Salt/Alcohol bowl soak

FrankHall

Won't Curse You
Sales
#1
Thought this might be interesting to people who just ream and wipe out estate pipes, but don't leach out the remaining stuff to get rid of ghosting. Here are seven estate pipes I'm finishing up - except for the one at the middle left, all have been sitting for almost two days.

The second from the left at the top I thought was basically clean, but it isn't. And the second from the left at the bottom smelled pretty horrible, yet not much is coming out. And the pink one at the bottom right? What the heck was the previous owner smoking !?!?!

So when you receive an estate pipe that seems to be clean....

20200731_205157.jpg
 

FrankHall

Won't Curse You
Sales
#3
I've heard that. At some point I will take two of my pipes that I smoke equally and start one with salt/alcohol and the other with cotton/alcohol, then follow up with a reversal, and see what results I get. But for now, I just go with what my internet mentors recommend, as it works well and I haven't had any messes other than a few crumbs of salt over-pouring.
 

Terminus

Drink Water, Walk It Off
Patron
#4
Thought this might be interesting to people who just ream and wipe out estate pipes, but don't leach out the remaining stuff to get rid of ghosting. Here are seven estate pipes I'm finishing up - except for the one at the middle left, all have been sitting for almost two days.

The second from the left at the top I thought was basically clean, but it isn't. And the second from the left at the bottom smelled pretty horrible, yet not much is coming out. And the pink one at the bottom right? What the heck was the previous owner smoking !?!?!

So when you receive an estate pipe that seems to be clean....

View attachment 68757
How long do you let them 'rest' afterwards before smoking?
 

FrankHall

Won't Curse You
Sales
#6
@Terminus and @CrazyIvan779 - from the first response you can see that there is disagreement about the best technique to use. There is also disagreement as to how long to leave it and what to do afterward (some do cotton/alcohol afterward to remove any traces of salt). Since I lack tenure here, I'll recommend that you google 'pipe salt and alcohol treatment' - you'll quickly find where I get my guidance from.
 

FrankHall

Won't Curse You
Sales
#9
That pink is probably stain leaching through. I've had the same happen a couple of times (though more reddish-brown, not pink).

I've used cotton and salt, and not sure I have a preference. Once or twice I've done both, if it's a particularly nasty ghost.
Stain makes sense. I dumped out the salt (after two days), added cotton and saturated with alcohol. Three of them were fine, but the others needed the extra alcohol. I am not a picky estate pipe buyer, but I know that others usually are. As long as the pipe is not physically damaged, I'd prefer to get a great deal and have to do the clean-up work myself. I have;however, bought a few pipes from the refurbishers on ebay, mostly disappointments: I paid an appropriate amount for a beautiful sort-of rare pipe, only to discover that the Peterson 'P' had been practically sanded off with no attempt to re-white, and the heavy shiny finish was originally a natural finish, so no looking into the history of the model prior to attacking. On the other hand, the Peterson 69 on the far-right middle, was a perfect restoration by an ebay seller. The only reason it's soaking is because I smoked it once and plan to let go of it, so figured this couldn't hurt - very little came out.

I'm up in the air about how far to go with restorations, as all smokers have different expectations. But when it doubt, it will be 'less is best'.

To answer the question about how long I personally plan to wait before smoking a pipe that gets this treatment - probably at least two days. No good reason for waiting that long that I can think of, as 99.5% Isopropyl alcohol should already be evaporated after I pull the cotton ball (or salt) out, and certainly would be within an hour. But I have plenty of pipes, so no hurry.
 

Chico

Well-known member
#10
Stain makes sense. I dumped out the salt (after two days), added cotton and saturated with alcohol. Three of them were fine, but the others needed the extra alcohol. I am not a picky estate pipe buyer, but I know that others usually are. As long as the pipe is not physically damaged, I'd prefer to get a great deal and have to do the clean-up work myself. I have;however, bought a few pipes from the refurbishers on ebay, mostly disappointments: I paid an appropriate amount for a beautiful sort-of rare pipe, only to discover that the Peterson 'P' had been practically sanded off with no attempt to re-white, and the heavy shiny finish was originally a natural finish, so no looking into the history of the model prior to attacking. On the other hand, the Peterson 69 on the far-right middle, was a perfect restoration by an ebay seller. The only reason it's soaking is because I smoked it once and plan to let go of it, so figured this couldn't hurt - very little came out.

I'm up in the air about how far to go with restorations, as all smokers have different expectations. But when it doubt, it will be 'less is best'.

To answer the question about how long I personally plan to wait before smoking a pipe that gets this treatment - probably at least two days. No good reason for waiting that long that I can think of, as 99.5% Isopropyl alcohol should already be evaporated after I pull the cotton ball (or salt) out, and certainly would be within an hour. But I have plenty of pipes, so no hurry.
Yeah, I take a minimum intervention approach, too (unless it's something really far gone). Over-buffing is the name of buying estates on eBay. I actually prefer to buy unrestored, because even supposedly restored pipes almost always have a ghost.

Here's a Deerstalker with some stain leeched into the cotton:
IMG_20200801_170644094.jpg
 

FrankHall

Won't Curse You
Sales
#13
Yeah, I take a minimum intervention approach, too (unless it's something really far gone). Over-buffing is the name of buying estates on eBay. I actually prefer to buy unrestored, because even supposedly restored pipes almost always have a ghost.
Yes - when the description says the pipe has been completely refurbished, the stem's probably been sanded down too much for my liking. A big clue is an extra-glossy stem with no white in a very shallow emblem impression. Also, if all the seller's estate pipes are super-glossy with a thick finish, it makes me wonder if they aren't spraying them as a pool cue-maker does.
 

PappyJoe

Senior Chief
Sales
#14
How long do you let them 'rest' afterwards before smoking?
Define "rest".

I've done both salt and alcohol and cotton ball and alcohol. I personally let the pipes sit for 24 hours before dumping the salt or cotton. I then rinse the pipe under warm running water and let them sit for another 24 hours. No, the water doesn't damage the briar. The briar is wood. After 24 hours of drying, I smell the pipe. If it still smells offensive, I repeat the process using either alcohol. I've also used damp, used coffee grounds for de-ghosting pipes.

edit: I have used both 91% Isopropyl Alcohol and 190-Proof grain alcohol (Everclear is my weapon of choice).
 

Terminus

Drink Water, Walk It Off
Patron
#15
Define "rest".

I've done both salt and alcohol and cotton ball and alcohol. I personally let the pipes sit for 24 hours before dumping the salt or cotton. I then rinse the pipe under warm running water and let them sit for another 24 hours. No, the water doesn't damage the briar. The briar is wood. After 24 hours of drying, I smell the pipe. If it still smells offensive, I repeat the process using either alcohol. I've also used damp, used coffee grounds for de-ghosting pipes.

edit: I have used both 91% Isopropyl Alcohol and 190-Proof grain alcohol (Everclear is my weapon of choice).
I was just asking how long he let'em sit after the treatment is over before jamming tobacco in it and setting it on fire.
 

FrankHall

Won't Curse You
Sales
#16
Water, alcohol, oil - there's times for each, but if you're asking questions you should read up on it and form your own opinions. I did a lot of research before ever attempting to restore wood that had once been an end product. For those who are asking questions I would get a good wood finishing book - a classic that is actually the only one I use is 'Wood Repair, Finishing & Refinishing' by Fitchett.
 

PappyJoe

Senior Chief
Sales
#17
Water, alcohol, oil - there's times for each, but if you're asking questions you should read up on it and form your own opinions. I did a lot of research before ever attempting to restore wood that had once been an end product. For those who are asking questions I would get a good wood finishing book - a classic that is actually the only one I use is 'Wood Repair, Finishing & Refinishing' by Fitchett.
Yes, sir.
Doing research and learning from what has been done consistently and successfully is key to restoring pipes. I also recommend starting with cheap estate pipes you can find for around $10 before moving on to more expensive collectible pipes.
 

FrankHall

Won't Curse You
Sales
#18
Yes, sir.
Doing research and learning from what has been done consistently and successfully is key to restoring pipes. I also recommend starting with cheap estate pipes you can find for around $10 before moving on to more expensive collectible pipes.
If everyone here who has worked with wood for a long time told a few horror stories from their first few months of hands-on learning, people would be incredulous.
 

FrankHall

Won't Curse You
Sales
#20
I know I'm going to regret this...

The first antique pool cue I tried to restore was a 1950's Hoppe Pro that had black ink soaked into the forearm, right up to the brass joint. I had been told by someone who I thought knew what he was doing, to strip the old lacquer finish with sandpaper. Some people still do that, but for the most part it's a bad idea. Actually, I've seen quite a few oil-finished (refinished) 1940-50's pool cues that get thin in the forearm and the forearm is actually a little thinner than the joint - if you ever see that, it's the result of someone sanding off the old finish and not knowing when to stop.

I had nothing that would get the ink out - it was really a lost cause - so I kept sanding. I finally ended up staining the forearm a little bit darker than it should have been, to kind of hide the stain, but it was a disaster. Since then I've made so many friends of expert cue-makers, that when I have a problem like that one I just call a friend for advice and 100% of the time it gets solved. I've even taught them a few things over the years.

About a year later I was looking at a friend's very dirty and nasty, almost-black pool cue and thought I could see some bacote grain under the old finish. So I asked him if I could refinish it. Once the finish was stripped, sure enough - it was a beautiful dark bacote. The mistake was when I tried to give it a tung oil finish during the most humid part of a Georgia summer. It simply stayed sticky. I'm sure I could get it done fine today, but it was one of my first oil refinishes and my friend ended up getting fed up with me and sending the cue to a real cue maker :(

Since those two debacles, I really haven't had many situations where a mistake couldn't be remedied. I find pipe restorations to be extremely forgiving, but I do have a formula I've settled on that works well.