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Badly chared bowl
The briar...does it really breathe...

Let me add my thoughts to the recent discussion on one of the forums about ability of briar to "breathe" and see if I can help in clearing this complex issue...

In my opinion when we talk about ability of briar to “breathe”, most of us would really mean if, and by how much is briar able to “absorb” the moisture generated by burning tobacco and its ability to dry out and recover to the same moisture level where we started from.

Now all wood absorbs moisture over the time, briar included, and the pipe in Hawaii would have different moisture content from the one in Alaska. The briar will expend or shrink depending on the moisture level inside the wood, and that is mostly noticed when your stem become either too tight or too loose. During this “living process” we can say to some degree that the briar is “breathing”, as the wood is absorbing or letting out the moisture not only from its tobacco chamber, but also from it outer skin of the bowl itself. If the bowl was lacquered or varnished, this would placed an barrier to the movement of air trough the outside skin and the pipe would rely purely on its tobacco chamber for its ability to dry out after each smoke. This is the reason why most of pipe smokers prefer their pipes without any lacquer, as they believe they will dry out faster. We must also bare in mind that even application of Carnuaba wax will to some degree limit the passage of air trough the outer skin of the briar.

The absorption quality of briar depends on its density. The hard, heavy block will absorb the moisture much slower then soft and light block would. This is best seen when we pipe makers apply the spirit based stain of dark color and it seeps or penetrate the wall of the bowl in seconds, and will show up as dark spots inside the tobacco chamber. Mind you in my opinion this is more of a case of extremely soft and loose grain rather then overall density of the block.

Depending on one tastes and believes, some people would prefer pipes carved from lighter briar as they believe they will absorb moisture much faster and therefore provide them with drier smoke. They also believe the bowl will recover and dry faster after each smoke. Yet some others will prefer pipes from harder briar. In my own opinion, I believe that the dryness of smoke is linked directly to the quality and amount of cake, rather then density of briar, and to ability to smoke at correct pace, use tobacco with correct moisture level, ability to stop saliva entering the stem and dripping down, and good pipe maintenance.

The briar not only absorbs moisture, it also absorbs heat. The cake is thin layer of carbon formed by residues from burning tobacco and burning wood. If one is to smoke too fast it is possible to turn inside of the pipe into charcoal. Have a close look at the above photo and you’ll see the heat absorption and heavy layer of charcoaled wood. If the pipe was not dropped and broken in the process, this will continue until the entire bowl would become large chunk of charcoal and would disintegrated completely. This is an extreme case of fast and hot smoking which should be avoided at all cost.

So what is my final conclusion…
I think when we talk about briars ability to “breathe” we are talking more about its ability to absorb moisture and its ability to dry again, and the pipe’s ability to provide dry smoke. I think the healthy amount of good cake will do more for us in terms of providing dry smoke then any amount of “breathing” by it self will ever do. The amount of air which is able to pass trough even the untreated briar is so small, that its effect on pipes ability to dry is minimal. Even the lacquered pipe, if well maintained ,and with well formed layer of cake, can be a good smoker. My advice to all of you would be to smoke slowly, do not overheat your pipes and smoke tobacco with correct level of moisture, and most of all, clean and maintain your pipes well. There is nothing worse then grubby pipe to take away your smoking enjoyment…

Call it what you like, whether you choose the term "breathe" or ability to absorb moisture, the fact remains that all pipes need time to shed accumulated moisture and need to dry out between smokes. If you will give your pipes well earned rest, they will reward you with pleasant and dry smoke and if you think that the ability of briar to "breathe" played small part of it, so be it, it's OK as long as you enjoy the experiance :-)




Elegant simplicity...

From time to time I try to create pipe with elegant lines, and I think the "Capri" falls into that group. I tried to keep the lines gentle and flowing in nice curve from the tip of the stem to the top of the bowl. I believe the simple design will add to the visual balance of the pipe.

The briar has nice grain and is very clean with no visible pits. The pipe will provide you with good, clean smoke and the inside of the bowl is coated with Charcoal/Pumice formula...


New Hodulas...

Nice medium size freehand pipe, this Hodula has interesting lines and its finished in light yellow/gold stain. Light and well balanced pipe.
I think Pavel's carving is getting better and better and his pipes are good smokers and great value for your money. There are still some others available from my site and if you have time, check them out...


Dark beauty...

If you want large pipe then this one is for you. Great freehand with very nice grain. It is what I would call medium large in size. Finished in dark walnut color with natural Plateaux top, this pipe has plenty of character and I did originaly select it for me, but then decided my own collection is bigger egnough so you can be the lucky owner if it will call your name...


Best of grain...

This is possibly one of the best grained pipe I've seen comming from Pavel's workshop. Very nice grain all around the bowl and ther is only small fill at the base of the shank. The price is reduced becouse of that and the small fill does not reduce the enjoyment of this fine pipe. Nice shape is complimented by square shank and the stem...


Smooth gentleman...

Again I did managed to pull one of the smooth Club Pipes out of me sleave. This time it is the 2003 model and it is a real beauty with nice grain and spotleslly clean.

So if you are collecting higher grade Club Pipes then this one is for you...I am sure you'll love it...




Mammuto
Freehand "Signature", excelent grain, Acrylic stem...
Touch of acrylic...

I had this nice block of Plateaux and wanted to merry it to Acrylic stem. But here in New Zealand I can only get black or white sheets 10mm thick. Well finally I did work out how to bond them together and did cut what I think is interesting stem.

The egg shaped bowl and long curved shank balances rather nicely with the b&w stem and the effect of nice grain and contrasting colors adds interest to the pipe. I will try and find a supply of some interesting Acrylic either in Australia or US and am looking forward to create some "Art Decor" style pipes...


Smoke in peace.

Jan Zeman
Pipe Maker


Past Newsletters
News from the workbench...
Special offerings...
Season's Greetings !!!
Introducing Jan Kloucek
Been fishing...
Season's Greetings...
New Hodula's
New Pipes
New stems...
New DVD
Briar...does it breathe
What's your view...