A corn cob pipe is a smoking pipe made from the cob of a corn ear, the innermost part of corn that people do not eat. The process originated in Washington, Missouri and is one of the oldest methods of smoking in America. The first person to make a corncob pipe was Henry Tibbe in 1869, who worked in furniture making by spinning wood to form legs for chairs and tables – turn this craft to a husk of corn and a new industry was born.
Similarly to any sherlock pipe made from glass or wood, corn cob pipes are made with a corn bowl and then have a wooden or plastic attachment for the stem. These pipes can be used for smoking by filling the bowl and hitting the stem with puffs of air, this aerates the substance and allows for it to burn more smoothly. This American tradition is long-living and has since spread across the world. And for being made from corn, they can still stand up to the face of time just as well as most other materials.
A farmer in 1869 asked Henry Tebbi to spin and whittle a pipe out of a corn cob and because this farmer was so satisfied, Tebbi dedicated the entire furniture factory to make more. This factory was later renamed to be “Missouri Meerschaum,” where the word ‘meerschaum’ comes from a type of Turkish clay that is used in making high-end pipes; while it is also a German word for ‘sea foam.’ Tebbi’s pipes too have an outside coating of clay-like matter that is a plaster that he and a chemist created and patented.
To this day, Missouri Meerschaum is open, running, making up to 3,000 pipes every workday. The employees have even been using the same equipment for over 80 years, while the company itself is over 150 years old. The machines they use cut the corn down to the cob, sand it down, drill a hole in the middle for the bowl, and then the plaster and stem are added by hand one by one. A dozen other corn cob pipe companies have come and gone in this time in Missouri, but Missouri Meerschaum was the first and is the last one standing.
Without using Missouri Meerschaum’s nearly decade-old machinery, corn cob pipes can still be made by hand for those looking for an even larger authentic feel. When corn husks are stripped of their leaves, the corn ear can be dried in an oven on a low temp for a long period of time, with check-ins every 20 minutes to rotate it for a consistent temperature. It is important for the corn cob to be fully dried for the inside to carve properly; an alternative method is to have it dry naturally for two years.
The next step is to sand down the outside, as well as the top and bottom, to a smooth finish. Using a drill for the hole is the safest route to creating a chamber, bits can be bought at large gauges for even more safety measures. And then use a smaller gauge drill bit for a stem attachment. There is no seasoning process for corn cob pipes and are ready for use as soon as they have a stem.
Using a pipe without a carb, a hole on the side of the bowl, can be different for most people. When smoke out of a sherlock pipe, a corn cob pipe, or anything without a carb, first, after filling the pipe, pull short puffs lightly to create a smooth exhale. And then blow air back into the pipe when it needs more combustion. When packed tightly, these types of pipes can create a long-running smoking session with a single match.
When smoking one’s first bowl the only seasoning process that is necessary is to smoke the bowl to its fullest. When corn cob pipes are filled with materials, carbon and resins coat the wall of the chamber and this forms an insulator for the pipe that also acts as a means for a consistent smoke.
Stem attachments can often carry moisture and can affect the experience of a pipe’s use, pipe cleaners can be used for this to easily clean out the stem. Because corn cobs, wood, and plastic are less durable when exposed to heat, waiting for a pipe to cool before cleaning can help in maintaining the longevity of the piece. For the same reason, corn cob pipes should not be knocked against tabletops or other hard surfaces to empty, as it can cause damage. By holding the corn cob bowl in one hand and knocking it against the other, this can prevent the most amount of harm to the piece.
The most considerable difference between glass and corn is that in holding a corn cob pipe, one is also holding a piece of underrated American history and are made in far fewer places. In comparing glass smoking pipes to corn cob pipes, the largest difference would be that glass is a neutral material that adds in no flavor to smoking substances, whereas corn cob pipes can offer a sweet and smokey aroma. Outside of this, glass pipes can be bought in the shape of a corn cob pipe, this is often called a sherlock pipe. Although, glass sherlock pipes can be frequently bought with or without a carb hole.
One benefit that glass pipes may have over corn cobs is that glass does not tend to build up moisture and does not need to cool down to clean. In addition, glass is a material that can be cleaned to a nearly brand-new condition whereas corn cobs are scrapped down to a more seasoned state.
Silicone pipes are the smoking pieces of the modern age: the are resilient to breaking, come in any color imaginable, and can even be washed a dishwasher in most cases. Next to corn cob pipes, silicone pipes are the imperishable grandchild to something one would have to be much more careful with. Both, on the other hand, do affect the taste of the substance they are used with. Silicone has a small plastic flavor that carries over in usage and a small smell in its smoke. Corn cobs offer a sweet, more natural flavor that can be pleasant to most.
Next to compare against corn cob pipes is bongs, which in itself is a completely different method of smoking. Bongs have especially large stems in contrast to pipe stems, this is where smoke gathers during combustion and is then pulled during the inhale. And because the stem holds a large amount of smoke, it gathers into a large condensed cloud and is then smoked, this method is for those looking for larger hits than pipes can offer.
In using a corn cob pipe, one takes short puffs and pulls and this grants the user a unique experience of smoking for a long session, while still smoking the roughly same amount that would be in a bong. The constant burning that the corn cob pipe’s chamber allows for gives its users the ease of not lighting it often and therefore burning some of the smoking substance in the process.
Because corn cob pipes are made from corn, a natural material, many people would assume that it would deteriorate after time, ash from combustion, or simply age as old food scraps do. But little of this has proven to be true, other than the last of which; when corn dries to becomes almost fossilized and hardens just as wood does.
When corn cobs are kept maintained and treated with care, some have said that they can last over 20 years. It can be said that the poorer the quality of the purchase, the less likely this will hold true and very cheap piece can break after only a short couple of months. A point to where personal preference comes down to how seasoned a piece has become, as older pieces can lose their natural zest and can carry the flavor of whatever substance is used.
Corn cob pipes can be purchased from their original creator, Missouri Meerschaum, all over the web, in local headshops, or right here from vapevetstore.com. There are many collector’s editions available as well as beginner’s priced pipes, and would be perfect for anyone looking for a new smoking experience that started over 150 years ago.
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