Friday, February 22, 2008

How does the Kaywoodie drinkless system work

I got a search hit on my other blog for the phrase, "how does kaywoodie drinkless system work." I think a better question would be, "Does a Kaywoodie drinkless system work?"

click to enlarge

I'll re-visit the Kaywoodie lovat that I posted about several days ago. Okay, although it isn't visible in this photo, there is a small hole in the metal stinger just above the threads, which the air is drawn through. The ball on the end of the stinger fits into the air passage through the shank. When air is drawn, it travels around and through the holes on the ball. A lot of moisture collects on the ball from the air moving through and around it. Some moisture also collects on the arm of the stinger.

So does it work? I guess it depends on your definition of "work." The stinger certainly does trap some moisture. Anyone who has ever cleaned a Kaywoodie can tell you that. But does it somehow magically (or technologically) deliver a superior cool, dry smoke? My opinion is no. The cool, dry smoke that everyone is looking for still relies on several variable factors meshing together just right, and a metal gadget up the shank is not going automatically render them all irrelevant.

And what are these factors? Since many of the things I write here are geared toward new pipe smokers and non-pipe smokers, I'll offer my opinion on them, in no particular order.

The pipe: the quality of the briar, the shape of the pipe, the size of the pipe, the thickness of the bowl walls, the design of the air passage. All of these factors matter.

The tobacco: is it fresh and moist (maybe too moist), or older and a little dry? Is there a particular leaf in it that for some reason makes you salivate more or makes your mouth drier? Is it heavily treated with propylene glycol?

And here's one for you to wrap your head around: some pipes don't like some tobaccos. In some cases, no matter how hard you try to get your favorite pipe to smoke your favorite blend, there's always just something not right with the smoke. Sometimes you have to experiment with a pipe to find it's preferred blend. (Feel free to tell me I'm nuts on this, but it's an opinion I've formed from my own experiences).

The weather: Yes, the weather. Are you smoking outdoors? Is it windy? Is it humid or not? Is it cold or hot? Are you smoking indoors with conditioned central air?

And finally: you. Have you just eaten, or are you feeling a little hungry? Have you had enough water to drink? What are you drinking with your pipe? Are you puffing a little faster than usual due to a stressful day?

Like I said, several factors, some of them beyond your control. But the perfect smoke is only the goal to toil after, and the toil itself is still quite pleasant, indeed.


  1. I have 2 drinkless Kaywoodie's. They were my first pipes. They make for a nice smoke and are well made for a 25 - 50 dollar pipe. I Like them over the filter pipes.

  2. How do you clean it?

  3. With a little care, you can insert a pipe cleaner through the bit and work it out through the air hole in the stem. If your pipe cleaner isn't too thick, you can even run it through the holes in the condenser ball--tapered pipe cleaners probably won't work, and bristle ones probably won't either. If it's really dirty, you can just stand the stem in a small container of alcohol/cleaning fluid until the gunk loosens up enough that you can wipe it away with a paper towel or pipe cleaners.

    1. I soak the real dirty "stingers" in rum or whisky, while I'm cleaning the rest of the pipe, and toothpicks work well in the little holes.

  4. Yeah, I soak them too. I like to use Everclear, but I understand you can't buy that everywhere.

  5. What I like most about: I can unscrew it while it is still hot and clean and dry it, then reinsert easily to continue smoking. No trouble with fit due to uneven heat of expansion between the briar and the compound bit.