View Full Version : Pipe smoking question
08-25-2010, 09:21 PM
I've tried on a few occasions pipe smoking, generally I prefer a cigar but I've always loved the smells of different pipe tobaccos. I was wondering if there are any good pointers to get started in pipe smoking. I don't know if it was my tobacco, pipe, technique, or what but when I always tried it it seemed I was getting maybe a few puffs out of it and I'm monkeying with it, trying to get it lit, etc.
Is that just the nature of pipe smoking or should you not have ti fuss with it constantly. I mostly gave it up because it seemed I spent more time messing with it than actually smoking it. I have a JR Cigar store within 20 minutes of me so I think finding supplies isn't a problem (unless you guys know of better resources). Any help to a noob would be appreciated.
08-25-2010, 10:27 PM
You definitely need a bit more patience to smoke a pipe than a cigar. But the rewards are worth it; you have a much broader world of flavors and tobacco styles to discover.
I tried a pipe many years ago, and quickly gave it up. My errors, as I look back, were that I was too young and impatient, and didn't devote myself to the enjoyment. I wanted an easy "light-and-forget" smoke like a cigar or cigarette. Also, at the time, I bought some sweet aromatic blend from one of the big glass jars in the tobacco store. These may smell great, but can often be way too wet, and harder to keep lit. Frustrating. Fast forward 15 years. I've taken up pipe smoking again, and everything has changed. I'm enjoying the heck out of it.
Some words of advice, in no particular order:
1) You need some undistracted time to relax, and enjoy it. Especially as a beginner, you can't just light up and forget about it. It'll need some attention as you learn.
2) Relighting/tamping/fiddling is normal. Don't sweat it. The more you smoke, the less you'll need to do it, but it's still normal. For instance, there's something called a "false light"; the first time you light the pipe, it almost always goes out. Then you tamp, and relight. Normal.
3) Educate yourself. A couple good references for packing, lighting, keeping lit, cleaning, etc. are Dubinthedam's YouTube channel (http://www.youtube.com/user/dubinthedam#p/u) and Vegas Smoke's FAQs (http://vegassmokes.com/pipe-smoking-tips.htm). It takes practice, and despite the advice on these links (and others), you'll eventually develop the style/techniques that work best for you.
4) Get a reasonably good pipe. Corncobs are actually OK (good smokers with no break-in period), but if you're fairly sure you'll stick with the habit, I'd get a pretty good beginner briar, which will cost close to $100. Names to consider (among others) are Stanwell, Savinelli and Peterson. You'll probably land up with several pipes since most briars need some time to dry out, and shouldn't be smoked more than once/day.
5) Get some tins quality tobacco. This is an "acquisition disorder" in itself. TobaccoReviews.com (http://www.tobaccoreviews.com/browse_all.cfm) can help in choosing. Start with ribbon cut (as opposed to flake). Easier to work with.
6) DO NOT use a torch lighter like you might with cigars. They can char your bowl. Use matches, or a soft flame butane.
7) Relax. Enjoy. Learn. Experiment. It's a whole new world of pleasure.
08-25-2010, 11:22 PM
You might want to re-consider, and try again, with a corncob, and a cool smoking, stay's lit, no bite, aromatic tobacco like Tobacco Trader's Savannah...you can get a free one ounce sample of it by calling them...
Check out my blog post on getting started, here (http://withpipeandcigar.blogspot.com)...
08-26-2010, 07:19 AM
We have our own social group here (http://badgerandblade.com/vb/group.php?groupid=90) on the B&B as well. Scan through the posts to check out some other getting started experiences and advise.
08-26-2010, 07:54 AM
In addition to the above advice, part of keeping a pipe lit is packing the tobacco in the bowl properly in the first place. It all starts there.
08-26-2010, 10:19 AM
The trickiest part of pipe smoking is learning how to correctly fill/load the bowl. If not filled correctly, the pipe will burn hot and constantly go out, not to mention probably give you tongue bite. My go-to packing method is called the 'air pocket method' invented by Mr. Fred Hanna. You can find some good videos on youtube.com that teach the method.
Also, there are many type of pipes, some are easier to smoke and some much more difficult (because of the way they are engineered). In my opinion, the easiest pipe to smoke is a gourd calabash pipe with a nice open draft.
08-26-2010, 11:24 PM
The more you guys mention it I think one of my likely many problems was not loading the bowl correctly. I pretty much packed it with each pinch so it was likely locked up fairly solid. I can remember feeling the heat through the bowl sometimes when I was "smoking" it, if you can call it that. I guess if I decide to start it up again I'll need to basically start over. I have no idea where the pipe I used is even at and I have no tobacco. One of my other hobbies is knife making and when I get in the shop seriously I can easily kill a few hours. I figured once/if I get the hang of it, it could be integrated into some work. Can anyone reccoemnd a good source on where to get some supplies? I have a JR nearby but not sure how many people who work there are versed in pipe smoking there.
08-27-2010, 02:26 AM
Been smoking a pipe for 40 years. My Grandfather & Father did so as well, so I kind of got into it at a young age of 17. I have tried many Tobaccos over the years which run the gamete of expensive, cheap, heavy, light, aromatic, natural, custom blended etc, etc, and I keep coming back to inexpensive non aromatic tobaccos. I like the fact that they do not bite the tongue, they are pleasant in a room, they burn well, and I suppose the aroma of the tobaccos my Grandfather & Father smoked tend to bring back good memories. I used to smoke Edgeworth quite a bit, but it has been discontinued for over a year now. The one I am currently smoking is called Granger. It is also an old time brand, but suits my taste and is still readily available. Again, some pipe smokers consider this to be a "cheap convenience store" brand", but like I have said, I can smoke it for hours without burning my tongue and it is not overwhelming. I think it is quite pleasant actually.
For a while (about 20 years ago) I got into the expensive Tobacco Store custom blends, and I found myself ordering tobacco from all over the country. What I found is that a lot of these custom blends smelled great as long as you were not the one smoking them, but they had a very strong after taste and I started getting terrible tongue bite. I quickly got back into the non aromatic tobaccos that delivered good flavor, pleasant aroma and I didn't have to send my tongue out to be "dry cleaned".
The other thing I have discovered over the past 40 years is that most of the time the price of a pipe is mostly cosmetic and has little bearing on your pipe smoking pleasure. I do own some expensive $200.00 to $350.00 handmade pipes, and I also have some that I bought out of a "basket" in a Tobacco Store" that were 3 pipes for $25.00 bucks. Yes.......the expensive ones are much prettier, and have better fit and finish, but quite honestly, they do not smoke a whole lot better than my $8.00 "bargain" pipes do. I use the cheap ones when I am out in the yard, away from home, so if they get lost, broken or fall out of my mouth & over a cliff, I won't loose any sleep. The pricey ones are delegated to my smoking room.
Well, that's the scoop on my pipe smoking experience, so enjoy!
08-27-2010, 10:48 AM
I try to pack the pipe in one continuous loading, without multiple "packings"
It will still go out occasionally, especially if talking :D Relight with wooden matches, let the sulfur burn off first.
Looking to get myself a Zippo pipe lighter someday.
Blowtorch lighters are only good for soldering imho.
08-27-2010, 12:12 PM
Still got my pipe and cleaner from college but since it so frowned upon in the Ministry I am waiting till I retire.
08-27-2010, 02:11 PM
Also check out www.smokersforums.co.uk
It will take you a little bit of time depending on how often you smoke. When I 1st got started on a pipe, I just smoked every day for about 2 weeks to get the packing, lighting and tamping down to a science. After that it was only about 1-2 times a week for me. It will become like 2nd nature to you. I only smoke now to relieve stress, maybe once a week or so.
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