Sunday, December 09, 2007

Cross section of a pipe

The pipe itself is made up of a number of individual components, each with its own function. While pipes come in all shapes and sizes, the parts described below are common to all pipes.

The mouthpiece: The mouthpiece forms the end part of the pipe. It forms a hermetic seal with the stem, although it can be unscrewed from the latter for cleaning purposes. The shape of the mouthpiece plays a key role in the pipe smoking experience. In general, distinction can be made between two main mouthpiece shapes: tapered models (straight and simple) and saddle-type models (with a triangular notch). All mouthpieces have a flat (‘wide bore’) or round (‘round bore’) opening. In some cases, the mouthpiece is split in two internally; these mouthpieces are referred to as ‘twin-bore’.

The stem: The stem, also referred to as shank, is an extension of the bowl. The bowl and the stem are always made from a single piece. The stem is hollow inside, and leads the smoke from the bowl to the mouthpiece. Some pipes have an opening in the stem, through which ‘false’ air is sucked in, so that the smoke is thinner, making it less sharp.

The bit: The bit is the very tip of the mouthpiece, which is held between the teeth or lips. the shape of the bit largely determines the smoking enjoyment. The most widely-used bit shape is known as the fishtail, which has a flat, right-angled end. The smoke passes through it in a relatively wide stream, directly onto the tongue. In the case of the lip bit, the top part of the mouthpiece is semicircular, while the bottom part is recessed. The opening is located on the top of the semicircular part. The smoke passes through it first onto the palate. Finally, the dental bit has a distinct profile, which gives greater support.

The flue: The hollow space through which the smoke is led from the bowl via the stem to the mouthpiece is known as the flue. A system can be fitted in the flue as an extra feature to regulate and cool the air flow, or to counteract the moisture which arises when the tobacco is burnt.

The bowl: The bowl is the round, broad part of the pipe, into which the pot is ground. The size of the bowl is closely linked with the type of tobacco to be smoked in it. In general, a large bowl is best suited for smoking tobacco which burns relatively quickly, while smaller bowls are most appropriate for slower-burning tobacco types.

The pot: The pot is the part of the pipe which is filled with tobacco, which is then lit.

The floc: The part of the mouthpiece which screws into the stem is known as the floc. The fact that the floc breaks easily, makes it one of the most vulnerable parts of the pipe.

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