Friday, May 15, 2009

Somebody please explain to me...

Exactly what tapered pipe cleaners are supposed to be used for.

Last week I dropped off a pipe for a stem replacement, and since I needed some pipe cleaners I thought I'd buy some while I was there. Unfortunately, I accidentally got the tapered kind. This is the second time I've bought them (both times because I wasn't paying attention), and I just don't get it. The thick end is too thick to force through a pipe stem, and you can't even get the skinny end all the way down the stem into the shank to sop up excess moisture because the thick part binds it up in the stem too soon.

So: I just don't get it. I can see how they would be useful for cleaning nooks and crannies of other things, such as firearms for example, but I just don't see how they are supposed to work on pipes.

By the way, although the Humidor always seems to be out of them, I always prefer to buy churchwarden-length pipe cleaners. I don't even bother with the short cleaners unless that's all they have. I use a small set of snips to cut the dirty end off the cleaner as I go along, and this way I get a lot more mileage than if I just used short cleaners, which are too short to snip.

I still buy short pipe cleaners when I don't have a choice, but those tapered ones just don't fit my cleaning routines or something, I guess.

Another by-the-way, beware of those cheap chenielle stems they sell in arts & crafts stores. They are not made for pipe cleaning, although I have used them often because they are long, churchwarden-length. The problem with them is that the bits of fluff tend to come off the spine and then you get pipe stems and shanks with bits of fluff crammed into them. I do still use them myself sometimes, because I can pick them up conveniently at Wal-Mart and I'm cheap. Just watch out for those loose bits of fluff if you use them.


  1. Good advice. I'm working through cleaning issues right now. The moisture makes a nasty mess..I got a mouthfull and a wicked nicotine buzz before I could run and spit.

  2. If you're getting too much moisture, just stick a pipe cleaner down the stem as far as you can into the shank. Excess moisture makes it taste bad and increases tongue bite.

    Also, it's a good idea to clean your pipe and let it rest for at least a day (or longer) between smokes. Adhering to this practice will give you a good excuse to buy more pipes.

  3. I often get fuzz in my pipes using Long's cleaners. It doesn't really bother me though, as it usually collects in the bowl, and I don't really notice the cotton fiber imparting any taste. If fibers collect at the bit, though, I get irritated.

  4. I always used tapered cleaners, once I discovered them. Tapered end for the stem, thick end for the shank. I suppose if your pipes have inserts in the shanks, that could be an issue. Heck, I'd even double 'em up for where the stem fits into the shank. And, if you're smoking a Petersen, thicker is better for that system well.

  5. Yeah, I can see how you could use the thick end for a Peterson shank. But I can't get the thick end into any stem of any of my pipes. There's just no way.

    I use q-tips to clean out the reservoir of my Wellington, which is a Peterson copy.