Tag Archives: cleaning meerschaum lined bowls

Got a filthy estate pipe that you need to clean?


Blog by Jeff Laug

Several have asked about Jeff’s cleaning regimen as I generally summarize it in the blogs that I post rather than give a detailed procedure. I have had the question asked enough that I asked Jeff to put together this blog so that you can get a clear picture of the process he uses. Like everything else in our hobby, people have different methods they swear by. Some may question the method and that is fine. But it works very well for us and has for many years. Some of his steps may surprise you but I know that when I get the pipes from him for my part of the restoration they are impeccably clean and sanitized. I have come to appreciate the thoroughness of the process he has developed because I really like working on clean pipe!

 For the benefit of some of you who may be unfamiliar with some of the products he uses I have included photos of three of the items that Jeff mentions in his list. This will make it easier for recognition. These three are definitely North American Products so you will need to find suitable replacements or order these directly on Amazon. The makeup pads are fairly universal as we were able to pick some up in India when we were with Paresh and his family.

 Cleaning the Stem:

  1. Remove the stem from the pipe and clean the exterior of the stem with Murphy’s Oil Soap on a cotton makeup remover pad.
  2. If the pipe has a metal stinger, remove the stinger, if possible. This greatly improves the ease in cleaning the stem’s interior. The exterior of the metal stinger is easily cleaned using Soft Scrub All Purpose Cleanser on a cotton makeup remover pad or a cotton swab. Clean the interior of the stinger using pipe cleaners dipped in isopropyl alcohol. Once cleaned, rinse the interior and exterior of the stinger with warm water and dry with a microfiber cloth.
  3. Remove any calcite buildup on the stem using a penknife or the small blade of a pocketknife. Wipe away the resulting residue using the wetted pad from step 1. Continue to lightly scrape the stem until the calcite residue has been removed. Wipe down the cleaned stem once again with Murphy’s Oil Soap on the cotton pad.
  4. Clean the interior of the stem with pipe cleaners dipped in isopropyl alcohol. Continue to perform this cleaning with multiple alcohol wetted pipe cleaners until they come out clean after running them thru the stem. Make sure that you send the wetted pipe cleaners thru both ends of the stem while cleaning.
  5. Clean the opening or slot in the button end of the stem with a dental pick. Remove tobacco residue and/or fibers due to the pipe cleaners from this opening.
  6. Wipe down the exterior of the stem with Soft Scrub Cleanser on a cotton makeup remover pad. This cleaner removes the brown oxidation on the stem well. Multiple scrubbings with these cleanser wetted pads may be necessary.
  7. Rinse the stem off in the sink with warm water. Scrub the exterior of the stem with liquid dish washing detergent and a tooth brush. Rinse the stem again with warm water.
  8. Place the stem in a closeable container holding Mark Hoover’s Before and After Hard Rubber Deoxidizer solution. Ensure that the stem is submersed in the solution and close the container. Allow the stems to soak in this bath for at least 2-3 hours. (See review with contact information for Before and After Products on rebornpipes at https://rebornpipes.com/2017/09/15/a-review-before-after-pipe-stem-deoxidizer-and-fine-and-extra-fine-polishes/ or you can contact Mark on his site http://www.lbepen.com or you can send a message on Facebook to Mark Hoover.
  9. After this time, open the container and remove the stem from the deoxidizer solution and allow the excess solution to drip back into the container (liquid gold!). Use your fingers to scrape/remove the excess solution from the exterior of the stem. Transfer the stem immediately to a sink with running warm water. Rinse the exterior and interior of the stem with warm water to remove the deoxidizer solution. Ensure that the rinse water running thru the stem is clean and that no residual deoxidizer solution remains. If in doubt, blow on the end of the stem to dislodge any remaining honey-like deoxidizer plug remaining. Continue to rinse the interior of the stem until the rinse water runs clear.
  10. Dry the exterior of the stem with a microfiber cloth. Rub the exterior of the stem with this cloth until the stem regains its shiny black appearance. If brown oxidation still is present, it can be removed using the Soft Scrub Cleanser on a cotton makeup remover pad. A cotton swab dipped in this Cleaner is also helpful for detailed oxidation removal. Rinse the residual Soft Scrub Cleanser from the pipe’s exterior.
  11. Clean the interior of the stem with pipe cleaners dipped in isopropyl alcohol. Continue to perform this cleaning with multiple alcohol wetted pipe cleaners until they come out clean after running them thru the stem. Make sure that you send the wetted pipe cleaners thru both ends of the stem while cleaning.
  12. Again, wipe down the exterior of the stem with a microfiber cloth. Buff the exterior of the stem with this cloth until the stem regains its shiny black appearance. At the point, the stem is clean.
  13. Clean the sink and area to avoid further displeasure and pain from an irate wife!!

 Cleaning the Bowl:

  1. Carefully ream the bowl with a PipNet pipe reamer (or equivalent). Start with the smallest reamer attachment and move successively thru the other attachments, as appropriate for the size of the bowl. Clean up the reaming and remaining cake in the bowl with a Savinelli Fitsall Pipe Knife.
  2. Wet down the rim top of the bowl with Murphy’s Oil Soap on a cotton makeup remover pad. Once the top is wetted with this solution, carefully scrape the blackened grime and lava from the rim top using a penknife or a small bladed pocketknife. Wipe away the removed residue using the Murphy’s wetted cotton pad. Repeat this process until all of the blackened lava has been removed. Carefully clean the inside edge of the bowl’s rim with the knife blade. Wipe this down with the Murphy’s Oil Soap wetted cotton pad.
  3. Wipe down the exterior of the bowl with Murphy’s Soap on a cotton makeup remover pad. This is very effective in removing the oils, grime and grit on the briar. Repeat, if necessary.
  4. Using cotton swabs dipped in isopropyl alcohol, clean the internals of the pipe’s shank. Once the inside of the shank is wetted, use a small bladed pocketknife or dental pick to remove the tobacco grime and residue from the shank’s interior. Once any black “gunk” has been removed, clean the shank’s interior using alcohol swabs. Continue to clean the interior of the shank with multiple alcohol wetted swabs. Repeat this process until the alcohol wetted swabs appear clean after removal from the shank’s interior. Run several alcohol wetted pipe cleaners through the shank into the bowl to ensure clear passage thru the entire shank.
  5. If the pipe has a metal band, clean the band. I have found that Soft Scrub Cleanser on a cotton makeup remover pad works wonders on removing corrosion from a metal band. For small detailed areas, Soft Scrub wetted cotton swabs work well.
  6. Wipe down the exterior of the bowl with Murphy’s Oil Soap on a cotton makeup remover pad.
  7. Rinse the bowl with warm water. Using dish washing detergent, scrub the rim, the bowl’s interior and the exterior with a tooth brush. Rinse the bowl with warm water. Using a nylon bristle brush, clean the interior of the shank with dish washing soap. Use various brush sizes to clean the entire length of the shank into the bowl.
  8. Dry the bowl using a microfiber cloth. Apply a small amount of olive oil on a paper towel to the bowl’s surface. This will rejuvenate the surface of the briar post cleaning.