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smoking your harvest

How do I cure my pipe?

    There are many different styles of smoking cannabis, and more devices to smoke it than you can shake a stick at. One of the most enjoyable methods of smoking is with a regular wood pipe, because you can cure these pipes to have superior smoking qualities. The art and science of Pipe Curing!

Smoking weed in a wood pipe is not recommended. It will probably give you a harsh smoke, and leave your pipe smelling like an old roach. Go for something in glass if you want a pipe for pot. Therefore, I'm going to concentrate on smoking hash mixed with tobacco.

The basics: Wooden Pipes and Chillums

Wooden pipes are available in any style or shape you desire, and is often a beautiful piece of handmade art. Most pipes are made from hard wood types, although there are similar pipes that have a variety of other materials integrated or attached such as stone bowls, various types of plastics for mouthpieces, metal meshes and devices to remove tar. If you have a bowl of any other material than wood, making a cure like described here may not apply to you.

Good pipes are distinguished by an excellent piece of wood without cracks, with a good thickness for its size (the bigger the bowl, the thicker the wood, essential to keep the smoke cool). Other noteworthy characteristics are how fast the pipe or mouthpiece gets moist, how well placed the hole in the bowl is, and for our purposes if it can comfortably hold a screen. Don't bother with corn pipes, they are considered highly temporary.

Chillums are made from many materials, including various sorts of medium to hard wood. It is basically a cone with a bowl in one end and a hole drilled through. It is smoked either as a cigarette straight to the lips, or using one of many special grips to make a bong-effect with the hands. Chillums were originally used spiritually by the Hindus, I believe, and provide a very nice and different way to smoke. It can, however, be rough on the lungs, especially if the chillum is of poor design or is poorly maintained. However, it is still an excellent piece.

Selecting a pipe:

First of all, you need to think about who is going to be smoking the pipe. If you'll be going solo, then you might want something with a small bowl, otherwise you might need something bigger. Also, some pipes get soggy and disgusting quickly, or overheat because the walls are too thin. My personal tip is that you get one pipe for yourself to cure and love (no-one touches it but you), and one chillum that you share with your friends. Chillums are really clean-running, compared to regular pipes, due to the smoke being inhaled directly gives a quick high instead of taking a lot of passing and toking before everyone is comfortable

Second of all, you want to think about how GOOD a pipe is, that is, how good a piece of handicraft is it, and does the guy that made it make it to be smoked in or showed off? The two rarely combine for affordable pipes. Don't go for the show-off stuff, get the quality. Also, remember that a well used pipe will start showing some wear after some years, with a good pipe this ADDS to its appearance. Watch for proper polishing of the wood, it's a good sign that it's made by good people.

The first smoke:

So, you're all ready to fire up that new pipe, but wait! Don't just load it up with the hash mix right away! New pipes are often very harsh to smoke, because the wood inside the bowl is getting subjected to this heat for the first time, so if you're smart, you just smoke a couple of bowls of tobacco first, instead of wasting good hash on a pipe that tastes like a fireplace. No need to inhale either, which is good because virgin pipes can be awful. Once you've done these dry runs and have a nice, evenly blackened inside of the pipe, carefully clean it (see below).

It's time to adjust the screen! Most hand pipes don’t contain screens, but I think it is essential in a good hash pipe, as good hash/tobacco mix contain small particles of plant material. Headshops will provide you with a few metal screens of a suitable size for your pipe. Some might like to burn their screen over a lighter flame first to remove any chemicals or whatnot that may be on the screen.

The screen should be just a few millimeters bigger than the spot in the bowl where you want it to sit. Cut if necessary. To shape the screen to fit, get some pliers and carefully fold the very edge of the screen up in little increments around the screen. Take a pen or your pipe-picking-tool, push the folded up bits outwards to make it fit the bowl perfectly.

If ready made screens aren't available, just make something out of mesh or wire, but be careful not to use anything that's coated in a thin layer of plastic, silicone or other chemicals, as it may not be visible to the naked eye.

Now, smoke away! Do a couple of bowls, and enjoy it. Make it a habit right away to clean your pipe after smoking, preferably before it cools down and the ash gets all stinky and sour.

Cleaning

A lot of people just scrape out the ashes of their pipe, and ready for the next load. This is fine for a well maintained pipe, but it can get pretty foul. Just scraping out the ash is not the same as cleaning it! From here on the term for just removing ashes is "scraping", in this article.

The clue to a good wood pipe is in the buildup of black, tarry residue inside the bowl. This I will refer to as the “Cure”. This stuff gets built up, and acts as insulation. This means that the heat will stay in the smokables, instead of transferring into the wood. This means a cooler smoke, and the best part is that the cure also gives off a pleasant aroma when heated up. The tar builds up anyway, but it can be made to smell and taste good. If this stuff gets sour from poor cleaning though, your only hope might be to use a sharp object, carve it all off and start over. In fact, your pipe may be completely ruined by this.

So, scrape your pipe after you smoke, before it cools down. Then, when your pipe needs cleaning, remove the screen and use your tool to scoop out any loose material and bits and pieces, and then gently scrape the cured tar to make it as even as possible. You can shape it a little with your fingers, even more if your heat it briefly with a lighter. Use a pipe cleaner or a twined up piece of kitchen paper to run through the mouthpiece and all the way through into the bowl. Most "modern" wooden pipes with plastic mouthpices come apart.

For a chillum, kitchen paper is particularly handy and effective, instead of using pipe cleaners. Needless to say, you never use any water to clean your pipe, excepting a damp cloth on the outside, or any plastic pieces.

by Mia Stoner
"when it needs cleaning... remove the screen and fill the bowl with bourbon whiskey... let set 20-30 mins and use a pipe cleaner to clean it... you can either clean the screen or replace it"

To clean your screen, just hold it with some tweezers and hold it over a lighter. The residue on the filter will start to burn, and if you're desperate for a high, you might want to consider inhaling the smoke that comes if you just light it and quickly blow it out again. If you have problems removing the screen from the pipe or chillum due to the tight fit from the method above, just poke at it as close to the edge that you can. The screen will swivel. You might want to use something to scrape the ash off the filter after it's burnt too. Change when they start clogging up badly, or use alcohol to help burn and remove the tar.

When shaping the cure, make sure that you take the screen into consideration. It's possible to build up a little ridge in the cure so your screen fits perfectly without falling out.

Flavoring the cure:

Take a little honey on your finger, and rub the inside of the pipe with it until it's coated by an even, thin layer. You don't want much, just on the tip of your finger. Leave your pipe alone for a couple of days for it to settle. (You can fit your cleaned screen first, if you want) This will allow the honey to soak into the tarry residue and the wood, and when you fire it up again the sugar in the honey caramelizes and finishes off your cure with a hard, almost lacquer-like coating. This helps the heat properties of the pipe, and makes it taste and smell wonderful, and makes it MUCH easier to keep nice and clean after you've built up a nice protective coat against that sour stinky ash.

Last words:

If you cure your wooden smoking pieces in this fashion you can make a pipe so good that you can get high from just smoking tobacco through it, or by smoking some scrapings taken from the Cure. (NEVER EVER smoke scrapings in the pipe. It will kill the Cure.. ) The smoke will be more fragrant and sweet than ever, and a dedicated pipe smoker knows how to enjoy that special pipe together with other tastes and aromas that go well. Also try some good tea, coffee, dark chocolate, cognac or a really woody brandy.