Pipe smoking is far different than other types of tobacco smoking. Instead of tossing aside your smoking device after use, you'll need to take care of your pipe in order to get the most from it. Pipe tools are essential for the care of your pipe. One of the biggest things you'll want to do is to deal with the cake in your pipe. The 'cake' is a buildup of carbon in the bowl of the pipe. This helps to protect the bowl from cracking, keeps the outside of it from becoming too hot, and also improves the overall flavor of the tobacco. Cake occurs naturally through regular use of the pipe and is a positive thing.
However, over time the cake buildup will become too great. Too much cake in a pipe can actually cause permanent damage to a pipe. It's important to manage the cake and keep it at an acceptable level. To do so, you'll need to learn how to ream a tobacco pipe and then do it when needed.
To learn how to ream a tobacco pipe, start by understanding what an acceptable level of cake actually is. In most cases you'll want to try to keep it at around a thickness between that of a dime and a nickel. Obviously you won't be able to be perfectly precise, but this is a good guide.
To ream your pipe, start with the right pipe reamer. The two main types are the Senior and the British Buttner. Senior Reamers are better for U shaped chambers while British Buttners are better for the V shaped chamber. Avoid using a knife to ream your pipe because you can easily damage your pipe permanently.
To ream, the key is to take your time. This is a process that requires a steady hand and plenty of patience. Use the reamer slowly and gradually, and only remove a very thin layer of cake at a time. It should come out looking like dust, not in large flakes or chunks of cake. If you'll make sure that this occurs you should be able to remove the cake properly. In the end, there should be a smooth surface of cake within the chamber, not an uneven one.
With practice, reaming your pipe will be easy to do and give you huge results. It's not that difficult if you know what to do and after a few rounds you'll be a reaming master. Proper maintenance of your pipes is key to enjoying them, so be sure you take the time to learn this skill.