Posts tagged ‘review’

Kirsten Pipe Review Revisited

It’s been a year since my original review of the Kirsten pipe, and I’ve owned it a little longer than that, and I have to tell you…

I’ve come to resent this pipe. It doesn’t like me, and I don’t like it.

The meerschaum bowl rolled off my smoking nook and disappeared into some dark cranny. Which didn’t break my heart, because it was beginning to smell like something foul. Tobacco death.

Fortunately, as it were, Kirsten gave me an extra briar bowl reject (second, rejected for quality standards or discontinued). As a briar, it doesn’t reek to high heaven like the meerschaum bowl eventually did.

But, here’s my key complaints. First, the bowl, while deceptively large looking, is actually exceptionally small. I can get maybe two or three pinches of tobacco in there. The second complaint is that damnable upside-down volcano shape bowl.

Imagine a cup vs. a pitcher. A standard bowl, 3/4’s full, is fairly resistant to dropping embers on you. The Kirsten bowl is already shaped like a tilted pitcher. Tilt a little more, and hot ash comes out of your pipe and usually onto you.

I don’t know which has put more burn holes into my clothing; the cheap matches from India, or the Kirsten. And I’m leaning towards the Kirsten.

Now, I’ve heard of a few people making custom regular-shaped bowls for the Kirsten, but it’d be cheaper as a whole package just to buy a different pipe. I see the custom bowl as some dimwit like me, who didn’t want to admit his mistake, and decided to fix it quietly and not tell anyone.

So, since I can’t come up with an “accidental” way to break this thing as an excuse to replace it, maybe the briar bowl will roll off of my smoking nook (a Sears Craftsman radial arm saw….niiiiice, huh?), and roll into some 7th level of Hell.

Wow, pipe regret. That never happened to me before. Okay, once, but that’s another story for another time.

Paragon Wax For Pipes

A quick review of Paragon Wax for the Pipe.  I chose this product because it has a higher melting point than carnuba, it’s harder than carnuba, and it can be polished without using a buffing wheel. Also, it can be used on meerschaum.

You get 1 ounce for $10, which looks like a very small amount, but you don’t really need that much to do the job. You apply just enough to create a filmy glaze on your pipe, let dry, then hand buff.

I used a microfiber cloth to polish the pipes. The wax itself is a grainy texture when you apply it, and not recommended for rusticated bowls. I also wouldn’t use it for detailed, ornate meerschaum. They have another product, Halycon II for those.

I do use Arango Briar Pipe Wipe, so my briar pipes aren’t real dingy to start with. The Paragon Wax did a nice job of shining them up. I’m no expert, but they looked like they had a much stronger polish than what the Pipe Wipe left. I did have one pipe that I was really interested in. The finish had chipped and cracked away as it’s a favorite frequently used pipe, and I am a klutz. There, I said it. Klutz. I’m frighteningly familiar with the sound of a pipe bouncing off the ground. Anyway, while it did do a great job polishing the pipe, alas, the scars of battle remained on the pipe, and the damage to the finish looked about the same.

That brings me to my meerschaums. I have two smokers, and one decorative. I don’t touch the decorative, don’t ask me to, it’s my big skull pipe you’ll find elsewhere in this blog. One of the smokers is a Kirsten bulldog and the other a simple egg meerschaum. The Kirsten is charred from my many attempts to light the dang thing with a lighter instead of a match. The egg meerschaum was the victim of the Internet.

Here’s the explanation about the Internet thing: When I had smoked the egg meerschaum for a while, it didn’t seem like the meerschaum coloration process was happening fast enough. I’m a very impatient person. So digging on the ‘net, I found a couple of methods for accelerating the coloration process. While I won’t go into what I tried, I will tell you that I ended up completely removing the meerschaum’s finish. The surface was not glossy at all. If you’re a meerschaum user, you know what the finish of a new meerschaum should feel like. I don’t give a good description here, but let it be said that I did completely screw up the finish.

I bought the Paragon for the express purpose of trying it on my meerschaums. I tried the egg meerschaum first, following the directions. Yes, I RTFM’d this time. Anyway, almost immediately, an awful stain spread across the bowl. I flipped out, and took extremely, extremely fine grit sandpaper to the stain. I figured I had already ruined the bowl, it didn’t really matter. Once the stain was gone, I tried it again, and a new stain appeared. Again, I took some sandpaper to it. I did it a third time, and the same thing happened. Disgusted, I set the pipe aside.

I decided to try the Kirsten as I think it’s made of pressed meerschaum dust instead of carved meerschaum, so the meerschaum wouldn’t color anyway. Again, figuring it was a lost cause, I tried sanding the rim a little to take away the scorch marks. I applied the wax just to the rim of the pipe, waited, polished, and was surprised to see that the finish looked new. What I hadn’t removed with the sandpaper was still there, but the finish still looked like it had just been applied. Wow!

I happened to glance over at the egg meerschaum, and the ugly stain had vanished. What the heck?! I rubbed off the glaze, amazed to see how shiny the meerschaum became. The stain was gone, and while it didn’t look new, the finish look great. I decided to try applying a second coat to see what happened.

I put the wax on, and again, the pipe developed ugly stains. Then I watched the pipe, and the stains faded within a few minutes. I shined it up again, and it looked even better! I don’t know if the stain appeared appeared because of the near complete lack of finish or what, but it seems I had panicked hastily. Even the areas where I had sanded looked great.

I’ve applied numerous coats to my meerschaum and the finish has improved each time. And I might be wrong, but the coloration process looks like it’s accelerated a little. Maybe in drying, the glaze pulled the nicotine outwards. I don’t know, but like I said, knowing the complete disaster I had started with, I’ve been amazed with the results.

So that’s my experience with Paragon Wax.

I’d post pictures of the pipe, but I don’t have a good “before” picture so it’d be kind of pointless. You’ll just have to take my word for it.