Baccy Pipes

A Simple & Effective Bowl Coating


This is a repost of a article  i found on DadsPipes:

I really like this  simple and easy bowl coating and thought i would share it. I believe simple is always the best way if it is at all possible in anything .


A Simple & Effective Bowl Coating

Pipe makers and restorers use various types of bowl coatings for a variety of reasons. Some coatings are factory-applied to new pipes in the belief that they help protect the briar wood of the bowl from burnouts and assist in the formation of cake – that even layer of hard ashy stuff that insulates the briar from the heat of the burning tobacco. Sometimes a bowl coating is used to repair a cracked or otherwise damaged pipe bowl. And some pipers are dead set against bowl coatings of any kind, arguing that they stop the briar from “breathing” and thus could actually cause cracks from heat stress. So the debate is still very much open.

I personally tend towards the former position, namely that a bowl coating can be useful to help protect repaired areas inside the pipe bowl until a decent layer of new cake is formed through use. I also tend towards coatings that are not water or air tight, for much the same reason I avoid lacquer or other barrier type finishes on the outside of a pipe. I prefer to allow the briar to expand and contract naturally as it heats and cools through use.

So that leads me to this bowl coating process shared with me by a fellow member of the Brothers of Briar pipe forum (thanks Riff Raff!). It’s about as simple as you can get  – just 2 ingredients: maple syrup and activated charcoal powder.

I originally posted my hunt for a bowl coating that worked after I bought an estate pipe that, after a proper cleaning and reaming, turned out to have many tight, thin fissures/cracks that followed the grain on the inside of the bowl. I assume the cracks are evidence of heat stress in the wood, caused simply through smoking the pipe, if perhaps a little too fiercely.

Here are a few close-up pics of the pipe bowl after cleaning/reaming.


There were 3 cracks that extended up onto the rim of the pipe. CA glue was flowed into these and sanded smooth after curing. They’re nearly invisible in the finished pipe. I was warned off about using CA glue inside the bowl, so these were left alone. As I said before, the fissures are all tight, without any indication of movement, so they should be ok once covered with the bowl coating. If they open up down the road, I will seal them with JB Weld, which dries/cures safe and inert.

Now onto the bowl coating. The directions are simple:

  1.  Insert a pipe cleaner in the stem of the pipe to keep the airway open.
  2. Wipe maple syrup around the inside surfaces of the bowl. Try for a nice even layer.
  3. Pour activated charcoal powder into the bowl right up to the rim.
  4. Allow the pipe to sit for an hour or more. This gives time for a layer of charcoal powder to be absorbed by the syrup.
  5. Dump out the excess charcoal powder, remove the pipe cleaner from the stem.
  6. Now the hard part. LET THE PIPE SIT FOR 5-7 DAYS. The bowl coating will cure smooth and hard.
  7. After curing, your pipe is ready to go!

Here is a quick pic of my work table set up to apply the coating to today’s patient – a Patent Era Brigham 3-Dot 390 shape Canadian. Is it too much irony to point out that I’m using Canadian maple syrup to repair a Canadian-made Canadian-shape pipe?


And after the coating has cured:


I hope this bowl coating recipe helps you as much as it did me. It’s all-natural, cheap, easy and reversible if something goes sideways or another bowl repair is required down the road.

Until next time, happy piping!


5 thoughts on “A Simple & Effective Bowl Coating

  1. Reblogged this on rebornpipes and commented:
    Troy posted this and I thought it would be a good addition to the information on rebornpipes. I have used a similar bowl coating but used sourcream as the base instead of maple syrup. Works well.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Looks pretty spiffy to me and an effective solution to those cracks. Glad to help point you in the right direction, your tips will now help me. Al (aka Riff Raff on some pipe forums)

    Liked by 1 person

  3. One of the best I’ve found was when I was trying to come up with a less sticky solution. I mixed sugar with a little water until it dissolved. Then I added the charcoal from a capsule a little at a time until it became a paste. Paint it in the bowl and it dries very quickly. The sugar recrystallizes as soon as it dries and you can smoke it the next day.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks Al
      I think your solution would work very well for just a coating on a raw briar and would be excellent , thanks for the tip !
      I think the Maple Syrup one would be good for one with cracks ,defects and repairs in the bowl being a heavier /thicker coating .


  4. Good tip but, FIVE to SEVEN days???!!!!!! That would be the longest week. Ever. LOL I will keep it in mind for down the road.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s