Valuable Pipe Accessories for the Discerning Smoker
A pipe collection is an investment that requires suitable protection. Any device that holds the pipe in an upright position, with the bowl facing down, can act as a pipe rack. It can be an easily built homemade version, or, if you desire, you may choose from a wide selection of pipe racks offered by commercial manufacturers. This vertical position allows moisture in the stem and shank to run down into the bowl, where it will evaporate or be consumed in the next smoke.
If you possess a large pipe collection, you may wish to keep your most treasured pieces in individual cases, so as to prevent unexpected breakage. This precaution is an especially good idea with meerschaum pipes. If you keep your pipe in a separate case, clean and dry it thoroughly before storing it away. Because the pipe will not be in vertical position, any trapped moisture will remain in the stem and shank.
Pipe cleaners, either with stiff bristles or soft fluffy threads set in wire, are the smoker’s habitual aids. They are not at all expensive and should be used abundantly to clean both the pipe stem and shank, preferably after every smoke. Stiff wire or plastic cleaners can be used first to scour the air passages and dislodge any gummy deposits. These should be followed by softer cleaners which will absorb all the oily and liquid residue.
Cleaners are sold in several lengths and coarseness. The longer the tufts on the soft cleaners, the better cleaning job they will achieve. One should moisten ‘coarse-brush’ cleaners with a special pipe-cleaner liquid (available at most pipe stores) before use. In that way, they will more readily dissolve any gummy impurities.
Any small, flexible, and relatively airtight container that fits easily in your pocket can be used as a pouch. However, don’t count on your pouch to prevent your tobaccy from drying out for as long a time as will a humidor.
Most pouches are not completely airtight. When choosing a pouch, avoid those with fabric or ordinary rubber liners. These materials usually crack within a few months. Furthermore, they will absorb and react with oils in the tobacco and add an unpleasant odor to your smoke.
For those who carry their pouches on them for long periods of time, it is recommended to insert a small humidifying unit to keep the tobacco moist. This accessory generally consists of a small perforated metal box filled with absorbent clay or some other humectant.
If you prefer to purchase a few ounces of tobacco at a time, and then continue to smoke it immediately, you have no need for a humidor. On the other hand, if you would rather save money by purchasing tobacco in larger portions, or if you choose to have your own blend made up by a tobacconist, you will need a suitable container in which to sustain the tobacco against the effects of time and weather.
The humidor, or tobacco jar, can be made of wood, ceramic, glass, or any other chemically neutral material.
Crucially, the humidor should be airtight, so as to prevent the tobacco from losing too much moisture. As tobacco readily absorbs odors, avoid leaving the tobacco jar open longer than necessary. Keep a fragment of porous clay, soapstone, or plaster of Paris inside the humidor at all times to replace the moisture inevitably lost by evaporation. Do not forget to moisten this humidifying material, or humectant, at regular intervals. Fasten it inside the lid of the jar, or some other spot where it does not come into actual contact with the tobacco itself.
Since the pipe bowl must be reamed out every now and then, a reamer rates as an absolute necessity. If the reamer manages to fit the pipe precisely, so much the better. However, if he has a large pipe collection, he need not have a different reamer for each pipe. There are a number of adjustable reamers on the market whose cutting edges can be maneuvered to fit any pipe bowl. They also position themselves during the reaming process so as to leave an even cake within the bowl. Make sure the reamer is not too sharp, or else it might crack or disfigure the cake and bowl themselves..
Pipe smoking perfectionists have devised a number of other accessories. While none of these are necessary, you may discover after some research, that they add pleasure, as well as practicality, to the experience of pipe smoking.