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Clay Pipes

jfreedyjfreedy Master
edited October 2018 in Pipes & Tools

So I bought one of those clay German Tavern pipes from SmokingPipes last week ($11). I had been considering getting one for some time and finally pulled the trigger. I smoked a couple of bowls with a buddy of mine last night, and I have to say I was impressed. Not only do you get the pure taste of the tobacco, but every bowl seemed to stay lit much better. Both bowls of Bag End (broken flake) as well as a bowl of 1Q (ribbon cut) smoked great. I will definitely be smoking this pipe a lot. Any other clay pipe owners out there? What’s been your experience?


  • jim102864jim102864 Master
    edited October 2018
    @jfreedy I guess the bowl tends to get pretty hot though, right?  I've never smoked one buy I'm intrigued enough to look into it.
  • Yep, the bowl walls are really thin, and they get hot fast. That’s why most people hold it by the stem. The smoke that hits your mouth is actually very cool. Mine has a long stem but not technically a churchwarden. Also, the bowl seemed to cool very quickly when I set it down. 
  • I’ve got a couple clays ,,, brand new, in my collection,, Have to sort them out and try them.
  • I smoked one of my clay pipes last night. I like the fact that they get hot. That is an early warning that you are smoking too fast. Better to warm up your fingers than your tongue. The flavors come to you straight, without ghosting. If it gets dirty or something gets stuck in the stem, you can put the pipe in the fireplace and it will clean it out. This might change the color of the pipe, but not the smoking features. I also recommend putting some chapstick or wax on the first 1" of the mouthpiece. Your lips will tend to stick to the clay, unless you lick your lips first. The wax will resolve that issue. 

    Don't drop the pipe.  
  • I really like the LePeltier clay pipes. I nave never heard of them before, but this is definitely on my wish list!
  • Old German Clay Pipes Now On Sale - 20% OFF Until 10/10!

    Old German Clay Pipes

    Old German Clay Pipes are high-quality clays that are manufactured using the same techniques that were used centuries ago. Each pipe is cast in molds that are between 100 and 200 years old. Most modern clay pipes are slip-casted, which produces a pipe that is very delicate and fragile. Old German Clay Pipes casts each pipe for a solid, sturdy and old-world quality clay that is second to none. For a true clay pipe experience, Old German Clay Pipes offer a variety of styles to choose from.  

    ​You should avoid building much of a cake in a clay pipe as the cake can expand and cause the bowl to crack. Here's the proper method to eliminate the cake according to the manufacturer:
    Fire up some charcoal in your grill, or get your gas grill going. Remove the stem (if it has one), and put the bowl in the coals or place it above the gas flame. Give the pipe about 15 to 20 minutes. In that time, the cake should burn off. Remove the bowl using tongs and allow it to cool and the cake should be gone. Repeat, if necessary. Please note - black clay pipes will turn white after doing this.​​

    Old German Clay Pipes Now On Sale - 20% OFF Until 10/10!

  • Never tried a clay pipe, though after looking at those Lepeltier pipes I'll have to change that.
  • I've got two and while I don't smoke them all that often they are a very pleasant smoke. One has varnish on the last inch or so of the stem and it doesn't stick to your lips like the unfinished Clay sometimes does. 

    The modern Clay pipes with the vulcanite or Lucite mouthpieces aren't as radical a departure as you would think. There are pipes from Jamestown with the bowl made of clay and the stem made of reed or wood. These were from the 17th century so the idea is about as old as the "traditional" Clay pipe. 
  • Never had or tried one but think I should try.
  • I only have one clay pipe, it has a vulcanite bit.  I bought it to try a clay, sad thing though, I bought it years ago and still have not smoked it.  Worse yet, it is of a size and shape I really like. I bought a new tavern clay with the red tip bit for a friend of mine, he thought they were cool.  He grew some of the tobacco plants I gave him at his place in a greenhouse.  I thought he might try that tobacco in the pipe...sadly, he has not tried it either.  When I received the tavern pipe, I had to try the bit...it was nasty....I think I could feel it sanding away my teeth in just a couple of “test pulls”.  A clay bit is definitely not for me.
  • @RockyMountainBriar we use clay pipes at the pipe show blending seminar, we give each student five pipes to sample component tobaccos so they get an unadulterated taste.
    They are a cheap German variety so the bits a very rough.  I took one and sanded and polished the bit so it was comfortable, however I discovered I just don't care for the way they smoke and get hot.
    In the future I think I will work a deal with Missouri meerschaum for  a couple of hundred to get the price down to where the clay pipes are, at least they are enjoyable to smoke and I would just give them the pipes at the end of the class.

  • You don’t want to hold a clay pipe by the bowl while smoking it. Unless you are wearing heat proof gloves. 
  • https://www.eacarey.co.uk/tobacconist/clay-pipe.html

    Hilarious: There's a "Gordon" clay and a "Gladstone" clay. 
  • @motie2, weren't both of those guys prime ministers of England some while back?
  • Gordon Brown was PM in recent times; William Ewart Gladstone was Prime Minister spread over four terms beginning in 1868 and ending in 1894.
  • Cambridge Archaeology Field Group November 2012

    Evolution of clay tobacco pipes in England (attached as .pdf) 

  • kellyg53kellyg53 Professor
    I'd never given clay pipes much thought until I read an article on the home manufacture of the pipes in the early history of the US.   After purchasing a box of old pipes from a friend, who got them from an old friend, I discovered a Lepeltier clay pipe in the mix.  I ignored it until I read the article, then I pulled it out of the box and figured out that it seemed unsmoked, although the cork on the stem would indicate not.  The bowl, however, was pure white.  Anyway, I cleaned up the stem as it was oxidized and gave it a go.  I like it; perfect for trying out  a new tobacco without the hassle of a very hot bowl.  Having not dropped it, I can't say for sure, but the Lepeltier folks advertise them as more resistance to breakage than a standard clay.  I do know mine is a pleasure to smoke.  One of these days I'll order a new stem or at least a new cork.

  • I think that if I'd brought that pipe home, given the smooth finish and glazing, I might have called this a Porcelain Pipe. But then, what do I know?
  • PappyJoePappyJoe Master
    Smoked one of my clay pipes yesterday. 
    Two things I like about clay pipes:

    1. They are great for sampling or smoking a new blend for the first time. The tobacco flavors come though unaffected by the cake built up in a briar.
    2. For a smaller size bowl, the ones I have seems to actually give me a longer smoke than what I get in a briar, cob or meerschaum. I've also never had dottle left in the bowl. 

    I've thought about buying a LePeltier pipe a couple of times. To me those are porcelain more than clay.

  • KA9FFJKA9FFJ Master
    Do you think your experience with lack of dottle could be explained due to the ease of heat transfer to the bottom of the bowl, thereby promoting a continued burn?
    I don't own a clay pipe, so I'm just thinking...
  • PappyJoePappyJoe Master
    That has basically been my theory. The bowl get so hot it prevents moisture from collecting. I think it also promotes a cooler smoke. 
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