Estate pipes and mildew

Talking with a local smoke shop owner, I brought up the point that I have a couple of estate pipes with an aweful mildew smell to them. The smell seemed to not only infect the pipe, but the leather case they came in. Probably that’s backwards, since leather is more of a breeding ground for mildew.

 Anyway, the owner told me I could buy some pipe cleaner, which would get rid of the smell, while sanitizing and conditioning the pipe. OR, I could just use mouthwash. By shaking the mouthwash around the bowl, it kills the mildew and sanitizes just like the pipe cleansing liquid would do. Definitely costs a lot less, lol. 

I’ll soon find out how well it works. I only did this to one pipe. Being that one is my Rolex briar and the other is a meerschaum, I didn’t want to take the chance with the meerschaum right away. I can say, it already smells much better. I did get a lot of muck out of the pipe from scraping the excessive cake off and rinsing it with the mouthwash.

 If anyone tries this and it is successful, please let me know. I will also post my findings when I try to smoke that pipe for the first time. I hear that doing this will sweeten the pipe, so this should prove to be rather interesting.

Good luck!


3 thoughts on “Estate pipes and mildew

  1. Oh, my goodness, where do I begin with this one? Speaking as someone who restores estate pipes for a living, I can tell you that estate meerschaums are usually not worth the trouble. We rarely take them unless they are so lightly smoked that I can still see the meeerschaum inside the bowl.

    Briars are another matter. I restore briars every day, and with a little patience a briar that is not too far gone can be restored to almost new condition. Contrary to popular belief, when a briar goes sour, the problem is in the shank, not the bowl. This is because the shank never gets hot enough to burn off all the bad stuff, like the tobacco juice and saliva, that gets in their.

    Either 190 proof grain alcohol, or 151 proof rum, works very well for scrubbing all the crud out of the shank. In some cases, I even have to drill out the shank to get all the crud out.

    Hope this helps. If you have time, visit our website at to see all our estate pipes. Not an attempt to sell you anything, mind you, I just thought you might find it interesting.



  2. Wow, thanks for the information, Smith. I’ll definitely look at the website when I’m out of this blasted training class. 😉 The drilling you speak of in the shank, can someone like myself use a pipe reamer, like Senior, or Kleen Reem to accomplish this? I’ve been thinking of getting one of these tools for when I buy an estate pipe from an antique store, who usually do not restore them before they are put up for sale. My current Peterson pipe and that Rolex pipe came were full of cake and have been heavily smoked, but I’d like to have the chance to smoke them myself.

    I definitely like the sound of using the alcohol and the rum to help scrub all that stuff out. The mouthwash worked to a degree on the briars, but the pipe was definitely still sour.

    The meerschaum, I’m a little more nervous to try anything for restoration without further research. At this point, I’m just happy to look at it than really wanting to smoke it. I love how meerschaums change color over smoking time.

  3. The Senior is a bowl reamer, and a very useful tool. I use it myself a lot. But when I say “drilling”, I mean that I’m drilling out the shank itself with an electric drill. It’s the fastest and easiest way to get years of accumulated crud out of the shank. I would recommend you practice this on a pipe you con’t care about before trying it on a pipe that you do care about. Make sure you measure out the drill bit (5/32-11/64 is ideal) to just a little more than the length of the shank so you don’t accidentally drill a hole through the pipe. I had to learn that one the hard way. 😦 Also, don’t be afraid to start with a thinner bit, and work your way up to 5/32 or 11/64.

    Hope this helps!


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