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Cleaning Oxidized Stems- Basics for Brown Leaf Seedlings (BBLS)



Welcome to the Third Installment of
Basics for Brown Leaf Seedlings (BBLS)




Cleaning Oxidized Stems


You've chosen your smoking pipe, you've perfected keeping it lit and it has served you well but you left it out in the sun turning it hershey brown. Perhaps you purchased an estate pipe that has all the goods but the black stem has faded to puce through the years. This bothers you, as it should. The immortal sage wisdom of The Brown Leaf Godfather JWhite was dispensed with such largesse in the original maintenance thread. Alas, this is yet another guide to help you restore the aesthetics of your favorite pipes. Also, in compliance with the unwritten BL rule... it has pictures :thumbup1:





This is a simple cleaning process that I have devised (only one I can afford) to keep my stems looking nice and shiny. If I can get these in Boondocks, Japan, I doubt any of you will have any issues.

The items used in this thread*



1.Baking Soda
2.Magic Eraser
3.Non-toxic dish soap
4.Old T-shirt/microfiber cloth
5.Paragon Wax



*1.Many brothers of the leaf use Oxiclean instead of baking soda. I just couldn't find any here. 2.It doesn't have to be a magic eraser as any knockoff will work. 3.Dish soap is not necessary but it helps get a little extra shine out of the stems. 4.If you don't have Paragon Wax (although you should) olive oil or chapstick will also work in a pinch.



Two of these stems were for my pipes and I recently sold one on the BST and wanted to clean it up for the buyer. They all had some decent oxidation.


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I fill a tupperware container with hot water (not boiling) and drop a generous table spoon into the water. If you have worse oxidation you might want to increase the amount of baking soda. Stir the baking soda around till you don't see anymore white clubs. Attention: To preserve manufacturer markings on the stem, cover that area with some petroleum jelly so that it isn't removed during this process.




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Drop your stems in the container and enjoy the smell of burnt tires. Fret not, this means you're doing it right! :001_smile You'll see the stems begin to fizzle and bubble and the water will turn a murky brown. Stir lightly to see the wonder of science work its magic.


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Look all that stinky brown goodness just begging to be rubbed off. It's time to get your magic eraser.


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Soak the magic eraser and then give it a gentle squeeze. Roll up your sleeves and bust out the elbow grease. This will probably be the most strenuous portion of this process. I work all the sides of the stems and orientate the eraser in a variety of ways to get all stubborn oxidation spots. Occasionally rinsing the magic eraser in between scrubs will also give you feedback about which spots are stilly heavily oxidized.




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I get a couple of pipe cleaners and clean out the insides and make sure to dry the stems off with a paper towel.




They are now going to be entering my preferred stage. But it is not necessary. The cleaner I used is a non-toxic lemon oil derived pots and pan cleaner and is not harmful if ingested(though I don't). If you are unsure if your cleaner is consumer grade, don't use it.



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I take a dab of the cleaner and put it on the old t-shirt. I will now begin to polish the stems by rubbing to remove even more oxidation. I will continue this process until they have a nice glean all around the stem.



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Make sure it's a shirt that you no longer care for :001_rolle. I wash the stems off in cold water to remove any cleaner and will begin to polish with Paragon Wax.



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As mentioned before, Paragon Wax is not necessary. But, in my honest opinion it's something that everyone who smokes a pipe and doesn't have a buffing wheel should own. A little goes a long way and it works like a charm. You can also use it to polish the exterior of your pipes. Paragon Wax is only for smooth pipes where Halcyon II is for rusticated pipes.

If you aren't interested in purchasing it, olive oil or chapstick will suffice. This process is not only to make the stem shiny, but also to make a seal over the freshly deoxidized stem. That way, oxidation will occur less quickly next time.



I use a dollar store micro fiber towel for this but an old t-shirt will also work fine. Apply a small amount of the wax and rub it all around the stem. Leave it for 30 seconds and you will see a faint white haze. After that, polish using the towel and you will see the little piece of vulcanite begin to glimmer. I repeat this process two times.




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And that's all she wrote. There are still some spots of oxidation near the button but I didn't want to go too overboard as I wanted to make this quick. Fine grit sandpaper can sort this type of oxidation out if it becomes an issue.


Pre-soak stems

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Post-cleaner polish

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Post-Halcyon polish

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Fin

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Feel free to ask any questions. For the veterans, do you have any other tips and tricks to help those who haven't done this? Thank you for taking the time to read :pipe:
 
Great post Andrew! For those really stubborn brown spots, 400 grit wet sandpaper under running water will get it done.
 
Just a note on the wax. If you wax a lot, I do, you'll save a bunch by buying a 200ml can of Renaissance Mircro-Crystalline Wax Polish. It's the same as Paragon and for $19 bucks will last years and years. Bought mine at a woodworking shop, but Amazon sells it now.
iM
 

Attachments

just wanted to note, that I used oxiclean bath and it really helps take off a lot of the gunk that would take ALOT longer and a lot more elbow grease if you didnt.

I have the walker briarworks kits, but used an oxiclean bath first and it really helped. I then used the magic eraser then the walker briarworks kit.
 
just wanted to note, that I used oxiclean bath and it really helps take off a lot of the gunk that would take ALOT longer and a lot more elbow grease if you didnt.

I have the walker briarworks kits, but used an oxiclean bath first and it really helped. I then used the magic eraser then the walker briarworks kit.
Sounds like a solid method. Doesn't seem to leave anything to chance. I have Oxiclean, and will try it next time I need to do a stem. Now, too many have spoken highly of it not for me to give it a go.
 
Excellent tutorial , i don't have any that need this but good to know for future.

So to help prevent this or at least slow down the oxidation the wax should be used even on new pipes ?
 
Excellent tutorial , i don't have any that need this but good to know for future.

So to help prevent this or at least slow down the oxidation the wax should be used even on new pipes ?
You could, but it's not necessary. The two biggest reasons vulcanite oxidizes is because of saliva and sunlight. Don't leave the pipes in front of a window and be sure to wipe off saliva after smoking.
 
I tried this on two stems so far.

The Ropp was not heavily smoked/oxidized and cleaned up to a beautiful satin matte finish...I imagine it's supposed to be glossy but I really like it and I'm not going to mess with it.

The Dr. Grabow took a lot of elbow grease before I decided it needs another Oxy-Clean or baking soda bath, which I'll probably start in a few minutes.
 
You could, but it's not necessary. The two biggest reasons vulcanite oxidizes is because of saliva and sunlight. Don't leave the pipes in front of a window and be sure to wipe off saliva after smoking.
Doing a little research tonight leads me to believe this method must be true-Coat your vulcanite stems with Chapstick after smoking. Let stand for five minutes and buff off. The SPF helps with oxidation from UV rays, and the stuff that keeps your lips soft protects the vulcanite. It does seem that Obsidian oil is the most used and respected product for protecting vulcanite stems from future oxidation.
 
Thanks for the post, a great thread. Being a new guy in here I don't know a great deal about pipes yet, so this is really great to read. I don't need to clean anything yet but I will definately use the info in the future.
 

oc_in_fw

Contributor
What material is the stem on the 2013 LE pipes? Are they as susceptible? Do you use the same polish on them, or is it unnecessary?
 
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