Brigham Enterprises Inc

Care and Repair

A properly cared for pipe can last for generations. Knowing how to properly care for your pipe will make smoking your pipe more enjoyable and give you the chance to know all the parts of your pipe. See below for tips on how to care for your pipe to ensure its vitality!

Packing and Lighting

A pipe-full of tobacco that burns evenly without going out can only be obtained by careful packing. If the tobacco is packed too loosely, it will burn too quickly, overheating the pipe and likely burning your tongue. If the tobacco is packed too tightly, you will have difficulty drawing on the pipe and keeping it lit. Use the following procedure to pack a bowl:

1) Take a pinch of tobacco and loosely trickle into the tobacco chamber until it is full. Tap the side of the bowl repeatedly until the tobacco is settles to the bottom.

2) Using a tamper or your finger, press the tobacco down until it evenly fills the bottom 1/3 to 1/2 of the bowl. Test to make sure you can still draw air easily through the stem. If not, empty and repeat but packing the tobacco a bit more loosely.

3) Repeat filling this process until the pipe is as full as you want it. Each time you add a layer of tobacco, there should be more resistance in the draw, though not so much that you can’t draw at all.

Lighting a pipe may be done with just about any flame although many prefer something taste-neutral such as a butane pipe lighter or a match. Whatever the choice in ignitor, lighting should be done thusly:

  1. Move the flame over top of the tobacco in a circular motion in order to ensure the full top layer is lit. While moving the flame, draw on the pipe using long, slow puffs. As you do this, the lit tobacco will rise out of the bowl. This is called the Charring Light.
  2. Next, tamp down the tobacco until it is flat again. Do not push so hard that you make it difficult to draw, but just enough to even out the top.
  3. Again, use a circular lighting motion and long, slow puffs to relight the pipe. Gently tamp this ash down while puffing and your pipe should be well lit. If not, repeat from step 2.

Make sure that you light all of the tobacco, not just one side. This will help you keep the pipe lit and will avoid overheating one area of the pipe.

Breaking in a New Pipe

Some people find that a pipe smokes great from the first smoke while others feel that it takes as many as 20 bowls before a pipe smokes well. What isn’t personal and subjective is that for protection, against overheating and burnout, a pipe should have a lining of carbon at least the thickness of a dime. Building up this cake is called “breaking in” a pipe.

Brigham pipes come with a unique protective coating in the bowl to assist the buildup of carbon and offer extra protection during the breaking in period. For the first few smokes, alternate between half-filled bowls of tobacco and fully filled bowls until an even cake has developed, being certain never to let the bowl become too hot. If it feels uncomfortably warm when held against your cheek, this means briar is in danger of burning and the pipe should be rested.

You definitely want an even layer of carbon to build up in the bowl of your pipe. This helps protect the wood from excessive heat and makes the smoke cooler. Ensure the cake does not get more than the thickness of about a nickel – a thick cake can cause the bowl itself to crack or split.

*Added tip!* Adding a thin coating of honey to the inside of the bowl prior to first use will also speed up the process of carbon build-up.

Smoke your pipe gently and evenly, as puffing too vigorously will burn your tongue and may cause damage to the bowl from overheating. If the bowl becomes too hot to hold against your cheek, you need to set your pipe down and let it cool. After the pipe has cooled, you may relight it.

If you feel your pipe is about to go out, tamp down your ash and place two fingers over the bowl while drawing. This localizes the draft and aids in the relighting of your pipe without the use of a flame.

Avoid smoking your pipe where there is a draft or wind. This movement of air can cause your tobacco to burn quickly and hotter increasing the potential for burnout.

Occasionally you may want to remove some of the accumulated ash in the bowl. Use your pick (from your pipe tools) and gently loosen the ash without disturbing the tobacco. To dump the ash out hold the bowl in your hand, not the stem, and tap the pipe on a soft surface. This is called fluffing out the pipe. Holding the pipe by the stem could cause the shank or the stem to break.

Ensure that you do not leave wet tobacco bits in the bowl after a smoke. Gently remove them with a bent pipe cleaner, pipe spoon or other blunt instrument.

For best results, only smoke a clean and dry pipe. A pipe should be allowed to rest at least 24 to 48 hours before smoking it again. Briar can become foul if not cared for.

Cleaning and Maintenance

Do not empty the pipe by holding the stem and banging the bowl on a hard surface. This will cause stress to the pipe and eventually cause it to break, fracture or split.

Use a proper pipe reamer with no sharp or pointed edges to remove excess carbon. Uneven removal of cake or accidental puncture of the inside of the bowl will create weak spots that may become susceptible to burnout.

Run a pipe cleaner through your pipe after each smoke. It is recommended that you continue to run pipe cleaners through the stem and shank until the cleaner comes out clean. When the pipe has cooled, you may gently twist the stem off the bowl and clean more thoroughly.

Brigham distillators can be re-used when cleaned with water and left to dry. However, when the filter is getting darker in colour, it should be replaced.


Do not attempt to clean a Vulcanite pipe stem with water. This will cause serious discoloration and an awful taste which can only be removed by a professional. If you are unsure about whether your pipe is Vulcanite or not, err on the side of caution.

Depending on how often you smoke your pipe you may need to use a pipe freshener (available at any reputable tobacconist) to remove tar and smoking residue that builds up in the smoking channel of your pipe. Separate the stem from the shank and using a pipe cleaner dipped in pipe freshener, run it through the stem. Run dry pipe cleaners through thew stem until they all come out clean. Repeat this with the shank of the pipe (the briar arm into which the pipe is inserted). Allow at least two days for the pipe too dry completely before smoking it again. Do not allow freshener to spill on the outside of the bowl as it may affect the finish.

Store your pipe away from direct sunlight, fluorescent or strong incandescent lighters as this will fade a vulcanite stem, leaving it bitter tasting.

Pipe Repair


Brigham pipes are unconditionally warranted against any manufacturer’s defect in material or workmanship for three months after purchase. If you are not entirely satisfied with your pipe, please contact us and we will correct the problem to your full satisfaction. It’s that simple.

If your pipe requires cleaning and/or repairs, the individuals below are able to perform such work on Brigham pipes.

Please note that we provide these contacts to you as a service only and that we are in no way involved in the determination of pricing or services provided.

Jack Reid
Jack Reid Leisure Prod.
PO Box 666 Chesley, Ontario ON, Canada N0G 1L0
Phone: (519) 363-2138
Web site:


Mouthpiece is cracked or broken

Pipe stems are typically made from Vulcanite (rubber), acrylic or Cumberland. Each of these is resilient to normal use but each can be broken or cracked with force.

Possible Causes (in order of commonality)

1) Biting through the mouthpiece while smoking, either over time or once with considerable force
2) Dropping the pipe on a hard surface 


Broken or bitten-through stems require replacement – see our Pipe Repair link for how and where to find a repair shop near you.


Not applying pressure with the teeth is the best way to avoid breaking the mouthpiece.

Some people do this habitually however – if you encounter the problem of biting through stems frequently, we highly recommended using Brigham Soft Pipe Bits – a rubber “sleeve” about a half inch long which fits snugly over the tip of the mouthpiece of any pipe. It provides both a comfortable feel in the teeth, but also adds a very effective layer of protection against sharp teeth.

Can’t draw air through the stem

Not being able to get air through a stem can happen from time to time but the fix is almost always a DIY repair.

Possible Causes (in order of commonality)

1) Tobacco is lodged in the stem, shank or filter
2) The tobacco has been packed in the bowl too tightly
3) The filter is saturated and clogged


Finding the source of the blockage is fairly simple, just follow these steps:

1) Remove all tobacco from the bowl. Attempt to draw on the pipe.
If it draws fine, you know it was due to packing the tobacco too tightly.

If it is still difficult or impossible to get air through, go on to step 2. 

2) Remove the stem from the pipe. Attempt to draw air through the stem.
If it now draws freely, you know the blockage is in the shank (the wooden arm of the pipe into which the stem fits. Use a pipe cleaner to push the blockage out of the air hole. If this does not clear the blockage, try something stiff like a paperclip.

If it is still difficult or impossible to get air through, go on to step 3.

3) Remove the filter from the stem. Attempt to draw air though the stem.
If it draws fine, you know the blockage is in the filter. Clear the blockage with a pipe cleaner or replace with a new filter.

If it is still difficult or impossible to get air through, you know the blockage is in the stem.
Clear the stem using a pipe cleaner or if necessary, something stiffer such as a paperclip.

It is rare that a blockage is so severe that a professional’s help must be obtained.


Proper packing of the pipe bowl, regular cleaning and ensuring that filters are not over-used are excellent ways to prevent restricted airflow.

Pipe or stem has snapped or cracked

The shank refers to stretch of the pipe from the bowl to the stem, and the tenon is the inner core made of composite plastic.

Possible Causes (in order of commonality)

1) Emptying the pipe bowl on a hard surface while holding it by the stem. This causes the weaker of the shank or stem to develop stress fractures, which eventually result in a breakage.
2) Pulling the stem out improperly. Pulling apart a pipe by using a motion like snapping a twig, rather than pulling it out straight, by gentle twisting can break or weaken the shank or tenon.
3) Sitting on a pipe when it’s in the back pocket
4) Dropping a pipe on a hard surface.


A broken mouthpiece or tenon can only be properly remedied by having the stem replaced. A broken shank is not usually reparable.

See our Pipe Repair link for how and where to find a repair shop near you.


As a design feature, we have designed the Tenon to give way before the shank, similar to how a ski boot will detach from a ski when too much pressure is applied. It is much easier to have a stem replaced whereas a broken shank is not usually repairable!

Most of the causes of this are accidental, although avoiding the application of force by hammering out the bowl on a hard surface, pulling the stem out correctly and not keeping it in your pocket are the best ways to avoid breakage.

Bowl has a hole burnt though it

A pipe bowl develops “Burnout” due to the presence of a weak spot between the burning tobacco and the outer wall of the pipe. When the pipe becomes too hot, the burning embers will burn through the actual bowl.

Possible Causes (in order of commonality)

1) Allowing the pipe to overheat during smoking. Even when a flaw is not present, if a pipe is allowed to heat up enough the briar will begin to burn. A new pipe is particularly vulnerable while it is acquiring its protective layer of carbon.
2) Improper removal of carbon or ashes. Using a sharp instrument and “digging out” carbon or ash can wear down the pipe bowl from the inside, creating a weak spot which can burnout if overheated.
3) Natural flaw in the briar. Sometimes there are pits or cracks inside the pipe which are not visible during the production process. When exposed to excess heat, it may become weak enough for a hole to burn clear through the briar. This will usually be detected within a few smokes.
4) Smoking in windy conditions. As wind passes over the top of the bowl, the tobacco burns in the same manner as if one was smoking it. Constant or frequent wind can cause the pipe to overheat quickly.


This cannot be repaired except in mild cases – in those cases a briar plug can be inserted into the hole to make it functional.

See our Pipe Repair link for how and where to find a repair shop near you.


1) Maintain hand contact on your pipe so that you can monitor for hot spots. If at any time you feel the pipe become very warm (like a hot cup of coffee) in one area, this is a sign that the bowl is in danger of burning. Stop puffing and allow the pipe bowl to cool down. You may relight it afterwards. Only in the case of a major flaw will this fail to prevent burnout.
2) Follow proper care and maintenance, avoiding the use of sharp instruments to clean.
3) Do not smoke your pipe in windy conditions.

If you suspect that the pipe itself was a victim of flawed manufacturing, please feel free to contact us to see if your pipe is eligible for a warranty inspection.

Bowl is cracked

Possible Causes (in order of commonality)

1) Smoking the pipe with too much carbon on the bowl. Once the protective layer of carbon in a pipe becomes too thick (i.e. thicker than a nickel), the briar can no longer expand and contract in response to the changes in heat and humidity. When the pipe is smoked, the pressure created by the heat causes the bowl to expand causing it to crack.
2) There is a flaw in the pipe that is exposed by smoking. This is more common in a rusticated or sandblasted pipe because it is harder to see an imperfection after a pipe is finished in that manner.
3) Accidental breakage due to direct trauma.


In most instances, this cannot be repaired.

See our Pipe Repair link for how and where to find a repair shop near you.


Be certain to have excess carbon safely removed with a proper pipe reamer when it becomes too thick. Having a layer between the thickness of a dime and nickel is optimal.

Stem is discoloured or tastes sour

Green, white, yellow or orange discolouration and/or a bitter tasting stem are sure signs of Oxidation. This only occurs on pipes with a Vulcanite stem. Vulcanite (vulcanized rubber) has long been a popular choice for pipe manufacturers. Not only is it soft on the teeth, it is also easy to bend and shape. However, this material has a drawback in the form of its susceptibility to the same oxidation process like metal can acquire rust.

Possible Causes (in order of commonality)

1) Storage in direct sunlight or under strong fluorescent or incandescent light.
2) Moisture from saliva, water or high humidity, is left on the pipe.
3) A pipe stem is dipped into water in an attempt to clean it.


For mild cases, you can buff your pipe with a dry cloth, similar to step 2 in preventing oxidation.

Even in the absolute worst cases, this can be repaired. The most common repair is to treat the stem with an alcohol based-cleaner to pull out the sulfur to the surface of the stem and then buff the stem using a mechanical buffing wheel and a mild abrasive compound called Tripoli.

It is highly recommended that a professional do this for you. These are generally not an expensive repair.

See our Pipe Repair link for how and where to find a repair shop near you.


1) Before purchasing a pipe, inspect the stem to make sure it is not oxidized from improper exposure to store lighting. Let the shopkeeper know if you find a pipe in this condition on the shelf.
2) Dry your stem after each smoke. A good vigorous rub with a dry cloth or paper towel to remove saliva completely will avoid oxidation in most cases. Make sure to do this immediately after smoking the pipe.
3) Store your pipe away from direct sunlight or anywhere close to other forms of strong light
4) Do not store your pipes in an area of high humidity such as a kitchen, bathroom or damp basement.