New pipe smoker here, having troubles

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ddspada

New member
Feb 21, 2015
5
0
Hello, everyone.

After smoking cigarettes for a couple of years, I received my first pipe as a gift a few days ago. Though not a new smoker, the pipe world is so different, I think I might as well be! I can't post a picture, but it seems to be a half-bent Dublin, and quite pretty, too. :) I've tried lighting it three times so far but seem to have troubles doing so. The tobacco won't stay lit for more than two or three puffs at a time, and even then, only feebly. I think I'm packing the bowl correctly, too (springy to the touch, halfway at first to build a charcoal cake).The gift came with the tobacco in a glass jar; I can only suppose it's an aromatic, it smells like chocolate. I worry that my problem might be overly moist tobacco. How can I tell if it's too moist; how can I know when it's dry enough? Would it be OK to just leave the jar open for it to dry? Could anything else be causing this?
I'll be grateful for any advice, thank you in advance.

 

chasingembers

Preferred Member
Nov 12, 2014
15,454
69
Pull out enough tobacco to fill the pipe, and spread it out on a paper towel. Let it dry for about 30 minutes. You want it just dry enough to the point that it will almost snap when squeezed, but not quite dry enough to snap. User name smokingpipedreams on youtube has an amazing video tutorial series with lots of visuals. Welcome to the forum, and hope this helps. When packing, however, make sure the pipe has the same draw full as as it does when empty.

Happy Smoking!
Duane

 

dottiewarden

Preferred Member
Mar 25, 2014
3,051
0
Toronto
Welcome aboard ddspada
Don't dry the entire jar at once as the moisture level for storage is higher than that for smoking. Do however air out a pipeful of tobacco for 10 minutes or so before loading it into the pipe. It does take a bit of experimenting to get it just right. As you get more experience you'll find it easier to keep a pipe lit without puffing frantically.
Some blends, often aromatics, take a bit of work to get burning so don't get discouraged.

 

anthonyrosenthal74

Preferred Member
Jan 8, 2013
7,306
3
Could be a number of things DD. After packing your bowl do a test draw. If it feels like a milk shake through a straw you're packing too tight. Try the three step packing method. Put a tad bit of tobacco in the bowl, very very lightly press it down. Put a tad bit more in the bowl and pack it just a bit more firmly. One more time and press it down a bit more firmly than the second time. Springy is good. The char light or first light is the next step. It's usually going to go out but that's ok. Make sure you're running the flame over the tobacco evenly while you take a few puffs. If you can't draw the flame into the bowl very well, it's a good sign you packed too tightly. When your first light goes out, lightly tamp down the tobacco. You're evening out the tobacco here because upon lighting it swelled up and out again. Now light the tobacco once more as before and sip. You're not puffing like a freight train. It's a pipe not a cigarette.... two completely different worlds. Sip it slowly and develop a cadence. If you feel like you're losing smoke it's probably a good idea to tamp down lightly again.... you're pushing the cherry back down onto the tobacco. Cigarettes do the work for you but you have to help the pipe out sometimes. If you have to relight a few times, no problem. We all have to relight sometimes and are always hunting for that perfect smoke when you don't have to. That in itself is a treat.
About drying out the tobacco. If you pinch some tobacco between your fingers and it stays clumped together when you drop it it's probably too moist. You want it to separate. I wouldn't leave the lid off the jar. Just take out what you think your going to use for that smoke and let it sit for a while, checking it every so often to see if it's still too moist. You can speed up this process by putting it under a heat lamp. Some even use the microwave! 10 seconds might do the trick and it might also be too much. For occasions such as this I have one of those plug in coffee cup warmers. I place my tobacco on a flat bottomed coffee filter and put it on the warmer and check it every few minutes. Takes longer than the microwave, but more controllable. You want to get rid of some of that moisture, but you don't want it bone crumbling dry either. Some tobaccos are more moist than others. Some aromatics are wet and goopy and others aren't so bad.
Welcome to the forums DD. I'm looking forward to reading your posts as you begin a wonderful new journey in pipe smoking. I was right where you are a few years ago. This place helped me out immensely. I'm sure it will do the same for you. :)

 

mephistopheles

Preferred Member
Oct 14, 2014
545
0
Hi there and welcome.
Please watch this attached video as it should help you a lot.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-Cqg6TBCIT4
As far as drying your tobacco there are a lot of opinions. Depending on where you live and the humidity level you might be able to get away with letting your tobacco dry for a few minutes or much longer. I personally let my tobacco dry for a few hours or even days. It's all personal preference. You should keep your tobacco in the jar and only take out what you intend to smoke at that time. It isn't usually a good idea to dry the whole jar out before you intend to smoke it. You can tell when tobacco is too moist when it's wet to the touch, not lighting correctly, causing tongue bite, or causing a gurgling noise inside your pipe bowl. Tobacco is usually considered to be too dry when it becomes crumbly. A good test to see if your tobacco is too dry is if you bend a piece and it doesn't flex back into it's original shape.
Packing method is also personal preference. I'll attach a video to the method that worked best for me when I started. The related packing videos from the same poster are also helpful and it'll come down to experimentation (as most of pipe smoking does) to see what works best for you. There are many recommended ways to pack your tobacco.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s6M1KXnd73w
It takes a combination of properly drying your tobacco, packing it, lighting it, and tamping it in order to keep the pipe going all the way to the end. Don't be discouraged from relights or experimenting with things. Persistence is key. Also, be aware of how much flame you're actually getting on the tobacco. That's something to be aware of. You do want to keep it lit but you don't want to flame thrower it. Try to get an even light all around the top of the bowl before you tamp it down. Like I said, persistence is key.
When you go to pick up a second tobacco blend I would highly recommend picking up something burley based. Burley is a kind of tobacco commonly used in over the counter blends (which are perfectly fine and in fact sometimes great!) and it stays lit really well. It's the best tobacco I've found for staying lit and it makes a great daily smoke! Hope that helps.

 

newbroom

Preferred Member
Jul 11, 2014
5,493
3
Welcome to one of the most informative and friendly forums you'll ever find. I've switched from cigs to pipes and no longer inhale. Nicotine entering via mucosa.

All the above and +1 on the Over The Counter burley blends. PA or CH are must have-s. Also, grab a bag of cob seconds from Missouri Meerschaum for $30.00 and have yourself an immediate 10 pipe rotation.

 

smeigs

Preferred Member
Jun 26, 2012
1,050
0
Welcome aboard. Everything above is pretty great advice. Most aromatics have a very wet feel to them, so take the amount of tobacco that you want to smoke and set it to the side, outside of the container for a couple hours. This should dry it out enough before smoking. As for the packing and lighting... I personally use a modified "frank" method. You can find videos on the frank method on youtube. This has been my go-to method for the past couple years now. Give that a try. In time, you should perfect the art of packing and smoking a bowl. Welcome to the forum and good luck.

 

igloo

Preferred Member
Jan 17, 2010
4,086
0
woodlands tx
There are many ways to over think the packing of a pipe .The Frank method while great for a long smoke has too many steps that could lead down the road of failure . Try this method and see if it works for you . https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0XHYPso7TXs

 

apatim

Senior Member
Feb 17, 2014
497
0
Jacksonville, FL
Welcome! I was a newbie about this time one year ago. Haven't been around much lately but learned a lot from the gentlemen here. Practice makes perfect... Well, maybe not perfect but you'll find in a few months that packing, lighting and keeping lit will become almost second nature. Pipe smoking is among the most relaxing of past times for me, now. Kick back and enjoy!

 

wilson

Preferred Member
Apr 17, 2013
719
0
Welcome. The advice above is great, including the videos. The one thing about packing tobacco, and even finding the right level of dryness, is that there is a feel that comes from some experience that you can't get by reading or watching. So, don't be afraid to experiment a little. Try packing a bit more firmly (but, bear in mind that the goal is not to stuff as much tobacco into the bowl as humanly possible) and see if that helps. If not, try packing a bit more loosely. Same with drying. Try the recommendation, above, for 30 minutes. Then try 45, or 15 and see what works. Tobacco blends are different -- one blend might need 30 minutes, others 15, some none at all.
Though it can be frustrating at first, it is not rocket surgery. Our fathers and grandfathers figured it out without having the interwebs. You'll get the hang of it and it really won't take long. Of course, decades later you'll still be learning, but you'll get to the point where you can enjoy a pipe in pretty short order.
And +1 on getting a pouch of Prince Albert or Carter Hall. They are easy to smoke blends.
Hang in there. A little patience, a little practice, a little experimentation. You're gonna love it.

 

judcole

Preferred Member
Sep 14, 2011
4,657
6
Detroit
The one thing about packing tobacco, and even finding the right level of dryness, is that there is a feel that comes from some experience that you can't get by reading or watching. So, don't be afraid to experiment a little. Try packing a bit more firmly (but, bear in mind that the goal is not to stuff as much tobacco into the bowl as humanly possible) and see if that helps. If not, try packing a bit more loosely. Same with drying. Try the recommendation, above, for 30 minutes. Then try 45, or 15 and see what works. Tobacco blends are different -- one blend might need 30 minutes, others 15, some none at all.
Much truth here.

I'm going to only add my standard advice to newcomers. Once you decide to stick with it, smoke the best tobaccos, in the best pipes, you can afford. Enjoy the journey. :puffy:

 

ddspada

New member
Feb 21, 2015
5
0
Thank you all very much.

I tried again this morning after leaving a bit of tobacco outside the jar. I tried waiting 30 minutes. The pipe did light up, and I had my very first (half) bowl this morning along with a cup of tea -- very, very enjoyable!

I needed to relight four or five times, and halfway through the half-bowl the pipe started gargling. Gently inserting a pipe cleaner made it better. Also, there was a bit less smoke than I expected based on seeing other folks smoke a pipe... What I am now wondering is whether these issues were due to poor packing or puffing, or still moist tobacco, maybe it needs to be dried even further. I suppose time and experience will tell.

I've read that it's a good idea to let pipes rest for a day or two before using them again. Why is this? Can anything serious happen if I smoke more often than that (at least for now, since I have one pipe only)? I do think I'm going to like this enough to light up a bowl or two everyday, haha.

Again, thank you!

 

ddspada

New member
Feb 21, 2015
5
0
I was also able to take some pictures of the pipe, which I couldn't do as of my first post above. Is the bowl, indeed, a Dublin?
http://www.image-share.com/ijpg-2864-88.html
http://www.image-share.com/ijpg-2864-89.html
http://www.image-share.com/ijpg-2864-90.html

 

troutface

Preferred Member
Oct 26, 2012
1,386
0
I'm guessing you're not getting the pipe lit very well from the get go. Be a little more aggressive lighting up than you think you need to. If you over do it you can just wait a few minutes for it to cool off. It's not a bad thing to over do it once or twice, at least you'll know what too much is and then you can dial back. Best of luck!

 

wilson

Preferred Member
Apr 17, 2013
719
0
I would call that a Dublin, and it is a nice looking pipe.
Four or five relights in a half bowl is still a bit much. Do you tamp before you relight? Tamping is needed to ensure that the ember keeps good contact with the un-burnt tobacco below. Again, this is gentle, you should not push as hard as you can.
Gurgling is a result of moisture collecting in the bottom of the bowl or in the shank, or both. Some pipes gurgle more than others, but it is often a sign that your tobacco is still too moist. A pipe cleaner, as you did, is the usual remedy. Gurgling happens to most, at least once in a while.
The reason to rest your pipe is to let it dry. Even if your pipe is not gurgling, it is pretty moist at the bottom of the bowl and in the shank. A pipe that is constantly wet is not going to smoke as well as one that is allowed to dry, and may develop off flavors that are difficult to get rid of. The usual recommendation for a new pipe smoker is to get a corn cob pipe or two. They are inexpensive, give a great smoke, and give you enough pipes to allow some rest for your pipes. As far as rest, the most common recommendation seems to be one day's rest for each bowl smoked. So, if you are smoking one or two bowls a day, then no harm done. It is far from scientific and others have different schemes. (Some smoke multiple bowls in a day in one pipe, but then let the pipe rest for several days, for example.) And, until you get another couple of pipes, an extra bowl or two won't do any real harm: your pipe won't self-destruct and the pipe police won't visit your home.

 

ddspada

New member
Feb 21, 2015
5
0
I've had two half-bowls since my last post. For the first, I let the tobacco dry a full hour and tried packing more tightly. I still had to relight plenty. For the second I decided to let it dry until it no longer stuck to my fingertips when handling it. I couldn't: I waited a total of six hours, checking it every twenty minutes or so. As a point of comparison, it still felt moister than the tobacco in a cigarette. I did get a bit more smoke, but still not as much as I would expect. The pipe gargled both times. As troutface suggested, I tried to light the pipe a tad more aggressively, but I think I was already on the brink of burning my mouth. I'm seriously wondering whether this tobacco is just too wet, period. It seems absurd to have to let tobacco dry for six hours before smoking it, though perhaps my idea of how tightly to pack is just way off the mark.
Regardless, I am very much enjoying the taste and aroma the pipe gives off, and I'm also enjoying the process of discovering what works and what doesn't. This weekend I'll have enough time to visit a nearby smoke shop, I plan on picking up a tin of one of the blends you've recommended, have my current tobacco evaluated as far as moisture goes, and possibly pick up a second pipe if I see one that strikes my fancy.
This is certainly looking to be a fun journey! Thank you guys for your help.

 

ddspada

New member
Feb 21, 2015
5
0
I've also read that people talk about ash in the pipe. I don't know whether I should expect ash akin to a cigar or cigarette. What I'm getting is tiny black pieces of charred tobacco, but nothing resembling ash at all.