Smoking out of a wooden pipe is a rather classy way to consume cannabis, but it requires more maintenance than using a glass pipe.

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Wood absorbs a lot more than glass does, so it’s important to clean your pipe on a regular basis to avoid excessive buildup and unpleasant smells. 

Cleaning a wooden pipe is more of a hassle than other types because you can’t just soak it in alcohol or hot water to remove the debris. Doing so could damage the wood. 

Supplies for cleaning a wooden pipe:

You’ll need:

  • A reamer tool, blunted blade, or similar device
  • Several pipe cleaners 
  • A small amount of isopropyl alcohol (optional)

Steps for cleaning a wooden pipe:

Step 1. Remove ash and other debris

Start by turning your pipe upside down and gently shaking it to remove the ash. Give it a few taps and blow on it if you need to dislodge it further. 

You can do this into your hand or over a suitable surface. Just be sure to start this process after your pipe has cooled off and not directly after using it. 

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Step 2. Disassemble the pipe

Take your pipe apart and blow through all the areas that may have resin trapped inside.  Of course, don’t try to disassemble your pipe if it’s a solid piece. 

Step 3. Scrape off the char

Your pipe should have a layer of char caked on at all times. You should never scrape this off fully.

Instead, you’ll want to scrape off excessive buildup using a reamer tool, blunted blade, or similar tool that can scrape off the caked layer. 

You want to evenly scrape this buildup off without going all the way to the wood. Leave the bowl with a light layer of char to protect the wood from slowly burning away each time you use it. Leaving a small layer of char also means you won’t accidentally scrape or hurt the wood in some way while cleaning it. 

Step 4. Clean the stem out

The final step for cleaning a wooden pipe is to clear your stem of any residue. The best way to do this is with a pipe cleaner. 

Run a pipe cleaner (or multiple, if the stem is wide) through the pipe’s stem and repeat with clean pipe cleaners until they come out clean.

And that’s it! You’ve cleaned your wooden pipe. 

Should I use isopropyl alcohol to clean a wooden pipe?

You don’t have to clean your pipe with isopropyl alcohol, though some people opt for this method because it can clear out even more resin and debris. However, many people argue that this leaves a bad taste, ruins the wood, or is simply unnecessary. 

Whether or not you choose to use alcohol to clean a wooden pipe is up to you. If you do choose to use isopropyl alcohol to clean your pipe, make sure you use as little as possible to get the job done. This means dipping your pipe cleaners in a little alcohol and running them through the stem, followed by a dry pipe cleaner to prevent any alcohol from absorbing through the wood. 

Whatever you do, don’t soak the wooden pipe in isopropyl alcohol or any other cleaner for that matter. You don’t want to damage the finish nor do you want to affect the flavor or accidentally clear off all of the caked-on resin. 

Wooden pipes vs glass

Wooden pipes may have a more distinct flavor than glass pipes. This flavor may change over time as you continue to smoke from it. Wood is much more absorbent than glass, so wood pipes are more likely to accumulate resin, oils, and other materials that may affect the overall taste when you smoke. 

They are commonly made from briar, though cherry and other types of wood can be used. All will produce slightly different flavors which will evolve over time as you smoke from them more. 

As far as maintenance goes, wooden pipes are going to require a little more work because glass pipes are easier to clean than wooden ones. Cleaning a glass pipe can be done by soaking it in hot water, soaking in isopropyl alcohol and salt, or by using a ready-made cleaner. 

One benefit of using a wooden pipe is durability. If you don’t want to invest in a nice piece of glass for fear of dropping and shattering it, a wooden pipe may be a good choice for you. You’re much less likely to damage a wooden pipe by dropping it or bumping it against something than you are a glass pipe. 

Another benefit of wooden pipes is their appearance. Some people may prefer the look of glass pipes over wooden ones, but many others prefer the nostalgic and outdoorsy feel associated with using a wooden pipe. A wooden pipe is the perfect smoking accessory to really lock down the classy, sophisticated look for some. 

Final wooden pipe maintenance tips 

Now that you know how to clean a wooden pipe, you should be good to go for keeping your smoking device in good shape.  A nice, well-cared-for wooden pipe should last a long time before needing to be replaced. 

Before smoking from a new wooden pipe, you’ll need to prepare the wood bowl. Evenly burn the inside of the bowl, being sure to coat all areas. This should help to build up a thin layer to protect the wood from burning away over time during use.

Some bowls are manufactured with protective coatings to make this process easier, but not all smokers want to use wooden pipes with a protective coating and prefer to go all-natural.