Rich Esserman's Vulcanite Stem Cleaning Method

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Well-known member
Dec 15, 2007
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Hi Folks,
This was printed with the kind consent of highgrade pipes collector Rich Esserman.Rich does'nt believe in the practice of using buffing wheels to clean badly oxidized vulcanite stems. Here's his personal method for safe stem cleaning for those folks without a wheel or those not well versed in using one. If you have an especially collectible pipe you may want to give this a try too.
Get a plastic cup
Add Fantastic cleaner (several squirts)
Tom's Of Maine Toothpaste
Baking Soda
Waterless Hand Cleaner

Mix it up - and then apply to the vulcanite stem

Let it set and then scrub off with a paper towel - do this several time until you a flat black stem and remove all oxidation..

Then take Tom's of Maine; a whitening tooth paste and baking soda (this the polishing material)

Mix together - apply to the stem via a paper towel or Q-Tip

I then begin scrubbing the paste in a circular motion with a thing you can get a thing at the grocery store - called a "Sponge Cloth"

Apply as many times ad needed - you will begin to get a shine - and ultimately a deep shine line like a new pipe.


Well-known member
Apr 7, 2008
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I have tried Rich's method a couple of times on vulcanite stems and it works (just) ok, but doesn't have the gloss of using red and white compounds on a buffing wheel.