Pipe Stuff

I thought I’d tell you about some of my pipe stuff. When you start smoking a pipe, it seems pretty straightforward. You need a pipe and tobacco. Well, you have to light the thing, but you can’t use an ordinary lighter, unless you want to singe the hell out of your pipe. So you’re going to need matches or a special lighter. I have one pipe that absolutely demands matches, so I carry “strike anywhere” matches in a waterproof match container. For the rest of them…well, I have a Zippo I’ve been carrying around since 1983. I hated to shelve it, so I bought a pipe insert for it. It’s like a regular lighter insert, but instead of an open flame at the top, there’s a “cage” at the top, with holes in the side. To light a pipe, you turn the Zippo on it’s side. I could buy a specialty butane lighter, but I’m mentally challenged when it comes to filling up butane lighters. Don’t ask me why, I just can’t fill them properly.

Okay, that’s everything. A pipe, something to light it, and tobacco. A little more than you wanted to spend, but that’s alright. After smoking for a while, you find that the pipe stops drawing correctly, and starts smoking hot. Some research, and you discover you need a pipe tamper. There’s custom tampers that cost a fortune, so you settle on the Czech tamper that’s indispensable, and it seems like everyone who smokes a pipe has owned one at one time at or another.

So now you have your pipe, something to light it, tobacco, and a tamper. The tamper doesn’t cost much, maybe $3 or $4 bucks, but it’s a little more than you wanted to spend. That’s alright. Oh, wait, you need something to clean your pipe. Pipe cleaners. Yeah, that’s it. The wiry things you haven’t seen since you were in grade school art class, making little pipe cleaner men. They’re not much, but you’re going to need a lot of them.

Now you have your pipe, something to light it, tobacco, tamper, and a bunch of pipe cleaners. Not much more than you wanted to spend, but that’s alright. You notice your pipe starts tasting funny, so you get pipe sweetener. This is a disinfectant and cleaner you use with a pipe cleaner, to run through your pipe stem. Wow, that tastes much better, even thought it means you’re now using more pipe cleaners. Better get more.

Pipe, something to light it, tobacco, tamper, more pipe cleaners, and pipe sweetener. Okay, that’ll be it for a while. After a bit, you start thinking about a nicer way to store your tobacco than in the bag it came in. I buy bulk, so my tobacco comes in a plain plastic bag. So you decide to buy a tobacco jar. These are air-tight and tinted so direct light doesn’t affect the tobacco.

Pipe, something to light it, tobacco, tamper, pipe cleaners, pipe sweetener, and a tobacco jar. This stuff is starting to take up some room. Better clear off a corner of your desk to make room for it. Time goes by, and somehow, without you doing a single thing, another pipe mysteriously shows up. And another. And another. So now you need someplace to keep these pipes, so you buy a pipe rack.

Now you own pipes, something to light them, tobacco, tamper, pipe cleaners, pipe sweetener, a tobacco jar, and a pipe rack. This has become a lot more expensive than you originally thought. Not that you’re complaining, just a little surprised when you reflect on it.

More pipe stuff begins to show up. A tobacco shredder for when you go through a flake tobacco phase. Shank brushes. Pipe spray, briar wipe, wax, polishing cloths. More pipes. Another pipe rack. Another thing to light your pipes. Cork knockers. The cake inside becomes too thick, so you get a reamer. You start custom making pipe stuff. Salt and alcohol, use to leach tar and tobacco out of your pipes. A sawed off toothbrush to scrub out your meerschaums. Better clean out a shelf to store all this stuff on. Q-tips, portable pipe stands. Wind cap. Somewhere to keep all the bags that your pipes came in.

Okay, so now you’ve spent hundreds of dollars on pipe stuff. Hey, at least pipe tobacco is cheaper than cigarettes. Another two or three years, and you’ll eventually offset your cost. Unless there’s more pipe stuff to buy.


  1. Waine says:

    Hi there. That was a great post. I have been smoking pipe for a year, and that is exactly what happened to me. I just cannot stop buying quality pipes. After 10 pipes on two pipe racks, 5 for work and 5 for home, I am staving off the urge to buy another. I live in South Africa where pipe smoking is not very popular anymore, which is a pity. The variety of pipes and tobacco is not like Europe or the USA. But I find great posts like this on the web, which I thoroughly enjoy.

  2. Jack says:

    Thanks Waine. I really wish I could afford another Peterson. I love their fishtail bits. If you don’t know what that is, the bit has a hole on top, instead of at the end, so you don’t burn your tongue, and it’s really comfortable in the mouth.

    I like to order online, but I’d really rather handle the pipes so I can know what they feel like in my hands, and the depth of the pipe bowl. I once ordered a pipe online and got a toy pipe with a bowl about 1/4″ deep. Had to return that one for one that actually held enough tobacco to smoke than 5 minutes long. If I buy a pipe online anymore, I either see if they list the bowl depth or contact the site to find out the pipe dimensions.

    Addicting, isn’t it? I mean, the need for pipe stuff.

  3. Waine says:

    Hi there Jack. I now have 19 pipes. 9 Petersons, 3 Savinelli’s 1 Lorenzo, 3 Keyzers, 2 GBD’s and 1 Danish “Viking classic.” I have prominsed myself that I will not buy another pipe until I can afford it. I have started cleaning the pipes with the salt / alcohol method. I find myself polishing the stems in front of the TV, I have stock piled on tinned tobacco so that I can “age” it. I now only smoke certain tobaccos in specific pipes. Yes, the whole ritual can indeed become very addictive and consuming. But I have found something I thoroughly enjoy, and that is important in life.

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