Pipe smoking is making a resurgence in the US, but with its relative obscurity in the past few generations, most of us don’t have fathers or uncles to teach us the finer points of enjoying our pipes. Since so many people are teaching themselves with little guidance, its important to learn a few steps to help you enjoy every smoke it its fullest.
Before you Begin
Start with a clean pipe with resin cleaned out of the stem. Remember, if you have a briar pipe be sure to allow the cake to build in the bowl to protect it from cracking. If you’re smoking a corn cob or meerschaum pipe, this is not necessary.
If you have only one smoking accessory, it should be a tamper. Be sure that its always clean & available.
Pack your Pipe Properly
Sort the tobacco so its loose and there are no clumps. Gently put the loose tobacco in the bowl without squeezing or making new clumps. Keep it very loose and never use your fingers to compress it.
Use tamper to gently tap it down until its springy. Once you feel a slight resistance, take a dry test puff. There should be no more resistance that you would feel sucking through an empty straw. Add more tobacco and repeat tamping and test puffing until full.
If it ever becomes too solidly packed, simply empty it and start again.
False Light your Pipe
The false light is an important step in ensuring a good smoke. Hold flame over bowl and move in circular motion, taking little puffs until the entire top is lit and the tobacco unfurls slightly. Once tobacco rises up, use tamper to gently tap down again.
True Light your Pipe
Now its time to actually light your pipe. Once again, hold flame over bowl and move in a circular motion, taking small puffs until bowl is lit.
Steps to Follow While Smoking your Pipe
Occasionally while smoking, you’ll notice that the smoke is getting thin. This is the time to gently use the tamper to tap down the ashes. If you smoke very slowly, you may need to relight occasionally, but if you are taking frequent puffs you’ll only need to relight a few or no times during the bowl.
When Moisture gets into your Pipe
Sometimes you’ll notice a wetness or sizzling during smoking, which can be from the moisture in the tobacco leaves or from your mouth if you puff rather quickly. The danger of this moisture can be a burning sensation on the lips or tongue if the warm moisture touches it. An easy way to dry it up quickly is to gently puff through the pipe, blowing out without scattering ashes.
Enjoy your Pipe
Pipe smoking is a hobby to be enjoyed and never should be unpleasant. If the tobacco starts to taste bad–ashy, burnt or too resin infused–just dump and start again. Pipe smoking is very inexpensive and a bowl costs so little that every puff should be enjoyed.
Pipe smoking is far more enjoyable and pleasant when you properly prep and pack your pipe. You’ll be rewarded with less relighting, better taste, and a longer smoke.