Do you use to remove the stem to clean your pipe?

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Senior Member
Oct 17, 2018
I've always removed the stem to clean it, but since I've read "just stick a pipe cleaner in it and it's new", I've wondered if what I was doing was really necessary.
So, do you think that removing the stem to cleaning it more carefully is necessary, or just sticking in the cleaner in the whole pipe can work?



Preferred Member
May 9, 2018
Raleigh, NC
I think it's only necessary if the pipe won't pass a cleaner or you need a deep clean. I try not to remove my stems any more than necessary. I think the more you remove them, the more wear and tear the tenons take and could start to loosen up.
When I'm done with a bowl, I stick a cleaner down the stem and into the bowl to soak up any extra moisture. If I'm near a water source, I will likely go ahead and do a hot water flush, then paper towel the bowl and run a cleaner until it's clean then stick it back down inside the stem to the bowl to dry the moisture out and set it up to rest.
If I need to do a deeper clean, I'll pull it apart and clean the shank really well, but I try to keep from doing that anymore than necessary.


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New member
Jan 7, 2019
I’m with Spartacus. I let ‘em pile up (no more than four, maybe five smokes per briar - all rested for a couple days between smokes) and have a cleaning day. Some folks claim to like it, I personally don’t, but I’m sure to do a good job.
Hmm. Now there’s a business idea: “Sweetie would you pick up my briars from the cleaners on your way home?”



Preferred Member
Jun 26, 2016
I've never considered wear on the tenons before. I know some estates I've seen have TIGHT fitting stems that have probably never been apart.
As long as it passes a cleaner, I guess there is no reason to.



Preferred Member
Sep 9, 2017
Many of my pipes use filters: you have to remove the stem not just to clean them but to change the filter. Because they were designed with constant stem removal in mind, they're unlikely to be damaged by doing so, unless it's user error (unnecessary roughness, wiggling the stem, removing it when the pipe is hot, &c.).



Preferred Member
Apr 30, 2014
Usually, with stem attached.
Often, with stem unattached, as "Evil" lurks in the hearts of mortici.



Preferred Member
May 8, 2017
Sugar Grove, IL, USA
With some pipes, you have no choice but to remove the stems. Bent Peterson system pipes are a good example of pipes where the draft holes in the mouthpiece and shank do not line up by design. In those, pipe cleaners end up bottoming out in the well rather than continuing down the draft hole. Sometimes a pipe cleaner won't pass due to poor workmanship. The old Kaywoodie, Dr. Grabow, and similar pipes often had metal threaded connectors, making removal safe and easy, which was important because their stingers made it impossible to pass a pipe cleaner past the mouthpiece.
When my pipes pass a cleaner all the way to the chamber, I generally only give them a very good cleaning with a fresh pipe cleaner as soon as I'm done smoking without removing the stem. However occasionally, I will remove the stems for a more thorough cleaning. This allows me to clean the gap between the bottom of the mortise and the tip of the tenon. This area and the tip of the tenon can get pretty gunky and funky otherwise. I'll also rinse the inside of the mouthpiece with warm (NOT HOT!) running water, followed by a pipe cleaner. Sometimes I'll use a bristle cleaner, but since I generally smoke tobaccos which burn cleanly, it's rarely needed.



Preferred Member
Jan 8, 2013
As other's have mentioned above, I only remove a stem if the pipe will not pass a cleaner from stem into the bowl. And this only after the pipe has had sufficient amount of time to cool down to room temperature. I will otherwise only remove the stem during a deep cleaning. For my spigot pipes, I'll go ahead and remove the stem after a smoke to give a more thorough cleaning. But the stems can be removed even while the briar is still warm, with these.



Preferred Member
Nov 26, 2018
right after smoke, i run pipe cleaner. right now, only using peterson pipes. they are not easy to run the cleaner through, but it can be done. out of 6 petersons i have 5 has plip. only took off stem once for thorough cleaning with grain alcohol.



Preferred Member
Jul 10, 2015
Dalzell, South Carolina
If the pipe is off tasting then remove the stem and clean it, otherwise just leave it attached and run a cleaner thru it. Just remember to let the pipe cool down completely before removing the stem.



Preferred Member
May 23, 2018
I only smoke one bowl a day. I break down my pipe after every smoke. It only takes a couple of minutes so it's not a big deal. If I smoked several pipes everyday...then I'm sure I would do things differently.



Preferred Member
May 12, 2015
Monterey Peninsula
Very seldom do I need to clean the mortise, so I don't take the stem out. Running hot tap water through after most smokes helps keep the mortise-tenon area with little gunk.



Preferred Member
Aug 20, 2013
I try not to remove my stems any more than necessary. I think the more you remove them, the more wear and tear the tenons take and could start to loosen up.
That's why the loose fit on some estates. Once I figured that out I never removed the stem, and if it was loose rejected the pipe.



Preferred Member
Nov 12, 2014
I think the more you remove them, the more wear and tear the tenons take and could start to loosen up.
That's more from the 360° compression from the swelling and shrinking of the inside of the mortise during smoking. The shape memory characteristic of ebonite can be exploited in the case of a loose stem by gently heating the tenon with a heat gun causing it to return to its original diameter.

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