Tobacco pipes are made from a wide variety of materials, including briar, meerschaum (hydrated magnesium silicate), clay, calabash and even corncob. While all of these materials are effective at producing safe, smooth tobacco smoke, they can also burn when exposed to high heat over an extended length of time. Unless you want to replace your tobacco pipe every couple of months (which can get expensive, FYI), it's recommended that you follow some basic precautions to prevent your pipe from burning.
The good news is that most of the briar tobacco pipes are designed withstand moderate amounts of heat. A high-quality briar pipe should offer many years of use without showing signs of fire damage. However, using improper lighting methods, smoking aggressively, and not maintaining your pipe could result in the bowl being burned.
Avoid Torch Lighters
Naturally, those high-powered "torch" lighters should be avoided when smoking a tobacco pipe. While they have an undeniable cool factor that's not found in your standard Bic lighters, they can easily burn a hole through the bowl of a tobacco pipe. And once there's a hole in the bottom on your pipe, you won't be able to effectively smoke out of it. Stick with either standard lighters or good old fashioned matches just to be on the safe side.
Develop a Natural Layer of Protection
It's important to note that new tobacco pipes are more vulnerable to fire damage. This is because new pipes haven't developed a layer of soot and ash around the bowl; therefore, the flame may travel directly to the material where it causes damage. After smoking a tobacco pipe for a dozen or so times, it should develop a noticeable black later around the bowl to protect it from fire damage. Until this time, however, you should use caution to avoid placing the lighter or match directly on the bowl.
Coat Your Bowl
If you're concerned about burning your tobacco pipe, you can always coat it with an all-natural ingredient like honey, sugar water, buttermilk or activated charcoal to protect it. Some pipe manufacturers even use these same items to protect their pieces from damage. In addition to the protection it offers, certain items like honey will add a subtle yet delicious flavor to your tobacco. Just remember to follow the less is more approach, as pouring an excess amount of honey or any other ingredient in your bowl may hinder its ability to burn.