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To filter or not

What are your thoughts on filtered pipes?


  • Personally I do not like them. I feel it takes the flavor of the tobacco away. I toss my filters as soon as I get them and then enjoy the easy draw.
  • pipesithpipesith Newcomer
    Not a fan of filters myself. I like being able to run a pipe cleaner during a smoke if needed. I usually take them out if the is one with the pipe.
  • @pipesith I agree, My first decent pipe had an balsa wood filter, and I had no idea why my pipe cleaner wouldnt go through it until I took the stem off....newbie problems!
  • drac2485drac2485 Enthusiast
    Normally I am not a fan of pipe filters but have not had a lot of experience using them.  However, I do like them when I end up trying to smoke a really wet goopy aro because I get tired of passing a pipe cleaner every few seconds.
  • Hiker007Hiker007 Enthusiast
    What is the point of a pipe filter? Hope this is not a dumb question.
  • Mainly to absorb moisture, I really don't use them much.
  • They change the taste of the tobacco - and them babies can really stink if you don't change them after two or three smokes.
  • I do not like filters for a bunch of reasons.Nope no filters for me.
  • No filters.  I like to run a pipe cleaner through my pipe to clear any loose tobacco that may get caught and to wick up moisture as needed.
  • Hiker007Hiker007 Enthusiast
    Can pipes that are made for filters be smoked without a filter? Does it cause any harm to the pipe to leave the filter out?
  • @Hiker007 All my Big Ben pipe are made for 9mm filters and I don't use filters on any of them. And in all my years of smoking I've never damaged a pipe by not using a filter. There actually are inserts you can insert in your stem in place of a filter to make it smoke like a regular pipe. But I don't really see much sense in them because I've never found it difficult smoking without a filter anyway. Some people don't like them because they rattle around ad are not a tight fit. Maybe it's just another way of making money. But here is a picture of one. And the stinger on the end is removable. I think they are only a couple of bucks.

    9mm filter insert
  • motie2motie2 Master
    I have been smoking Carey Pipes since the mid-1960's (except for that hiatus I took from 1984 until last summer) an I am a big fan of the Magic Inch papyrate filter system. I have five pipes and four of 'em are Careys -- two from back in the day, and two estate/used pipes from eBay. The Magic Inch is not a filter, as there is nothing between the bowl and your tongue. It's a straight shot which makes it easy to insert a pipe cleaner all the way through the pipe. 

    Bottom line from me is that the Magic Inch goes along way towards reducing heat and moisture in the smoke. As you draw on the pipe the smoke passes through the Magic Inch, which functions as the pipe's reverse tenon (This tenon is attached to the stummel in a Carey pipe, unlike other pipess where the tenon is part of the stem/bit. Anyway, the tenon has six small holes drilled through it. A papyrate sleeve slips over the magic inch and covers these holes. The part of the stem above and below where the papyrate sits has a series of slot shaped openings, allowing a small amount of cool air to come in contact with the papyrate wrapped tenon. This cools the smoke causing some of the smoke's moisture content to condense and be absorbed through the small tenon holesinto the papyrate sleeve (which dries between smokes).

    Yes, without the papyrate sleeve the pipe is virtually unsmokeable (unsmokable?), unless you cover the slots with your fingers, or otherwise block them up with tape or whatever. But the papyrate sleeves are very inexpensive, and they're an integral part of the Magic Inch system. (50 for $3.95 or 150 for $10.50 or 250 for $14.95) I change the papyrate when it turns brown (it's white to begin with). I usually get four or five smokes per sleeve.

    There is a more detailed explanation with illustrations at http://www.eacarey.com/magicinchinfo.html
  • I agree with Woodsman, that the filter was primarily designed to take moisture out of the smoke stream, and reduce the chance for a pipe to gurgle. Another design that attempts to do this is the Peterson System pipe, which doesn't use a filter, but attempts to compensate for any possible moisture buildup inside the pipe. I think a lot of manufacturers in decades past, decided to use some sort of design or filter, to compensate for any possible internal condensation.

    It is exactly the reason some folks favor pipes with larger bores, or drilling out pipes and stems to larger dimensions. However, anytime you allow more oxygen to flow, you also allow the possibility that your tobacco will burn faster and in most cases hotter. This is one reason I will wait to see how a pipe smokes, before having it drilled out to a larger bore.

    When I smoke a Missouri Meerschaum factory pipe, I almost always use the paper filter as was intended. The Dr. Grabow paper filters I prefer are open in the center, and will easily pass a pipe cleaner, just as though there is no filter in the pipe. Since the smoke makes a straight shot through the center of the open filter, I can't tell a difference in the taste of my tobacco. Same principle with the balsa filters that a few of my pipes use, since the smoke travels around the filter, not through it.

    I do have some round filters that have some sort of crystals inside, and the smoke is required to travel through the filter and the crystals. I can't tell a difference in flavor, but I can see how some people might be able to detect a difference in flavor with such a filter.

    A briar pipe as well as a cob, absorb moisture from the smoke stream, and the filter is simply a further attempt to absorb even more moisture. What is puzzling to me is that I have never seen a meerschaum pipe with a filter, and it would seem that since meerschaum pipes don't absorb much if any moisture, that they would benefit from a filter even more than a briar or meerschaum. I suppose a filter may keep a meerschaum from coloring as quickly, and I suppose the average meerschaum smoker might sacrifice a little tongue bite, for the possibility of getting a little extra color. I am guessing that there may be meerschaum pipes on the German market with filters, I dunno.

    I have read threads over the years that would suggest that filters are for newbies, or for folks that haven't learned to smoke a pipe properly and I think that is hogwash. If I have a pipe that uses a filter, I will always try smoking it with a filter. The main reason I do not like smoking a pipe without the filter that it was designed for, is that those pipes tend to gather more gunk in the area where the filter should be used, and it seems to me to change the airflow/draw of the pipe.

    I have tried an adapter in a filtered Ferndown that I really enjoy smoking, but it is difficult to remove for cleaning. I just use the balsa filters instead and the pipe smokes great, and without the adapter, the pipe is much easier to keep clean.

  • I meant to say that a meerschaum might benefit from a filter more than a briar or cob. I should start proof reading before I post instead of after.
  • motie2motie2 Master
    XDutchx -- You are hereby ABSOLVED of your typing sins.
  • I use the Savinelli balsa filters in a couple of pipes I have that uses filters. They are triangular in shape and can easily be trimmed to fit the pipe if need be. Since they are triangle pieces of wood you can't pass a pipe cleaner through them but since the smoke itself doesn't go through the wood, it doesn't alter the taste of the tobacco either.  In my opinion, the balsa filters act about like a stinger does.

    On some of my filter pipes I do leave the filter out when smoking but on the ones I put balsa filters in, it's because they smoke too hot without the filter or they have a tendency to gurgle. I also use the balsa filters - cut to size - in some of my Missouri Meerschaums.
  • I've having continued luck with the Keystones so I'll stick with them. They seem to sop up any excess moisture pretty well without changing the flavor of the tobacco like most paper filters do.
  • drac2485drac2485 Enthusiast
    Like @PappyJoe I like the balsa filters and have found the 9mm as well as the 6mm made by Savinelli.  I normally just use them for goopy aromatics though.  

    @ghostsofpompeii Keystones??? What are those?

  • Keystones are little clay pebbles that you put in the bottom of the bowl to sop up any moisture. The pipe in the picture is designed to have the stones put in under the bowl ... but you can do the same thing with a regular pipe, simply by dropping about five stones in the pipe before packing it..

  • Personally, I'm not a fan of filters. I bought a Peterson pipe in Dublin that was a filter pipe, and I smoke it without the filter.

    The only exception for me is that I like the O-ring in Falcon pipes. I use them to keep the moisture in my Falcons in check.
  • Carey papyrate filter tubes.
  • @motie2 I agree with you 100% about the Carey filters. They are one of the few filters that actually enhance the smoking experience rather than detract by introducing that bitter aftertaste.
  • All my pipes are Carey's but for one Duncan Hill Aerosphere (marketed by Carey) and one Charatan, a gift from a benevolent pipe brother.

    All the Carey's smoke the same. For my tastes and habits in smoking, the Carey is just qualitatively a better experience.

  • I use filters all the time. They reduce tongue bite and absorb moisture. My tongue is kind of wimpy lol! The flavor isn't reduced in my opinion. Plus I don't think it hurts to reduce the amount of chemicals in the smoke.
  • NeoshaoneNeoshaone Connoisseur
    I had a couple of pipes with filters which I removed. 
  • KA9FFJKA9FFJ Master
    edited January 25
    Ah, to filter, or not to filter... that is the question. It can be such a personal thing, the only correct answer is what works for you.
    That being said, I rarely use a filter, yet when I do, there doesn't seem to be enough of a difference to prevent me from enjoying the bowl.
    When the wife and I go on vacations, I usually take 2 filtered pipes, 1 or 2 blends and 3 or 4 filters along with a couple of pipe cleaners.
    Rather than taking cleaning solutions, etc., I simply run a cleaner through, change filters between smokes, and I've hit a middle ground between a thoroughly clean pipe and not. 
    So for me, there's one case that can be made for filters...

  • @KA9FFJ
    I agree. Some of my filtered pipes smoke hotter than the hinges of Hells gate no matter how I puff so it seems to protect the tongue somewhat. I’ve never noticed a taste difference but it’s only on a couple pipes I own.  I’ll stick with no filter 95% of the time. It’s all about what works for you. 
  • ashawleyashawley Enthusiast
    edited March 12
    I wanted to try filters recently after finding that I accidentally smoked a bowl in a corn cob pipe without knowing it had one in the stem. However, I'm finding that smoking outside in a colder climate that the filter absorbs a lot of moisture. The filter keeps the smoke dry for the first third of the bowl, or 10 minutes. It's great.  Then I want to take the filter out. It has a bad taste. It looks like the center of the filter is becoming a wet sponge. This is likely from condensation and not from the tobacco blend's moisture level. Idon't mind taking out the filter mid-smoke, it just seems like a waste. Pretty sure 5 pipe cleaners cost the same as a paper filter.
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