The Different Types Of Smoking Pipes

In a world where smoking is mostly performed with carcinogen-packed cigarettes, the smoking pipe remains one of the most clean, enjoyable, and sophisticated ways to enjoy fine tobacco. Smoked since ancient times, pipes are also one of the world’s oldest smoking devices, having been used in almost every culture at one point. Although modern pipes come in a wide range of styles, most are made from one of four different materials: Corncob, briar, meerschaum, or synthetics.

Corncob Pipes
Corncob pipes are ideal for the beginner, since they’re cheap and smoke well. As their name suggests, they’re made from a hollowed-out corncob. Although their longevity is very limited when compared to other pipe materials, they can be purchased at almost any tobacco shop for around $5.
Briar Pipes
Briar is a closely-grained burl joint found between the root and stem of the Heath tree. The quality of briar can be determined by its age, with older shrubs – around 80 to 200 years old – being favored to younger ones. Although it can be difficult to determine its exact age, a good way to determine quality briar is to check the weight of the pipe: When comparing two different briar models, the lighter and more balance pipe will most likely be the older of the two.
High-quality briar is not only aged and lightweight, but will also be porous, tightly-grained, and resistant to heat. The porousness is very important, as it acts as a natural tobacco filter. Cheaper briar pipes will typically use young and heavy briar with an artificial filter.
Older briar, however, commands a very high price. Those on a budget who don’t want to sacrifice quality can purchase sand-blasted briar pipes, which are made from briar with ugly grains or holes. While the sandblasting process results in a rough and inconsistent grain, the briar itself will still remain porous and smoke excellently. These can be purchased for a price anywhere between $5 and $20.
Meerschaum Pipes
Meerschaum is a very unique material that is comprised of the fossilized shells of prehistoric sea creatures. While it can be found in many places around the world, the highest quality meerschaum comes from Eskisehir, a town in central Turkey. Before smoking, meerschaum is stark-white, and can be carved into many different shapes, patterns, and designs. As a result, meerschaum pipes are more works of art than anything. However, this doesn’t mean they can’t be smoked: They provide one of the most satisfying, unique, and flavorful smoking experiences available.
One of the most unique features of meerschaum is how it ages. As it’s smoked over time, it will gradually turn from white into a deeper shade of brown.
Synthetic Pipes
As their name suggests, synthetic pipes are made from other materials such as plastics, acrylics, glass, and other materials. While they may be cheaper than pipes made from briar or meerschaum, they should be avoided.
Pipe Styles
As mentioned, pipes come in an extremely wide variety of styles. Despite the variety, however, there are a few “common” styles: the classic “Bulldog,” the slightly-sloped “Prince,” the British “full bent,” and the long-stemmed “Churchwarden.”
This post was provided by Matthew Parker, a pipe smoker and comic book enthusiast. He recommends for all your smoking accessories, such as glass water pipes.