Tamping whilst smoking

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beardedcavalier

New member
Jan 31, 2015
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Hi everyone,

Could someone give me guidance on the etiquette as to whether one ought to tamp the tobacco whilst smoking? I've also had conflicting advice about poking out ash at the top of the bowl during a smoke... is this a good idea or a no-no? (One guy I know spoons out some ash, then tops it up with fresh tobacco!)

 

newbroom

Preferred Member
Jul 11, 2014
5,493
3
(One guy I know spoons out some ash, then tops it up with fresh tobacco!)
Oh, really? How's that working out for him?

I find your question rather stupefying. When would you tamp if it wasn't whilst smoking? Why do we have tampers?

Etiquette is what works for ya, and normally, tamping is and topping old bowls not so much, normal that is.

 

delro

Member
Jan 7, 2015
204
0
Yes you tamp whilst smoking, you wouldn't need to if you weren't :roll:
As for your buddy who spoons fresh baccy on top - I wouldn't.

 

oldreddog

Preferred Member
Sep 4, 2014
923
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I assume you meant when to tamp whilst smoking?
If so, I find that the time to tamp is when you feel the pipe about to go out, push the cherry (ember) down a little to keep it in contact with the tobacco. Some say tamp straight down others say from the side, some tamp heavy some tamp lightly. It does depend on the tobacco the pipe and so may other variables!
But my point is that you should experiment and find what works best for your smoking style. I don't ash my pipe and I wouldn't be putting any tobacco on top either.
I hope that is of some help to you.

 

freakiefrog

Preferred Member
Dec 26, 2012
745
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Mississippi
Tobacco swells up when heat is applied. The mechanical reason for tamping is that when the tobacco heats up as you're smoking it puffs up and to get a consistent smoke burning tobacco must be in contact with un burned tobacco. So if it puff up its not in as good a contact as it could be. Think a fire place. You want air space between your logs (leaves of tobacco) but if they are to spaced out the will burn for a while then die out. If they are to close not enough air they wont burn on their own and need to be relit over and over. So you need a good Fuel aka tobacco : air : fire, ratio to much air > heat = fire goes out, heat > air = fire goes out, Fuel air = bad.
Bumping the ash is like opening the flue on a fire place. You want enough ash to insulate the fire from wind and the outside air which is one reason the char light is so important. But no so much that your air : heat ratio get out of whack again.
hope that helps

 

brudnod

Preferred Member
Aug 26, 2013
938
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Great Falls, VA
This may sound rather unscientific but I usually pack my pipe rather casually then light it. The tamping part is to get the tobacco to the right density to burn correctly. I suppose you can say after 45 years the packing is a little more regimented and therefore probably sound but the tamping is to correct the mistakes that may arise. As for the removing ash then "topping up" the burning tobacco, not sure what the point of that is? Is ash a bad thing to be avoided? Does he just do it at the top or continue to remove ash as the tobacco burns down the bowl?

 

smeigs

Preferred Member
Jun 26, 2012
1,050
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I usually tamp when I notice my smoke from my draw becoming thinner. I usually just do a light tamp and the smoke and draw will get better and more enjoyable. When I get to the bottom quarter of the bowl I will dump some of the old ash, then tamp down all the remaining good tobacco and re light to get that last little bit.

 

cosmicfolklore

Preferred Member
Aug 9, 2013
17,929
116
For me, this depends on which pipe I am smoking. My tall chimneys with 2+ inches of height and a .7" diameter, I do like Spencer says, and pack loosely and tamp to correct my draw. For other pipes, I also tamp just when I notice the flavor thinning out, as others have mentioned. But, I have a few clenching bulldogs that I don't ever tamp after the initial light. They have very open draws with an amazing chamber diameter to height ratio that just makes tamping unnecessary.
In the beginning, I had to be told that it wasn't a ramrod, just lightly crush the ashes down.
As for packing more tobacco on top, I do this also sometimes. It is by no means a must for me, but especially when I get in that zen moment and I don't want the bowl to end, I will just keep adding more on top. Is that right or wrong. I really don't care. It's my smoke, so I'll do what I want, ha ha. You can do what you want with your smoke.
Don't tell a cowboy how to ride his horse kinda thing. Same with pipes. Unless the cowboy asks...

 

warren

Preferred Member
Sep 13, 2013
7,350
30
One should do what works, ay? I give the tamper, usually my finger, a quarter turn as I lightly tamp to keep the ash and tobacco "nested."

 

phred

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Dec 11, 2012
1,755
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Tamping has nothing to do with etiquette, which is about decorum, manners, and proper behavior. It has far more to do with the practical matters of keeping one's pipe operational during smoking. :wink:
As far as figuring out when to tamp, there's as much art as science to it. Despite my own love of gathering useless statistical data with regard to my hobbies, there isn't really anything more than a general guideline for when to tamp, as the circumstances change with the pipe, the tobacco, the relative humidity, and the wind speed. Eventually, you'll get a feeling for when things are slowing down, which indicates that the smoldering ember is no longer in close enough proximity to fresh fuel, and it's at that point that a tamp becomes necessary. It smooshes things down gently enough not to extinguish the ember, and allows it to catch more of the unburned tobacco.
As for how to tamp, most recommend using the lightest touch possible, in order to avoid extinguishing the pipe. Some say gentle pressure, others insist that only the weight of the tamper itself should be used. Many suggest light pressure around the edge of the chamber, in order to push the tobacco surrounding the ember into the middle.
With regard to ash removal, some do and some don't. If you've accumulated enough ash that it's choking off the airflow, removing some is not a horrible idea, though I smoke large bowls and have only rarely needed to remove ash prior to the end of the bowl. Sometimes it's useful to get an idea of how much unsmoked tobacco one has left in a given bowl.

 

cortezattic

Preferred Member
Nov 19, 2009
14,401
173
Chicago, IL
Many tobaccos (esp. Virginias) will benefit from removing the ash at the halfway point.

In addition to helping get good relights, it seems to refresh the taste at that point.

 

buroak

Preferred Member
Jul 29, 2014
1,858
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I tamp when the draw opens up (you will start to feel like you are sucking through a straw that is in an empty glass). When I tamp I typically use only the weight of the tamper to push down the tobacco and ash.
Some of my pipes do require that I empty the ash one or two times during a smoke. For that task I do not use the spoon on my pipe tool; rather, I turn the bowl upside down and gently tap the underside of the bowl with the palm of one hand. I then use the pick and tamper to level out and pack the remaining tobacco.

 

beardedcavalier

New member
Jan 31, 2015
19
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I have to say I feel pretty dumb for asking this question! I thought that tamping was part of prepping the bowl to light up... it was only on reading some of the threads on here that I realised it was something to be done whilst smoking! :oops:

 

barleynbaccy

Senior Member
May 31, 2013
437
0
I tend to smoke until the pipe goes out, then tamp and relight. I read this in one of Greg Pease's articles and it really helped me as a beginner. It works so well I have just kept doing it.
I dump my ash between half way to 3/4 of the way down the bowl, and to me it makes a big difference in the taste of the remaining smoke.
The kiss method helps a lot as a newbie. It's one less thing to dwell on while still trying to figure how to keep it cool and get good flavor.

 

cobguy

Preferred Member
Oct 18, 2013
3,743
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Don't feel bad beardedcavalier ... there is a pretty good learning curve at first with pipes.
As mentioned, it's typical to tamp just enough to keep the ember in contact with the tobacco.
Some tobaccos like to be tamped more often than others, some like to be tamped more firmly than others, etc ...
It's really trial and error until you find your own groove, so to speak.
Welcome to the world of pipe smoking and to this Forum! :puffy:

 

pipebaum81

Preferred Member
Nov 23, 2014
625
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As cob said above, please do not feel bad in the slightest, beardedcavalier. There are people here that have been smoking longer than I have been alive. My lowly six months as a pipe smoker have been made enjoyable in large part to the knowledge shared here. It's why so many of us came here; to learn in a welcoming environment. People have shared stories here of smoking incorrectly for months if not years (being miserable through a lot of it) because they didn't have the guidance needed to get to a good smoking comfort zone. Use the forum. You are in good hands. Besides, you used the word whilst! Where you may lack experience tamping you gain extra credit points for colorful vocabulary. :wink:
j/B

 

cobguy

Preferred Member
Oct 18, 2013
3,743
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Besides, you used the word whilst! Where you may lack experience tamping you gain extra credit points for colorful vocabulary.
LOL ... I thought the exact same thing! :)

 

zack24

Preferred Member
May 11, 2013
1,726
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I'm not that coordinated- I usually have my wife hold my tamper while I'm smoking...:)

 

drwatson

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Aug 3, 2010
1,720
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toledo
My Dad said "tamp less then you think you have too!" I found this to be true. About the only time I tamp is just after the first light, and then if I dont finish the whole bowl when its gone out I dump the ash, give it alittle tamp, and set it aside till I re-light it.