Clenching- What Is It?

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Preferred Member
May 12, 2015
Monterey Peninsula
Holding the pipe in the mouth hands free.
Clenching is somewhat of a misleading term, as it doesn't mean fiercely clamping down with your jaw on the pipe stem. For me, it's using the least amount of pressure while still keeping the pipe from dropping out or flopping around.
Where to place the stem for the best comfort? It seems to vary widely, but few use the front teeth exclusively. Besides, having the pipe stick straight out of the mouth is impractical in many situations, and silly looking in others.
Softie bits? Personal preference. Some say they make clenching more difficult, some swear by them. When I tried them, I didn't know they should be removed after a smoke and the stem wiped off.



Preferred Member
Feb 21, 2013
In my old jaw, I don't want much pressure against or between my teeth, so heavier pipes are only held long enough to light them. If I'm going to be busying around and doing anything besides smoking while a pipe is in my mouth, it's going to be lit, and it's going to be no more than about 1.6 ounces. For long, meditative smokes, I stay seated and hold the pipe except for relights. Clenching is a kind of misnomer, but another word hasn't risen to replace it, so clenching it is. When I smoke smaller, lighter weight pipes, I usually smoke flake, plug, coin or rope, and get an average length smoke. I have several bigger deeper pipes that weigh less proportionate to their size, and they also work for clenching. Odd (to me) flake, plug, etc., seem to smoke longer even when grated to smaller size pieces, even when somewhat dried.



Preferred Member
Aug 9, 2013
Great description, John. I just can't imagine myself holding my pipe all the time. I probably wouldn't smoke very often if I had to hold it, plus smoking while driving, riding my bike, or working at the bench just wouldn't be very practical.



Preferred Member
Sep 9, 2017
I'm with you, Ignacio, I haven't managed the art of sippuffing hands-free. Either I get no smoke in my mouth or I end up inhaling. :oops:



Preferred Member
May 23, 2018
I hold the pipe more than I clench. If I clench for more than 10 seconds I feel like I'm about to drool. I'll clench for 5-10 seconds and then grab the pipe and hold it for a while. Then I'll clench again, then hold it for a while. I don't want to be known as the drooling piper.



Preferred Member
Aug 2, 2016
Early on in my pipe smoking I attempted clenching but it didn't work out for me. Probably couldn't get the hang of doing it right. Merely managed to put teeth marks in the vulcanite stems and it prompted a lot of saliva accumulating around the bit. Then, too, I favor large pipes which are too heavy to clench comfortably. So, it just isn't right for me.



Preferred Member
Jun 6, 2017
It's what you do from the time you leave Taco Bell until you get home... :rofl:



May 8, 2018
I’m not a huge clencher, which is weird because of how much I clench my jaw and grind my teeth when I’m not smoking a pipe. Just a morning thought I never connected.



Preferred Member
Jun 26, 2016
I don't clench because I can never find a comfortable spot, plus I enjoy looking at the pipe as I smoke as well. Sometimes I'm just re-lighting so much clenching is impractical.



Preferred Member
Jun 11, 2017
I clench often. That's one reason I have been drawn away from Castello and more toward Danish pipes. The latter have lighter weight and very comfortable stems in general vs the Italian school.



Preferred Member
Jul 28, 2016
In order to clench comfortably, there are two main factors that count,first,the stem(button)must not be bulky,and secundo,the pipe itself needs better be light weight,well balanced,so from this point my go to' pipes are either Lovat shapes,light straight or half bent bulldogs.



Preferred Member
Aug 9, 2013
Mike I totally understand the first part of your statement, but this...

Sometimes I'm just re-lighting so much clenching is impractical.
I find that when keeping the pipe clenched, I rarely ever have to relight my pipe. because their is always a gentle airflow through the pipe keeping it burning cool. If I take the pipe out of my mouth and hold it, that is when I find myself relighting. But, like I said, I can understand not finding a comfortable spot, and looking at the pipe as you smoke. That makes sense.



Preferred Member
Jan 31, 2011
I find that when keeping the pipe clenched, I rarely ever have to relight my pipe. because their is always a gentle airflow through the pipe keeping it burning cool.
+1 … I'm nearly at the bottom of a bowl of Irish Flake right now that I've had clenched almost the entire time without one relight. But that's largely due to adequate drying time prior to packing.



Preferred Member
Jan 28, 2018
See my photo? That's clenching. When I retire and am able to just sit back and smoke, perhaps I'll quit clenching.