grades, varieties, cuts, ages, and etc etc… variables. I imagine that there are some bowls that just don’t hold water, while some have a hard time taking a stain. Briar is one of those materials I would never say “always” or “never” when discussing.
 

anotherbob

Lifer
Mar 30, 2019
15,788
29,614
45
In the semi-rural NorthEastern USA
I am guessing that they are afraid of fast smokers charring the insides and complaining about the pipe being low quality. So they put a bowl coating on.

Some people stand by bowl coatings and are adamant that they cause no difference in taste after a couple of smokes, so why risk not having a bowl coating? I personally don’t care one way or the other.
or protecting from unseen weak spots that are prone to burn out. Or like I say because it provides them more benefit then it costs so it's kind of a no brainer in a way for them.
 
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