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  1. #1
    Shave like a pyrate! Pyrateknight's Avatar
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    Question Sterilizing the stem of a pipe

    I recently bought a pipe stand with a humidor jar so I had a place for the few pipes I had and my pipe tobacco would not dry out and I got a pipe in the deal. Sorry for the phone pics. My questions are how do I sterilize the stem and do I need to sterilize the stem? I have never gotten a used pipe before. I usually smoke a gouda clay pipe or the nameless briar I bought. This one looks nice and I don't want it feeling neglected. It has Treaty Bond Pre-Smoked on one side of the shaft and Imported Briar Adjustomatic on the other.
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    Last edited by Pyrateknight; 09-25-2012 at 02:30 AM. Reason: pipe info
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    Senior Moderator JimmyHAD's Avatar
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    I take alcohol and soak a pipe cleaner in it and run it through, one after another until they come out clean. You've got a stem with aluminum plumbing so stay away from bleach. If you have some of the Long's Bristle cleaners they are very aggressive and will do the job faster than the regular cleaners.

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    Shave like a pyrate! Pyrateknight's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by JimmyHAD View Post
    I take alcohol and soak a pipe cleaner in it and run it through, one after another until they come out clean. You've got a stem with aluminum plumbing so stay away from bleach.
    Thanks JimmyHAD. The only thing I could find was the bleach treatment and I knew that would be bad on the metal. There isn't really any oxidation. I was thinking about just alcohol and a scrubbing and you seem to agree.
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    Senior Moderator JimmyHAD's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Pyrateknight View Post
    Thanks JimmyHAD. The only thing I could find was the bleach treatment and I knew that would be bad on the metal. There isn't really any oxidation. I was thinking about just alcohol and a scrubbing and you seem to agree.
    Yeah I've done a lot of them like that. I've used the bleach treatment on badly oxidized stems too. That will leave a 'pebble grain' finish to the vulcanite. I've been told that it can be brought back shiny with 1k grit sandpaper but I just hit them with a bit of olive oil and a paper towel after the bleach. If you ever use the bleach you need to rinse them out well. It doesn't add to the flavor of the tobacco.

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    Senior Member blabbermouth 1OldGI's Avatar
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    +1 On bristle pipe cleaners soaked in alcohol. I normally use the 90% isoproplyl as it evaporates a bit more thoroughly but 75% would work just fine. Run the pipe cleaners through until all internal goo is removed and your pipe cleaner comes out clean. After that run a dry one through a couple times to remove any excess and you'll be in good shape.

    For the exterior of the bit mild abrasive is the key. Over the years I've had good luck with anything from figernail buffers to xtra fine steel wool to baking soda on a tooth brush. Once all the oxidation has been scrubbed off, I normally apply some rubbing compound and buff with a dry, soft cloth.

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    Senior Member blabbermouth rolodave's Avatar
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    +1 on bristle cleaners and alcohol for germ killing.

    For oxidized bakelite stems I first soak the stem (NOT the briar) in something akin to ArmorAll (I do not use this product). After a few days I then start buffing with rubbing compound or very fine sandpaper. If necessary, I will resoak the bit and then resand/buff. IIRC, the oxidation is a result of oxyen, UV rays and the sulfur in the bakelite.

    Once the stem is all black I buff until it is nice and shiny. Then I apply several coats of carnuaba wax. Also, keep the newly restored pipe out of sunlight. PM me if you want the manufacturer's name of the products I use.

    Dave
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    I'm on The Straight Road jdto's Avatar
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    There are two things here: sterilizing and polishing.

    As mentioned, bleach is not recommended because of the aluminum tenon, though I did a couple of aluminum tenon pipes with a 50/50 bleach/water solution and others with Oxyclean and they are none the worse for wear. My polishing went through a progression from 600 right up to 12k micromesh. Then I used some stem polish to protect them. Probably overkill, but it was fun.

    Here are my restored stems from a few different pipes, all with aluminum tenons:
    Before:


    After:


    Full thread: Another Pipe Resurrection - Brigham Sportsman

    A couple more:
    Before



  9. #8
    Fizzy Laces Connoisseur
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    Default Re: Sterilizing the stem of a pipe

    I also have a question. I read somewhere metholated spirits was a good replacement for grain alchohol. Can anyone confirm or deny?

    Geek

  10. #9
    I'm on The Straight Road jdto's Avatar
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    I wouldn't use mentholated anything, as it might leave that flavour in the pipe. I use 99% isopropyl alcohol in my pipes and so far, everything is fine and I don't have any further brain damage.

  11. #10
    Senior Moderator JimmyHAD's Avatar
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    A friend who is a good hand at restoring stems to black uses tape on the shank of the pipe where it meets the vulcanite. He buffs the stem on the pipe. This way the stem doesn't end up a smaller diameter than the wood. If the stem is buffed separately it is easy to go to far at that point.

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