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telescopes

Pipe Dreamer and Star Gazer
There will always be those who will suggest that breaking in "anything" is not necessary. So be it. There is certainly an argument that can be made for not breaking in a pipe. But in my opinion, ritual matters. Make of it what you will, change it if you must, make it your own... whatever. But for many, pipe smoking has in its depth a small matter of mysticism. If the pipe is only a tool to be used, enjoyed, and thrown in the fire afterwards, then there is no reason to debate the merits of "breaking in a pipe". But if the development of a layered carbon cake from the bottom up brings an element of satisfaction and peace to the smoker, then breaking in a pipe deserves to be discussed and those who break-in their pipes do so with a certain understanding as to why. As for the pipe ritual agnostics, your faith is yours to embrace, no less the same as others. Personally, I have smoked pipes both ways, carefully broken in and smoked right off the starting line. I believe there is a difference - so much so that I have reamed out pipes that I smoked without breaking in properly and reintroduced them to a careful break-in process with the result of a better smoking pipe than when it was first purchased.

I also enjoy the poetry of William Wordsworth so take whatever I say with a grain of salt.
 

sablebrush52

The Bard Of Barlings
Jun 15, 2013
20,183
46,856
Southern Oregon
jrs457.wixsite.com
To me, breaking in a pipe happens when you no longer taste burning wood in your smoke, or wood period, unless that taste is part of a blend's flavor profile. Once the bowl is sufficiently carbonized, the pipe's broken in.

That must have been the definition for pipe manufacturers as well, since that was the rationale behind pre-coating the chamber walls, whether with a mixture, like Yello-Bole 's honey coating or Grabow's mechanically pre-smoked pipes.

Building up a carbon layer will happen when the pipe is smoked. I prefer a hard thin layer, as opposed to the thick soft crap filled cake.
 

cigrmaster

Lifer
May 26, 2012
20,249
57,294
66
Sarasota Florida
I have recently been breaking in a dozen or so Jack Howell pipes that had naked bowls and I have always found it a pleasure to do so. I get the wood flavor out of the bowl and it tastes fine in my opinion. I also enjoy the fact that I get a nice dime's worth of carbon which helps to protect my pipe and it gives me a nice cool smoke. I fill my pipe, smoke it to the bottom and fill it again and smoke it to the bottom again. I never do that smoke it in thirds or 4ths. Top to the bottom every time. I have never smoked a pipe anywhere except top to bottom. I really despise a bowl that is coated, especially the water coated shit they use. The Danes are famous for that shit.
 
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krizzose

Lifer
Feb 13, 2013
3,219
19,207
Michigan
In other words, “breaking in” is just the pipe getting some use until flavors are consistent.
“Breaking in,” as a set of active processes done by the smoker, is ceremonial hokum in my experience. If you know how to smoke a pipe properly, so that you’re not going to burn the chamber, there’s little else that can be done other than to just smoke the damn thing. I’ve not found any special process to make a bit of difference.

ditto
 
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PipeIT

Lifer
Nov 14, 2020
4,654
28,352
Hawaii
Jose Rubio once told me, he carbonizes some chambers for pipe smokers, if they are not careful smokers in the beginning, smoking to hard, causing to much heat which can develop cracks in the chamber.

So I’ve always considered a ‘Breaking In’, at least for expensive pipes you care about that aren’t coated, a process where you smoke slowly, carefully, not generating to much heat in the chamber, allowing the pipe slowly over time to get a slight carbon coating, to protect it from this possible cracking/damage.

So ‘Breaking In’ expensive pipes without coatings seems like it’s about going slowly and cautiously until getting a little carbon formed on the chamber, which then becomes a protective/layer for the chamber. :)
 

JohnnyBeach

Might Stick Around
May 21, 2024
51
28
I smoked one of my newer pipes today outdoors with a light breeze. It has started to build a nice cake and I smoked it for 55 minutes before it quit. When I knocked out the remainsvthere was quite a bit of unburned tobacco left at the bottom but I am pleased, overall. The other pipe, a bent stem, is caring up very nicely. It is a twin to the one I just smoked and I am thrilled with it. The Mac Baron tobaccos are wonderful but very expensive -- about $39 a tin. Outrageous but they don't taste bad. I will try to visit Peretti's in Boston some day. And pick up a virgin Peretti briar. They look good and there is no varnish or coating used on them, which I think leaves a poison that is detrimental to health more than the tobacco, alone.
 
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StPatrickPiper

Might Stick Around
Apr 6, 2024
51
62
31
Marchand, Manitoba, Canada
I've found that a brand new pipe doesn't smoke as good as the same pipe that has been smoked a bunch already. I don't know why exactly but that's my experience. My pipes usually just get better the more I smoke them.
 
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LeafErikson

Lifer
Dec 7, 2021
2,048
17,775
Oregon
To successfully break in I'd say make sure that there are no alarms or cameras. Once you can confirm that there's no cameras or alarms, you can either go with a lock pick or the brute force of just breaking down the door itself. You could play some Tom Clancy: Splinter Cell video games for practice.
 

JohnnyBeach

Might Stick Around
May 21, 2024
51
28

I have a photo of my progress on building a cake and showing the off-center placement of the channel. Don't know if it's plain to see, however.
 
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JohnnyBeach

Might Stick Around
May 21, 2024
51
28
I am doing very well with the bent pipe. Got a nice cake developing and it goes to the bottom. Very little tongue bite. Very encouraging with Captain Black and sometimes with Half and Half. I still like Van Buren but at $39 OR $40 A tin, I go for the $10 ones.
 

JohnnyBeach

Might Stick Around
May 21, 2024
51
28
I am doing very well with the bent pipe. Got a nice cake developing and it goes to the bottom. Very little tongue bite. Very encouraging with Captain Black and sometimes with Half and Half. I still like Van Buren but at $39 OR $40 A tin, I go for the $10 ones.
Excuse me. That's Mac Buren. Autocorrect is tricky.
 

JohnnyBeach

Might Stick Around
May 21, 2024
51
28
Call me Cretin.
But I think I may have found a solution to the damp tobacco problem. I took a small frying pan and heated up enough tobacco for three pipe fulls, carefully watching the result on a med-low burner on the kitchen stove. After about 5 minutes the tobacco just started to lightly smoke, barely noticeable. I packed my bent pipe and found it lit very easily and smoked all the way down without having to relight. It smoked faster and created more smoke than I expected but I think caking to the bottom is a problem solved. We'll see.
 

JohnnyBeach

Might Stick Around
May 21, 2024
51
28
Call me Cretin.
But I think I may have found a solution to damp tobacco. I took a small frying pan and tossed in about three pipefuls of tobacco, heated it on med-low on the kitchen stove to just where it barely started to smoke. I loaded my bent pipe and took it out to the back porch where it lit very easily and smoked all the way to the bottom with no relighting. It went fast, about 20 minutes, but there was less condensation.
Whether this is a real breakthrough for me, we'll see.
It was a disappointing Savonelli tobacco. Maybe Mac Baren will be even better.
My wife wanted me to tell her what the frying pan was doing soaking in the sink. Unfortunately, I was at a loss for words. She wasn't.
 
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BingBong

Part of the Furniture Now
Apr 26, 2024
610
2,578
London UK
Burning-in is not so simple. When a blend tastes the way it should, then a pipe has burned in. I have very few pipes that generally succeed; some work quite well with some blends but not others.

What seems to happen for a while is that the component flavours arrive "phase shifted" from eachother; when eventually they combine into one, the pipe has matured.