Proper Pipe Rotation
Truly dedicated tobacco pipe smokers will often have a collection of pipes that they use on a regular basis. It is not just out of sheer smoking pleasure and variety that they use different pipes though, in order to keep their pipes in good condition and make them last longer, proper rotation is required.
When a pipe is filled with tobacco and smoked, several things happen to the pipe. First of all, it gets very hot from the coals of the burning tobacco in the bowl. Being that pipes are traditionally made of wood or corncob, getting too hot and not having a chance to cool down between uses can result in holes being burned in the bottom of the pipe. There is also the chance that they can develop cracks from being at a high temperature for too long if they aren’t allowed to cool sufficiently between smokes.
Tobacco should contain between 10 and 14 percent moisture for perfect smoking conditions. The moisture causes steam to be created when the tobacco is burned and it will pass through the pipe to the smoker’s mouth. The bowl of the pipe will collect some of that moisture as it is being smoked and if it is not allowed time to dry out, it will become very damp over time. The resulting moisture left in the bowl will cause the pipe to “sour,” that is it will develop an off taste as a result of the moisture reacting with the wood and beginning to decompose.
To prevent these detrimental conditions to happen in your pipes, it is necessary to take good care of them between smoking in order for them to last and contribute to a pleasant smoking experience. Rotating your pipes between smokes is one way to help preserve them. After you have smoked a bowl of tobacco, you should allow the pipe to completely cool off before smoking it again. Some people believe that this takes two or three hours. If you smoke several bowls a day, you should have more than a couple of pipes to rotate during the day for this reason.
If you give your pipes a seven day break between smoking, you can be sure that any moisture will have sufficient time to completely dry out. This will help protect it from souring over time and make the pipe last longer. Using the same pipe all day with a couple of hours in between bowls is usually ok if you then let that pipe rest for seven days. Following these rules of thumb, a regular smoker should have at least 7 pipes in their collection.