Although we often talking about storing pipe tobacco, what about the smoking pipes themselves? Indeed, we carefully clean and cherish these items so they certainly deserve a little love when not being used.
Therefore, this guide will provide you a detailed overview on storing pipes in your rotation with the following points:
Simple scroll down to read it all or use the links above to jump ahead!
Best Tobacco Pipes To Buy Online
Why Store Your Smoking Pipes & Its Benefits
Firstly, you should always have at least one spare pipe that you’re not currently using. As we stress in all of our guides, you should have at least two that are rotated every day.
When smoking a pipe, it heats up and absorbs the tobacco’s moisture. Repeatedly smoking the same pipe everyday can permanently damage the pipe. Instead, a pipe requires at least a day of rest to cool down and release the excess moisture.
Regular pipe smokers should ideally have more than two pipes. Some enthusiasts will have a pipe for every day of the week. Meanwhile, others will have a vast collection of dozens if not hundreds of pipes!
Should you have only one pipe, check out our guide to the best pipes to easily buy online.
Long-Term Pipe Storage
If you’re regularly cycling through all your pipes, simply airing them is absolutely fine. However, we believe that wooden pipes that are left unused for too long are at risk of being damaged.
After about 5 days, a tobacco pipe will have fully aired and rested. Nevertheless, leaving it to the elements for much longer means that it is exposed to fluctuating humidity levels.
For instance, briar wood easily absorbs excess moisture, which causes it to swell and expand. Consequently, it will be prone to warping or even developing mould. Meanwhile, dry briar wood becomes brittle and the pipe can crack. Indeed, the shank is particularly prone to cracking against the stem.
Smoking a pipe that’s too dry can shock it and damage the wood. Similarly, a humid pipe can be unpleasant to smoke as it will have a musty taste and regularly go out.
Therefore, we will suggest some convenient setups for long-term pipe storage. Our solutions will ensure that your pipes stay safe and in a consistent environment.
Finally, we suggest keeping your pipes away from direct light. Sunlight can actually bleach wood varnish and we have a couple of old ruined briar pipes to prove it!
Where To Store Smoking Pipes
There are a variety of places that you can store a tobacco pipe when not using it. Some people may indeed be happy to make do with a drawer or an empty ashtray but it’s better to have a dedicated space.
Similarly, others will often use a pouch to store their pipe. However, we’re not particularly fond of this as it doesn’t allow for their pipes to properly air after being used. The smoking pipe is unable to properly cool down and air.
As a result, the pipe may contain too much moisture and it may be tainted with a strong smell, which will affect the taste of future smokes.
One of the most popular ways of storing your smoking pipes is in a rack. There are many different racks that you can buy, which can accommodate any number of pipes. Typically, most racks will store around five and up to as many as one for every day of the week.
The most beneficial aspect of a pipe rack is that it allows your pipes to properly air after being used. Furthermore, it makes it much easier to track your rotation if you store them in a particularly order.
For short-term storage, pipe racks are ideal and usually sufficient for most collections. However, if you start to have many different pipes, you may need either several racks or something a little larger.
A step up from racks, cabinets are capable of storing a large selection of tobacco pipes in one convenient place. Their designs vary with models that can be fixed to a wall or stand freely on a desk. Occasionally, some cabinets are even part of the desk themselves.
Unfortuantely, new pipe cabinets are quite rare to find and most of those available are vintage items. Nevertheless, they’re beautiful pieces of furniture and can truly add a decorative aspect to a room. That said, they can be expensive and are mostly suitable for serious collectors.
Finally, an additional advantage to some pipe cabinets is that they can potentially be retro-fitted with airtight seals, which allows you to introduce humidity control for long-term storage.
Airtight Pipe Storage
As we will explore already mentioned, smoking pipes are made from natural materials such as briar wood and calabash. Therefore, they will breathe and can risk drying out or becoming too humid.
After the aforementioned 5-day resting period, you should have an airtight storage solution that is equipped with the adequate humidity control.
Another benefit is that your pipes won’t get dusty this way, which often happens if left too long on a rack!
Contrary to popular belief, cigar humidors can be very beneficial as you can calibrate their relative humidity according to your needs. However, it’s important that you learn how to season your humidor first to successfully to this.
Finally, an affordable solution it to convert tupperware into a tupperdor. We’re particularly fond of the Sistema 1870 Klip-It as they offer an excellent seal. Alternativlely, very large collections can use storage containers to build a coolidor!
Smoking Pipe Humidity Control
In the previous section, we touched on the importance of controlling the humidity of your long-term pipe storage. Wood, cob, and calabash pipes are prone to damage after prolonged exposure to the wrong environment.
After all, these natural materials perform like membranes and will absorb or release moisture depending on their environment.
Therefore, it’s crucial that the smoking pipes are kept in a secure and consistent environment. This is quite easy to do simply by using Boveda humidity packs in an airtight storage solution like the ones we highlighted above.
Boveda packs create an ideal biosphere for your pipes by providing two-way humidity control. They are configured to specific relative humidity and release or absorb moisture as needed.
Like wooden instruments, we suggest that pipes are best stored in an RH of between 40 to 55%. Lower humidities would stress the would. Meanwhile, higher levels causes unnecessary swelling. Fortunately, this is a wide range so it’s not particularly challenging to achieve.
Therefore, Boveda 49% humidity packs are by far the most adapted to storing pipes. In fact, these are the same packs used for storing guitars and other string instruments. This particular level will allow you to easily take the pipe and smoke it straight away or even put one back in that has rested for a few days.
Finally, while the level you choose is indeed important, consistency is key. Oscillating relative humidity levels cause the pipe to swell and contract, which can break the shank or cause other forms of damage. Even if the humidity is slightly too low or too high, a consistent level will take far longer to damage it.
Now that you have read about storing tobacco pipes, check out some of our related resources: