Cleaning Your Pipe
When you've finished smoking your pipe, you need to clean out the ash and last bits of unburned tobacco with a pipe tool, then you need to run a pipe cleaner through the airway of the stem and shank to get rid of any moisture, ash and any other residue before putting it aside to allow it to cool and dry. However, make sure that you do not disturb the cake build up around the inside of the bowl. This carbon lining protects the pipe wood from the fire, providing a cooler smoke.
Ideally, you need to keep to a maximum cake thickness of around one eighth of an inch. If the cake becomes too thick it can expand quicker than the bowl of the pipe when heated, which can lead to the bowl cracking. Before you get to this point, the excess cake needs to be scraped with a reamer. You shouldn't use a knife as it's not an appropriate tool as the blade can leave an uneven cake wall, with the added risk of gouging the bottom of the pipe bowl. However, cake is undesirable in meerschaum pipes as it can easily crack the bowl and interfere with the mineral's natural porosity.
Your pipe will need a day of rest before you can smoke it again. In most instances pipe smokers own several pipes, so a different one can be smoked each day. If you ignore this and smoke your pipe each day, the bowl may well crack or burn through.
Remember, your pipe is not just a smoking tool, it's a work of art. Don't just beat it against any hard surface to dump the ashes. This is the easily the quickest way of damaging your tobacco pipe. The shank, stem and top of the bowl are fragile components that require proper care. Finally, make sure you store your pipe, preferably in a pipe rack, with the bowl down, stem up, as this will allow for any remaining moisture to settle in the bowl.