If the stem has been oxidized over time (you‘ll notice an orangey rust) or the bowl gives off an unpleasant odor and unpleasant smoke, it‘s time for a good cleaning! I use a multi-step process; cleaning the inner, outer and between parts of the pipe.
1. Reaming out your pipe: Carefully ream out your pipe, removing all the old gunk that has been building up on the inner walls. Take extra care not to damage the inside of the bowl. Use a pipe reamer to clean the bowl. Pipe reamers can be purchased at most tobacco shops. NOTE: NEVER use a pocket knife to clean a pipe bowl.
2. Bleaching the stem: If needed, the stem can be put into a jar of bleach. Allow badly oxidized stems to sit in a bleach bath for an hour. Don‘t leave the stem in the bleach bath too long, the bleach will turm the stem white. This process will save on labor and time when restoring a stem. Clean out the inside of the stem with 150 proof alcohol and pipe cleaners.
2a. Sanding the stem: If the stem is really bad or has any metal parts, such as a metal shaft protruding from the tenon or metallic nomenclature, it may be necessary to carefully sand the stem using a combination of fine grit wet/dry sand paper and water. Bleach will corrode the metal. Use 320, 400, 500, then a very fine 600 paper. Remember always sand in one direction, along the lenght of the stem. The stem will end up looking worse than before you started, but after step 3, you‘ll see a big difference!
2b. Removing oxidation from the stem: Sanding and bleaching can involve a lot of work and the bleach even can be dangerous to use. Another method for removing oxidation from a vulcanite stem that works very well is using "polishing" or "rubbing" compound, such as those by the brand name Turtle Wax or Simoniz. Apply it to the stem in the same way you‘d apply it to a car. Use a damp cloth and polish. Do not use wax. This will do nothing to remove the oxidation. Rubbing compound is gritter and will cut the oxidation faster. Use caution around logos. ... (to be continued)
Prossimo articolo: Refurbishing Pipes - part II