Smoking pipe (tobacco)

A smoking pipe that is specifically made to smoke tobacco typically consists of a chamber (the bowl) for the combustion of material and a thin stem (shank) ending in a mouthpiece (the bit). Pipes can range from the very simple machine-made briar pipe to highly-prized handmade and artful implements created by renowned pipemakers which are often very expensive collector's items. "Estate pipes" are previously owned pipes that are sold to new owners. The bowls of tobacco pipes are commonly made of briar, meerschaum, corncob or clay. Less common are cherrywood, olivewood, maple, mesquite, oak, and bog-wood. Generally a dense-grained wood is ideal. Minerals such as catlinite and soapstone have also been used. Pipe bowls of all these materials are sometimes carved with a great deal of artistry. Unusual, but still noteworthy pipe bowl materials include gourds, as in the famous Calabash pipe, and pyrolytic graphite. Metal and glass are uncommon materials for tobacco pipes, but are common for pipes intended for other substances, such as cannabis. The stem needs a long channel of constant position and diameter running through it for a proper draw, although filter pipes have varying diameters and can be successfully smoked even without filters or adapters. Because it is molded rather than carved, clay may make up the entire pipe or just the bowl, but most other materials have stems made separately and detachable. Stems and bits of tobacco pipes are usually made of moldable materials like vulcanite, lucite, Bakelite, and soft plastic. Less common are stems made of reeds, bamboo, or hollowed out pieces of wood. Expensive pipes once had stems made of amber, though this is rare now. Tobaccos for smoking in pipes are often carefully treated and blended to achieve flavour nuances not available in other tobacco products. Many of these are blends using staple ingredients of variously cured Burley and Virginia tobaccos which are enhanced by spice tobaccos, among them many Oriental or Balkan varietals, Latakia (a fire-cured spice tobacco of Syrian origin), Perique (uniq ely grown in St. James Parish, Louisiana) which is also an old method of fermentation, or blends of Virginia and Burley tobaccos of African, Indian, or South American origins. Traditionally, many U.S. blends are made of American Burley with sweeteners and flavorings added to create an "aromatic" flavor, whereas "English" blends are based on natural Virginia tobaccos enhanced with Oriental and other natural tobaccos. There is a growing tendency towards "natural" tobaccos which derive their aromas from artful blending with selected spice tobaccos only and careful, often historically-based, curing processes. Briar Tobacco pipe of briar wood The majority of pipes sold today, whether hand made or machine made, are fashioned from briar (French: bruyere). Briar is a particularly good wood for pipe making for a number of reasons. The first and most important is its natural resistance to fire. The second is its inherent ability to absorb moisture. The burl absorbs water in nature to supply the tree in the dry times and likewise will absorb the moisture that is a byproduct of combustion. Briar is cut from the root burl of the tree heath (Erica arborea), which is native to the rocky and sandy soils of the Mediterranean region. Briar burls are cut into two types of blocks; ebauchon and plateaux. Ebauchon is taken from the heart of the burl while plateaux is taken from the outer part of the burl. While both types of blocks can produce pipes of the highest quality, most artisan pipe makers prefer to use plateaux because of its superior graining. From the 1960s onwards and with Denmark as the world pipemaking "centre", the making of briar pipes has developed into a fine art, with some outstanding individual makers revered in the pipe-smoking and pipe-collecting world. Some of the finest are the Swede Sixten Ivarsson (probably the most legendary pipemaker ever), the Danes Bo Nordh, Lars Ivarsson, Nanna Ivarsson, Jess Chonowitsch, Poul Ilsted, Teddy Knudsen, Peder Jeppesen (formerly Neerup) and the Italians Carlo Scotti, Achille Savinelli and Claudio Cavicchi.