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Basket pipe advice

(55 posts)
  • Started 3 months ago by judcasper
  • Latest reply from Bill Nichols
  1. judcasper

    judcasper

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    At some point this coming Monday I hope to pick up my first basket pipe from a local tobacconist. A couple of questions then: what is the likelihood any of these will be briar, and are there any tell-tale signs that will indicate this? I can ask, of course, but I don’t want to look a total fool. Secondly, while I appreciate basket pipes are largely pot-luck in terms of quality, is there anything I can look for to reduce the chances of picking up a complete dud?

    Posted 3 months ago #
  2. scloyd

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    Here is a thread I started about a basket pipe I purchased. Maybe a read through will help you...some good comments by other members. basket pipe

    Posted 3 months ago #
  3. judcasper

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    Thanks, scloyd. Some useful pointers there.

    Posted 3 months ago #
  4. raevans

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    Nothing wrong with basket pipes. Some of the name companies make them, Big Ben, Viking, BC, etc. Sometimes you can find a real gem in the mix. Just take you time in looking and look for any show stopping defects, (like you would with any other pipe).

    Posted 3 months ago #
  5. olkofri

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    Judcasper, in the tobacco world we follow a different modus operandi and etiquette than in the mainstream, geeky, self-made man, social media sphere. Namely, you stand a higher chance of being looked down if you DON'T ask questions, no matter how stupid, than if you come in and ask for guidance outright. Pretending to know, or being unwilling to admit ignorance won't net you good results in tobyland. Experienced salesmen can spot beginners with the same ease I can spot when a student used google maps instead of the atlas in a geography lab exercise.

    This video is about cigars, but I'm linking directly to the advice that applies all across the toby gamut: https://youtu.be/79GnBpNuVBo?t=1479

    And, this too, very important: https://youtu.be/79GnBpNuVBo?t=1547

    Of course, I acknowledge that sometimes we're hesitant to say out right that we don't know out of fear that a shrewd vendor will take advantage. There's also the fact that not all people employed in the business are knowledgeable, especially the hired hands behind the counter. Thus, besides the advice on etiquette, here's practical advice on pipes:

    1) Ask outright: 'these are made of briar, right?'

    2) Now that you've some smokes under your belt, you know more about what you want. Do you want short smokes? Choose a pipe with a small bowl. Do you prefer filters or not? Choose accordingly. Are you having issues with the pipe smoking too hot? Choose a pipe with thick walls.

    3) Pay attention to the smoke hole in the chamber: it must be dead in the centre and be flush with the bottom of the chamber. If it's too high the tobacco won't burn all the way to the end, leading to issues with moisture.

    Not the sweet, new grass with flowers is this harvesting of mine;
    Not the upland clover bloom...
    Posted 3 months ago #
  6. leafsmoker

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    My first pipe was a basket one, stamped Itay, and it was definitely briar.

    The walls have ears, the windows have eyes, and the wise man tells no lies.
    You can offer someone a cigar, but you can never offer someone your pipe.
    Posted 3 months ago #
  7. puffy

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    Just a matter of personal choice,but I prefer thicker walls.

    Life's most valuable treasure is..Love
    Posted 3 months ago #
  8. judcasper

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    Thanks, all.

    olkofri, I'm going to take your advice when I call in an explain the facts as they are. As you say I'm far more likely to put myself in an embarrassing situation if I try and make out I know more than I do.

    Posted 3 months ago #
  9. mso489

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    A basket pipe is anything the shop owner or manager decides to put in the basket. Some of these are probably a little too basic, with rough finishing of whatever kind, cheap plastic stems, and haphazard crafting. However, some shops put good pipes in the basket that may have stayed on display too long unsold or that they got on deep discount from good brands. Savinelli used to end up in the basket now and then, unfinished briar but good workmanship that darkened and finished itself with time, and other examples of good pipes put out for quicker sale. It behooves the shops to sell some good pipes to beginners that will make them like pipe smoking and bring them back for tobacco and additional pipes. A good way to know what you are looking at in the basket, is to spend a lot of time looking at non-basket pipes to see what quality looks like. Talk it over with whoever seems to be senior staff in the shop. See if they know what they're talking about as best you can. Ask them to pick you out several of the best basket pipes and tell you about sources of these. If they are just trying to empty your wallet, you'll soon see that. But if they are really smart, they'll give you straight information. Don't be afraid to go away, with polite salutations, and think about it, before you decide on any of the pipes. If you then go back and buy one, they'll think about you as a possible repeat customer and may treat you according. Take your time. Don't be intimidated.

    Posted 3 months ago #
  10. jpmcwjr

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    Pay attention to the smoke hole in the chamber: it must be dead in the centre and be flush with the bottom of the chamber. If it's too high the tobacco won't burn all the way to the end, leading to issues with moisture.

    All it has to do is pass a pipe cleaner from the stem to the chamber. Anything else is aesthetics.

    And it needn't be flush with the bottom. If it's way too high, the likelihood of unburnt tobacco in the heel is raised. But not by a lot, and many folks delight in throwing away dottle.

    I know that you believe you understood what you think I said, but I'm not sure you realize that what you heard is not what I meant.
    Posted 3 months ago #
  11. judcasper

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    A basket pipe is anything the shop owner or manager decides to put in the basket. Some of these are probably a little too basic, with rough finishing of whatever kind, cheap plastic stems, and haphazard crafting. However, some shops put good pipes in the basket that may have stayed on display too long unsold or that they got on deep discount from good brands.

    As many of you are probably aware (or maybe not) full-on tobacconists are pretty thin on the ground in the UK, so it may be worth noting that although I used the word tobacconists it's essentially a large newsagents with a small selection of pipes and pipe tobacco. When I was last in there I noticed what few pipes they had on the shelves were Peterson's, so it's unlikely I'm going to find one of these 'hidden gems' in the basket.

    All it has to do is pass a pipe cleaner from the stem to the chamber. Anything else is aesthetics.

    That's worth knowing. Thanks.

    Posted 3 months ago #
  12. ray47

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    Don't buy anything with a metal bowl. Their for smokers of alternative tobacco.

    Posted 3 months ago #
  13. olkofri

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    Peterson seems to be quite ubiquitous. My local brick & mortar has a wider selection of Petersons than any other maker. None of them are in the basket, though.

    Posted 3 months ago #
  14. nukesimi

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    Basket pipes aren't cheap. Buy a Peterson Dublin on Pipesandcigars.com. They have a special for $59.00. That pipe will definitely be better than some no name basket pipe.

    Posted 3 months ago #
  15. mrmachado

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    Well, my "first pipe" (which I don't consider to be my first pipe) was a Basket Pipe and it cost me $5.

    The worst pipe of all times. Bad in all aspects. Adding to that the fact that I was 100% inexperienced, it was a total disaster.

    Posted 3 months ago #
  16. foggymountain

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    It will most likely be a dud. Watch out for putty fillings and try to get as tight a grain as possible.

    Posted 3 months ago #
  17. nukesimi

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  18. olkofri

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    Nuke, the OP is in Britain.

    Posted 3 months ago #
  19. verporchting

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    I have some perfectly good basket pipes that have served me well for decades.

    Look for obvious flaws, defects or poor workmanship. Check the drilling by removing the stem and verifying the draft hole lines up and isn't too high/low/off center. Take a pipe cleaner with you and see if it will pass unobstructed. Otherwise, pick the one that speaks to you.

    If the tobacconist or news agent gives you any grief about looking over the pipes in this manner that's your cue to pass on anything he is selling and order something from one of the reputable sponsors listed on this site or maybe get something from a member in the trade/sale section.

    Posted 3 months ago #
  20. unadoptedlamp

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    If you want to mess around with them, bring a small pen light and shine it in to the bowl from the shank (part the stem fits in to). Look at the light pattern at the bottom of the bowl and say "Hmmmmmm. Interesting." Then you ask for a discount. If questioned, just say "Well isn't that obvious?" Good luck!

    But seriously... I'd ask for a discount on a basket pipe. Something like "What is your friendliest price for this pipe?" sometimes does the trick.

    Posted 3 months ago #
  21. judcasper

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    If you want to mess around with them, bring a small pen light and shine it in to the bowl from the shank (part the stem fits in to). Look at the light pattern at the bottom of the bowl and say "Hmmmmmm. Interesting." Then you ask for a discount. If questioned, just say "Well isn't that obvious?" Good luck!

    More great advice, everyone. Thanks.

    Posted 3 months ago #
  22. scloyd

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    Another option instead of a basket pipe is a Falcon with interchangeable bowls. I have a Falcon with a International stem and a briar bowl. Just an idea...another option you have.

    Posted 3 months ago #
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    bent1

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    Things I avoid when selecting a pipe: varnished, glossy finishes, lack of grain structure, pre-treated bowl insides, pipes that feel heavy relative to others in the basket.

    Posted 3 months ago #
  24. chasingembers

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    Something else you may wish to consider if nothing looks appealing in the basket is Savinelli's subsidiary Rossi.

    Damnation seize my soul if I give you quarters, or take any from you.
    -Edward Teach
    Posted 3 months ago #
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    Something else you may wish to consider if nothing looks appealing in the basket is Savinelli's subsidiary Rossi.

    +1
    Rossi pipes really are close to Savinelli in terms of smoking characteristics—just with different finishes.

    Posted 3 months ago #
  26. judcasper

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    Something else you may wish to consider if nothing looks appealing in the basket is Savinelli's subsidiary Rossi.

    +1
    Rossi pipes really are close to Savinelli in terms of smoking characteristics—just with different finishes.

    The reason I'm looking at basket pipes is because I'm new to all this. Maybe I should have said so in my OP, but it seems nearly all my opening posts as a new member explained this. I don't have the budget for Rossi pipes, or any branded pipes for that matter, but even if I did I'd still be looking at basket pipes for now. When I've established it's a hobby I'm going to stick with, maybe then I'll start to consider.... I mean dream, about branded pipes.

    Posted 3 months ago #
  27. seanv

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    Stick with cobs until you find out if this is for you.

    Posted 3 months ago #
  28. scloyd

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    Stick with cobs until you find out if this is for you.

    +1
    Are cobs easily available to you at the newstand? This UK online tobacconist has cobs for less than 5 quid. https://www.gqtobaccos.com/

    Posted 3 months ago #
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    What is your budget for the pipe? Basket pipe prices are all over the place.

    Posted 3 months ago #
  30. judcasper

    judcasper

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    What is your budget for the pipe? Basket pipe prices are all over the place.

    I only know of one place local to me that sells pipes, and their baskets are within my range.

    I could tell you my budget but most of the regular posters have had their say on the matter and I fear it would only mean going over old ground. Suffice to say my budget isn't going to get me anything amazing.

    I'm truly grateful for all the advice, but I really didn't want this thread to turn into 'A good beginner's pipe' discussion. I merely wanted some advice on separating the duds from the (potentially) decent smokers, when it comes to BP. Which, incidently, many have provided

    Posted 3 months ago #
  31. mso489

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    As someone mentioned here, basket pipes are often not that cheap. If you get up around fifty or sixty bucks, you can proceed to the regular pipe wall, and for an additional ten or twenty, get a name brand. Apply the same critical standards, and ask for information and suggestions according to your faith in the staff, and go home and think about it if you want. Since pipes are often companions for life, whether they are being smoked or not, you may as well have something that at least serves the purpose when wanted. Basket pipes are worthwhile when you happen across one that is clearly the pick of the basket litter or got there by mistake.

    Posted 3 months ago #
  32. olkofri

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    True dat, MSO. At my local shop all basket pipes are $35. Roughly three times the price of the cheapest pipe: a cob. Since the OP doesn't like cobs, I won't suggest them, but I do want to emphasise that basket pipes don't go for the price of a Czech tool (and if there were one selling for such a pittance, I would NOT be buying it!).

    When I got my first pipe, I didn't care for the basket ones and I went for a briar churchwarden that was $49, which, when you really look at it, wasn't much of an upgrade over a basket one, at least in terms of price. The real nice ones started in the $70 range, and even those ones were low grade. Stuff like the Savinelli Romas was ~$114; these are nicer grade but still nothing to be bragging about. All prices are in Canadian dollars, so you can go to http://www.xe.com and compare.

    Posted 3 months ago #
  33. chasingembers

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    I threw the Rossi Vittoria option out there for the $43 price tag. Basket pipes around here are $35-$40 and tend to get banged around a bit.

    Posted 3 months ago #
  34. bnichols23

    Bill Nichols

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    I was going to weigh in, but bent1 covered 100% of what I was going to say.

    Also maybe not for now, but possibly down the road, Morgan Bones pipes might be something to consider. (I do know you're in the UK.) They're good quality & definitely moderately priced. By dumb-luck happenstance I came on one unsmoked that I picked up for $40-American that is a really nice smoker. My only apple & also my only Bones, but I find myself going to it a lot when I want a good ~30-minute smoke! More info on Bones here:

    https://www.morganpipes.com/store/p61/Bones_Pipes.html

    Mega-luck to you! :):)

    Bill

    Head Black Frigate keelhauler, boss powder monkey, & troublemaker 1st class.
    Posted 3 months ago #
  35. judcasper

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    Also maybe not for now, but possibly down the road, Morgan Bones pipes might be something to consider.

    His range of nosewarmers are by far my favourite of any pipes I've so far come across. I don't seem to be able to find this one on his website (discontinued/out of stock, maybe) but as soon as I can afford it I'll be ordering one of these, so long as his UK stockists carry it.

    Posted 3 months ago #
  36. bnichols23

    Bill Nichols

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    Yup, very possibly. Good quality stuff, if my little apple is any indication, & openly honest about fills & other blemishes. Like Savs or Nordings, I can't recall anybody *ever* saying anything bad about Boneses.

    Posted 3 months ago #
  37. olkofri

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    Now you got me interested in those Bones. Guess I should get me one and dedicate it to Black Frigate. Arr!

    Posted 3 months ago #
  38. judcasper

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    Like Savs or Nordings, I can't recall anybody *ever* saying anything bad about Boneses.

    I was watching one chap review the Morgan One - a tiny, stemless pipe (see pic). One of this guy's things seems to be that he feeds a thermometer down the shank while he smokes it, so that viewers can watch the rise and fall of the temperature in real time, and he was saying that much longer gaps between draws would have to be taken if you wanted to avoid a serious tongue-singeing.

    Posted 3 months ago #
  39. olkofri

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    Would be interesting to watch a video of him doing that.

    Posted 3 months ago #
  40. judcasper

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    Would be interesting to watch a video of him doing that.

    Mmm, I take it embedding isn't allowed on here?

    https://youtu.be/Bi5aRicRae4

    Posted 3 months ago #
  41. jpmcwjr

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    Photos yes, videos no.

    Posted 3 months ago #
  42. olkofri

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    Interesting.

    Over a year ago, I too bought a thermometer with a probe to measure the temperatures when drawing and, most importantly, lighting up. You can imagine the serious tongue bite problems I was having when I chose to spend the price of a nice pipe on a thermometer.

    I was afraid of the puffed smoke having a temperature in the hundred(s) of degrees (Celsius) range, but looking at this bloke and his thermometer, the smoke ain't really hot: ~40 °C is a lower temperature than that of freshly poured coffee.

    Posted 3 months ago #
  43. judcasper

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    I was afraid of the puffed smoke having a temperature in the hundred(s) of degrees (Celsius) range, but looking at this bloke and his thermometer, the smoke ain't really hot: ~40 °C is a lower temperature than that of freshly poured coffee.

    But when he was drawing the temperature was in the 100s ?

    Anyway, today was the day I called in at the tobacconists to look at their basket pipes. I did all the checks recommended by you guys and had a nice chat with the woman behind the counter. She let me stick my nose into some of their American aromatics; Irish Cream, Rum Butter... they honestly smelt good enough to eat, and they do sample-size measures of them all, too.

    As for the pipes, I didn't buy one. They all had the words: Real Briar stamped on the shank, and there was a nice little nosewarmer that took my fancy, but I forced myself to walk away empty handed. I then walked around the block, all the time fighting the urge to go back and buy the pipe I liked and a sample pack of the Irish Creme. It wouldn't have broken the bank if I had, and I'm obviously regretting not buying now, but my head won over my heart and I managed to convince myself I had more important things to spend my money on.

    Posted 3 months ago #
  44. olkofri

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    Judcasper, yes, 100s in the Fahrenheit scale. Which is ~40 degrees centigrade. Water boils at 100 °C, which would read as 212 in his thermometer.

    When he was not drawing the temperature was ~94.5 °F, which is lower than your body's normal temp.

    Posted 3 months ago #
  45. judcasper

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    Judcasper, yes, 100s in the Fahrenheit scale. Which is ~40 degrees centigrade. Water boils at 100 °C, which would read as 212 in his thermometer.

    When he was not drawing the temperature was ~94.5 °F, which is lower than your body's normal temp.

    Ah, sorry. I've always been hopeless at the whole °F / °C thing. Maybe he gets them confused too

    Posted 3 months ago #
  46. olkofri

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    S'OK, Fahrenheit and Imperial system baffles me too; I was using my IRC bot's converter. I was particularly interested in the temps when he relit, but it only went to 107 °F, which is 41.7 centigrade.

    When I was starting out I was mostly worried about some of the smoke going into my mouth being actually steam. Steam will definitely burn you like heck. But with those temps we saw last night, no steam is coming through.

    Posted 3 months ago #
  47. olkofri

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    Oh, one more thing. He knows how to smoke a pipe. So, let's not take those temps as gospel. A beginner drawing on a pipe like a cigar will probably meet hotter temps. He might even pull in steam.

    Posted 3 months ago #
  48. pappymac

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    All it has to do is pass a pipe cleaner from the stem to the chamber. Anything else is aesthetics.

    That criteria eliminates quite a few Peterson and Savinellis. Especially the systems pipes or bent pipes which are not designed to pass a pipe cleaner.

    I am glad we have a good admin and responsible moderators.

    Heave to you dark colored ship under sail! Prepare to be boarded!
    Posted 3 months ago #
  49. judcasper

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    Oh, one more thing. He knows how to smoke a pipe. So, let's not take those temps as gospel. A beginner drawing on a pipe like a cigar will probably meet hotter temps. He might even pull in steam.

    Doesn't it all boil down to common sense at the end of the day, and listening to your nerves signals? If we take a sip of too-hot coffee and sting our tongue, we don't immediately take another sip and burn it again. Just draw on the pipe and if you get a sense something's too hot, do something about it rather than sit there puffing away until your tongue ignites in flames.

    One thing this has told me, is that I may have completely misunderstood what tongue bite is. When I first started looking into the term, I got the impression it was caused by some kind of chemical reaction between certain tobaccos when burned and mixed with your mouth's saliva. I still maintain there's probably something in that, too, because when I've experienced tongue bite the sensation has been nothing like 'burning' your tongue in the way you would on hot food or drink. It's more like the burn you get from spicy food.

    Posted 3 months ago #
  50. crashthegrey

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    if you get a sense something's too hot, do something about it rather than sit there puffing away until your tongue ignites in flames
    You would like to think so, but you'd be surprised.

    Posted 3 months ago #
  51. olkofri

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    Yup, when you start fighting the pipe that's going out after two puffs and get frustrated with relighting continuously and start puffing like a choo-choo to keep it going, common sense gets tossed overboard and at the same time you say 'damn the torpedoes, ahead flank!'

    Posted 3 months ago #
  52. olkofri

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    One thing this has told me, is that I may have completely misunderstood what tongue bite is. When I first started looking into the term, I got the impression it was caused by some kind of chemical reaction between certain tobaccos when burned and mixed with your mouth's saliva. I still maintain there's probably something in that, too, because when I've experienced tongue bite the sensation has been nothing like 'burning' your tongue in the way you would on hot food or drink. It's more like the burn you get from spicy food.

    Yes, 'tongue bite' is a term that gets thrown around to generalise any kind of pipe-related tongue discomfort.

    Technically, you're correct, there's is tongue bite –a chemical reaction to something coming into your mouth, which is not limited to tobacco (I get tongue bite from too much salt)–, and tongue burn which is, well, a burnt tongue resulting from something hot coming in contact with it.

    Posted 3 months ago #
  53. judcasper

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    Technically, you're correct, there's is tongue bite –a chemical reaction to something coming into your mouth, which is not limited to tobacco (I get tongue bite from too much salt)–, and tongue burn which is, well, a burnt tongue resulting from something hot coming in contact with it.

    Ah, thanks. I get tongue bite from overly-sweet foods, oddly.

    Posted 3 months ago #
  54. User has not uploaded an avatar

    bent1

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    Joined: Jan 2015
    Posts: 239

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    Thanks for the link on Morgan pipes Bill.

    If the looks are ok with you OP, consider a Missouri Meerschaum. They’ve been at a minimum good smokers, if not better for me.

    Posted 3 months ago #
  55. bnichols23

    Bill Nichols

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    Joined: Mar 2018
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    Most welcome, any time!

    Bill

    Posted 3 months ago #

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