The most prevalent complaint of Pass-Through filters is that because of their high absorption levels, using them inhibits the flavor of your pipe tobacco. However, because they absorb so much moisture, it greatly reduces the odds of contracting tongue bite. There are two types of pass-through filters: A thick cotton tube with a hollowed out center, such as the Dr. Grabow Pipe filters, Or a carbon-filled canister style filter, such as the Vauen Pipe filter. Absorption filters are another classic pipe filter style.
The most common form of an Absorption filter, by far, are the 6mm and 9mm Savinelli Balsa Wood filters. Absorption filters work by drying out and cooling off the smoke flow before it strikes the palate. Unlike the Pass-Through filters, Absorption filters allow the smoke to flow directed in-between the bore and filter, thus allowing the smoke to contact a greater surface area for dispersing heat resulting in a cooler smoke. Condensers are different from the other pipe filter types. Often called Stingers, Condensers are designed to stop moisture from entering the stem of your pipe. They consist of a metal insert in the stem that has a small bore on the top.
The Condenser is believed to keep moisture from entering the stem of the pipe. The largest problem with condensers is that they make cleaning your pipe incredibly difficult. Smoking a filtered pipe is believed to be healthier than an unfiltered pipe . The idea behind using a filter is that the carbon, paper or balsa will absorb excess tar and nicotine. This is thought to make the risk to the smoker’s lungs smaller, especially if you inhale. There are very few studies that look at pipe smoking in particular--most are concerned with cigarettes and cigars--which means we do not know for certain if this hypothesis is correct. Beyond the possible health benefits, pipe filters can reduce tongue bite drastically. Tongue bite is often caused by the “junk” that filters absorb. However, it is important to frequently replace your filters, as per the instructions for each box. Neglecting to do so may negate the positive aspects of the filter and increases the severity of tongue bite. A filter is a useful tool for a pipe with a larger than average draft hole size in the bottom of the bowl. A larger bore makes it more likely that ash or small tobacco cuts will be drawn into the stem, and consequently, onto your tongue. The use of a filter catches these small particles in the filter, not in your mouth. Filters block and absorb lavish amounts of moisture. This is incredibly beneficial for smokers who enjoy heavily cased and moist tobaccos. Smoking such a wet tobacco--especially in a straight or half-bent pipe--often means that spittle will collect in the stem. Some pipe smokers find that they smoke too quickly and with too much force. The natural resistance a filter adds to the draw helps slow down the smoke, keeping it cooler and more flavorful. The popularity of filterless tobacco pipes in the USA happens because smoking without a filter has many experiential advantages. The super absorptive qualities of pipe filters can take away what pipe smokers really want from the tobacco: taste. Especially for smokers who do not inhale, some feel that the filter detracts from the taste. Using a filter can make cleaning your pipe more difficult. You cannot run a pipe cleaner through your pipe while smoking, which means you must wait until the end of your smoke--after the pipe is cool--to take it apart, remove the filter and clean it properly.
In addition, leaving the filter in for too long can cause major gunk build up in your pipe. A used pipe filter should not sit in a pipe for more than 24 hours. Neglecting to remove the filter will mean that you are giving your briar a chance to be affected by a wet sponge. Not something any collector wants to think about doing to one of their “babies”. Using filters properly is the only way to use them and some smokers see this as a large additional expense, better spent on new tobacco blends. In the USA, a filter will run between .20-.30 a piece, which can add up over time. Here is our best, attorney-like answer: It depends. Pipe smoking is such a personal hobby, your decision to use a filter or not should not be affected by others. Use this information and make a choice for yourself. That is the best advice we, or anyone else, can give you.
It is easy to find and order a corn cob pipe for less than ten dollars. Two clicks later you could find a briar pipe for over $1,000. We would never recommend a beginner start with a pipe that costs thousands (or even hundreds) of dollars. But knowing which end of the range you should begin on comes down to a few simple questions: How will You Smoke?