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Moisture in the Bottom of the Bowl

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    missy

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    I lose the bottom 1/4 bowl of pipe tobacco to moisture. The tobacco will not burn in the bottom of the bowl because it gets wet. Is this a normal occurance? Is there anything I can do about it?

    Posted 1 year ago #
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    Anonymous

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    Let your tobacco dry a bit before smoking. I keep a bowl on the counter filled with whatever I plan to smoke next. Welcome to the forum btw.

    Posted 1 year ago #
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    Anonymous

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    It's "normal" -- for beginners anyway.

    You're likely smoking an aromatic, and it's also likely your aromatic is an OTC (over the counter) or drug store blend (sold in convenience stores, super markets, drug stores).

    Most OTC blends, especially the aromatics, have a LOT of humectant, usually Propylene Glycol, or PG. The humectant gives that OTC tobacco a very long shelf life, which means that pouch or box can stay on the shelf for a decade if necessary and still remain "fresh and moist." This is good for the store owner, but not so good for the pipe smoker trying to keep it lit while smoking it.

    That moisture, kept in the tobacco by the humectant, has to be dissipated before you can actually smoke it. Some OTC aromatics can take DAYS to dry properly. Drying is done by leaving enough to fill the pipe out on a paper or plate until it no longer clumps together.

    OK, once your tobacco is dry enough to smoke, you need to pack your pipe properly. Too loose or too tight adds a whole set of problems you need to avoid. Try drop feeding pinches of tobacco in your pipe and use your index finger to gently even it out -- don't press it down much. When the bowl is filled to within 1/4" 1/8" from the rim of the bowl, it should be "springy" when tamped with your finger.

    Next comes the light. You first do the "charring," or false light. This "toasts" the tobacco in much the same way one toasts the foot of a cigar. Next, use your tamper (if you don't have one, the head of a large nail works fine) to even out the charred tobacco. Next do the "true" light -- this is to fire up the tobacco and get it going well. Tamp it down a bit after you got it lit well while you're puffing.

    OK, it's lit, lots of smoke, w00t!

    Now sip slowly... no, slow down... sip more slowly. Don't worry, if it does go out, you can just relight it. Getting the cadence right while puffing is the hardest thing to learn. Remember, you're not smoking a cigarette -- pipe smoking is a much kinder, gentler art form.

    If you practice all of this and learn to do it correctly, you'll avoid a lot of the moisture at the bottom (called "dottle"). There will probably still be some of it (it's the PG in your OTC aromatic), but it should greatly improve your smoking enjoyment.

    Lastly, and very important, patience is the hardest thing to learn in pipe smoking. Research everything. Read the threads here and all the info you can on the internet. If you have a decent tobacconist hear you, visit them -- often -- and pick their brains. Like anything in life, the more you put into it, the more you'll get out of it.

    Good luck, missy, welcome to PM Forums, and please let us know how you're progressing in your new hobby!

    Posted 1 year ago #
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    Anonymous

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    +1 For the full explanation lol

    Posted 1 year ago #
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    missy

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    Thanks for the input! I was smoking an aromatic I bought from the tobacco shop. Altadis black cherry It is very possible that I am smoking too fast-I will work on that!
    And thanks for the suggestion to leave a bowl out for a while-I will try that too!

    Posted 1 year ago #
  6. matchstickman

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    As far as drying tobacco, if you want to hurry the process a little you can spread the tobacco on a piece of paper, stick it under a plain old desk lamp with a 40W bulb and sort of "cook" the tobacco under the lamp for a few minutes. I do this with aromatics that I smoke that come overly moist.

    Posted 1 year ago #
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    missy

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    OK--so tobacco should be kept moist for storage, but dried out a bit for smoking??? Makes sense

    Posted 1 year ago #
  8. matchstickman

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    Some tobacco manufacturers add certain additives to pipe tobacco in order to keep it more moist longer so as to preserve shelf life. A lot of high quality tobaccos have a lot of naturally occurring moisture that will help it to age properly for 1 year, 5 years, 10 years, 30 years, etc. Once you decide to pop the seal on a tin, it is generally a good idea to dry the tobacco out a bit before smoking because it will provide a drier, cooler smoke which will also give more flavor than moist tobacco. Your assessment, as provided above, is more or less correct in most cases, but everyone prefers different moisture levels in their tobaccos. Experiment and see what works for you.

    Posted 1 year ago #
  9. ugh457

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    a plain old desk lamp with a 40W bulb and sort of "cook" the tobacco

    Sounds obvious when you read it, but I wouldn't have thought of that ... good idea

    Posted 1 year ago #
  10. lumberjakpipester

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    I personally found that the thing that causes the worst wettest smokes is a very narrow shank/stem drilling. I had a very small mini-churchwarden once, that literally used to drip juice when I was finnished(well, about a 4rth of the bowl really)a bowl. The bottom had a disgusting black pool of condensation in it, soaking into more than half the tobacco, and that even with very dry blends. After inspecting the airway, I noticed it was only about the size of a large sewing needle! But slowly hand drilling the shank and stem, solved the problem entirely. Just my two pennies.

    Posted 1 year ago #
  11. javajunkie

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    Have to back up the drying and pacing of your smoke, and how you pack it. Another trick for while you learn good habits: use a pipe cleaner to help soak up some moisture. If your pipe can drop a cleaner through to the bowl without disassembly, it works perfectly to wick away a little moisture. Also helps if your hole might become blocked due to drawing or tamping.

    Slow down, take your time in both preparation and smoking, and best of luck!

    Posted 1 year ago #

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