How To Break-in A New Pipe
There are almost as many opinions on how to break in a pipe as there are opinions on how to pack one, but that comes later.
Properly breaking in a pipe accomplishes two things; it removes any saps and resins which may remain after the briar’s curing process, and it builds up a cake (carbon) which both protects the pipe and provides a cool dry smoke. The goal is to build up an even layer of carbon inside the bowl from top to bottom. While some suggest coating the inside of the bowl with honey, water, or some other concoction, I recommend deciding what tobacco will be enjoyed in your new pipe, and then smoking it. The trick is to only put as much tobacco in the pipe as you intend to smoke. Don’t fill it to the top and only smoke half a bowl. This not only wastes tobacco, it also leaves you with a wet pipe and doesn’t build up a cake at the bottom of the pipe. Smoke slowly, as you don’t want to get a virgin pipe too hot and don’t be fooled into thinking that since it smoked great the first time, you don’t have to worry about breaking it in.
Some pipes smoke great the first time they’re smoked, while others will require more time and attention. This will vary from pipe to pipe, but don’t rush it. How long it takes to break in a pipe is really no indication of how good the briar is. I have had pipes that took as many as a dozen smokings to break in, and now are some of my favorites.