If you plan to immediately joining a pipe club, where smokers take pride in their quality pieces, then it wouldn’t be a bad idea to spend a bit more money on a higher grade briar or meerschaum pipe. But if you plan on just filling up your pipe with whatever tobacco you can find, and want to smoke while fishing, biking, or some other outdoor hobby, a trusty cob or low grade briar pipe will do nicely. For our purposes, think of factory pipes as brands that are produced on a mass scale, like Vauen or Peterson. An artisan grade pipe is a one-of-a-kind creation made by the hands of a pipe carver. Artisan pipes come from both large brands (like the Savinelli Autograph Series) and small one-person shops (like OWL Pipes).
Typically, artisan grade pipes tend to have a steeper price point than factory pipes. If you are just looking to smoke a factory pipe will do you nicely. However, if you desire to jump headfirst into pipe collecting, like many smokers do, a more affordable artisan pipe would be a good choice for you. This section is not intended as an absolute model for pipe buying. Rather, use this as a basic guide for weeding out how much you should begin spending on a pipe. Basic Cob - A decent corn cob pipe, like a Missouri Meerschaum brand pipe, should cost between $10 and $25, depending on the type you choose. Low Grade Briar - An affordable briar pipe would range somewhere between $25-75. Intermediate Pipe - A moderate briar pipe, or low grade meerschaum, could range anywhere from $80-200.
High Grade Pipe - For more of a strong-willed briar pipe, artisan grade pipe, or pure meerschaum pipe, you should expect to pay $300 and up. Pipe rotation refers to how often the smoker changes pipes. Most pipe smoking enthusiasts agree that a briar pipe needs to rest in order to keep it in good condition and ensure the pipe lasts for years to come. To accommodate this need a collection of smoking pipes is needed. Proper pipe rotation is a particularly heated topic. Some long-time tobacco pipe smokers use the same pipe all day, every day. Some pipe enthusiasts have large collections and only smoke the same tobacco pipe every few weeks. In our opinion there are four different ways you can build your pipe collection to accommodate your rotation. But first, we will explain why you probably should have more than one pipe. Several things happen to a pipe when it’s smoked which change the pipe’s structure. First, the bowl of the pipe heats from the burning tobacco inside of it. As the smoke moves through the stem, the stem begins to heat as well. When wood is heated to high temperatures, we all know what happens--it burns! That is why Meerschaum pipes do not need the rest time of briar--they aren’t made of wood. If a briar pipe isn’t allowed to cool fully between smokes holes can form in the bowl. In addition, the pipe can develop cracks and will begin to smell sour. Tobacco contains 10-14% moisture when smoking conditions are optimal. This moisture causes steam to pass through the pipe with the smoke, and the pipe will “sour” without proper time to cool. If you’re pipe ever has a distinctive sour odor, don’t smoke it! The term 7-Day Set comes up often in the pipe world. This refers to the long-standing rule that an aficionado will have at least seven pipes, one for each day of the week. A full seven day rest ensures that your pipe is completely dried out before reuse.. Acquiring seven quality pipes can be a fairly large investment. If you only own one or two, waiting a whole week to smoke a bowl again can be a distressing thought. Most modern smokers follow this rule of thumb, give the pipe 24 hours to rest. Unless the bowl is especially thick, you’re probably in the clear.
The 24-hour rule allows for at least one bowl per day with a smaller rotation of two or three pipes. Especially if most of your pipes are factory-made, you should be safe and satisfied with a one-day rest. Some tobacco pipe collectors believe that your personal style should determine how often you rotate your pipes. Ask yourself the following questions: How wet do you smoke? Do you smoke tobaccos that are on the wet side, or on the dry side? How high quality is the briar your pipe is made from? The hypothesis believed by those who follow this method is that your style will either lessen or extend the time a pipe needs to sit.
However, most beginners probably can’t answer these questions. We suggest skipping this method until you’ve become comfortable with your own smoking habits and tried a variety of pipes and tobaccos. As long as you’re not getting an unpleasant sour taste, you can smoke your favorite pipe whenever you want. We know many 30 or 40 year veterans of the hobby who smoke the same pipe four or five times a day and like it just fine.