Pipes Never Smoked Down to the Bottom

Log in

SmokingPipes.com Updates

12 Fresh Winslow Pipes
96 Fresh Peterson Pipes
18 Fresh Neerup Pipes
3 Fresh Jared Coles Pipes
72 Fresh Savinelli Pipes

PipesMagazine Approved Sponsor

PipesMagazine Approved Sponsor

PipesMagazine Approved Sponsor

PipesMagazine Approved Sponsor

Tobacco Treasures Ad

PipesMagazine Approved Sponsor

Briar Lee

Lifer
Sep 4, 2021
1,627
3,458
Humansville Missouri
I probably buy too many pipes, most of them Lee Star Grades. I’ve noticed over the years that even a well used and caked pipe will seldom be smoked completely down to the bottom.

While oil cured Lee pipes are pleasant to break in, they do require the same 15-30 bowls smoked all the way down to the bottom before they reach what I want, a cool, sweet, dry smoking pipe that gives no briar taste, even a sweet as honey Lee briar taste,

Also, even a Lee will be hot and sweat excessively until somehow the heat of burning tobacco heat cures the briar completely.

On every used pipe I get, the drill I’ve developed is to throughly clean the pipe using Everclear and then ream every bit of carbon from the bowl, using rough steel wool as a last step.

The part of the chamber that once was caked, will very quickly form the oily “just enough cake to say there is some” but the majority of used pipes I buy have never been smoked all the way to the bottom. I have to finish breaking them in completely, by smoking 15-30 bowls completely down to the air hole.

Fifty years of pipe smoking have convinced me that it’s the heat of break in more than forming a cake, that makes for an excellent smoker, the kind you pick up and load with any tobacco and it’s going to always smoke cool, sweet and dry.

I wonder why the vast majority of other pipe smokers don’t break in a pipe all the way down.

Harry Hosterman, my first pipe smoking mentor, taught me the importance of complete break in fifty years ago, and so did every instruction manual that used to come with “drug store” pipes back then. Some advised smoking only half bowls until the bottom was caked,

Do you break your pipes in all the way down?
 

Briar Lee

Lifer
Sep 4, 2021
1,627
3,458
Humansville Missouri
Yes, by packing it and smoking it. I don’t have a problem smoking to the bottom unless I take my pipe out of my clench.

That said, if someone never smokes to the bottom, WTF worry about caking the bottom?
There are two reasons I’ve found to break a pipe in all the way down.

During break in the pipe will get scorching hot for 15 or more smokes of you smoke it to the bottom. It’s easy to burn out the bottom when you can taste briar, the pipe makes little snaps, crackles, and pops, and it sweats and it’s too hot to hold. If you break one in all the way down, it protects your pipe from burnout later. A completely broken in pipe smokes cool until you want to stop,

The second reason is that, I am completely convinced, that the top part of the bowl tastes better after the bottom is completely broken in. I think the reason for this, is that the extreme heat of break in is required to somehow make the briar completely cure out, and become a better insulator.

When I bought a lot of old Kaywoodies, I’d find most of them would turn hot and bitter at the bottom of the bowl, until fully broken in.

Even a Lee Star Grade, doesn’t attain the best it will be until it’s completely broken in. It’s just more pleasant, to break in a Lee.
 

kurtbob

Lifer
Jul 9, 2019
2,070
12,393
56
SE Georgia
I smoke them all with the mindset of smoke it like you stole it. If it will smoke all the way to the bottom I do. I believe anything should be used from the beginning the way it will be used during its life. I rebuilt hundreds of Cummins Diesel engines. Would put them on the dyno and load it like I stole it instead of performing a “gradual” break in. If there was going to be a failure, it was gonna be right then and now. Never had even one come back.
 

Briar Lee

Lifer
Sep 4, 2021
1,627
3,458
Humansville Missouri
Regardless of how a pipe is broken in, I agree with B Lee that the heat created deep in the chamber is highly beneficial. For one, the pipe will smoke drier the next load. For another, it will, over time, be more cured than otherwise.
As further evidence of heat curing briar, at times I get in an old Lee that’s so fresh I can get all the cake out of the top of the bowl, like it’s brand new again. (Which is another reason to not pay a ridiculous premium for “unsmoked” pipes) For the first part of the bowl, even with bare briar it tastes broken in. At the bottom is when it gets hot, sweats, and that signature brand new Lee sweet briar taste starts.

After a dozen or so smokes, the Lee smokes cool, dry, and sweet to the bottom if I want to smoke it that far.

I don’t know percentages, but the lion’s share of break in is accomplished by heat, not caking.
 
I don’t know percentages, but the lion’s share of break in is accomplished by heat, not caking.
Maybe. But on those days when the wind blows, and according to NASA, I live in a very windy place, a bit of cake helps when the pipe gets hot due to the wind.

From Wikipedia… Flanked by Mount San Gorgonio and the Transverse Ranges to the North, and Mount San Jacinto and the Peninsular Ranges to the South, the San Gorgonio Pass is a transitional zone from a Mediterranean climate west of the pass, to a Desert climate east of the pass. This makes the pass area one of the most consistently windy places in the United States.[1]
 

Briar Lee

Lifer
Sep 4, 2021
1,627
3,458
Humansville Missouri
So what advantage was the oil curing?
Alfred Dunhill was among the first to advertise he oil cured his pipes. But Dunhill stopped oil curing years ago, because (it was said) it was only evident for the first dozen or so smokes.

When Lee began making what was then the highest priced production pipe on earth in 1946 he oil cured his pipes just like Dunhill did at the time.

As I understand the process, all raw briar has to first be boiled in water or soaked in a pond, then it must be dried, and ideally then aged. The great disadvantage of oil curing is the maker must boil the briar in his own recipe of sweet oil, then has to dry it again.

But the advantage is the first bowl will have a briar taste, it will still get hot, but it’s going to taste as good as the oil used tk cure the briar, but only for 15-30 smokes.

The strange thing is, to my knowledge Lee never advertised he oil cured his pipes.

Lee also didn’t advertise that an invisible (to view from outside) Lee screw in fitment with removable stinger was certainly the best way ever devised to manufacture factory pipes.

And while an early 7 or 5 pointed star Lee has gorgeously inlaid real gold stars, like a piece of jewelry, he didn’t advertise that either.

It was Reach for the Stars, Symbol of the World’s Finest Pipe.

Pick a shape, send $5, $10, $15, or $25, and Lee sent you a pipe.

A brand new Dunhill was $15.

The audacity of it, is so post war American.:)
 
  • Like
Reactions: kurtbob