Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Clean Oxidation from Pipe Stem

What is the best way to clean oxidation from a pipe stem

Every pipe owner knows about the nasty discoloration that occurs to ebonite (a.k.a. vulcanite) pipe stems when they oxidize.

Since "necessity is the mother of all invention", there is no doubt that pipe smokers who enjoy maintaining their own collections have discovered numerous methods that get the job done, and many swear by the different products they use.

I’ve heard of folks using Bar Keeper's Friend, Brasso metal polish, Soft Scrub kitchen cleaner with bleach, and even Mr. Clean Magic Erasers. Others report good results using the edge of an X-acto hobby knife to carefully scrape a layer of material from the stem, thus removing the oxidation. Individual mileage may vary, but often the most common tools can produce quite satisfying results. The best bet is to do some trial and error testing on an old, unneeded stem before potentially destroying a valued pipe.

For professional-level pipe refurbishing, I prefer to use a buffing machine and various buffing compounds to clean oxidation from stems and to polish them to a high gloss. I realize that such an option is not possible for everyone, but there is simply nothing better in my experience. Before I was able to make the jump to such a setup, I cleaned oxidation from stems by hand using the bleach soak method and then polished the stems with various grit sandpapers and micro-mesh polishing pads. It was incredibly laborious work, but produced results that were quite excellent.

I've listed below several products specifically designed for use with pipes and pipe stems. A couple are for regular maintenance and preventing oxidation, but a couple claim to assist in actually removing oxidation once it has occurred.

  • Arango Briar Pipe Wipe Polish
  • Arango Pipe Cleaning Spray
  • Stanwell Pipe Polishing Cloth
  • Brebbia Stem Polish

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