Water Flush Cleaning Technique

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hoosierpipeguy

Preferred Member
Jan 28, 2018
6,546
24,939
I am a fan of cleaning my pipes with a water flush after each smoke. I have been cleaning my pipes in this manner since reading about it here around 18 months ago. As an experiment, I decided tonight to break down the tan Rubio Shape 55 that has well over 200 bowls smoked in it. This is the first time I have deep cleaned it to date. It was the first time I broke down the pipe for that matter, it was very tight.

The first photo shows the pipe cleaner, end dipped in Everclear, then run through the mouthpiece. I was shocked, nearly no residue. I ran it through several times and pushed it in and out and turned it.

The second photo is a progression, from top to bottom, of pipe cleaners dipped in Everclear run through the shank to the bottom of the bowl. Again, I was amazed at the small amount of residue build up. Most of what was picked up came from the draught hole area at the bottom of the bowl.

This further convinces me of the merits of the water flush cleaning technique. To be clear, after smoking and prior to the water flush, I run a pipe cleaner through the pipe then double it up to swab the inside of the bowl. I've also never reamed this pipe and there in a very thin layer of cake built up. It would normally take 20 to 25 pipe cleaners to deep clean a pipe with that many bowls smoked in it.

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trubka2

Preferred Member
Feb 27, 2019
2,470
21,627
Yup, the water flush works great. I'm too lazy to do it after every smoke. But whenever a pipe seems to go a little flat or just isn't performing as well as I know it can, the flush brings it back to life. It's like a pipe reset. It's almost like I really should do it more often or something... 🤔

I wish I could find that old thread when ashdigger submerged a stummel for a few days as an experiment to prove that briar absorbs very little water and dries out completely very quickly.
 

gervais

Preferred Member
Sep 4, 2019
1,301
3,586
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Ontario
This water flushing method intrigues me, I admit. However I don't have an issue with the way I do it, and I'm a little nervous to run my pipe under water. Silly perhaps. I just run a pipe cleaner (only sometimes with alcohol), then shove a rolled up paper towel in the bowl until tight, and twist it around to clean the bowl. Every few months I use some alcohol and break it down to clean. I really want to try the water method someday though. Obviously it doesn't ruin a pipe, considering alot of you are doing it....not sure why I'm so chicken shit to do it
 

cosmicfolklore

Preferred Member
Aug 9, 2013
25,940
29,600
Helena, Alabama
I just warm up the water in the sink and let the water run through the bowl and out the stem for a few seconds. Then twist up a paper towel and ream out the bowl, and then use a pipe cleaner to clean the airway. Rub the pipe down with a cloth towel and then give an extra polish to the stem. Then, every other cleaning or so, I will rub the rim on a piece of suede leather stretched across a piece of wood that I made to keep the rims pristine. Voila, it's ready for the rack or to smoke again. My pipes all look brand new and smoke really well. The cleaner pipe seems to give me more flavor as well.

Some pipes I will break down and give a little extra swabbing in the mortise and tenon. But, for the most part, I usually don't break them all down.
 

jerseysam

Senior Member
Mar 24, 2019
454
4,535
Liberty Township. OH
It never made sense to me because water does not remove tobacco tar.

If you've ever tried to remove tobacco tar from your fingers you realize you need detergent soap or alcohol to do so.

Whether a water flush or just diligently getting a pipe cleaner/paper towel rub going right after a smoke.....I think the key is cleaning before oils/remnants cool and solidfy into tar-gunk. You're absolutely right that once you have tar-gunk formed, water alone won't do the trick. Before the pipe cools completely though, a lot of the oils are mixed up in the condensation throughout the pipe....and water will flush that.

Though I mostly use the paper towel twist/dry pipe cleaner method, I've found water flushes to work fine w/no negative side effect. New pipes, old pipes...no issue. If I smoked a smaller pipe rotation heavily I'd probably go water-flush; I think its superior (to dry pipe cleaner) in cutting odor and gunk build-up in the tenon/mortisse.
 

jhe033

Member
Mar 15, 2020
109
838
Indiana
I also am a convert. When I first read about it, I was skeptical. However, it's been great and my cabinet no longer hits me with that stale-smoke reek upon opening it.

It's also nice to put a pipe in my mouth while I'm making my tobacco choice, and not feel like I'm inhaling old ashtray.

My father who's been smoking for 60 years watched me do this and predicted doom, but then again he's in full-blown-codger mode, and his pipes look like a lost cause.
 

tradition

Member
Mar 27, 2018
170
357
Connecticut, USA
Whether a water flush or just diligently getting a pipe cleaner/paper towel rub going right after a smoke.....I think the key is cleaning before oils/remnants cool and solidfy into tar-gunk. You're absolutely right that once you have tar-gunk formed, water alone won't do the trick. Before the pipe cools completely though, a lot of the oils are mixed up in the condensation throughout the pipe....and water will flush that.

Though I mostly use the paper towel twist/dry pipe cleaner method, I've found water flushes to work fine w/no negative side effect. New pipes, old pipes...no issue. If I smoked a smaller pipe rotation heavily I'd probably go water-flush; I think its superior (to dry pipe cleaner) in cutting odor and gunk build-up in the tenon/mortisse.

That makes sense.

Still not doing it though. Too much of a ritual, life is too short.
 

boston

Member
Jun 27, 2018
273
579
Boston
I tried this on a beater pipe because I was sceptical. Despite good reviews of the approach it didn't ring my bell. Tightened the mortis/tenon/stem whatchamacallit, and dulled the pipe finish a bit. Maybe my water supply is hard or soft... maybe just the pipe I selected. I'll stick to high octane rum or whatever booze to clean the pipes carefully w/ bristle cleaners etc. It's worked for a long time and I'm not adventurous.
 
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