Breaking in a Pipe

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jrbjr

Member
Mar 6, 2019
101
2
Hello
I have a handful of pipes. All are from a couple of decades ago when I use to smoke a pipe on a infrequent, but regular basis. So I think all are broken in. My question is I bought my first new pipe (Ashton xxx brindle) in over 20 years, and I would like to know how you can tell when you have "broken in your pipe?"
Does it stay lite better? How will the smoking characteristics change? Help appreciated. Thanks

 

bassbug

Preferred Member
Dec 29, 2016
867
4
For me, it's all about the taste. Over 10-15 bowls I notice a mellowing. The smoke seems to get "more gentle"
But take what I say with a grain of salt. I've only broken in two pipes. All the rest I own are estates.

 

jazz

Preferred Member
Feb 17, 2014
787
0
UK
Similar to Bassbug my smokes get more mellow and sweeter. I know when they are broken in because I begin to really enjoy the smoke. Often, it's a bit of a chore until I get to that point and I don't think it's a coincidence that they often begin to taste better once a little cake is in there. Some will disagree with that but for me, a thin layer of cake works wonders. Some pipes start to smoke well within a few smokes but I have had others which have taken well over 100. I have no idea why this is. Many differing factors I suspect.
Just keep smoking it. I think you will just know when it's broken in.

 

workman

Preferred Member
Jan 5, 2018
1,737
95
It's not the same with all pipes. Some pipes are coated with something that imparts (nasty) flavor to the smoke. After some bowls that will get better. Sometimes a little cake will act as an insulator, making it easier to smoke without getting the pipe hot. Some pipes will smoke perfectly from the get go.

 

cosmicfolklore

Preferred Member
Aug 9, 2013
18,755
1,748
I think the problem with the terminology, "breaking in," is that it leads you to expect that the pipe will change dramatically in a certain amount of smokes, and then stay static like that. Your pipe will evolve a tiny bit with each and every smoke. There is no magic number, to where the pipe will be the best it will be, and then stay that way.
In fact, I never use the term breaking in, nor does it ever cross my mind. I just smoke the pipe, and enjoy it from day one on, and I keep in mind that the pipe will evolve each time I smoke it.
And, some of my favorite smokes are the first few in a bare wood, freshly made pipe. I love that briar aroma. It gives me the best idea of what aroma the briar is going to continue adding to my smoke, long after the bowl is caked over. But, that first few smokes, really sets the wood aroma into my DNA for that pipe.
If you just want your pipe to smoke without adding any briar aroma to it, then you might want to think about a Meerschaum.

 

jrbjr

Member
Mar 6, 2019
101
2
Thank you for comments, Cosmic I have two Meerschaums as well, good smoking pipes, but even with these pipes, unfortunately I still smoke to fast and end up with a bit of a wet pipe. I will see how this Ashton smokes this weekend, appreciate your thoughts.
Bob

 

pinhead

New member
Mar 13, 2019
30
0
"Some pipes are coated with something that imparts (nasty) flavor to the smoke."
What coatings are used in pipes? Wich coatings are known to cause this nasty flavor?

 

rdavid

Preferred Member
Jun 30, 2018
654
3
Milton, FL
When you purchase a new pipe, you’ll notice either bare briar inside the chamber or a coating which usually appears flat black. There are several different “recipes” for these coatings but I believe most are of a carbon powder base mixed with some type of adherent, applied to the bowl and allowed to dry. The idea is to speed up the cake building process and insulates the bare wood.
I personally don’t like these coatings and remove them with a scotch brite pad or I’ve even found a damp paper towel will work with a little elbow grease.
I find they smoke wet and don’t really allow the briar to do what it was intended. Also, like cosmic, I actually enjoy the first few smokes out of a bare briar bowl and the flavors are quite different. However, I’ve also experienced some bitter tastes from a new pipe and these are usually the ones that take longer to break in.

 

rdavid

Preferred Member
Jun 30, 2018
654
3
Milton, FL
I just bought this pipe and you can see the black coated bowl. This will be removed prior to the first smoke.

I have smoked pipes in the past that were coated and didn't impart any flavor, however I've also smoked coated pipes that did affect the flavor in a bad way. The cake does build faster on these coatings but I prefer a thin carbonized layer and a thin cake as opposed to a heavier build up. That's just my personal preference and others opinions will differ.
Edit: Sorry about the pic... I thought it would show better but you can see the coating if you look closely.

 

cosmicfolklore

Preferred Member
Aug 9, 2013
18,755
1,748
Ferndown pipes are noted as having an "off" flavoring to his bowl coating recipe. Also, the cheaper range of Peterson pipes are also known for dip-staining their pipes, leaving a stain-like flavoring behind. There are also other brands, makes, and makers noted for having bad flavors in their bowl coatings, for whatever reason.
Alcohol will also help clean up those bowl coatings, but now, I tend to just look for pipes without them at all.

 

rdavid

Preferred Member
Jun 30, 2018
654
3
Milton, FL
Dip staining... Yeah what a horrible experience that was. Gets sanded out every time now. Won’t make that mistake again. Blech... :x

 

jpmcwjr

Preferred Member
May 12, 2015
14,735
3,158
Monterey Peninsula
Pan- I flush out every new pipe, to at the least remove any thing that may have remained in the bowl or airway before smoking. Sometimes it softens the coating, making it easier to remove. Other times, I just smoke it after it dries. YMMV.
As to when a pipe is "right"- anywhere from the first bowl to many dozens. Quality of briar, curing, drying all affect results.

 

mechanic

Member
Dec 1, 2018
244
1
I loaded my 8320 with odf and havent done any thing more load and smoke very happy it had a light charcoal looking bowl coating from factory

 

paulie66scandinavian

Preferred Member
Jul 28, 2016
3,707
689
Finland-Scandinavia-EU
One thing that really surpriced me how right' my brand new Dunhill shell does smoke right from the beginning ,even when I compare it to Castellos , my Ashtons(newer Grag's era pipes) were the same way, very good smoking qualities right of bat,however all these aforementioned English? made pipes come with chamber coatings which fortunately did not impart any flavor opposite to my brand new Petersons or Savinellis in the past, from these I was forced to remove nasty tasting' inner bowl coating out,

 

mso489

Preferred Member
Feb 21, 2013
27,071
1,892
I don't build cake. I just scoop then wipe out the bowl with a paper towel. A pipe is broken in when you taste full flavor in the smoke, no airiness and no briar, cob, or coating flavor. Frankly, with many pipes, this comes with the first bowl of tobacco, but a dozen or so usually do it for most pipes. I don't use a special tobacco. I just smoke what I'd planned or whimsically choose.

 

hawky454

Preferred Member
Feb 11, 2016
3,051
354
Yeah, Cosmic pretty much summed up what I was about to add. I’m a weirdo about this kind of stuff and I keep track of each pipe I smoke, what I smoke along with the number of bowls I smoke in it, I usually keep track up to 100 smokes and I add little notes on perceived changes and what not. Some pipes I just really enjoy keeping track of and I still keep count way passed the hundredth smoke. It can be a hassle sometimes but I’ve been doing it for three years now and I never falter. Like Cosmic said, there is no magic number where everything changes, it’s usually just a slow, subtle improvement where I’ll start to notice the pipe smokes cooler and more effortlessly.

 

mudcamper

New member
Mar 22, 2019
19
0
Sonoma County
I recently tried out a brand new Dr Grabow pipe. It had a factory coating. It was HORRIBLE. It had a sour bitter chemical taste. I took sandpaper to it and sanded it to bare wood. Now it's fine. Why on earth do they coat it with that nasty stuff? It's going to turn new smokers off entirely. (I have two Petersons and they didn't have this problem, even though they had some kind of coating.)