1. This forum section is for discussing pipes, it is not for advertising in any fashion.
  2. If you cannot verify your email address or recover your password, you need to call your ISP and tell them to stop blocking your email from this site.
    Dismiss Notice

Stems: Vulcanite/Ebonite or Acrylic?

Discussion in 'Pipes' started by Tom Sawyer, Feb 21, 2013.

Thread Status:
Not open for further replies.
  1. Tom Sawyer

    Tom Sawyer Member

    Feb 9, 2013
    I have been a pipe smoker for some time, now. I have recently discovered that I prefer, by far, acrylic stems to vulcanite of ebonite.

    I find acrylic has a lot of advantages over vulcanite/ebonite.

    First of all, it does not oxydate, so you do not have to constantly rub them of buff them with Ebsedian oil, or Deni paste or any other kind of maintainance product.

    Second of all, acrylic, as it does not oxydate, does not turn into this sulfur taste after a few pipefuls without rubbing them. I find this taste becomes more and more unpleasant to my tastebuds. Also, the mouthpiece, when oxydated, has a tendency to stick to my lips. Shocking!

    Acrylic is also a lot more durable. I have as guideline, over the last year or so, that I will not buy a pipe if the stem is not made of acrylic....

    What is your position or opinion, on this issue?

    Monkey likes this.
  2. Tate

    Tate Member

    Jan 8, 2013
    I'm ultra-picky about the mouth feel of the stems of my pipes. An acrylic stem has to be the absolute perfect shape or I probably won't like it. I like to hold pipes between my teeth and acrylic is a lot harder on the teeth than vulcanite.

    So I like it, but it has to be perfect.
  3. Goat

    Goat Active Member

    Jun 27, 2012
    For me it also depends on the shape of the mouth piece. If it fits in my teeth right in don't really care what's it made of.
  4. Snookman

    Snookman Member

    Dec 5, 2012
    What Tate said.
  5. Buckshot

    Buckshot Member

    Aug 1, 2012
    I require an acrylic stem too. I like a stem that stays looking nice with little or no maintenance. An oxidized vulcanite stem makes my heart sink. It means that I have to spend more time maintaining my pipe when I could be enjoying it instead. Vulcanite stems prevent me from being content with my pipes because of the maintenance factor. The slightly harder feel of acrylic has never bothered me as I don't really bite down on the stem but rather just hold it in place between my teeth.

    I tend to like "modern" materials in other products too. I prefer guns with stainless steel finishes over the time tested blued finishes, I like stainless steel blades on my pocket knives instead of carbon steel, I tend to buy new pipes much more often than used ones, etc. I guess I'm just a modern kind of guy who likes to do as little maintenance as possible.

    Having said all that, there is one problem with my preference for an acrylic stem. If I'm going to stick with that concept, there are a lot of pipes that I have to pass up. Petersons for example. I don't have one yet because I have never found one I like with an acrylic stem. There are plenty that I like with vulcanite stems. Problem is, I just wouldn't be happy with those.
  6. dwaugh

    dwaugh Moderator Moderator

    Mar 2, 2011
    Other than vulcanite, I've only had two pipes with Acrylic and one with, I think, Bakelite. I much prefer the vulcanite. But, the two acrylic stems where on meerschaums and were way too thick. Maybe if I had a better acrylic stem I might like them more. I'm assuming that there is no reason acrylic cannot be cut as thin and vulcanite?
  7. Spillproof

    Spillproof Mostly Harmless Moderator

    Apr 5, 2012
    I like both.
    Ebonite/vulcanite is what I put on the pipes I make.
  8. Mount Mandolin

    Mount Mandolin Active Member

    Jan 8, 2012
    Absolutely vulcanite. Unless a pipe is really spectacular, I will pass it over if it has an acrylic stem. Luckily, the pipes I tend to prefer (English pipes and American artisan pipes) usually come with vulcanite stems. I clench pipes quite often, and acrylic, in addition to being harder than vulcanite, also tends to slide around in my teeth too much. As a rule, I simply do not like acrylic stems. The frustrating thing is that two of the great makers (Cavicchi and Castello) use acrylic stems, and I'd like one of their pipes one day. I guess I could just suck it up, or if the stems were really awful I could just have someone make me a nice vulcanite stem.

    Another factor for me, now that I've found that customizable pipes are within my reach price-wise, is that I almost always opt for a Cumberland stem, which is exclusively a vulcanite thing. So yeah, as if I hadn't made it clear, I really, really prefer vulcanite. For one thing, it's the more traditional material for pipe stems, and that is for good reason, IMO. Also, maintenance of vulcanite stems is incredibly easy to perform, and I just cannot understand that tiny amount of maintenance being a deal breaker in buying a pipe. But hey, to each his own.
    CARubio and dwaugh like this.
  9. Buckshot Two

    Buckshot Two Member

    Feb 15, 2013
    I find that I tend to prefer acrylic. I don't do a lot of clenching, so that is not an issue. My only beef with vulcanite is the oxidation issue.
  10. Riff Raff

    Riff Raff Active Member

    Aug 28, 2011
    I love the soft vulcanite on my British pipes. But I also really enjoy the stems on my two Castellos, perhaps it is those wonderful buttons. I don't mind the upkeep on the vulcanite but I restore estate pipes, so I have the items necessary to keep them looking sharp.
  11. Stonewall

    Stonewall Active Member

    Aug 23, 2011
    I tend to clench but still prefer Acrylic.
  12. cobbsmoker

    cobbsmoker Active Member

    Nov 26, 2011
    I desipe vulcanite stems... they taste like CRAP and are a PITA to maintain! I have better things to do with my time, like smoke pipes and enjoy them!
    JTSmitty and PipeLotus like this.
  13. Demosthenes

    Demosthenes Member

    May 11, 2012
    I like vulcanite the best because they are soft and I do clench my pipes. As for oxidation, I do not have that issue, all I do is keep a small soft rag with some olive oil on it, and after I clean my pipes, I just quickly wipe the stems with that olive oil rag. Bear in mind the rag is not soaked with olive oil just a little on it one time and it will last for a couple months easy. I just keep the rag folded up on my work bench next to my pipes.
  14. Longbottom

    Longbottom Member

    Feb 4, 2012
    I prefer the feel of ebonite/vulcanite stems, since they are slightly softer than acrylic. However, I am not allergic to acryllic, and I have a few pipes with them. And they do look better. If the tobacco is good enough, it doesn´t matter what the stem is made of :)
  15. Jussto

    Jussto Active Member

    May 5, 2011
    I much prefer acrylic for most of the reasons mentioned here already. I do, however like them to be cut pretty thin. Stanwell does a great job at this, and Savinelli can. I'm sure there are others that do a nice job as well. I might be lazy, but I'll take shiny black with no chatter over a slightly softer mouth feel any day.
    cobbsmoker likes this.
  16. Riff Raff

    Riff Raff Active Member

    Aug 28, 2011
    Actually, my favorite stems are Donald Taylor Ashtons. He used something he made and called "Ashtonite". It is a mix of acrylic and vulcanite with the positive attributes of both. Those older Ashtons are my favorite stemmed pipes.
  17. cigrmaster

    cigrmaster Member

    Oct 25, 2012
    I prefer vulcanite over acrylic to the degree that I will rarely buy a pipe with an acrylic stem. I clench all the time so vulcanite and great stem design is a must for me. Older sulfur laden British and Italian vulcanite stems are no longer a pain to keep nice since I began using Obidisian Stem Oil, just wipe it on, wipe it off and I have a shiny stem. The high quality German vulcanite being used today rarely if ever oxidizes so it is no longer an issue on my newer pipes.
    The only pipe I have bought in the last 22 that has an acrylic stem was a Castello and that one is not bad. They use a softer acrylic and their stem design is pretty good so clenching is not a problem.
  18. BradNTX

    BradNTX Well-Known Member

    Jun 7, 2010
    Acrylic, Lucite, Cumberland, Vulcanite... I like them all. It's more about the shaping to me than the material. If the button is shaped nice, it feels nice. The only stems I don't like are the ABS plastic that comes with some MM pipes.
  19. Micawber

    Micawber Member

    Jan 31, 2011
    I love the soft feel of vulcanite.

    Here's what I don't understand - how could you NOT like the patina that vulcanite gets? I absolutely LOVE that.

    Meh, maybe I'm just as weird as my wife says I am. :)
  20. Kentuck

    Kentuck Member

    Mar 11, 2014
    Its all about the shape to me. If an acrylic stem is shaped correctly for me and I can clench it with comfort I have no problem.
Thread Status:
Not open for further replies.