Cleaning w/ alcohol & salt

Open forum for all subject for smokers in general
Post Reply
Craig Thompson
Congregation
Congregation
Posts: 82
Joined: Sat Jan 10, 2015 8:33 am

Cleaning w/ alcohol & salt

Post by Craig Thompson » Mon Mar 12, 2018 12:03 pm

This past weekend I puchased my first estate pipes. I am quite excited as I have been to numerous yard sales & flea markets & antique stores in the past few years and not found a single pipe that was worth cleaning up and smoking.

I have read many times about soaking the inside with alcohol and salt. I bought some Everclear. What I have never read is why the salt.

What is the purpose of the salt? Some folks seem to use cottonballs. Is the salt / cotton balls simply to reduce the amount of alcohol needed? Or is there some other purpose?

The risk of damaging the exterior finish seems very great. Is there any way to protect it?

I did read the cleaning threads in the library. I either missed the answers to my questions or they are not there.

Your insights are most appreciated.

Craig T

User avatar
Del
Hacked by Kellyanne Conway
Hacked by Kellyanne Conway
Posts: 36729
Joined: Mon Mar 03, 2008 6:00 pm
Location: Madison, WI
Contact:

Re: Cleaning w/ alcohol & salt

Post by Del » Mon Mar 12, 2018 12:23 pm

Yeah... the salt holds a decent amount of alcohol, but not so much that it saturates the wood. The stains and odors are drawn into the salt and easily discarded. You do this when you want to preserve the "cake" (carbon build-up) in your favorite pipe, but you just want to remove any ghosts and sour taste.

Around here, most guys think the salt/alcohol treatment is a bunch of voodoo. Rusty believed that this lobotomized a pipe, destroying the delicious memories of premium tobacco. Might as well just ream out the built-up cake and break it in again.

If I were to clean up an estate pipe, I would ream out most or all of the old carbon. Then give it a thorough cleaning with pipe cleaners and rubbing alcohol. Ethyl alcohol would be gentler, if you have some Everclear on hand. Take care to avoid getting alcohol on the finished wood.

If you have a way to apply some new carnauba wax to the exterior, then you will have a refinished pipe. That usually requires a motor wheel.

Plenty guys are more experienced with restoring estate pipes than I am, so they can stomp on me with both feet as much as they like.
"Utter frogshit from start to finish." - Onyx

"I shall not wear a crown of gold where my Master wore a crown of thorns." - Godfrey de Bouillon

User avatar
Cleon
Brother of the Briar
Brother of the Briar
Posts: 14319
Joined: Thu Sep 03, 2009 6:00 pm
Location: Indiana - South of 40
Contact:

Re: Cleaning w/ alcohol & salt

Post by Cleon » Mon Mar 12, 2018 12:58 pm

I don't know the reason fro using salt over cotton balls. I've just always used salt.

You can use 90% isopropyl rubbing alcohol. It won't hurt you and it is cheaper and more readily available than Everclear. Yes, you can damage the finish if you get it on the outside of the pipe, but that's the price you pay. Just be careful and use a a good dropper.

You can take the cake back as far as you want. I like to take it back to a dime thickness by using sandpaper on a dowel. Then I will clean the shank with bristly pipe cleaners and alcohol. Next I put the pipe in a bowl of uncooked rice for support and I fill the pipe bowl with non-iodized salt. Use a dropper and add alcohol to the bowl until the salt is covered. Let it sit a few days and then dump it all out and run a pipe cleaner again. I recommend using Halcyon II wax. No buffer needed.

The hard part is stems.
"Let the little children come to Me, and do not forbid them; for of such is the kingdom of heaven" - Jesus

"More people need to put their big boy britches on." - JMG

"Dang, a pipe slap." - JimVH

User avatar
JimVH
Ramone, the hair dresser with smokin' diapers
Ramone, the hair dresser with smokin' diapers
Posts: 21081
Joined: Sun May 18, 2008 6:00 pm
Location: I wasn't born in Texas, but I got here as soon as I could.
Contact:

Re: Cleaning w/ alcohol & salt

Post by JimVH » Mon Mar 12, 2018 12:59 pm

I use cotton balls and alcohol. The cotton is merely to aid in evaporation of the alcohol and absorption of the yuck. I've tried salt, too, and saw no difference in the outcome. Cotton is just easier to deal with.

User avatar
hugodrax
All Around Nice Guy
All Around Nice Guy
Posts: 16268
Joined: Fri Jan 25, 2013 6:00 pm
Location: Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
Contact:

Re: Cleaning w/ alcohol & salt

Post by hugodrax » Mon Mar 12, 2018 1:12 pm

I'm not more experienced than anybody else and you can feel free to take my advice with a grain of (ahem) salt.

I think salt and alcohol is pretty much overkill in most situations. That's not to say I haven't done it, but it really runs a few risks without giving the benefits advertised. People do funny things with pipes. I've heard of people stuffing the bowl with activated charcoal, removing the stem and popping the bowl into the oven on low heat!

I'd advocate reaming and cleaning with alcohol dipped ear swabs and pipe cleaners (the bristle kind) first. Most pipes haven't been that abused, and most old pipes smoked CAPT Black, SWR, MCB, or PA, so ghosting isn't really the issue. And a few bowls of PA kills off most ghosts, in my opinion.

All else fails, and on general principles, get thee a pipe retort. Essentially a Pyrex test tube with a bit of latex tubing attached to the end, you put a bit of alcohol into the tube, fit the tubing over the bit, plug the bowl with a cotton ball or three, and apply flame to the Pyrex. Alcohol boils, fumes go down the working bits, and the alcohol vapors pull back into the test tube when you cease applying heat. Very quick, very effective, and a bit of Paulie's Patent-Applied-for Proboscis Oil restores any finish glitches prestigitatiously.

Have fun. It isn't rocket science and you aren't saving lives, so have at it
Etiam mihi opinio anserem perirent.

User avatar
FredS
Really, really likes watching kids fish.
Really, really likes watching kids fish.
Posts: 20513
Joined: Sat Feb 21, 2009 6:00 pm
Location: NOCO (Northern Colorado)

Re: Cleaning w/ alcohol & salt

Post by FredS » Mon Mar 12, 2018 1:43 pm

I honestly enjoy the novelty of the first few smokes from estate pipes and I've never noticed ghosting for more than the first five or six smokes.

But, if you must clean it, I understand Dawn dish soap or Tide Pods work well and don't risk damaging the finish on the outside of the pipe.
"If we ever get to heaven boys, it aint because we aint done nothin' wrong" - Kris Kristofferson

"One of the things I love about CPS is the frank and enthusiastic dysfunction here. God help me, I do love it so." – OldWorldSwine

"I'd like to put a hook in that puppet and swing it through a bunch of salmon!" - durangopipe

User avatar
Bloodhound
Cannot Abide That Devil Weed
Cannot Abide That Devil Weed
Posts: 7039
Joined: Fri Jan 01, 2010 6:00 pm
Location: Rocky Mountains / Colorado
Contact:

Re: Cleaning w/ alcohol & salt

Post by Bloodhound » Mon Mar 12, 2018 2:52 pm

I am a fan of "The Treatment" I use kosher salt and Everclear along with pipe cleaners and have been know to salt treat 2 or 3 times before clean and smoke. I also finish wipe the chamber and innards with bourbon. I know lots of folks here don't and many very experienced and smart people have told me that I am not really killing germs...but it makes me feel better about the new to me estate pipe and by the time I am ready to smoke it, I have gotten to know it a little. Its just the way I like to do it.
Scott ( aka - Thor )
Do Justice...Love Mercy...Walk Humbly With Your GOD

User avatar
DepartedLight
That boy's got a Thorazine deficiency.
Posts: 26699
Joined: Thu Nov 19, 2009 6:00 pm
Location: Tobacco Fairy HQ, North Carolina

Re: Cleaning w/ alcohol & salt

Post by DepartedLight » Mon Mar 12, 2018 5:32 pm

I've tried it a couple of times. I don't care for it. Ream as needed, pipe cleaner tipped in pipe-cleaner, aka Everclear. Hand rub some pipe balm on the stem and wood.

Then it's 'bakky time.

User avatar
rgcurrey
Elder
Elder
Posts: 643
Joined: Fri Jan 26, 2018 2:49 pm
Location: NW Fla., dreaming about Montana to the Yukon

Re: Cleaning w/ alcohol & salt

Post by rgcurrey » Mon Mar 12, 2018 5:33 pm

FredS wrote:
Mon Mar 12, 2018 1:43 pm
I honestly enjoy the novelty of the first few smokes from estate pipes and I've never noticed ghosting for more than the first five or six smokes.

But, if you must clean it, I understand Dawn dish soap or Tide Pods work well and don't risk damaging the finish on the outside of the pipe.
Ah, but be careful, once you have tasted a Tide Pod you might soon move on to drinking it straight from the bottle.
Well I got a job and tried to put my money away
But I got debts that no honest man can pay - B. Springsteen

And he said to the man,
"Behold, the fear of the Lord, that is wisdom,
and to turn away from evil is understanding." - Job 28:28

Craig Thompson
Congregation
Congregation
Posts: 82
Joined: Sat Jan 10, 2015 8:33 am

Re: Cleaning w/ alcohol & salt

Post by Craig Thompson » Tue Mar 13, 2018 5:20 am

Thanks for the education. Most helpful.

I have a pipe reamer (Senior or copy of such] though I have not used it yet. I will learn to use it with caution. I forsee a large order for pipe cleaners and swabs in the very near future.

I think I will start with reaming / scraping and alcohol wipe. If needed the salt / alcohol soak will be employed.

I will keep you informed.

User avatar
hugodrax
All Around Nice Guy
All Around Nice Guy
Posts: 16268
Joined: Fri Jan 25, 2013 6:00 pm
Location: Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
Contact:

Re: Cleaning w/ alcohol & salt

Post by hugodrax » Tue Mar 13, 2018 6:30 am

Craig Thompson wrote:
Tue Mar 13, 2018 5:20 am
Thanks for the education. Most helpful.

I have a pipe reamer (Senior or copy of such] though I have not used it yet. I will learn to use it with caution. I forsee a large order for pipe cleaners and swabs in the very near future.

I think I will start with reaming / scraping and alcohol wipe. If needed the salt / alcohol soak will be employed.

I will keep you informed.
I feel twenty years younger. You got this, man. I'm excited to see the results!
Etiam mihi opinio anserem perirent.

Post Reply