Why Some Briar Gets Hot

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Starting to Get Obsessed
Jan 24, 2019
Yarmouth, Maine
o k I'm sure this has been discussed before, but since I don't live here on the web, I've not seen it. I've owned many pipes over the decades, and two of them, both estates, both reputable British marques, were really very hot to the hand when smoked. No, I'm not a fast puffer. I smoke va flakes, as slow as possible, never smoke aromatics. One of these pipes is a recent acquisition which I now have to jettison.
So what the hell causes this level of heat build-up. ????


Pipe Dreamer and Star Gazer
That’s a great question. To which assuming the Smoker has a good degree of knowledge about how to smoke, I have no idea. I‘ve had pipes that do smoke hot - often a Peterson (could be a fluke) and I toss them. I am currently smoking a Castello sea Rock. No matter how smoke it, it just won’t get hot. And it’s a chilly morning and old like to have it warm up my hands. 🙌 😀

Briar Lee

Sep 4, 2021
Humansville Missouri
Assuming the smoker is not changing technique, the reason a briar pipe doesn’t get hot, is that the cellulose structure inside the briar is spongy and serves as a better insulator.

I own dozens of such pipes that just don’t get hot.

It was because the briar was properly selected, cut and graded, and cured, at the source.

When a pipe gets extra hot, is due to the failure of the briar inspectors.
Jul 12, 2011
+1 on above advice; Bowl thickness, smoking technique, quality of briar, etc.

Also smome other notes;

~ How is the cake inside the bowl, is it thicker in perhaps all areas except that "Hot Spot"? - Do a cake check / reset

~ What is the moisture level of tobacco; Too dry then you have to watch the loading and smoking technique ( smoking a bit slower - should always have a bowl that is just smoldering not erupting lava like a volcano )

~ Ember location; Sometimes it gets out-of-sync from center, could be closer to one of the side-walls

~ The pipe "itself" may not be drilled / designed properly


Can't Leave
Oct 14, 2023
United States
I have learned that it doesn't have to do with the thickness of the walls, rather than the shaping of everything can play a part. I have a lot of thin walled pipes and thicker walled pipes and some of the thin walled pipes smoke as cool as the thick ones do. As said above, it has to be designed and made well, of quality briar. Also, some blends burn hotter than others do, much of it depends on how a bowls packed. That can matter just as much as the way you smoke it and can change depending on the blend. You say you smoke slow, maybe try a different packing method or different pipe all together.
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Reactions: kcghost
Aug 11, 2022
Cedar Rapids, IA
I think briar density has a lot to do with it and possibly silica percentage.

This. A higher mineral content could allow the pipe to conduct more heat to the outside. But on the plus side, that could also make it more durable and resistant to burning out.

If OP smoked a variety of blends, I'd suggest that maybe these pipes would be better suited to English blends or cube-cut burleys or something else that naturally burns cooler.
In my experience the denser briar seems to heat up a little more than the lighter fluffier briar does. I have some so hard that it actually dings when I flick my fingernail against the side.
I have a few that are dense and they took the sandblast really well that heat up, and one with remarkable grain that also dings when thumped that heats up.
This is just out of my tad over 100 pipes. I don't think that I could make an overall confident assumption about all dense pipes.
Jan 28, 2018
Sarasota, FL
Speculation on my part but there are a lot of variables. Briar is organic and is different piece to piece. Type of tobacco smoked. The smoker themselves in terms of cadence. How the tobacco is packed. How moist or dry the tobacco is.

I have a theory that smaller diameter drilled pipes may smoke hotter. Pack a pipe really tight and puff hard, it will heat up like a blast furnace. Smaller drilled pipes may unconciously encourage the smoker to puff more aggressively.

I've had very few pipes that smoked hot thankfully. None of the pipes I presently own smoke much bitter than the other. I wouldn't tolerate one for long that did.


Starting to Get Obsessed
Jan 24, 2019
Yarmouth, Maine
It remains a mystery. I don't puff hard, or pack tight, and the bowls are typically at least 13/16 and often more, as I prefer larger bowls for a longer smoke. Only flakes. If these pipes were basket pipes then it would make more sense to me, but one was a GBD and one was a Charatan. What the hell.
In fact this is not the only mystery about pipe smoking. Another thread, another day.......
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Starting to Get Obsessed
Jan 22, 2024
It only happens to me with pipes that have not been used for a long time. Then, when you start smoking them again, the phenomenon slowly disappears.


Part of the Furniture Now
Aug 17, 2021
Central Florida
I second ember location. I don’t disagree with the many other explanations above, but I think some pipes for some reason tend to get the tobacco burning closer to the wall. I actually have a clay pipe that stays cool to the touch. The only explanation I can think of is that the ember in this pipe tends to be at the center.
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Reactions: Reggie


May 26, 2022
Florida - Space Coast
Agreed because of many variables one bowl gets hotter than the other.

My dragon meer doesn't get hot no matter how I smoke it or what i smoke in it, a newer meer gets much hotter with the same variables, the difference is simple bowl wall thickness. She blinded me ... with SCIENCE!
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