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Oil curing...what does/can it do?

Discussion in 'Pipes' started by yinyang, Nov 15, 2010.

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  1. yinyang

    yinyang Some rim charring is to be expected.

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    I posted about a "Malaga" pipe I won off the 'bay last week...scant evidence suggests they were oil cured. Since no one here looks to have personal experience with them, maybe I can be 're-enlightened' about the o/c process then. I know I read up on it before, but my gingko prescription ran out. I'm also curious if there is a way to tell upon inspection of the pipe itself (if it's o/c), if only to further fill in the gaps on what might be a good smoker.

    Of course, after 4-5 days of not being shipped, I may just be peeing in the wind. I could of walked to it's location and back...80 miles from my house. Fast shipping my (good) eye!

    -Kyle
     
  2. Sasquatch

    Sasquatch Sales Account

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    The theory behind oil curing is that it's a chemical extraction of impurities in the briar. So you've got briar and it's full of resins and sap and junk and it tastes awful, and if you impregnate the wood with oil and then drive most or all of that oil back out, it takes the impurities with it, leaving "clean" briar.

    Lots of mythology goes along with it, including the "fact" that oil cured stummels are lighter than non o/c stummels and "therefore" it was full of impurities before. Most or all o/c processes use heat in some form, which drives all the moisture out of the stummel, which would account much more easily for weight loss.

    Good oil cured pipes taste slightly sweet, slightly nutty, or just a little "oily" for the first few smokes. After they are caked up, this is much less noticeable or not noticeable at all.

    Very few makers do any kind of oil-cure now for all kinds of reasons - it's tedious and expensive being the biggest. But it adds some panache, and the old school English pipes (possibly all briar pipes prior to the 1900s or so) were oil cured, and that is part of their charm for some.
     
  3. yinyang

    yinyang Some rim charring is to be expected.

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    Thanks...Now that you wrote it, I remember, you probably, saying it is less useful once a pipe has been smoked for a while. Thanks again!
     
  4. SSGpiper

    SSGpiper Member

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    Ironically, the folklore (some fact behind every tale) I heard was that until the early 60's, Dunhill's were oil cured and when they quit using oil there was a lot of smokers that quit buying them. I see some validity to that, but I always thought the whole oil curing thing was probably way overrated.
     
  5. Sasquatch

    Sasquatch Sales Account

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    It's tough to do "objective" testing. I've done some curing and had some fantastic successes and some drastic failures, and I'm still not sure what the difference was.
     
  6. Jay

    Jay Active Member

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    I spoke to a pipemaker who has recently started to o/c his pipes, says they are lighter as the oil pulls more of the sap etc, from
    the wood versus boiling them in water.

    J's $.02
     
  7. Sasquatch

    Sasquatch Sales Account

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    I realize that's what they say. My experiments included tasting the oil after curing, and it tasted.... identical! So if it was full of bad tasting impurities, and an easily measureable amount of impurities at that, it would taste awful. But then again I'm buying ultra-expensive briar that has theoretically been cleaned and cured very well.... a "raw" block would be a differnt story.

    How much does all the sap and resin in a block of briar weigh... I bet it's not even a gram all told.

    This is one of those "gray areas" in pipes - I have a few o/c pipes, a Radice, a Wiley, a few of my own, one of which is phenomenal and a couple of which are pretty sucky. I like the results of the process and given a chance to buy a top quality o/c pipe vs non I would do so if the designs were identical, probably. But I've smoked so many pieces of briar now, from different regions and cured by different methods, that I'm also convinced that an exceptionally good pipe can be made without oil curing.
     
  8. Sasquatch

    Sasquatch Sales Account

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    PS I'm not gunning at you or your friend Jay - just trying as always to untangle the vines of pipe mythology.

    PPS get one of his pipes and test it out against the non-o/c calabash you just got from me and see for yourself how they compare out of the box, and also long-term. Report back for extra credits!!
     
  9. Jay

    Jay Active Member

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    It is not mine to have an opinion on the matter, just what was said to me. The pipemaker wasn't entirely convinced of it either, just something that he was trying out out and was having decent results. That extra credit would burn a $500 hole in my pocket and to be honest, I don't have the cash nor the desire to find out right now. But it can sound convincing--one way or the other, when spoken from the man who makes the things--you included.

    By the way, what kind of oil is used in an oil curing? 30 weight or canola?

    J
     
  10. Sasquatch

    Sasquatch Sales Account

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    Linseed is apparently mentioned in the Dunhill patents, and that would explain the tanshell blasts - basically trying to remove the linseed "skin" on the pipes!

    The idea seems to be that you don't want an oil that is going to burn easily, and an oil that leaves behind a pleasant residual flavor. There's a lot of vegetable based candidate oils with relatively high smoke temps and fairly low evaporation temps, so candidate oils include peanut, flax, linseed, grapeseed, safflower, sunflower, canola, olive etc and it's getting a mixture of these (and/or others) that works which is the guarded secret (along with whatever other extraction and drying processes are used).
     
  11. SSGpiper

    SSGpiper Member

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    I favor olive oil out of that list, cept it would make a pipe way expensive.
     
  12. Smoker99

    Smoker99 Active Member

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    I have at least five pipes I bought new that were oil cured. One, I could taste the oil in, the others hardly at all. If anything, they may make for a quicker, and more pleasant breakin period. Long aged briar is just as good in my opinion.
     
  13. dubhdarra

    dubhdarra Active Member

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    screwing up, duh.


    and... i have to say, of my three radices, two are oil cured, one is not, my dunhill according to some sources may be. i have a hard time remembering which are oil cured when i smoke them, i've never noticed a real difference.
     
  14. Falconeer

    Falconeer Active Member

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    Hi All,

    As you all know I have a few Sas pipes including one oil treated. They all smoke and taste good and I can honestly say that after the first couple of weeks the oil taste disappears completely.

    All of my pipes from the same maker are excellent; I am glad to have had the chance to try an oil cured one but I thruthfully cannot say I find much difference. In the mid 70s I had an oil cured natural colour pipe - over the years it coloured to a very deep brown almost black which I put down to the oil - this may be the only lasting effect of o/c.

    To me what really makes agood pipe comes down to the airway engineering and the workmanship; I feel o/c makes little difference if the pipe is otherwise well made,

    Best to all

    Gerry
     
  15. jpberg

    jpberg Moderator Moderator

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    The briar looks fantastic post o/c. Looks ancient. I can't say alot about Radices, The only way I know mine are o/c is the stamp. They smoke very very well, but I notice no flavor other than the tobacco/cake combo.

    The different briars that Todd has worked with have all had unique flavors from the start, the oil cured briar stood out due to the nutty/piney taste that was very apparent from the start and contrary to what I'm reading here, never really went away. It has changed a bit with caking, but it's still adding depth to the smoke, and that's what I would say is the biggest plus of the process.

    If I had my choice, all my pipes would be o/c.
     
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