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Kyle Weiss

Kyle Weiss

Location : Reno, NV
Registration date : 2011-09-18

Cake Building Another Way Empty
PostSubject: Cake Building Another Way   Cake Building Another Way EmptyWed Aug 15, 2012 3:10 pm

I have a hard time building cake, usually due to the fact I have a neurotic need to keep my pipes meticulously clean. At first, before I knew, I took advice from my original "pipe instructor" Lloyd, after every smoke, to lightly ream the bowl out with some newspaper or a paper towel. I found no cake was being built, and the moist edges of the bowl were even being scoured to the point where it didn't affect the briar, but it was an "anti-cake" method with a new pipe, or worked only in pipes that had already had a normal cake built into it.

These days, my pipes rest for a day, and then I take them apart, swab them out with a only-slightly-damp pipe cleaner, and use a dry pipe cleaner to "dust out" the bowl. It's worked much better. However, the cake (especially in breaking in a new pipe) has been a bit too slow going for me.

I tried two things as a two-month long experiment (which has concluded):

Method 1: With a new pipe, don't mess with the bowl post-smoke, and simply "smoke in" the ash and very minor dottle after finishing. I would get out the big chunks by a ever-so light prodding with a pipe nail, dumping the ash, and blowing out the excess, but other than that, I left it alone (besides the rest/clean cycle described above). After a month of smoking, a chunky, uneven (but fast) cake would develop. Sometimes when gently scraping excess dottle, a larger piece from a smoke some time ago would simply carbonize and leave a big hole, resulting in this somewhat uneven (but effective) cake. The smoke was fine, but the crevices liked to fill with dottle, and occasional uneven burn happened mid-smoke.

Method 2: With a (different) new pipe, at the end of each smoke, I would take my pipe nail and scrape down the stuck pieces of dottle, then scoop up the ash and "paint" the sides of the bowl all the way to the top. I'd then blow out the contents that didn't stick. After a month of smoking and doing this, the cake was about half that of Method 1, but the sides were nicely managed, even, and a crystalline structure of cake was building. The smokes were as good as Method 1, but very little attention needed to be paid to reaming and evening of the cake in the bowl.

This "Method 2" worked well with pipes which I only wanted half a bowl, without developing a thicker cake at the bottom leaving the top without. I've continued on with this "scoop the ash up the walls of the bowl post-smoke" with other pipes now, and I'm finding a huge improvement in the "right" kind of cake I was hoping to build.

All of this was (and still is) based on theory, because in the long-term, I have no idea what will happen. I simply know I'm not the "smoke it and forget it" kind of fella, I care about my pipes (perhaps to dotingly) and think of this as a way to have the best of both worlds. Cleaning a pipe down to OEM surfaces seems just as extreme as those pipes that have cake built up so much you could barely put a pencil down the bowl.

Hopefully what I'm doing is building a faster "slow cake" of smaller ash particles rather than just a regular "fast cake" which comes from many layers of tobacco, ash, carbon and whatever else. It (so far) seems denser, tougher and easier to manage with Method 2.

Just thoughts, might as well fiddle around with things since I have the chance. Laughing

Cool
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nogbert

nogbert

Age : 28
Location : Colorado
Registration date : 2010-02-18

Cake Building Another Way Empty
PostSubject: Re: Cake Building Another Way   Cake Building Another Way EmptyWed Aug 15, 2012 4:49 pm

i do a similar thing. after a smoke, i swirl the ash and dottle around to get the ask loose and on the sides. i also usually cover the bowl with the fat part of my palm (thumb muscle) and give it a good shake at multiple angles to get the ash on as much of the bowl walls as possible. this has been working pretty well for me.
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Puff Daddy
Moderator
Puff Daddy

Age : 55
Location : South of heaven
Registration date : 2007-12-09

Cake Building Another Way Empty
PostSubject: Re: Cake Building Another Way   Cake Building Another Way EmptyWed Aug 15, 2012 5:20 pm

I think cake is a silly notion that most often does nothing to protect the briar or enhance the smoking experience. I think there IS a break-in period for the briar walls of a pipe chamber, and some patience and care is a good thing, and here is where building a small cake for a short period of time could be a good thing. Once the chamber walls have gone through the initial process of being lightly charred, having had oils and water vapor combusted in the pores of the surface of the wood and subsequently been allowed to dry well, and this process repeated over several times, the need for a cake disappears. If you smoke slowly you'll not need a cake to protect the briar, and if the walls of the chamber are scorching you need to smoke more slowly. Besides, cake is accumulated tars left behind after the good stuff has been combusted, and that doesn't sound like something you'd want to smoke.

With that said, my own process is this. When I'm finished smoking a pipe, I run a pipe cleaner all the way into the pipe and leave it a few minutes. This absorbs most of the excess moisture. I then remove the cleaner and use the pick on my Sheffield ppe knife to loosen all of the ash and dottle and I dump it into the garbage disposal and wash it away (no smelly ashtrays here). I blow through the pipe to make sure there's nothing left in there, then I insert the unused end of the pipe cleaner back into the pipe and set the pipe down for a couple of minutes. I then take out the pipe cleaner, fold it over in half, and laying it along side of my index finger I insert finger and cleaner into the chamber and scrub the bowl out lightly, pressing the cleaner against the side of the bowl as I move my finger around. Just a couple of seconds. Pipe is now ready for a short slumber, and my pipes are fresh and clean smelling. I have a Savinelli Fitsall pipe reamer for removing cake, which does still slowly build up, and when I notice that a pipe doesn't smell quite fresh after a couple of days or visually seems to be accumulating a little cake, I give it a quick and easy reaming to just knock things down to smooth without digging into wood.

Taking pipes apart and treating anything with any kind of alchohol is like a once a year deal with the above method, which came from our beloved and departed brother, Tom Calia, aka TJ, who went by the username Thomas James on this forum and the old Knox forum.

_________________
These are horrible times and all sorts of horrible people are prospering, but we must never let this disturb our equanimity or deflect us from our sacred duty to annoy and hinder them at every turn.


Last edited by Puff Daddy on Wed Aug 15, 2012 5:24 pm; edited 1 time in total
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shootist51



Location : Indianapolis, Indiana
Registration date : 2007-12-28

Cake Building Another Way Empty
PostSubject: Re: Cake Building Another Way   Cake Building Another Way EmptyWed Aug 15, 2012 5:23 pm

I smoke my pipes until what ever is left in the bottom will no longer light. Then, using the pick if a pipe tool or nail, I stir what remains, cover the top of the bowl with my thumb and shake the pipe.

This leaves an even coating of ash top to bottom and seems to build a cake fairly quickly.
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Puff Daddy
Moderator
Puff Daddy

Age : 55
Location : South of heaven
Registration date : 2007-12-09

Cake Building Another Way Empty
PostSubject: Re: Cake Building Another Way   Cake Building Another Way EmptyWed Aug 15, 2012 5:30 pm

Oh, and for that first break in period when you might actually want to be building a small amount of very thin cake, just smoke the pipe very slowly. Let it go out, who cares. Smoke it slowly and patiently to the bottom. Clean as I mentioned above, then smoke it again and again and again in that same slow, careful manner, cleaning and resting it each time. After a short while you'll have both a broken in pipe and a good slow smoking technique. Raw wood or precarb, I do it the same.

_________________
These are horrible times and all sorts of horrible people are prospering, but we must never let this disturb our equanimity or deflect us from our sacred duty to annoy and hinder them at every turn.
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williamcharles

williamcharles

Age : 68
Location : Indiana
Registration date : 2011-09-18

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PostSubject: Re: Cake Building Another Way   Cake Building Another Way EmptyWed Aug 15, 2012 5:51 pm

I use the same technique used by some of the other guys but I used to smoke PA and CH to build cake quickly and was getting a soft, brittle cake that would flake away from the bowl.
I now use the British and Danish flakes and the cake builds slowly and is harder and denser.
I fluff up the ash, cover the bowl and give it a shake and then blow out the excess after dumping the majority of the ash.
The difference is that I've switched the tobacco used to form cake and I like the results much better.
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monbla256

monbla256

Age : 74
Location : DFW Metroplex, Texas
Registration date : 2012-01-15

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PostSubject: Re: Cake Building Another Way   Cake Building Another Way EmptyWed Aug 15, 2012 6:25 pm

"To cake or not to Cake, that is the question" Willy discussed this in one of his plays didn't he ? Rolling Eyes I've been able to smoke most of my bowls down to just ash with little or no "dottle" over the years mainly I'm sure because of the type of tobacco I have smoked, Va based Balkan/English blends and now for the past few years St. Va Flakes. I get to the bottom, use a pipe nail to stir up the remaining ash, dump it out, give it a blow thru the stem, take a cleaner and put it in the pipe and set it back in the rack, bowl down. The cleaner stays in till just before I go to bed when I take 'em out and put the pipe back in the rack. I let all my pipes develop NO MORE than a dimes worth thcikness wise, of cake and usually ream them back once a month when I do my 12 pipe "cleaning" My pipes don't smell nor do they smoke "wet" and I've been doing it this way for several years now. I'll have to check with Kyle as to how many as he keeps track of all my "time " issues for me Twisted Evil
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Kyle Weiss

Kyle Weiss

Location : Reno, NV
Registration date : 2011-09-18

Cake Building Another Way Empty
PostSubject: Re: Cake Building Another Way   Cake Building Another Way EmptyWed Aug 15, 2012 9:13 pm

Well, call me contrarian, I think a little cake is a good thing. If my curiosity and theories come across as stress, confused bewilderment or frustration, it isn't. Blame either my writing style or the Internet, both is fine, too. Simply, it's just taking the car past 55MPH, taking the hands of the steering wheel at "10" and "2" and turning up the tunes a little. Nothing more, nothing less--just observations.

In recent discussions with Mr. Pease on pipe "taste" versus "performance," cake is kind of a natural component, whether people think it's baloney or not. I have these two pipes that the briar simply tastes terrible. Both were new, one was an older, unsmoked vintage bulldog which I broke in, the other was a new Nording, the first new pipe I ever bought just over a year ago. While both performed well, an adequate cake building was essential to getting the tobacco that much farther from the briar, the idea to taste less of whatever the bowl was treated with, or whatever chemical taste befell the poor briar before it was plucked from the sandy earth. I'm sort of wondering if I shouldn't build cake in my meerschaum *gasp* (oh noes!) because meerschaum has a decidedly odd flavor. It might help. It might not. Cake remains to be the irritating maintenance that happens to some guys (or they ignore it until their pipe seals shut Laughing ), or the obsession of others (pro or con). I don't belong in any camp.

Blabla, I get a couple of little dottle pieces that stick to the side of the bowl with certain tobacs, primarily, Embarcadero and Union Square. It's just something they do, delicate little leaves. If you're smoking dottle-free, well, you earned a cookie.

I didn't mean for anyone to go macroscopic on the "cake" deal. If you like cake, well eat it. If you don't, let 'em all eat it. Laughing

Cool
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Puff Daddy
Moderator
Puff Daddy

Age : 55
Location : South of heaven
Registration date : 2007-12-09

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PostSubject: Re: Cake Building Another Way   Cake Building Another Way EmptyWed Aug 15, 2012 9:31 pm

I was just giving an opinion that was formed from my own observations. Seems that, in this hobby, you can have polar opposites that prove to be true enough. Chalk it up to the same stuff that the pipe engineering thread was borne of - Sometimes shit don't add up.

I found my own theory to prove true with Embarcadero and a group 4 Mastro De Paja stack billiard a few years ago. I'd clean the pipe of cake and get a fabulously perfect smoke, but subsequent smokes were muddied, contaminated. As soon as I'd scrape the cake clean, great smoke. I went to TJ's OCD method and have had far better experiences and far fewer mandated cleaning sessions than ever before.

I guess sometimes we just get satisfactory results doing something and settle into it as dogmatic principle. Hair shirt or not, I'll stick by my methods Laughing

_________________
These are horrible times and all sorts of horrible people are prospering, but we must never let this disturb our equanimity or deflect us from our sacred duty to annoy and hinder them at every turn.
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Kyle Weiss

Kyle Weiss

Location : Reno, NV
Registration date : 2011-09-18

Cake Building Another Way Empty
PostSubject: Re: Cake Building Another Way   Cake Building Another Way EmptyWed Aug 15, 2012 9:56 pm

Well, that actually adds up for me, then. I'm still OCD about pipe cleaning, I was just having problems building up that little bit of cake that I could tell was making a difference in a few estate pipe (ones I didn't actually build the cake on), so on went my little hamster-in-a-wheel for a brain, and started muckin' around with what cake could do, and how to get a little...and which type was preferable.

At this point, as you say, clean is good for things like Embarcadero, so the 'Barc and Union Square pipes get a lot of scrutiny. The Latakia pipes? Pfff. What'ev. They kind of do their own thing. All the rest are all variants in between. So goes this little ongoing experiment, though... especially with the meer, which will take a little while longer.

It's all experimentation, even if you're borrowing a suggestion from someone else. Eventually something has to work, and if doesn't change it up. You know how it goes.

Cool
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