Cleaning a glass pipe is fairly straightforward, but what about wooden ones? Whether you're using a traditional wooden tobacco pipe or a hand-carved hardwood piece to smoke your cannabis, the methods used to clean and care for them are almost identical. A diligently cared for wood pipe can last for decades, as they can usually withstand the bumps, knocks, drops, and falls that glass can't. To help you keep your wood pipe looking and smoking at its best, here are three steps for cleaning out pipes made entirely from wood.
1. Disassemble Pipe & Remove Loose Ash
When your pipe is at is at a “resting” temperature, take it completely apart (unless it's a solid piece) as you should never disassemble or clean your pipe while it is still warm. Knock out and discard any loose ash and other plant matter in the bowl and stem. If you're worried about nicking or splitting your wood pipe, the palm of your hand or a cork knocker is safe, soft place to knock out your bowl.
2. Ream the “Cake”
In case no one's told you, before smoking the first bowl out of a new wood pipe you're supposed to evenly burn the inside of the bowl a bit to give it a layer of charcoal “cake.” This “cake” builds up over time and protects the wood from high temperatures, and you need to scrape this “cake” out occasionally to avoid unpleasant tastes, impossible puffs, and a reduced holding capacity for your bowl. This act of cleaning is called “reaming” and there are several commercial tools designed for this specific task. You can also try using regular pipe cleaning tools, like a blunted knife blade, or shaving down the cake with sandpaper or emery cloth instead of using a blade, but the trick is to keep the level of charred “cake” as even as possible without scratching or gouging the wood bowl.
3. Clear Out the Stem
Run a generous number of pipe cleaners through the stem of your pipe until they come out looking clean and good as new again. If the stem is unusually wide, run two or three pipe cleaners through at a time or fold one in half, depending on the size of your pipe. Some choose to dip pipe cleaners in manufactured pipe cleaning solutions or alcohol, while others argue that these liquids leave a residue that can taint the taste, so the choice to do this is entirely up to you. There is also a debate among pipe smokers as to whether you should leave a pipe cleaner in the stem until your next smoke; the choice is yours.
Finally, wipe down the pieces of your pipe with a soft cloth, polish metal bands of tobacco pipes, reassemble it, and let it rest for a day before using it again if you can. We're sure you'll notice a difference!
Looking for more ways to smoke? Check out these five beautiful, minimalist smoking essentials.