Tamping vs Relighting

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pianopuffer

Senior Member
Jul 3, 2017
451
7
NYC
Was thinking about this last night while enjoying a bowl outside. When do you decide to tamp and draw to increase/deepen the ember versus relighting? I understand the need for a relight after one tamps, especially if you've left the bowl sitting for some time and it goes out...
Or perhaps these two methods go hand in hand every time?

 

bassbug

Preferred Member
Dec 29, 2016
867
0
My preference is to keep the ember going by tamping whenever possible. Relight only when there is no other choice.

 

ignaciojn

Member
Aug 19, 2016
204
0
Not a fan of tamping, really.
The true light usually gets me to around mid-bowl. There, I drop some ashes, tamp, and yes, it takes me a few religths to finish the bowl, but they don't bother me at all.

 

npod

Preferred Member
Jun 11, 2017
2,795
96
I think it is important to clarify what you mean by tamping. There are two types: cold tamp and hot tamp.
One of the top five, if not top two, most important things I learned about smoking a pipe was how to tamp correctly. For the first two years I would simply tamp the ash down using only a tamper, and generally after the smoke had gone out, that’s cold tamping. Then a very experienced pipe smoker taught me how to do it correctly. You actually tamp while the bowl/ember is still going and actively producing smoke. Then you draw in while tamping to help distribute the hot ash. Once I started to do this I was able to keep a pipe lit with very minimal relight. That is the correct way to tamp, but most new pipe smokers wait until the bowl has gone cold and then tamp and then re-light. That tends to just pack the ash tighter and thus more relights.

 

madox07

Preferred Member
Dec 12, 2016
1,390
17
Quite frankly I prefer a hot tamp ... not sure what you mean by relighting, as in let it go out and use the flame instead of tamping? Not sure how that works. I am in accord with npod Although I must admit ... I don't like to over tamp, and sometimes when I am not paying attention the fire in the bowl goes out because the ash is not letting the oxygen get to the right spot. I guess that if you know your pipe pretty good, you can get to the point where you know when you need to tamp.

 

techie

Preferred Member
Jul 20, 2018
597
0
As a beginner, I've found that the method npod described is what is working best for me. I am getting less relights the more I practice. If I am past the halfway point and my bowl goes out, I dump the top layer of ash, tamp lightly, relight, and I am usually good to go if I tamp lightly as needed.

 

mso489

Preferred Member
Feb 21, 2013
25,907
78
Yup, if you tamp early enough to keep the ember going, and don't tamp down too hard, it works well. If you find the ember is dwindling after you tamp, try covering the bowl about 2/3 with your fingers and sipping gently to bring it back to life. Frequently this works. It's a gentle art, and you can play around with it to get it just right.

 

nitemair13

Member
May 24, 2018
268
0
North Carolina
Over time I just sort of naturally fell into the hot tamp method. When I first started I often made the mistake of tamping too hard and causing the ember to go out on me. I've since sort of learned how to tell from the draw I'm getting, it if starts to loose strength I gently tamp things down and it goes back to it's usual cadence.

 

warren

Preferred Member
Sep 13, 2013
7,346
26
It's not a versus thing. Tamp when you need to tamp and relight when called for. This pipe smoking thing is all rather easy. Do what gets you a good experience.
I have found that turning my finger, my tamper, as I tamp, as opposed to simply pushing the ash down, is beneficial. Don't know if you will.

 

pianopuffer

Senior Member
Jul 3, 2017
451
7
NYC
I'm definitely a hot tamper, but my tamp game is severely lacking. I find my relights come when my tobacco isn't dry enough, but that's rarely a problem anymore.
I'll give the twist and tamp a shot, thanks!

 

jpmcwjr

Preferred Member
May 12, 2015
13,482
59
Monterey Peninsula
Twist and shout! Move it all about!
Both types of tamp from time to time, but usually prefer to keep the pipe going with out adding more fire.

 

scooterdoo

Junior Member
Jul 18, 2018
64
0
@npod thanks for the info on tamping correctly. Just tried this out and got through my first bowl without a relight.

 

npod

Preferred Member
Jun 11, 2017
2,795
96
^^^right on scooterdoo^^^

Little tips can make a big difference.

 

skaukatt

Senior Member
May 9, 2009
380
0
Tamping is such an integral part of any smoke to me. I find it to be the the key to a successful smoke.

 

bassbug

Preferred Member
Dec 29, 2016
867
0
^^^ what he said.
Judicious tamping allows me to keep my pipe lit and thereby minimize/avoid relights, which can be harsh on the tongue and palate.