Can You Boil A Wooden Pipe?

January 31, 2020 Handheld Pipes

Can You Boil A Wooden Pipe?

We’ve all had our share of weird moments in our quest of cleaning a wooden pipe properly. One of the common questions that you will come across is can you boil a wooden pipe to clean it?

Why do you need to do it?

When we hear that question, the first thing that comes into our minds is: why do you need to submerge it in hot water? Is it because there’s too much resin in the bowl? Is there a blockage somewhere that needs clearing? Are you currently having a vacation in a place where pipe cleaners are hard to come by?  We can solve these issues in a minute.

Can you boil a wooden pipe?

light cherry rosewood traditional tobacco shire pipe 5.25 inch

Boiling can ruin this beautiful Light Cherry Rosewood Shire Pipe.

Boiling is one of the time-old remedies used when you have a clogged smoking pipe. However, if there’s a danger of damaging glass pipes because of hot temperatures, you can also damage a wooden pipe the same way. Crossing out boiling as a way of cleaning and declogging your wooden pipe is going to be the best decision for your pipe.

One thing to keep in mind is that wood, unlike glass, is highly porous. It can absorb water, which can cause it to swell. Heat has a way of expanding material, making your wooden pipe more likely to double in size and absorb water. Quite several cool wooden pipes had met their demise when their well-meaning owners decided to dunk them in boiling water.

One typical damage that these pipe owners face is that the pieces no longer fit together as snugly as before. Because of the expansion and swelling, the mortise becomes either too tight or too loose for the tenon or peg to fit in.

What can I do, then, with the thick resin?

If there’s too much resin inside the bowl, the best thing to do is to ream it. It’s a common practice done when cleaning a wooden pipe that’s been left alone for too long. Reaming the bowl is done with a metal reamer that removes a layer off of the protective cake. Usually, this cake should be about 1.5mm thick or 1/16 of an inch. If this gets any thicker, you’re going to have a problem with your pipe.

The reamer is best because it helps you remove an even layer. If you don’t have any reamer, a small blunt knife can work but you won’t get the same even surface. You can also wrap a fine-grit sandpaper or grit cloth around a wooden dowel to remove the resin.

There’s a clog in my wooden pipe, help!

This can help you unclog your pipe.

Removing clogs, especially in an extra-long wooden pipe, should be done carefully. One wrong move and the slender stem is going to break.

The best method is to use a thin and small pipe cleaner that can go through the stem. Soak it in a bit of 95% iso alcohol, but not too much that it will flood the pipe. Just enough to help soften the resin bit by bit until you get the clog out.

Push the pipe cleaner through the stem then pull it back when you hit a bit of resistance. Repeat the process slowly and carefully, and observe the pipe cleaner. You may need to wash it a bit to remove the resin out of the cleaner before you re-insert it inside the wooden pipe. If you don’t have any pipe cleaners, then get a thin yet pliable wire. Wrap cotton string around it soaked in alcohol, and use it the same way as described.

Once you’re done with this method, make sure that you dry the pipe in an airy place thoroughly. You don’t want to inhale alcohol while you smoke.

When smoking herbs on a wooden pipe, maintenance is a must. Most of these wooden pipes have long, slender stems like a wooden Gandalf pipe or this Rosewood Churchwarden Shire Long Pipe. Letting the resin stay inside for too long will eventually lead to build up that can clog the pipe. However, there are better ways to remove clogs in a wooden pipe than boiling.

Wooden pipes don’t need much care for maintenance. As long as you take out the ash and run a pipe cleaner through it after a good day’s use, you won’t have to worry about it getting clogged or messy. Boiling it should never be an option whether you’re dealing with glass pieces or wooden. Wood may be durable, but it won’t stand against expansion and contraction.

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