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Clay Pipes

Does anyone have a clay pipe? I was wondering what kind of longevity they might offer. Seems like they would be fragile.


  • I have around a dozen. If you treat them with care They can last a life time. As you said, they are fragile. YMMV
  • I have 3 that are over 10 years old.
  • bobbob Member
    and I've had them break from being picked up. They last as long as they do and you should be able to enjoy them while they last.
  • I'd agree; they are a lovely cool smoke, have limited 'ghosting' and don't need as much 'rest' as a wooden pipe. As @Bob says, they have a 'finite' lifespan and don't cope well with any kind of impact so a drop to the floor or banging against something hard whilst in your pocket and it's generally game over. If you find a style of clay that you like it's worth buying a couple or more in case you break one - I'm very fond of the nose burner 'workman' type cutty clays; super smoking pipes with virtually any tobacco style.
  • Thank you all for the responses. I found a few different churchwarden clay pipes online and was considering getting one. I wasn't sure if I should get one or several. I guess you answered my question though. I'll get two and see how it goes.
  • I got my churchwarden from my father, and i've been using it (infrequently) for about 2 years now. I love that thing.
  • yes,
    My knowledge is worthless if not shared and applied . "Joseph McKenna"  
  • I use a clay one too. It is the 3rd one i have. First and second one got crushed.
  • bigmickbigmick Member
    edited October 2013 PM
    I recently acquired 2 Pamplin clay bowls. They are glazed and a lot tougher than I would have expected. I trust them to take unintended abuse more than my Meerschaums. The more usual clay pipes seem to me to be a lot more fragile. For me regular clays would be a use at home only item.
    But hey, for $10-15 bucks it's not like you are breaking the piggy bank to replace one, kinda like a cob.
  • One of my clay pipes, had to rap the mouth piece with surgical tape and put a rubber mouth bit on for comfort. the bowl is quite deep and smokes fairly cool for a clay.
    My knowledge is worthless if not shared and applied . "Joseph McKenna"  
  • One of my clay pipes, had to rap the mouth piece with surgical tape and put a rubber mouth bit on for comfort. the bowl is quite deep and smokes fairly cool for a clay.
    Nice idea. Will try this too. I second on rather cool smoking clays.

  • Here is one I smoked once. Half full took several hours. Yes there is a mess on this desk thanks for noticing ! :P
    My knowledge is worthless if not shared and applied . "Joseph McKenna"  
  • LOL, @basement_shaman. Haven't seen a pipe made from lamp parts in quite a while, true 70's vintage? Also, on your messy bench what is the aluminum item in the upper left hand corner? Oh, nice pipe by the way.
  • @Mouse - I got my hash pipe, That is just a Sears craftsmans utility knife for slicing hard plugs and difficult rope toby. was looking through my museum of junk and came across my powerhitter ;Now that is a blast from the past also a six shooter one hitter attached to a plastic tube bong.
    My knowledge is worthless if not shared and applied . "Joseph McKenna"  
  • I mourn the breaking of my alabaster chillum to this day, even though I would only be using it for tobacco now....
  • @Mouse - I feel your pain. I may try the power hitter with some warm Dokha. First I have to wash it with some grain alcohol to remove the dinosaur tar from the 70's. Gone and forgotten! B-)
    My knowledge is worthless if not shared and applied . "Joseph McKenna"  
  • Quick question on clays......

    I have a couple of very simple very cheap clays, and they came with no glaze on the mouthpiece. I have seen mixed reports on how important that glaze is, and wondered what would be the safest (in terms of being non-toxic) way to coat this without buying specialist stuff....... and indeed is it really necessary at all?

    I wouldn't be clenching these, I hold them in a three finger stem grip, it's more a matter of stopping my lips from sticking to it.
  • I find that if you wet your lips very often for the first several smokes, the stickiness goes away.
  • From what I have read owning a few clays myself, the glaze or rubber mouthpiece is indeed important for long term use of the clay. Back when clays were commonplace in taverns and homes as THE pipe material, people did not smoke frequently enough or in large enough quantities to cause any significant portion of the populace to develop cancers of the mouth. This being of course because tobacco was an expensive luxury item.

    Nowadays people know as you do, raw finished clay being yanked off your lips in between puffs pulls micro layers of skin of of your lip exposing raw tissue to pipe smoke-not good. It's not that there is something carcinogenic in the clay that is transferring to your skin, it's the abrasive quality that causes concern.
    That being said, I smoked a great deal of tobacco out of my first clay without knowing any of this and I am fine today. If you are in to pottery or any kind of craft it may be worth it to glaze the clay for fun and for your safety. Or you can seek out rubber tips or create something of your own to sleeve over the mouthpiece. I honestly don't know anything about glazing clay and I don't remember where I saw those mouthpieces. By the time I learned about this issue the novelty of clays had, for me, worn off so I never pursued the fix.
  • Thanks for that guys. The wet lip thing isn't working so far, if anything it's making it stick more. I don't have any kind of glaze, and it seems wasteful to order some just to glaze the tips on two pipes..... and with postage would prob cost more than the pipes did.

    I saw something online which implied beeswax might work, and I have some white beeswax pellets left from making up a batch of moustache wax. I might try that.
  • edited September 2016 PM
    @50ft_trad I was going to suggest wax and if you don't want to wax the pipe try lip balm. 
    My knowledge is worthless if not shared and applied . "Joseph McKenna"  
  • Never thought of tool handle dip basement shaman, that is a great idea. I don't see any reason it wouldn't bond. Maybe even go so far as to get the stuff that is meant for electricians tools, I.e non conductive as this would surely save you from heat causing it to lose its bond if say you were smoking a short cutty.
  • I have a verysmall clay the end of which was simply dipped in red enamel.
  • Couldn't you just wrap a piece of tape around the mouthpiece, it would solve the problem of your lips sticking but it would probably have to be replaced periodically.  It would be a quick fix not a permanant solution
  • Thanks again guys. I haven't tried yet, but I'll probably be attempting the wax first. I don't have any tool dip or paint that I'm certain is non toxic. I think the tape might get grim quickly, and attract nasties in the exposed edges of the tape....... although it did make me think about heat shrink tubing....
  • Elmers glue?
  • I assume that's some kind of PVA?

    I'll be trying the wax on one of my pipes later today. If I'm unhappy with that, the next thing to try will be heatshrink tubing. I figure it may also help to reinforce the stem
  • 50ft_trad50ft_trad Member
    edited September 2016 PM
    Double post
  • One year on, and I now see clays as little more than a novelty. I get a far better smoke from a cob or briar, and rarely touch the clays. Even when I do, I find myself regretting it, and wishing I'd picked up another pipe.

    There's only 6 pipes that I now use with any regularity. A Parker Cherrywood, a Parker 4 square poker, a Baby Wellbent (an offbrand small army mount style), a Washington cob, a Mizzou, and an Ozark Cherrywood. They work well with all tobaccos, and are cheap and durable enough that I don't feel I have to be delicate with them.
  • I quite agree. Clays never really made the grade for me either.
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