Deep Secrets of Pipe Filters

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mso489

Preferred Member
Feb 21, 2013
27,549
3,403
Every week or two, a Forums thread is started that at least includes questions about filters in pipes. Among the many questions asked by new pipe smokers, this seems to be the subject that is most mystifying. Many other subjects seem to be covered in catalogs, web articles, youTube pieces, articles, pipe enclosures, and by other means. I often jabber away, trying to explain a little about filters, enough so a new pipe smoker can make their own decisions. I feel sure most new pipe people learn about filters by buying pipes without knowing their filter status, and figure it out from there. It's not as if three or four pipe filter systems, or the choice between using or not using a filter, or having or not having a filter on your pipe, is some kind of government or Masonic secret. My thinking is that pipe manufacturers and retailers don't want to offer too much info for fear of losing a sale, so they let the beginners learn by buying pipes. It seems like most of this could be sorted out in leaflets and enclosures, to help newbies out. Maybe I'm just being fussy more than helpful, but Forums sure gets questions on a more or less regular basis. How did you learn about filters? Is there enough info available for people starting out? Or should I just go smoke a bowl of Latakia Flake and put this out of my old head?

 

jacks6

Preferred Member
May 9, 2016
1,005
0
I learned about filters by accident. I was surprised to find that my brand new pipe was making noise! I had no idea what it was at the time... It's also a pipe I haven't smoked often so I can't say I really know much about filters even now.

 

jpmcwjr

Preferred Member
May 12, 2015
15,116
4,147
Monterey Peninsula
The first pipe I bought ca. 1960 had a crappy paper filter. I discovered it by accident and trashed it right away. On the other hand, a Sav and a Rossi I bought last year take the balsa filters, and occasionally I will put one in for no apparent reason, just for a difference, though there is precious little difference.

 

pylorns

Preferred Member
Aug 20, 2013
1,968
16
Austin
One of my first pipes was a dr. grabow with the filter in it - I kept smoking it not knowing it was in there.. and man that started tasing rank, so I opened it and had the "wtf" moment. So then I went and bought more.. then I just gave up... fast forward 20 some odd years later, I go back and use a filter occasionally... I'm a fan of brighams rock maple inserts since they don't impeed the airflow as much.

 

mso489

Preferred Member
Feb 21, 2013
27,549
3,403
I've always avoided Brighams because I don't want to keep up with yet another filter system. I either buy pipes without filters, which I like best, or with 6 mm filters I can go without or use an adaptor. Rarely I'll use a filter. No 9 mm filter pipes. I don't think this is a wonderful solution, just mine. Some 9 mm filter pipes look great. I just don't like the trial and error aspect.

 

jndyer

Preferred Member
Jul 1, 2012
730
0
I would say that there is not very much information about pipe filters for a new pipe smoker. A perfect example of this is that after nine plus years of pipe smoking I still do not know if there is a way to buy an adapter for MM pipes that are designed to be used with a filter. I do not like the filters; however, I do not like how open the draw is when one tries to smoke them without the filter.

 

mso489

Preferred Member
Feb 21, 2013
27,549
3,403
Yup. Any pipe that takes a 6 mm filter will take a Sav adapter, including MM cobs, Dr. Grabows, and Medicos. As mentioned, you can buy packets of adaptors for a few bucks from online retailers, SP for example.

 

jpmcwjr

Preferred Member
May 12, 2015
15,116
4,147
Monterey Peninsula
Just ran across an adaptor that came with a Sav, and was intrigued by how closely it resembles a tiny section of 1/4" spaghetti line used in home garden irrigation. Could work for some.

 

jndyer

Preferred Member
Jul 1, 2012
730
0
Interesting about the sav adapters. I have one sav filter adapter that I tried to fit in my MM pipe and it was too big. I had thought about buy a pack of adapters and some sandpaper to make them fit. I also thought about going to Lowes and seeing what I could find that might fit.

 

shutterbugg

Preferred Member
Nov 18, 2013
1,452
1
The biggest misunderstanding regarding pipe filters is that they have a different intended purpose than cigarette filters. Cigarette filters are solid tubes of fibre intended to trap tars and other particulate matter, giving the smoker a false sense of security that somehow filtered cigarettes are safer. Pipe filters are either hollow tubes of absorptive material through which the smoke passes, or an absorptive rod around which the smoke passes. They are intended to trap moisture. That they trap some tars is coincidental.

 

mso489

Preferred Member
Feb 21, 2013
27,549
3,403
jndyer, I bet I misspoke on the Sav adapters fitting the MM cobs. I assumed since the Sav adapters fit my Dr. Grabow, they'd fit any stem/shank designed to accept a 6 mm filter, but perhaps the filter adapter for the Sav happens to fit the Dr. Grabow filter chamber but not the MM cob chamber. I'll stand corrected unless I try out an adapter in one of my cobs and find it fits ... at least some of them. Then I'll come back and report that, maybe in a new thread. But it sounds like it doesn't work. I learn something every time I visit Forums. On most of my cobs, I went to Forever acrylic stems which turn all MM cobs with filters into no-filter pipes.

 

ravkesef

Preferred Member
Aug 10, 2010
2,531
14
Cheshire, CT
+1 on what Shutterbugg said, and now permit me to add to that a bit. Most Europeans prefer a filtered pipe. Perhaps some have been frightened into using them by the warnings on the tobacco packaging, but pipe filters do a great job of trapping moisture, and several of my pipes smoke much better with a filter. Here's a bit of information: The Frank Packing method is a technique for packing a pipe that leaves an air space at the bottom. Dr. Fred Hanna has developed a variant on that technique. Let's say you don't want to spend the time mastering one of these methods; what alternatives do you have? Well, there's the Dri-Kule filter, a small conical stainless steel mesh that you place in the bottom of the bowl, and then pack your pipe as you normally would. Voilà! the Frank Method in an instant. And the good news: it gives you a very dry and cool smoke with no dottle. I find this product to be particularly useful in my large, deep-bowled pipes. Two other products deserve consideration: the Denicool and the Nording filter stones. These are small pebbles that you put a few of in the bottom of your bowl, and then pack your pipe as you normally would. These marvelous little stones, about the size of gravel absorb moisture like crazy. Result: again a very dry smoke with absolutely no dottle. You see, dottle forms when the tobacco at the bottom of the bowl becomes moisture-laden. With these little rocks to absorb the moisture, there's no strong-tasting dottle--the smoke is dry and cool. OH--and one more fringe benefit--the rocks keep you from packing the pipe too tightly. Once again you've achieved the equivalent of the Frank method in a very easy fashion. Filters? Yes, they definitely have their place. Let's not have any of this "Real men don't use filters" garbage. Try it. If you like it, you're onto something good. And you won't be branded a sissy, a communist, or what have you. I've been smoking a pipe for nearly fifty-seven years, and certain of my pipes almost always get a filter. Why? Because they just smoke better with them. That's all. And no one can tell you or me that we're not doing it right.

And by the way, thanks to MSO, my schoolmate (Mizzou) and Navy comrade in arms for bringing up the topic. It gave me the chance to talk about the topic as I've been wanting to do for some time.

 

mcitinner1

Preferred Member
Apr 5, 2014
4,041
4
Missouri
Let's not have any of this "Real men don't use filters" garbage. Try it. If you like it, you're onto something good.
I already knew this, but thanks for your voice of long experience Eric. My 9mm filters make for a nice dry smoke. They're very popular in Germany, and you can't beat a little German technology. After all, they make some of the best tobacco blends there are.

 

jerwynn

Preferred Member
Dec 7, 2011
1,033
0
I started buying and smoking filter pipes after researching the subject... I think originally on German language web-pages that between me, my son, and google-translate, we could have a good understanding. I wish I could cite some of the exact things we found out... just about all were things that I found impressive and worthy of consideration.
I have 50 pipes in my collection, 48 are 9mm filter pipes that I use all the time, with Design Berlin pipes accounting for at least 20 of the 50. 2 are "normal" pipes: a Boswell Swirl Wizard and a Poul Winsløw crown freehand. I vastly and much prefer using 9mm filters in my day to day smoking. I DO keep an open mind... one of the reasons I own 2 fine-smoking non-filter pipes. I revisit them maybe once a month just for a "preference check". Easier draw and breathe-ability are indeed plusses with non-filter pipes... but in my usage, not enough to discount the plusses of the filters.
The only occasional downer is that here (USA as opposed to Germany/Europe), frequently choices are more limited with 9mm filter pipes, although I think that's been getting better the last couple years. I see SO MANY pipes here on the forum that I am greenly envious of in terms of beauty and craftsmanship, but wouldn't buy myself because of the filter issue. The other thing is that over a couple of years of trying to get commission-made pipes, several of the pipe makers I contacted are not interested in making 9mm filter pipes and don't. I'm not sure why exactly. But then that helps me to save a little money too I guess... more to spend on tobacco!
I don't hesitate to recommend 9mm filters to noobs... we all know the truly nasty things that can happen from time to time in pipery. The few converts I've enlisted for the ranks in this regard are all still happy hobbyists in our realms! And, incidentally, I can say that I have never received a bitten tongue with my filter pipes... hundreds and hundreds of bowls into it. (Not so, 35 years ago during my first experiments in pipe-world!)
In terms of mso's original thrust of inquiry, I believe The Truth Is Out There!! It just requires a tiny bit of digging perhaps... but now, as opposed to 35 years ago, you can research sitting at home in your skivvies with a cold beer on the side as the whole universe opens before you on your glowing screen.
And now, I must walk the dog! He loves filters too!(for a snack, the wee gasterd!!)

 

shutterbugg

Preferred Member
Nov 18, 2013
1,452
1
Pipes condense moisture at the tenon, which is why that's where they put the filters. Using absorptive pebbles or a screen or the air-pocket method in the bowl won't prevent condensation at the tenon.

 

ravkesef

Preferred Member
Aug 10, 2010
2,531
14
Cheshire, CT
Shutterbugg said:
Pipes condense moisture at the tenon, which is why that's where they put the filters. Using absorptive pebbles or a screen or the air-pocket method in the bowl won't prevent condensation at the tenon.
Shutterbugg is correct. Almost. There are two reasons for situating the filter in the tenon. 1. That's where the condensation occurs. 2. Look at the construction of a pipe. The tenon is the most convenient place to put a filter, especially since all the smoke has to pass through there. By the way, pipes condense moisture at the tenon because most pipes leave a space there. A well-constructed pipe will have the tenon fitting tightly in the mortise, with no space for condensation to occur. However, when there is no filter there, using filter stones or a conical screen traps almost all the moisture before it ever gets to the tenon. I've smoked hundreds of pipes using these add-ins and seldom have I found any moisture in the tenon.

 
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