Hey everyone, Truett Smith here with Smokingpipes, and today we're going to be talking about the end of a pipe bowl. Specifically, how do you know when the pipe is done and when you've smoked through the majority of the tobacco that's in your pipe chamber?
Gauging When The Bowl Is Finished
For beginners especially, it can be difficult to know; because the bowl is not see-through, it's difficult to know how far down you've smoked through the tobacco, and it can actually be damaging to your pipe to try to smoke all of the tobacco in the chamber. Typically, when I'm smoking, I gauge how much I've smoked based on how far the ash is as I tamp down, and also a combination of how often I am having to relight and how soon the tobacco is going out.
Cleaning Your Tobacco Pipe
I've been smoking this pipe for a little bit now, and the ash is about halfway down the bowl. I'm not going to smoke all of it right now for the purposes of this video, but at this point I'm starting to pay a little more attention to how the tobacco's burning and how often the light is going out, even with a steady cadence, etc. And once I get to the point that it's not staying lit for very long, I'm pretty confident then that there's no tobacco left to be burned. So, at that point, you're going to take your tamper, or your dottle pick rather, if you have one, and you're just going to scrape out and loosen up the ash and the unburnt tobacco that's in the chamber. Now, if you notice that there's unburnt tobacco, that's okay. Don't then tamp it back down and relight it thinking that there's more to finish. That's what is called dottle — dottle is the bottom of the tobacco chamber, basically the tobacco at the bottom of the chamber that isn't really combustible. It's usually got some moisture to it, and to try to light that is probably going to damage your pipe because of the amount of heat you're going to have to introduce to it to get it lit.
So, all that to say, if you notice some unburnt tobacco while you're doing this, don't worry. It's all part of the process. I've got it loosened up, and then I'm just going to dump it out in the ashtray. If you have a cork knocker on it, that can be helpful. Get that pick going, and scrape it all out. Sometimes I'll give it another hit with my hand. Do a blow through; you'll notice some ash coming out of there. Give it a couple more hits, and I'm just looking through to see if there's anything left in there.
Maintaining Your Pipe For Longevity
Now I've got an empty pipe. It's time to think about maintenance: taking care of it and treating your pipe in a way that's going to make it last as long as possible and, hopefully, longer than you. A lot of people have different methods. My personal method is pretty simple and straightforward. After every bowl I smoke, I take a pipe cleaner, I run it through the stem, run it through the airway, take it out, and then I fold it in half. And I'm just rubbing the inside of the chamber, wiping it down and cleaning it out. As the tobacco burns over the course of many bowls, it's going to develop a layer of cake on the inside, which is just a natural carbon buildup on the inside walls of the chamber. I don't want to get rid of that unless it gets too deep and too thick, then I'm going to ream it out. But we'll save that for a different video. I'm not taking a knife or a dottle pick and really scraping that away; I'm just cleaning out the chamber with a pipe cleaner. After I do that, then I give it one more knock to get out any other loose ash.
Those are some pretty quick and easy steps for the end of your pipe-smoking session. Let us know in the comments what you personally do in your pipe maintenance routine at the end of a smoke. Hopefully this was helpful. And be sure to check out our other videos for more helpful hints. See you next time.