Tag Archives: Mixing a bowl coating

An Addendum – a Bowl Coating for the Cracked Bowl of the WDC Wellington House pipe


Blog by Steve Laug

In a recent blog I wrote about repairing a WDC Wellington House pipe with a cracked bowl that had been half way repaired by someone else. I wrote about using JB Weld on the inside of the bowl (https://rebornpipes.com/2016/12/30/sprucing-up-a-home-doctored-wdc-wellington-house-pipe/).  Some folks have been concerned about toxicity of this product in the bowl of a pipe. Even though the studies on the material have shown that once it is cured and dried the substance is neutral and there is no toxicity issues I still take several precautionary measures to minimize the possibility. First, I sand the repaired area smooth leaving JB Weld in only the repaired areas while leaving the briar bare around the repairs. Second, I mix and apply a bowl coating to the entire bowl to protect the bowl and provide an extra layer between the JB Weld and the tobacco. The coating when dry encourages a new cake to develop as the carbon/charcoal in the mixture provides a rough surface for the cake to adhere to more quickly.

In that particular blog I commented that I was out of charcoal capsules so the bowl coat would have to wait. Yesterday while I was out and about I was able to find some of the capsules that I needed for the mixture. This morning I mixed up a batch of bowl coating for the pipe. I decided to document it as I put it together and write a short tutorial on how I mix the bowl coating and apply it. The photos below show the internal and the external repair to the bowl and where it stood when I posted the blog.bowl1Here are the steps in the process I use along with explanatory photos.

Step 1 Assemble all the ingredients – not too many in this case. I use five Activated Charcoal capsules (food grade) and a tablespoon of sour cream. This amount of sour cream and charcoal is more than enough to coat one bowl but I find it is easier to mix this size batch with what I have. I will often do a second bowl to use up the mixture. I use a small glass bowl to mix the concoction in as I find that is easy to use and clean up afterward.bowl2Step 2 Twist the capsules apart and dump the charcoal powder out of each half onto the sour cream in the mixing bowl. I generally break open two at a time, stirring them into the sour cream with a dental spatula. You can use anything you want to stir the mixture together.bowl3Step 3 When the ingredients are well mixed you should have a dark grey paste in your bowl. It will still smell like sour cream at this point but do not worry when it dries the smell dissipates and all that is left is a dark coating that protects the wall of the bowl. The sour cream acts as the medium for applying the charcoal powder (carbon) to the bowl walls.bowl4Step 4 When the bowl coating is well mixed fold a pipe cleaner in half and use it to apply the coating to the walls of the pipe. I have tried different tools to apply the mixture to the bowl walls and always come back to the folded pipe cleaner.bowl5Step 5 Using the pipe cleaner put a dollop of the mixture on the bottom of the bowl and smooth it upward around the bowl sides. The first dollop will give you enough to paint half way up the bowl walls. You can put a pipe cleaner in the airway into the bowl so as not to clog it or you can be careful as you paint the mixture around that area.bowl6Step 6 Continue painting the mixture up the sides of the bowl to the rim. Do not worry about getting the coating on the rim as it can easily be wiped off when you have finished.bowl7Step 7 When the entire bowl is covered I carefully run the folded pipe cleaner over the surface to smooth out any lumps or thick spots and even out the painting on the walls and bowl bottom. I add more coating as necessary for an even coverage around the bowl.bowl8Step 8 Wipe down the mixture from the edge and surface of the rim with either your finger or a cotton pad to leave the rim top clean. Set the bowl aside in an upright position until the bowl coating has dried. I generally find that the mixture takes a good 24 hours to cure and another half day for the smell to dissipate. Once it is dry the entire bowl is a dark black colour and is dry to touch.bowl9Step 9 I let the bowl sit for four or five days until it is cured and dry. Once the coating has cured the pipe is ready to load with your favourite tobacco and fire up a smoke.

That is it – not a complicated mixture or formula and not a complicated application process. It certainly may seem strange to you to make up the concoction and put it in a pipe but it is a mixture that I have used for quite a few years now and it provides that needed insulation on the walls of the bowl until a new cake has time to form. Honestly there is no residual taste of sour cream that is transferred to your first smoke. Just smoke and know that the repair on the walls of the pipe is safely covered by this added layer of insulation.

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Mixing an Organic Bowl Coating for a Repaired Pipe


Blog by Steve Laug

I have used a homemade bowl coating on the inside of pipe bowls that have had varying degrees of damage. This bowl lining is a way of adding a layer of protection to the briar until a natural cake is formed to insulate the walls of the pipe. I remember getting the recipe for this mixture from a pipemaker friend of mine. I have since modified it slightly to make it work better for me.

The mixture has two basic components – sour cream and activated charcoal. You can also substitute plain unsweetened yoghurt for the sour cream. I know that sounds utterly disgusting to you who are reading this and you have visions of it spoiling and stinking up your pipe permanently. You must be thinking the same thing I did when I heard about the combination. I remember thinking, “Forget about worrying about ghosting your pipe from tobacco, now you are asking me to put dairy products in my pipe”. I can tell you from quite a few years of using the recipe that you do not need worry about that. The amount of the mixture that you are putting in the bowl of your pipe is negligible and when it dries/cures it creates an almost rubber bowl coating that leaves no residual taste in the bowl.

My pipe maker friend used a charcoal for aquarium filters that he bought at Walmart and then ground it with a mortar and pestle to a powder before using it. That was too much of a mess to my liking and added yet another thing to clean up after the work. So I buy activated charcoal capsules from the health food section of a local pharmacy and use those instead. Not only is it cleaner but I also find that the food grade charcoal is ground much finer than I can grind the aquarium grade. I have had a jar of capsules that I have been using for over 10 years and still have lots left for future mixtures.Jack46 I generally mix the charcoal from four capsules with two table spoons of sour cream. I have yet to get the exact amount of mix that I need per bowl but I often will coat several bowls at a time so very little goes to waste.Jack47 I open the charcoal capsules and shake out the contents on top of the sour cream. I choose a bowl that is large enough to allow me to stir the parts together easily.Jack48 I have a dentist’s spatula that I got as a gift from holymolar for the mixing tool.Jack49I stir in the charcoal until the mixture is evenly blended and no white sour cream is showing. The paste that is created is a dark grey/black in colour and is thick enough that it will stick to the walls of the pipe bowl.Jack50 I use the spatula to apply it to the walls of the bowl. I spread it on fairly thick and don’t worry about it clumping or bunching up. I am more concerned with getting the mix on the walls at this point in the process than I am in spreading it out evenly throughout the bowl.Jack51

Jack52Once it is in the bowl I use a folded pipe cleaner to spread it around evenly on the sides and bottom of the bowl. I always put a pipe cleaner in the airway to keep the mixture out of the airway at the bowl bottom. I work the paste until it is evenly spread out and the entire bowl surface is covered.Jack53

Jack54 I then set the bowl upright on a pipe rest to dry and cure. In 24 hours the surface is dry to touch. In 48 hours it is ready to smoke. I load a bowl carefully and when I am smoking it I am careful to not scratch the surface with my tamper for the first few bowls. When I tap out the dottle at the end of the smoke I am careful to not damage the bowl coating until I have run at least 6-9 bowls through it. At that point it is hardened sufficiently and the new cake has begun to form on top of the coating.Jack66 Even the finely ground charcoal powder leaves a rough surface on the side of the bowl. I have found that the rough surface is what facilitates the building of a good cake in the bowl.Jack69 I used this bowl coating for quite a few years now with no ill effect. It works well to protect the bowl of damaged pipes and give them time to build up a cake that protects the briar from burn out. If there is any residual taste (and honestly I can’t taste one) it is short lived as the tobacco is burned in the bowl. It has worked well from me and I thought I would pass it on. If it works for you that is great. If you choose to not use it that too is fine.