Disinfecting Estate Pipes

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smokertruck

Senior Member
Aug 1, 2013
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Have seen an estate pipe - a calich - i am interested in but have a rather touchy question. Has anyone worried about anything left on the bit being a health issue? Has anyone disinfected a pipe heavy duty wise ? 99% alcohol probably would not do it for something more serious.

I guess the answer would be not to buy. Have never bought an estate pipe,

 

philobeddoe

Preferred Member
Oct 31, 2011
5,243
2,132
East Indiana
You could always buy it and send it off to be restored, if you aren't comfortable doing the restoration yourself. There are many places that will bring a pipe back to newish cond. for a small fee.

 

plateauguy

Preferred Member
Mar 19, 2013
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+1 Roth
I've bought 4 pipes off of ebay and wished I had just bought 1 already restored by a reputable dealer. I don't have the time to really refinish a pipe back to it's original glory. That being said, I soak the stem in 1 part bleach to 10 parts warm water for 1 hour. That will kill any germs.

 

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smokertruck

Senior Member
Aug 1, 2013
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OK - Thanks, yes this is a reputable dealer just spoke with them & they do the process so it might be in the cards unless it goes while i procrastinate.

 

voorhees

Preferred Member
May 30, 2012
3,806
761
Gonadistan
I've refinished a few estate pipes and I do salt and alcohol bowl treatments, oxyclean and high proof alcohol baths for the stems. After that, I am not afraid to smoke them..restaurant utensils are less clean than that.

 

bobpnm

Preferred Member
Jul 24, 2012
1,002
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Panama City, Florida
.restaurant utensils are less clean than that
I know that's true Voorhees! I clean every stem (new or estate) before I put it in my mouth for the first time. I use Everclear. If I need too, I will also scrub the heck out of the pipe with shank brushes and Everclear. I have to say that I'm more in Roth's camp here though. I don't like doing it. I would rather pay a few bucks more for a pipe that someone else has done all that restoration work on.

 

allan

Preferred Member
Dec 5, 2012
2,429
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Bronx, NY
I guess I fall between Roth and those that buy totally funked out old pipes. Doing a total restore is not my cup of tea.
The ones I've bought from ebay have been totally restored; I can usually tell from the pics shown on the seller's site and so far have not been disappointed.
True, the ones I've purchased have not really been 'bargains', usually about 50 percent or so off the suggested retail price when sold new. To me, I'd rather have 2 'estate' pipes than one new one.

 

zekest

Preferred Member
Apr 1, 2013
1,137
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I must respectfully disagree with Roth, Everclear is only "potable" if you are a really "hard core" drinker.

 

captainsousie

Preferred Member
Aug 1, 2012
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I personally use an alcohol retort to clean and "sanitize" an estate pipe that I, or whoever I sell the pipe to, will be smoking. True, 91% alcohol (what I use both in the retort and with shank brushes and pipe cleaners) is not actually that great at killing some of the hardcore nasties that might live in the stem/shank but I feel better with the addition of heat to the party. If you're really worried, clean one up, get it all nice and shiny and then send it for an ozone treatment at Walker.

 

numbersix

Preferred Member
Jul 27, 2012
5,451
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Has anyone worried about anything left on the bit being a health issue?
It's funny but when I first began this hobby, the very thought of an estate pipe gave me the heebie jeebies. But it's really all a mind game. As far as a health issue, I think if a proper cleaning is done, you have no more worries (actually fewer) than using a restaurant spoon (as someone else has mentioned).
I've bought used estates that have needed cleaning and personally I don't find it to be *that* much work; however, I don't buy seriously gunked up pipes. In fact I just bought a 1940s Grabow which will be my next project:

If you read up on restoring, you may find that it's not that much work.

 

mso489

Preferred Member
Feb 21, 2013
30,074
11,164
I don't just want a pipe to be hygienic, I want it to be appetizing. I'm not sure a bit chewed up (a little) by someone else

fills the bill. I think the hazard of picking up a communicable disease from a used pipe is remote but not impossible.

For example, a text on mortuary science loaned to a friend by a student of the subject, noted the longevity of the TB

bacillus in dried blood that can live dormant in cracks between tiles, etc. There may be other bacteria and virus that

can do this, but I understand the potential is infinitely remote. A new stem would probably allay my objections.

Estate pipes make a whole upper level of pipes available to pipers of ordinary means. But for now, I like my one-owner

estate pipes (bought by me, new, years ago). Hate to be squeamish, but like to be content.

 

sablebrush52

Preferred Member
Jun 15, 2013
10,890
4,905
I never use bleach on the stems. When I first read about that practice, I contacted a couple of pipe repairmen for an opinion. Both said that it ruins vulcanite. I've since heard that from several other restorers, and if you don't believe me, here's what Walker Briar has to say on the subject: http://www.walkerbriarworks.com/html/vulcanite_info_.html. Every restorer I've spoken with over the years says the same thing. Never put your vulcanite stems in bleach. Never, never, never.

As far as oxidation removal goes, besides the method mentioned on the Walker Briar site, micromesh pads can do the job if you don't want to use a buffer. Once you have removed the oxidation, seal the surface with polish, clean your stem with each smoke, renew the polish every month or so, and NEVER leave your pipes in direct sunlight.

 

lovethebriar

Member
Aug 12, 2013
237
0
Oxi clean soak for the stems and salt alcohol treatment for the inside of the bowl. You can use a good pipe cleaner to scrub away inside the stems with oxi clean too. I have never had a problem with these methods.

 

heffeweisse

Junior Member
Sep 9, 2013
61
0
Some years ago, I purchased a "sunrise featherweight" pipe at a renaissance fair, for fairly cheap. At that time, I did not know anything about pipes, nor do I know much today for that matter.
As I was browsing through the forum topics, I came upon this one in particular, and it caught my attention because it dealt with a used pipe.
Unfortunately, I cannot tell whether my pipe was restored or not. However, I remember filling it with tobacco from "nat sherman", and smoking away.

 

cmdrmcbragg

Preferred Member
Jul 29, 2013
1,740
1
My first real pipes were estates. Bought a six-pipe lot off eBay and some of them required some real work (gunked up stems) and a couple were beyond redemption (chewed shut stems) and since I didn't care for either anyways I chucked them. I just went to town with a LOT of pipe cleaners, Everclear, Magic Erasers, varying sandpaper grits and wax to bring them back to life. Reamed a couple pretty good (cake build up wasn't too bad). I didn't mind the process, it was interesting and rewarding, but I'm in no hurry to clean any hardcore estate pipes anytime soon.

 

drwatson

Preferred Member
Aug 3, 2010
1,720
1
toledo
I use everclear,salt in the bowl. And scrub the crap out of the stem with bristle cleaners and Everclear. I tried the bleach once, and never would again. Took to long to clean back up and didn't see the improvement.

 

heffeweisse

Junior Member
Sep 9, 2013
61
0
The folks in here seem to have prepared a grand restoration and ample effort. I ask, but why? Were the "estate" pipes that used? If so, is it recommended to smoke a heavily used pipe?
All I did (when bought my sunrise featherweight briar)was: disinfect the stem, clean the bowl and stem with pipe cleaner. Did I miss something in this process?

 
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