Wednesday, February 20, 2008


I think the most I ever paid for a pipe was for this Kirsten (click to enlarge). The above photo is a "scannergraph" from my old scanner. There was a lot of discussion going on at the time on alt.smokers.pipes, and I decided I needed to get one to see what all the fuss was about.

I don't smoke it often, but I find it very useful for a specific purpose. The aluminum barrel can't become seasoned, obviously. I like to use the Kirsten when trying out new tobaccos so I can get a more objective impression. If I use a briar pipe, the smoke will likely be biased by whatever I usually smoke in that pipe.

I couldn't get a good picture today because the barrel kept overexposing, but here's a picture of the Kirsten pipe disassembled. The cap and the bit fit snugly via rubber o-rings, and the cap has a hole that lines up on the hole in the barrel. You can twist the cap slightly to one side and seal the bowl off from the barrel so the condensed punk in there doesn't get a chance to run back into the bowl before you get a chance to clean it. To clean the barrel, you just fold up a small piece of tissue paper and ram it through with the rod on the bit.

Kirsten sells a wide variety of bowl finishes and sizes, so you can go to a larger or smaller bowl by simply screwing on a new bowl. They also sell meerschaum bowls, if that's your thing. No need to rest the Kirsten between smokes. Just wipe it out and keep going.

The Kirsten is perhaps the ultimate gimmick pipe. It is not the only pipe made with an aluminum "shank," but it is, perhaps, one of the best quality aluminum pipes you can get. The few Falcons I've seen seem quite flimsy by comparison.

I would not recommend a Kirsten for a new pipe smoker--get yourself a few decent briars first. But as I said, the Kirsten for me fills a valuable position as a "try-out pipe."

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