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 Cleaning Vulcanite Stems

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Bugsahearn

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Registration date : 2015-02-05

PostSubject: Cleaning Vulcanite Stems   Mon Oct 19, 2015 1:53 am

I like to wipe off my stem before or after each smoke with Clove Extract (67% alcohol). It usually works with no issues but I have some vulcanite stems that are being deoxidized. What should I use to clean them after each smoke?
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Puffer Mark

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Age : 52
Location : Cape Town South Africa
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PostSubject: Re: Cleaning Vulcanite Stems   Mon Oct 19, 2015 2:04 am

I find a UV protective lip ice (Chapstick) works for me. Simply smear it on and polish off excess with a soft cloth.
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Bugsahearn

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PostSubject: Re: Cleaning Vulcanite Stems   Mon Oct 19, 2015 2:26 am

Thanks Mark..I'll have to try that. I was wondering about something that actually cleans though as well, like how alcohol kills germs. But I shouldn't used alcohol on the vulcanite stems so what are the other options?
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Puffer Mark

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PostSubject: Re: Cleaning Vulcanite Stems   Mon Oct 19, 2015 4:21 am

I see what you mean, Bugs. But I'm guessing most disinfectants will have some kind of alcohol base and therefore be prone to cause oxidation. Perhaps someone else will chime in.

For me, its not really an issue, if there are cooties, I guess they're mostly mine Very Happy
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Cartaphilus

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Age : 63
Location : East Texas
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PostSubject: Re: Cleaning Vulcanite Stems   Mon Oct 19, 2015 8:41 am

Once a month I clean all my pipes thoroughly and use ISO alcohol, afterwards on the stems that are vulcanite I use Paragon wax, it seems to protect them and keep them shining for some time. Of course I try not to put my stems into direct sunlight for any extended period of time and wipe them off after each use use with a soft rag. Oxidation is the nature of the beast here so I have to polish mine every few months YMMV depending how often you smoke the same pipe, most mine only get smoked once a day.
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Richard Burley

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Location : North Coast NY
Registration date : 2011-04-09

PostSubject: Re: Cleaning Vulcanite Stems   Mon Oct 19, 2015 10:24 am

Maas polishing cream; it allegedly leaves a protective coating. I assume that the formula is still the same as the tube I bought 20 years ago and still haven't used up. I normally just use water to remove lip crud from the end after smoking, then rack it. I only have a couple of pipes that seem to need extra attention. Cheap vulcanite.
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Bugsahearn

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PostSubject: Re: Cleaning Vulcanite Stems   Mon Oct 19, 2015 8:09 pm

Thanks guys! Anyone tried tea tree oil on stems? I've used it sometimes on new pipes but wonder how it compares to obsidian
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KevinM



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Location : Connecticut
Registration date : 2012-02-26

PostSubject: Re: Cleaning Vulcanite Stems   Mon Oct 19, 2015 10:52 pm

Go to your med cabinet and take out the mineral oil. Just take a small dab on your fingertip. Rubrubrub it evenly on the pipe's stem. When you're done, there shouldn't be enough excess left to run. Then just set your pipe aside. Mineral oil is an antioxidant that will also help lessen future stem discoloration. I think mineral oil = obsidian oil, except you already own a bottle, most likely.
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Bugsahearn

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PostSubject: Re: Cleaning Vulcanite Stems   Mon Oct 19, 2015 11:04 pm

KevinM wrote:
Go to your med cabinet and take out the mineral oil. Just take a small dab on your fingertip. Rubrubrub it evenly on the pipe's stem. When you're done, there shouldn't be enough excess left to run. Then just set your pipe aside. Mineral oil is an antioxidant that will also help lessen future stem discoloration. I think mineral oil = obsidian oil, except you already own a bottle, most likely.

Thanks Kev I don't have any obsidian oil. Unfortunately there's no mineral oil in my medicine cabinet...(there's no room with all the druqks in there...ahem..medicine..JK) unless its the same as baby oil? Tea tree oil has some anti-microbial and anti-fungal qualities and apparently Anti-oxident if i'm understanding this correctly.:

Abstract
Antioxidant activity of Australian tea tree (Melaleuca alternifolia) oil (TTO) was determined using two different assays. In the 2,2-diphenyl-1-picrylhydrazyl assay, 10 microL/mL crude TTO in methanol had approximately 80% free radical scavenging activity, and in the hexanal/hexanoic acid assay, 200 microL/mL crude TTO exhibited 60% inhibitory activity against the oxidation of hexanal to hexanoic acid over 30 days. These results were equivalent to the antioxidant activities of 30 mM butylated hydroxytoluene in both tests at the same experimental conditions. This indicated that the TTO could be a good alternative antioxidant. Inherent antioxidants, i.e., alpha-terpinene, alpha-terpinolene, and gamma-terpinene, in the crude TTO were separated and identified chromatographically using silica gel open chromatography, C(18)-high-pressure liquid chromatography, and gas chromatography-mass spectrometry. Their antioxidant activities decreased in the following order in both assays: alpha-terpinene > alpha-terpinolene > gamma-terpinene.

But uh oh I just read it's you shouldn't put it in your mouth...I've been using it as a mouthwash everyday for years. I keep it in there for an hour each day for my bad teeth. Uh Oh.
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KevinM



Age : 74
Location : Connecticut
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PostSubject: Re: Cleaning Vulcanite Stems   Mon Oct 19, 2015 11:54 pm

Bugs -- Baby oil is basically mineral oil with a scent added.
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ontariopiper

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PostSubject: Re: Cleaning Vulcanite Stems   Tue Oct 20, 2015 10:42 am

+1 for mineral oil. Vulcanite seems to really like it. Smile

If you've got a few stems that are really oxidized, I suggest a bit of Oxyclean and warm water. You can let the stems soak for a while to bring the oxidation to the surface then scrub them clean with Magic Eraser. Follow up with the mineral oil afterwards for clean, shiny stems.
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Bugsahearn

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PostSubject: Re: Cleaning Vulcanite Stems   Tue Oct 20, 2015 10:50 am

Thanks I have some really oxidized stems I'll have to try the mineral oil on after i get them clean. Is there any alternative to oxyclean?
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ontariopiper

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PostSubject: Re: Cleaning Vulcanite Stems   Tue Oct 20, 2015 10:58 am

Bugsahearn wrote:
Thanks I have some really oxidized stems I'll have to try the mineral oil on after i get them clean. Is there any alternative to oxyclean?

I've heard of people using ordinary household bleach, but it's much harsher than Oxyclean. I use the Oxy on all my estate pipes. I can vouch for it as both effective and gentle on the stems. FWIW, I buy the "no name" generic version - cheaper than the name brand and works just as well.
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Cartaphilus

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Age : 63
Location : East Texas
Registration date : 2011-12-15

PostSubject: Re: Cleaning Vulcanite Stems   Tue Oct 20, 2015 11:06 am

I think the biggest secret here that most everyone is missing is, Keep your Ebonite/Vulcanite stems clean, out of direct sunlight for extended periods and keep them waxed. I have quite few Vulcanite stems and have never had a problem keeping them from oxidizing. Granted occasionally one might start to turn a little green in a spot and is fairly easy to polish it out.
I'm really unsure why so many have an Oxidizing problem with these stems. Take care of your pipes like you would your vehicle or any prized possession and it'll serve you for many years and look almost like it did when new. Wink
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ontariopiper

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Age : 45
Location : Kitchener, Ontario CANADA
Registration date : 2015-03-10

PostSubject: Re: Cleaning Vulcanite Stems   Tue Oct 20, 2015 11:14 am

Cartaphilus wrote:
I think the biggest secret here that most everyone is missing is, Keep your Ebonite/Vulcanite stems clean, out of direct sunlight for extended periods and keep them waxed. 

Right on point, Cart. I've got estate pipes I cleaned up a year ago that have yet to oxidize. Carnauba is hard stuff! Very Happy
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Blackhorse

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Age : 69
Location : Oregon City
Registration date : 2010-10-23

PostSubject: Re: Cleaning Vulcanite Stems   Tue Oct 20, 2015 12:05 pm

I would absolutely not use Chlorine bleach on vulcanite/ebonite.

I haven't tried it, but wonder how hydrogen peroxide would react with vulcanite.
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CharlG

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Location : Cape Town, South Africa
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PostSubject: Re: Cleaning Vulcanite Stems   Tue Oct 20, 2015 2:14 pm

Just for interesting sake: why not? I'm not a pipe repairman, I'd rather make a new pipe mess than try to make an old mess into something, but using bleach for heavily oxidised stems seem to be used very often by guys restoring estates. I have personally used it for the odd estate find as well. The bleach of course is rinsed off afterwards and the stem still needs to be sanded. The airway is also cleaned with alcohol, so absolutely no trace of bleach is left on the stem.
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Bugsahearn

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PostSubject: Re: Cleaning Vulcanite Stems   Tue Oct 20, 2015 2:48 pm

CharlG wrote:
Just for interesting sake: why not? I'm not a pipe repairman, I'd rather make a new pipe mess than try to make an old mess into something, but using bleach for heavily oxidised stems seem to be used very often by guys restoring estates. I have personally used it for the odd estate find as well. The bleach of course is rinsed off afterwards and the stem still needs to be sanded. The airway is also cleaned with alcohol, so absolutely no trace of bleach is left on the stem.

Whats the method for soaking that doesn't require sanding? I don't have a way to sand, the last oxidized stem i fixed was on a savinelli, I scrubbed it for days with water and a magic eraser. Got all the oxidation off, I guess it wasn't too deep, and then polished it with brebbia polish. It worked really well. but I have just got a stock of older grabows and that are badly oxidized, and much cheaper vulcanite. So the magic eraser + water + elbow greaser probably won't work for these. The oxyclean soak requires sanding after correct? Also doesn't oxyclean contain bleach?
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balkan_boy

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PostSubject: Re: Cleaning Vulcanite Stems   Tue Oct 20, 2015 3:15 pm

Bugsahearn wrote:
CharlG wrote:
Just for interesting sake: why not? I'm not a pipe repairman, I'd rather make a new pipe mess than try to make an old mess into something, but using bleach for heavily oxidised stems seem to be used very often by guys restoring estates. I have personally used it for the odd estate find as well. The bleach of course is rinsed off afterwards and the stem still needs to be sanded. The airway is also cleaned with alcohol, so absolutely no trace of bleach is left on the stem.

Whats the method for soaking that doesn't require sanding? I don't have a way to sand, the last oxidized stem i fixed was on a savinelli, I scrubbed it for days with water and a magic eraser. Got all the oxidation off, I guess it wasn't too deep, and then polished it with brebbia polish. It worked really well. but I have just got a stock of older grabows and that are badly oxidized, and much cheaper vulcanite. So the magic eraser + water + elbow greaser probably won't work for these. The oxyclean soak requires sanding after correct? Also doesn't oxyclean contain bleach?

I'm afraid the only thing that works on vulcanite stems is sandpaper + drill + buffing wheel + ultra fine abrasive polishing paste. That will sort things out for a certain amount of time, (a year or so) and then you repeat the procedure. Over and over again, just to see the stem losing shine after a month, and going uglier with every single day. Either you accept the "beauty of the imperfection" and see it as "patina", or like me, you just get pissed off.

That's the reason I hate vulcanite stems and I don't buy pipes with vulcanite stems at all anymore. I still have about 40 of them, and they give me so much trouble. I'll have to learn to see the beauty in the greenish, nuance. I'm half way there actually.

Long story short, there is a way to avoid sanding and it's called piece of cloth and a toothpaste. You may want to put a drop of oil also when you apply it, and there's a heluva lot of rubbing until it shines.
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Bugsahearn

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PostSubject: Re: Cleaning Vulcanite Stems   Wed Oct 21, 2015 11:55 am

balkan_boy wrote:
Bugsahearn wrote:
CharlG wrote:
Just for interesting sake: why not? I'm not a pipe repairman, I'd rather make a new pipe mess than try to make an old mess into something, but using bleach for heavily oxidised stems seem to be used very often by guys restoring estates. I have personally used it for the odd estate find as well. The bleach of course is rinsed off afterwards and the stem still needs to be sanded. The airway is also cleaned with alcohol, so absolutely no trace of bleach is left on the stem.

Whats the method for soaking that doesn't require sanding? I don't have a way to sand, the last oxidized stem i fixed was on a savinelli, I scrubbed it for days with water and a magic eraser. Got all the oxidation off, I guess it wasn't too deep, and then polished it with brebbia polish. It worked really well. but I have just got a stock of older grabows and that are badly oxidized, and much cheaper vulcanite. So the magic eraser + water + elbow greaser probably won't work for these. The oxyclean soak requires sanding after correct? Also doesn't oxyclean contain bleach?

I'm afraid the only thing that works on vulcanite stems is sandpaper + drill + buffing wheel + ultra fine abrasive polishing paste. That will sort things out for a certain amount of time, (a year or so) and then you repeat the procedure. Over and over again, just to see the stem losing shine after a month, and going uglier with every single day. Either you accept the "beauty of the imperfection" and see it as "patina", or like me, you just get pissed off.

That's the reason I hate vulcanite stems and I don't buy pipes with vulcanite stems at all anymore. I still have about 40 of them, and they give me so much trouble. I'll have to learn to see the beauty in the greenish, nuance. I'm half way there actually.

Long story short, there is a way to avoid sanding and it's called piece of cloth and a toothpaste. You may want to put a drop of oil also when you apply it, and there's a heluva lot of rubbing until it shines.

hey balky, thanks I will give toothpaste a try and also perhaps soaking and scrubbing in baking soda. Anyone tried vinegar?
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balkan_boy

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PostSubject: Re: Cleaning Vulcanite Stems   Wed Oct 21, 2015 1:35 pm

[quote="Bugsahearn"][quote="balkan_boy"]
Bugsahearn wrote:
... Anyone tried vinegar?

I wouldn't go for vinegar, the active compound in it is acetic acid, which is organic solvent, pretty much like alcohol, and I think it'll make things worse.
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Puffer Mark

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PostSubject: Re: Cleaning Vulcanite Stems   Wed Oct 21, 2015 2:13 pm

balkan_boy wrote:


That's the reason I hate vulcanite stems and I don't buy pipes with vulcanite stems at all anymore. I still have about 40 of them, and they give me so much trouble.  

Send 'em along at $5 apiece, I'll give 'em a real good home. lol!

Seriously guys,

Bleach is an anti-oxidant, I'm guessing so is Oxyclean (here it's called "Sterident", used for cleaning dentures). Sometimes a badly oxidized stem will veritably bubble up with released oxygen. In my limited experience, it seems to 'lift out' the oxidation leaving a rough but black finish that can then be be buffed to shiny smoothness by any preferred method and sealed with whatever (Olive oil, mineral oil, bees wax, carnuaba, whatever).

IMHO.

M.
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Bugsahearn

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PostSubject: Re: Cleaning Vulcanite Stems   Thu Oct 22, 2015 3:32 am

balkan_boy wrote:
Bugsahearn wrote:
balkan_boy wrote:
Bugsahearn wrote:
... Anyone tried vinegar?

I wouldn't go for vinegar, the active compound in it is acetic acid, which is organic solvent, pretty much like alcohol, and I think it'll make things worse.  

Ok thanks that makes sense. Once the oxidation is scrubbed out, my method of clove extract seems to work ok for a quick wipe off between smokes
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