Tuesday, June 26, 2012

A Briar's Life

Does briar have a limited life?

Technically speaking, everything in this world seems to have a "breaking point" where it reaches the end of its useful life. The same is true for briar pipes. But as with many things, it is difficult to determine precisely when this "end of life" will occur for briar pipes.

                   Image Source: pulversbriar.com

On the one hand, there is no doubt whatsoever that the smoking qualities of briar pipes improve with age. That's one reason briar is such a unique wood; it has qualities and characteristics simply not found in other wood that make it incredibly well-suited to pipe-making.

But on the other hand, the wood can only absorb so much. Its fibers can only contract and expand so much. Eventually, they will become "clogged" and the pipe may not breathe and recover as easily after each smoke.

                   Image Source: brothersofbriar.com

So when does this occur? How long will it take? How long will an average pipe last? That is the great unknown. Of course, it depends largely on the quality of the briar from which the pipe was made and how well the pipe is cleaned and maintained. As you may know, some pipes burn out in relatively short periods of time due to flaws or improper smoking technique.

The wonder of this topic is that most decent pipes made from quality briar will last a lifetime if cared for properly. There are countless smokers who could tell stories of their favorite pipes, which they've been smoking for thirty, forty, or fifty years (or even longer)!

So like all things, briar has a limit. But thankfully, in most situations, that limit far exceeds any real practical concern. So smoke your pipes, care for them, and enjoy them for as long as possible. Who knows, our pipes may even outlast us!

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