Corn Cob pipes have a certain aesthetic to them that just makes you want to pick them up and smoke – whether or not you are a smoker. Simple, quaint, and also surprisingly cool, corn cob pipes do an excellent job of giving you a great smoking experience as well as a cool conversation piece. As such, you should take a moment to get to know a little bit more about this neat piece of American history as well as one of the more retro ways to enjoy a nice smoke.
The first thing you should probably know is that corn cob pipes first made their debut in Missouri. Washington, Missouri, to be more specific, also known as the ‘Corn Cob Capital of the World’. Way back in 1869 a Dutch immigrant by the name of Henry Tippe was approached, according to legend, by a local farmer about helping him to carve out a pipe from a corn cob. Now, this farmer had managed to whittle his way down to what would presumably be a good smoking cob. Tippe, however, being a woodworker had better skills and access to his lathe – a machine used to shape things (such as wood) – in order to make a seamless pipe. Quickly, popularity of the new devices spread and Tippe found himself spending more time working with corn cobs to make pipes than he did with his previous woodworking occupation. From here, a legend was born.
As the name implies, corn cob pipes are made from harvested corn cobs. Essentially, you grow corn and allow it to mature into a full cob. There are different varieties of corn and each has its own advantages and disadvantages depending on what it is you are looking for in your corn cob pipe and how many you would like to make. Once you have your corn, you need to remove the kernels from the cob and then allow the cob to be stored to dry – this will allow the cob to become much more durable and harder as well. Once the cob has dried, you can begin cutting it and shaping it down to make the appropriate size bowl you would like for your smoke. Attach stems, plugs, and tubes and you have a fully-loaded corn cob pipe that will bring you a cool smoke for some time to come!
Corn cob pipes can be used for any sort of occasion. The naturally cool and smooth smoking process lends itself to a variety of different types of tobaccos and herbs. The key, like with any smoking apparatus, is to make sure you find something that best fits your needs. Looking for a pipe to take on the go or your travels? You’re probably going to want something a bit smaller and shorter. Something to impress your friends? Definitely shell out a little more for a bigger bowl and longer stem or better-quality wood materials attached to the cob. As with any smoke, the performance of your pipe is going to be determined by the materials, what your smoking, and how much care you put into maintenance.
Missouri Meerschaum Corn Cob Pipe is, quite literally, a piece of history. Meerschaum, in case you didn’t know, is actually a German word for high quality clay used to make other types of pricier pipes. Due to the history of Corn Cob pipes starting in Washington, Missouri, the term Missouri Meerschaum was used to describe these corn cob pipes that produced a similarly high-quality smoke without the cost of the traditional Meerschaum pipes.
Missouri Meerschaum Company began in 1869 as the H. Tippe & Son Co until the name was changed in 1907. Woodworker Henry Tippe had decided that, since so many people were enjoying his pipes and keeping him busy that way, that he would go ahead and start a company to manufacture them. By the time of the Great Depression, corn cob pipe companies numbered close to a dozen and were all located in Franklin County, Missouri – the county of Washington, Missouri and Mr. Tippe’s first corn cob pipe. Missouri Meerschaum Company to this day continues to exist as the sole surviving corn cob pipe company (not to mention the first) and continues to produce American-made corn cob pipes.
It should stand as a testament to the coolness and versatility of a corn cob pipe that a company was able to withstand the tumultuous history of the United States over the past 150 years and continue to do so.
If you are looking to make a pipe of your own than look no further! The process can vary in degree of difficulty depending on your skills as well as the intricacy of pipe you want.
First, you are going to need to plant and harvest, successfully, a cob or two of corn. It certainly doesn’t hurt to have an extra cob just in case the first trial run does not work out as planned. Once you have your cobs your next step is going to be to shell the corn free of all the wet, juicy pieces of corn that we have all come to know and love from summer cookouts.
Once you have a clean cob, you will need to store the cob in a dry place for a minimum of two years. This is to ensure that the water content of the corn cob has been reduced as much as possible to produce a clean smoke. The drying process also allows the cob to harden and become more durable as a pipe bowl.
Next, you will need to begin the more difficult tasks. Determine the size of the bowl that you would prefer and cut the cob into that section. Using a lathe, or whatever other tools you believe might work better, you can hollow out and smoothen the interior of the cob-turned-pipe-bowl. Once you have adequately hollowed out the pipe bowl you will need to begin boring a tobacco hole into the bowl.
Once you have bored your tobacco hole, you will need to shape the outside of the cob some more for your desired level of smoothness on the exterior as well as size. In addition, you must begin the process of ‘filling’ the bowl. This involves applying plaster to the surface of the bowl.
After you have allowed the plaster an opportunity to harden and dry, you should smoothen it out or sand the plaster. This will make for a more enjoyable smoke. Once the plaster is completed you can begin the process of attaching your stem, complete with a tube inside, and tap the stem into the hole in the bowl. Now, you have a homemade corn cob pipe!
Smoking your corn cob pipe is a bit more nuanced than some other forms of smoking. Namely, there is no carb and that can be a tricky situation for some new smoker unfamiliar with this situation. But something important to remember is that you never want to ‘overuse’ your corn cob pipe or to have it remain ‘wet’ for too long, too often. For example, if you find your corn cob pipe gurgling it not only needs to be cleaned ASAP but it is in dire need of some rest. Too much moisture in your corn cob pipe is going to make the smoke taste terrible, light improperly, and just about ruin what joy you can obtain from smoking.
Because there is no carb you need to get in the habit of taking shorter, lighter puffs to allow the tobacco or herb to ignite and evenly burn. There is no ability to simply shove air back into the pipe bowl, you must provide it yourself with puffing and inhalation. After a few tries, this becomes much easier to do and you will get a feel for the strength of your puffs and the resulting hits you get.
Cleaning a corn cob pipe is not too much more difficult than other forms of smoking. Namely, make sure you are careful with the various parts associated with your pipe. If your pipe is filtered, for example, make sure to remove that prior to cleaning your pipe.
The most effective way to clean a corn cob pipe is to use pipe cleaners on a cooled down pipe. Never try and disassemble and clean your pipe while it is still hot or even warm. This can result in breakage for some of the various parts of the stem or tubes.
Avoid using harsh chemical cleaners that may stick inside the cob as this could ruin the taste of your smoke – not to mention is likely unhealthy for you.
Glass smoking pipes and corn cob pipes are generally similar in the smoke they can produce. The key, however, is that a corn cob bowl is not going to shatter into a million little pieces and the glass pipe likely has a carb. Aside that, they are relatively similar in terms of style and customization with exceptions.
Silicone pipes and corn cob pipes are also relatively similar. They both smoke well. However, silicone pipes are likely more durable and may last longer depending on the length of use and type of use. However, any pipe will last with proper maintenance.
Bongs and corn cob pipes are probably more dissimilar than similar. Here is where preferences begin to take place. Particularly, bongs are often thought of as more ‘heavy-duty’ and will likely produce bigger hits. However, bongs can be much more fragile and are certainly more expensive as a general rule. If your corn cob pipe is dropped, and actually breaks or is lost, you are out-of-pocket significantly less in replacement costs. Moreover, corn cob pipes are certainly more mobile than most bongs but this also depends on the material the bong is made of.
Personal preference is most likely to determine this category. While a corn cob pipe, with proper maintenance, can last up to a decade, there are many smokers who prefer a newer, cleaner pipe for a smoother, cooler hit. This, again, is entirely up to preference. Moreover, where preferences matter less is the quality of the materials. If you purchase a cheaper pipe than you are far more likely to see greater levels of turnover. While this can be seen as a general rule, it is true for most situations or scenarios.
Corn cob pipes are available in most head shops around the US, online, and beyond. However, make sure to check out nyvapeshop.com for a wide variety of corn cob pipes and remember, shipping in the US is always FREE!