Slowing down for a cooler, sweeter smoke - in practice

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sailortodd

Junior Member
Nov 2, 2011
76
0
I have smoked a pipe on and off for six years now, and for the longest time paid little attention to the finer nuances of the flavor, most specifically how the pace and power of my smoking affected the flavor. I'd note that the smoke would taste better at certain times than others throughout a bowl or depending on the day. Now I knew the pace affected the moisture content and the chance of tongue bite, and that the bowl would overheat if I smoked too fast, but the flavor was a different beast.
A few weeks ago I came across a blog post from Russ Ouellette from several years ago, "Slow Down for a Cooler Smoke". It discusses how the temperature at which the tobacco burns can affect flavor, as a cooler temperature vaporizes some of the VOCs that affect flavor, while hotter temperatures can change their chemical composition, creating a more acrid unpleasant flavor. The six years of variably satisfying pipe smoking all made sense finally.
This realization came to full fruition over the course of several days of smoking, during which time I experimented with the pace at which I smoked. I noticed that the first few puffs after lighting were acrid and unpleasant, but quickly transitioned to a deliciously sweet smoke as I sipped on the pipe. This indicates to me I may be overcharring my tobacco on lighting.
I also noticed that the wind had a great effect on the temperature at which the tobacco was burning. Being on the ship, I have to smoke outside on the smoke deck, and often have to deal with strong winds. I keep a thumb or two fingers, sometimes a palm over the bowl to keep wind off, but often can't do this for the first few minutes of the smoke due to the heat of the burning tobacco right at the top of the bowl. When it's windy and I can't keep the pipe covered, it burns hot and the smoke is less pleasant.
For those of you who also enjoy cigars, the same principle in smoking pace applies to cigars. Keep the puffs slow and steady (and keep the embers guarded from wind) for a more pleasant smoke.

 

deathmetal

Preferred Member
Jul 21, 2015
7,723
4
Good insight. For me, it has been realizing that I am roasting tobacco, not burning it, and so an even and solid pace rewards more than an impulsive approach. The result is that I taste more and absorb more Nicotine, or in other words, "win-win."

 

sailortodd

Junior Member
Nov 2, 2011
76
0
I jinxed myself writing this. Just packed a bowl of navy flake (fold and stuff method), and it burned hot for the whole smoke. I let the pipe go out and cool down midway through, gave it the quickest of relights and it was almost immediately hot again. Must not have given the flake long enough to dry out. That's another fine point to add to my post; no matter how slowly you smoke, sometimes the tobacco is so wet it will burn hot or go out, nothing in between.

 

pipesmokingtom

Preferred Member
May 4, 2015
3,213
1
I've never had success folding and stuffing. I can make it work, but to hit the right cadence for best flavor, I have to rub out flakes. Otherwise I'm fighting a losing battle most of the bowl.
Great post.

 

bigpond

Preferred Member
Oct 14, 2014
2,023
4
No experience with the following but it seems to be one of the few commonly available pipes that attempt to address this issue.

https://www.smokingpipes.com/pipes/new/tsuge/moreinfo.cfm?product_id=199140

 

jpmcwjr

Preferred Member
May 12, 2015
14,647
2,897
Monterey Peninsula
Todd- We often have a 10-15 kt. wind where I live, and I just grab anything, almost, to press on the top of the bowl esp. at first burning. On a ship you don't have a lot of choices for natural materials at the ready, so maybe carrying a small piece of wood would work. I've used box matches on top, so far no ignition! Even holding it on tightly still allows draw, but keeps the wind out.

 

draco

Junior Member
Dec 27, 2014
78
4
sailortodd you might want to try getting a wind cap for your pipe. Most online pipe retailers and many brick and mortars have them. Usually just a few dollars each. They snap fit inside the top of your bowl and limit the wind to slow down the burn.

 

jpmcwjr

Preferred Member
May 12, 2015
14,647
2,897
Monterey Peninsula
Draco- I've found commercial wind caps to be useless once the breeze gets over 5 kts. A flat something that provides some insulation to the hand when you clamp it down is what works.

 

jpmcwjr

Preferred Member
May 12, 2015
14,647
2,897
Monterey Peninsula
"I wouldn't wear those ugly-ass shoes"
~OJ Simpson testifying that he didn't own the Bruno Magli shoes worn at the murder scene.
Well I wouldn't smoke this ugly ass pipe! :)


 

sailortodd

Junior Member
Nov 2, 2011
76
0
Draco, thank you for the suggestion, I have toyed with getting a wind screen before (I should have added one to the order I placed yesterday actually, just to try it out), but I'm afraid with wind as high as it is the Venturi effect with the wind blowing over the screen will be enough to stoke the smoldering tobacco.
Jpmcwjr, the wood idea might be a great alternative. My thumb is stained brown from covering the bowl so much at this point. I didn't even think of a barrier to keep my hand protected.
What I just realized I need is a little hinged pewter lid like on a beer stein/Bierkug to cover the bowl of my pipe. It wouldn't be any odder looking that the Tsuge pipe posted earlier.

 

crashthegrey

Preferred Member
Dec 18, 2015
2,848
39
There are better wind caps with fewer or smaller holes out there, and some estate pipes have them built in that are more akin to the stein analogy. I'd definitely look for a good ship pipe to use for just this typical occasion. Best of luck.

 

jpmcwjr

Preferred Member
May 12, 2015
14,647
2,897
Monterey Peninsula
Another idea is a patch of leather- it can be clamped over the bowl to keep the wind out, and serve as protection when you jam it into your jeans pocket. (Which I do all too often)

 

cblynn

New member
Jun 22, 2016
4
0
Thank you for posting the link to the article and the information. For a brand new pipe smoker like myself, this was such an eye opening read and has totally changed my pipe smoking experience. Using some of the tips included in the article has allowed me to really open up the flavors of the tobacco and begin to taste the many layers.

Thanks again!

 

aldecaker

Preferred Member
Feb 13, 2015
4,409
7
Sounds like you need a thumbstall. It's the leather thumb cover the old-timey gunners used to cover the gun's touch-hole when the bore was being swabbed. You can get them for about $20 from Dixie Gun Works online.

 

sailortodd

Junior Member
Nov 2, 2011
76
0
The puffing cadence that works for me is a slow double puff every five or ten seconds. I use the feel of my pipe and the flavor to guide my speed. If I notice the bowl warming up I will slow it down or take a pause, and same goes if the smoke goes from tasting sweet to ashy or acrid, or if I start to notice tongue bite develop. I try not to pause long enough to let it go out, as I have found relighting causes some of the worst problems for too-hot smoking.
I need to see about the leather patch or thumbstall to block the wind. Either would fit my smoking habit best, with a thumb naturally over the opening to regulate airflow anyway.

 
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