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First week - Many, Many Questions... Beginner help pls!

(22 posts)
  • Started 1 week ago by piperbole
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  1. piperbole

    piperbole

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    Hi everyone,

    I'm new to the pipe-smoking scene and am having a few questions right from the offset.

    First off, apologies if I completely butcher the art of this tradition, I'll try and be as accurate as I can but sometimes a brief description of things "as I see them" might have to be the order of the day.

    I've got the following gear:

    2 Pipes.
    - One new, it's a straight pipe, Passatore, it's black in the bowl which leads me to believe it's already somewhat "broken in"
    - One used (passed down) Dr. Plumb? pipe. I've been using this one for my debut and following smokes I've had.

    Some baccy
    - It's an English blend, smells nice, it's in strands, don't know what you'd call that.
    - ** I've ordered a sampler of 5 different tobaccos, which contains:
    - 1 x Robert McConnell Scottish Cake Pipe Tobacco - 10g
    - 1 x Samuel Gawith FireDance Flake Pipe Tobacco - 10g
    - 1 x Rattrays Westminster Abbey Pipe Tobacco- 10g
    - 1 x Robert McConnell Glen Piper Pipe Tobacco - 10g
    - 1 x Rattrays Buckingham Pipe Tobacco - 10g
    It's not expensive and believe would give me the best variance.

    A tool
    A Pipe Lighter

    *****
    So I've finally gotten round to smoking, litten it up thrice.

    I've read a lot of stuff on this forum regarding packing the pipe, but I'm having reservations about my technique.

    FIRST SMOKE:
    I packed my pipe, using the method of putting baccy in, pressing it to halfway, then more baccy and pressing to 3/4 then more baccy to just below the rim. I lit the top of the baccy taking a few puffs, then pressed it down, so there was a definite ash on the top, but packed down. I then re-lit taking bigger puffs, had a few more, then it seemed to stop smoking.
    So I re-lit, making sure to get the flame all around the bowl (it's a small bowl, so wasn't difficult). It was basially a bowl full of ash after a few smoke and every subsiquent puff left me exhaling (I didn't exhale but for effect) an almost unnoticable amount of smoke.

    This happened on the second and the third I used more baccy and it was slightly better.

    I think I might be packing the bowl too lightly, there is an easy airflow when I take a puff unlit but as soon as flame is applied and I've "Started it off" I only seem to get a few puffs then the bugger is basically done.

    This leaves me with a few questions...

    1) How much tobacco do you use for a bowl? (Is it more than you would think?
    2) After you've lit the bowl does it smoke for the whole way, or will it seem dormant but smoke when you take a puff?
    3) Does the bowl, when being smoked, have a noticable cherry (red bit where burning)?
    4) How much smoke do you exhale when you're taking a puff?

    I've got loads more Q's, but as it's late, they will have to wait for tomorrow.

    There's a lot of great resources on the internet, but figuring out exactly what to search is the hard part.

    - Josh

    Posted 1 week ago #
  2. piperbole

    piperbole

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    As a further point - Tobacco flavour isn't my main concern at the moment.

    Once I've nailed the technique to have an enjoyable smoke, I can worry about blends I like.

    Posted 1 week ago #
  3. prairiedruid

    prairiedruid

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    Welcome! Beginning is always a journey, takes awhile for you to figure out what works best for you and everyone is a bit different.

    It's an English blend, smells nice, it's in strands, don't know what you'd call that.

    More than likely a ribbon cut.

    1. Amount of tobacco varies due to size and shape of the bowl, cut of the tobacco, and personal preference.

    2. It varies (get used to that phrase) do what is comfortable for you. Relights are not a bad thing. May want to study breath smoking.

    3. Sometimes when first lit it does but it will slowly burn down into the tobacco and maybe covered by ash. Tamping and sometimes stirring the edges helps even out the burn.

    4. The amount of smoke varies greatly between different blends and moisture levels of the tobacco.

    Keep asking questions; that's what we are here for, to help others enjoy pipe smoking as much as we do!

    Posted 1 week ago #
  4. redglow

    redglow

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    You may have to let your tobacco dry out prior to packing your bowl. Sometimes I put enough tobacco to fill my pipe on a paper plate for 15 minutes or sometimes more if its really damp. Let it air out.

    Then when you think it's ready, fill your bowl. Don't stuff it in there too tight. Just snug it up a little with your finger.

    Do your char light then tamp the singed tobacco down. You may have to do this 3 or 4 times depending on the tobacco.

    You should be off to the races at this point. I don't inhale the smoke. I just draw it in as if through a straw. Then release it from my mouth.

    You'll pick up your own way of doing all of this as you get more experience with your pipe and your different tobaccos.

    Good Luck!

    Posted 1 week ago #
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    jojoc

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    1) How much tobacco do you use for a bowl? (Is it more than you would think?

    Based on your description, sounds like you need more tobacco. My approach is to cub the top of the bowl with one had and fill the chamber until it is overflowing a little, press it down with my fingers until about half way, repeat and press down a little firmer, and top it off one more time and work it in until its is just below the rim. You need to get a good char light - with the flame over the bowl, take about 10 puffs, alternating between quick light draws and deep draws. remove the flame and take a few more puffs. Gently tamp the ash on top. Relight, same approach of alternating shallow and deep draws, again another 10 or so draws. The pipe may be a bit hot at this point, so I slow down and enjoy from there. periodically gently tamp the top ash.

    2) After you've lit the bowl does it smoke for the whole way, or will it seem dormant but smoke when you take a puff?

    Somewhat depends on the tobacco, but generally, once it is burring well, there will only be smoke when you take a puff.

    3) Does the bowl, when being smoked, have a noticable cherry (red bit where burning)?

    not necessarily. once it is well lit, the burning portion will be below the tamped ash on top.

    4) How much smoke do you exhale when you're taking a puff?

    This will again vary from type of tobacco. Also can be a factor of how hot the pipe is. Some of this is the art of smoking a pipe, of finding the right tempo of smoking to keep it burning, but not overheating.

    Welcome! and enjoy the process.

    jojoc

    Posted 1 week ago #
  6. canucklehead

    canucklehead

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    I would guess that you need to dry your tobacco much more and pack less, just my opinion. Try gravity feeding (just sprinkle it in till full) and give it a very light push down with your finger, and when tamping just use the weight of the tamper, don't cram it down with any pressure. Good luck, and if at first you don't succeed, keep experimenting.

    Posted 1 week ago #
  7. canucklehead

    canucklehead

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    Also, sip slowly, don't take big puffs.

    Posted 1 week ago #
  8. tschiraldi

    tschiraldi

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    +1 on lightly tamping. You don't want to "pack it down", just the weight of an average temper will do. Also, pack your pipe and then draw on it, no lighting yet. It should feel relatively the same as drinking soda through a straw, not a milkshake! When you think you have it right, light the entire top layer of your tobacco. Take a puff or two, then let it go out. This is called a "charring light". After a minute, light the tobacco again, all the way around. This is your "true light". After that, it's just a matter of learning your tempo in regards to puffing. If the pipe gets hot, you are puffing to often or too deeply... or both.

    Posted 1 week ago #
  9. jaytex969

    jaytex969

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    Put a bowl or two of tobacco out spread thin on a plate overnight. Let it get "too dry".

    Try it. See if you like it and how it differs.

    After that try drying the next batch for a few hours. Keep shortening the dry time until you find your favorite spot.

    I never understood how much difference it makes until I "accidentally" over dried some and enjoyed the result.

    Now that you've found your "happy medium", don't get too excited, as it will be different for each blend or even different batches of the same blend.

    If you're in a high humidity area, you may have to get creative. My oven has a pilot light that keeps the baking area just slightly warmer and drier than the house. If the humidity is up there, I can sit the plate in there (without even turning the oven on) for 20 minutes to move things along.

    2) After you've lit the bowl does it smoke for the whole way, or will it seem dormant but smoke when you take a puff?

    You have a lot of control over this part. Some tobaccos will light up easily and some will challenge you. Some will burn down nicely with one or no relights. Most will require a relight or several. On relighting, a quick, half a second touch of the flame will usually do it. If you try to relight as vigorously as your initial light, you'll probably overdo it and have to work to "settle" it back down some.

    Initially, you'll likely generate a bright cherry and a good bit of smoke in lighting the bowl. Your goal should be to walk the fine line, letting it settle down a bit and then taking smaller puffs to just keep it going. The majority opinion is that this barely lit mode is where the best flavor resides.

    Adjust your puffs up or down as needed to keep it going. Don't keep puffing away madly in search of the flavor at first. You will most likely get it too hot. The flavors may elude you initially, until you've developed a "palate" and technique to go with it. Focus on the technique and be patient. The flavors of awesomeness will eventually join the party.

    Think of the tamper as a surgical instrument. You're not playing Whack A Mole, but carefully "tending the fire". Lightly tamping the ash to compact it slightly, in hopes of a nice, even burning surface. Use the other (smaller, "spoon" or blade) end to gently scrape the unburnt parts from the sides inward, as needed.

    Sometimes, the ash layer gets so thick and dense that keeping the bowl lit is near impossible. Using the pick end, tap around and loosen the ash and dump it off. Ash takes almost NO pressure to disrupt and loosen. Think of poking your fork into mashed potatoes with gravy. If you go past the gravy and into the potatoes, that's too far for ash removal. Afterwards, gently tamp the surface even and relight.

    4) How much smoke do you exhale when you're taking a puff?

    All of it.

    As I've transitioned into ramble mode, I'll pull the plug for now. Welcome to the forum!

    Gunner, Black Frigate. Say "Hello" to my little friend!
    Posted 1 week ago #
  10. ryeguy

    ryeguy

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    1) How much tobacco do you use for a bowl? (Is it more than you would think?

    Yes, it is probably more than you think. It probably looks like twice what would comfortably fit in the bowl. But how much in any absolute sense will depend on the size of the bowl.

    From your description, it sounds like you aren't putting enough in and not packing tightly enough (although, as redglow notes, you may also be fighting wet tobacco). I think the best advice I can give is that you should pack it as tightly as you can while still being able to draw freely. If you feel significant resistance when you suck, it is too tight. Test the draw before you light. If it feels constricted, run a pipecleaner through to make sure the air hole isn't covered; if that doesn't fix it, just repack using a slightly gentler touch. You'll probably need to pack it too tight a couple of times before you get a sense of how much pressure to use to get it just right.

    2) After you've lit the bowl does it smoke for the whole way, or will it seem dormant but smoke when you take a puff?

    I think what you are asking is whether there should be smoke coming off the bowl all the time while it's lit. There may be little wisps of smoke coming off a lit pipe, but often it will not be obvious that it is lit until you draw on it.

    3) Does the bowl, when being smoked, have a noticable cherry (red bit where burning)?

    Only right after you light it. Once it's been burning for a while the cherry gets covered with ash. Even when it has just been lit, the cherry is only bright when you are drawing on it.

    4) How much smoke do you exhale when you're taking a puff?

    Depends, but if I have it burning just perfectly, it will almost burn itself, and I can just take tiny little draws, or even just let the pipe hang in my mouth, without sealing my lips around the stem, and let my breathing naturally draw a tiny bit of smoke in. If it is burning well, that is enough (or it is almost enough, I may need an occasional deep draw to keep it going) and what I exhale is almost invisible, just little wisps of smoke.

    I think what you want to shoot for (in packing, and drying, and lighting, and cadence) is to get the pipe so it will almost burn without you drawing at all. When everything is right, all it needs it the tiniest little perturbations to keep it going.

    Posted 1 week ago #
  11. chasingembers

    Embers

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    1) https://youtu.be/OP5MjK8KS7U

    2) Not much smoke except for when I retrohale.

    3) Only when lighting.

    4) Showing is better than telling.
    https://youtu.be/Jw8R7mxECvY

    Damnation seize my soul if I give you quarters, or take any from you.
    -Edward Teach
    Posted 1 week ago #
  12. piperbole

    piperbole

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    Thanks for all your help guys!
    On the phone at the moment so can't type loads.

    Will update when I get home, will write an update.

    Cheers
    Josh

    Posted 1 week ago #
  13. jpmcwjr

    jpmcwjr

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    Significant drying down of the tobacco before the loading.

    Do not be concerned with a "char light", much less a "true light". Many times both are completely unnecessary, especially if the tobacco is dry and not packed tightly.

    Enjoy!

    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 1 week ago #
  14. bnichols23

    Bill Nichols

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    Once I've nailed the technique to have an enjoyable smoke, I can worry about blends I like.

    Healthy attitude -- you're to be commended! All the advice is good. The best single rule? Take what seems to make the most sense & try it first. We all have different opinions, about EVERYthing, here, & all of them work for each of us. Some are diametrically opposed, which you wouldn't think would make any kind of sense at all, "but that works for us!" Don't worry; you'll find what works for *you* soon enough.

    Bill

    Head Black Frigate keelhauler, boss powder monkey, & troublemaker 1st class.
    Posted 1 week ago #
  15. piperbole

    piperbole

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    Hey all,

    Cheers Bob! I'm hoping my philosopy serves me well.

    Thanks to everyone who has taken the time to read my lenghty post, and answered, I've read through the thread and am surprised at the amount of people willing to help a noob out, really great thing to see in a forum!

    Back from a long day at the office, just lit up a bowl and attempting to replicate what everyone has said, had a considerably better experience.

    I think ryeguy might have hit the nail on the head (Not packing enough or tightly enough). I packed more tobacco than usual, and it burned for longer and better than usual, I think I was grossly underestimating how much I would need. I'm not there in terms of judging the amount just yet, though.

    I think I will need to smoke more to get my technique down... All in the name of research!

    I think the pipe I'm using might require some maintainance. It's one of my uncle's pipes he gave to me, a Dr. Plumb something or other, quite small, straight pipe.

    I've noticed there's a lot of gunk in the metal bit in the stem, If I remove the metal bit would a wash in warm water be sufficient or would it warm the metal? Can I give the stem a soak, too? (Stem is made of plastic and has a very think mouthpiece, can't get a pipe cleaner through it.

    Regarding the tobacco, it seems bone dry, but maybe it's an illusion. Can the tobacco be *TOO DRY*? Or am I ok leaving it out for a few hours just to make sure? Will it alter the flavour?

    I've got many more questions, but I will take to the internet before I post a million more. Sometimes though, reading an article/watching a youtube video can only explain so much and if you follow the instructions and it feels as though it's still going wrong, where do you turn!?

    Thanks,
    Josh

    Posted 1 week ago #
  16. piperbole

    piperbole

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    [quote]Think of poking your fork into mashed potatoes with gravy

    I think this is the best example I've heard! As a guy who loves gray and potatoes, really resonates with me.

    Posted 1 week ago #
  17. krizzose

    krizzose

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    You came up with the best profile name I’ve seen on this forum (which I deeply envy), and thus I’m confident you will do just fine without my advice.

    Posted 1 week ago #
  18. jpmcwjr

    jpmcwjr

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    A tobacco can be too dry, but that's very rare.

    As to cleaning, I am an advocate of very hot tap water, which can do wonders for the airway and mortise in addition to cleaning the chamber.

    Enjoy!

    Posted 1 week ago #
  19. mso489

    mso489

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    You have a pipe tool? Czech tool for about $3 USD, or pipe nail for about $1. You can firm up the bowl (leave it springy) before you light, and before each relight. This helps the process.

    Posted 1 week ago #
  20. olkofri

    Olkofri

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    Can the tobacco be *TOO DRY*? Or am I ok leaving it out for a few hours just to make sure? Will it alter the flavour?

    Yes, it sure can. If it crumbles to dust when you handle it it's definitely too dry.

    Hours? Drying time is not a set figure, as it depends on your location's humidity, the type of tobacco, whether it's laden with PG or not, &c., &c.

    Yes, drying alters the flavour, especially with aromatics. You dry those to the point of 'almost bone dry' and you might as well smoke sawdust.

    Not the sweet, new grass with flowers is this harvesting of mine;
    Not the upland clover bloom...
    Posted 1 week ago #
  21. dcon

    dcon

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    Lots of great advice. I am curious how you chose the five tobaccos? This has no effect on your goal of obtaining good smoking routines. I just found it to be a rather eclectic group of tobaccos and don’t believe that I have seen anyone “begin” with such a group (not saying that this is good or bad).

    Posted 1 week ago #
  22. piperbole

    piperbole

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    Hey guys,

    I left the comfort of the forums and decided to go smoke me some pipe.

    I've have 1 - 2 bowls a night since I first posted and since the struggles, I feel like I'm now at a point in which the whole process is gelling.

    I've returned from my 5th consecutive smoke that burned just right, didn't go out (Well, once, but only because I was chatting ), wasn't too harsh etc. etc. - I've just about got the grips of it all and I must say I'm now taking my time a lot more, less constant puffing, enjoying the smells and the tastes, even if I'm not yet sure what they are beyond 'Tobacco'.

    I do indeed have a pipe tool, comes with a round head, one attachment looks like a scoop the other, just like a nail but with a flat head. I must admit I'm not 100% sure what it's all for but I'm destined to find out. My Dr. Plumb pipe my uncle gave to be was involved in an accident and is now in a few seperate pieces in the bin, unfortunately.

    dcon - I'm not sure how this site is on advertising rules but it was a pre-determined "Sample Set" from an online tobacconist here in the UK. I'm still awaiting the parcel, think it may be waiting for me to pick up at the mail depot tomorrow. 10 grams of each for ~£15 so I decided it would be the greatest variance.

    I ran out of my last sampler so got some over the counter Condor Ready Rubbed for the time being and it's rather tasty, actually. Although I'm sure some pipeficcionados might have something to say

    Will give a proper review in a few months when my taste buds kick in.

    Thanks for all your help guys,
    Josh

    Posted 5 days ago #

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