Briar wood (Erica arborea) is one of the most common materials used in the production of tobacco pipes. It offers several unique characteristics that simply aren't found in other materials. Whether you're a first-time pipe smoker or someone who's been smoking for years, chances are you'll appreciate the look, feel and quality of an authentic briar wood pipe. Here, we're' going to take a closer look at some of the qualities and characteristics of briar pipes, revealing what makes them such a popular choice among tobacco smokers.
How They're Made
Contrary to what some people may believe, briar tobacco pipes aren't made from the actual tree. Instead, they are made using the material from the root burl of the tree heath. The stumpy area around the tree's base is known as the burl, and it's particularly useful for producing certain items like tobacco pipes. The tree heath, where the root burl is harvested, is native to the Mediterranean where it grows anywhere from 3-13 feet tall.
One of the most notable benefits of briar wood -- when used in the production of tobacco pipes -- is its fire-resistant properties. This doesn't necessarily mean that briar wood won't catch fire, but it takes prolonged exposure to a high-heat flame to do so. The thick, dense wood of the root burl makes it naturally resistant to fire; therefore, smokers can enjoy their tobacco pipe without fear of burning the wood.
The fire-resistant properties of briar tobacco pipes reduces the chance of fire-related damage. Pipes made from other wood materials may burn or char when exposed to a flame. Thankfully, this isn't an issue with briar, as it's considered an effective, flame-resistant wood that's ideal for use in the production of tobacco pipes.
Briar wood is also able to absorb moisture. Like most hardwood materials, briar contains thousands upon thousands of microscopic pores. When it's grown in the wild, it uses these pores to absorb water. This characteristic remains intact when briar wood is used in tobacco pipes, absorbing moisture from the surrounding air and tobacco.
Some smokers may turn their head at the thought of using a tobacco pipe that absorbs moisture, but it's actually beneficial. The small, trace amounts of moisture it absorbs helps to protect the tobacco from drying out. There's no faster way to go through a bowl than by smoking dry tobacco. Briar pipes, however, keep tobacco nice and moist so you can enjoy it for a longer period of time.