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Ruminations on My First Smoke

(21 posts)
  • Started 12 months ago by mamaraewyn
  • Latest reply from cajomu
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    mamaraewyn

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    ** Apologies for the longer post**

    I'm still waiting for the online order, but I decided to go to the ONLY old style tobacconist in Adelaide and grab some things as I was so eager to start.

    I got a basic wooden cob, a few grams of an aromatic and a few grams of an english.
    I decided to try a small bowl of the aromatic first.

    First observation: I couldn't keep the b**tard lit! I went through almost a dozen matches and I couldn't keep a smolder going. I have a feeling that that comes down to my complete inexperience in packing and tamping... That will come with practice though.

    Second: it's really hard to pull on one side of your mouth and blow out the other side like I've seen people do in videos without blowing out the match. There is an art form there in itself.

    -there wasn't much flavour at all that I noticed. This could be because i'm recovering from the flu though...
    -there was tongue bite I'm not sure if that was the type of tobacco I got (i'm not even sure 100% what it is - I think their own blend?) or my virgin palate.

    Most interesting was that I didn't feel the heady nicotine buzz that I used to get from cigarettes. Maybe this was because I didn't inhale.

    But my final thoughts and questions was that about 20 minutes after I'd finished and put things away, I started to get the taste of ash in my mouth. It was like a coating, that no drink or food could wash away... this lasted about 40 minutes, maybe a bit longer. I didn't seem to have any other side effects... maybe some chills a few hours later, but it's winter here and I am recovering from the flu so this could be completely unrelated.

    I'm going to try again in a few days/weeks after this flu has completely gone.
    Not sure it anyone has any comments on this 'ash' taste, and apologies again for the long (and somewhat boring) post.

    Posted 12 months ago #
  2. carolinachurchwarden

    carolinachurchwarden

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    Sounds to me like you got the whole, entire beginners first rate experience on the first smoke.

    Congratulations.

    Now that it's out of the way, you get to learn how to dry your tobacco properly, how to fill properly, and how to sip properly.

    Number one takeaway from today's experience should be: slow down.

    Number two, you don't have to inhale to get that nicotine experience, but you're not very likely to get it from an aro with just a short smoke. Just pulling the smoke into your mouth slowly, "sipping", will deliver the nicotine you're expecting. If you want that, you're going to probably want to venture away from aromatics. They smell good, but most don't deliver that punch you hoped for.

    Best of luck!

    "If you can't send money, send tobacco." - George Washington

    Posted 12 months ago #
  3. sparroa

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    While some people devotedly smoke aromatics, I never really saw the appeal as I seldom smoke indoors and I don't care about the room note. The flavour (or lack thereof) leaves a lot to be desired in many of these blends. They are designed to smell a certain way and the taste can often suffer as they aren't always made from the best quality leaf. Of course there are exceptions to this generalization but I think that holds true for many bulk options on the market.

    The closest thing to an aromatic that I smoke is Erinmore Flake but that has some pretty solid Virginia/Burley structure with a lot of real tobacco taste underneath the added fruity essence. It is a little more old school than some of the sweeter and goopier aros out there.

    So, in short, smoking an anonymous aromatic house blend can have pretty mixed results. I think a good pipe smoking experience depends upon having good tobacco before all else...

    As for your first experience, the flu might have had a major negative impact. I try to avoid smoking my pipe if I have a flu as it becomes quite pointless. The smoke can just feel like puffs of air and any nuance will be lost.

    The ashy taste can happen with some aromatics, especially if they are smoked too fast or puffed on too hard. If you were struggling to keep it lit then that could be responsible.

    The head buzz definitely comes from inhaling so one shouldn't feel too much of that with a mild aromatic blend. Stronger blends can give you that through mouth absorption alone but I can't imagine an aro doing it to someone who has smoked cigarettes in the past.

    Tongue bite also depends but it can probably be blamed on technique or the tobacco itself.

    One can use a lot of matches so don't worry about that so much but I'm guessing you probably didn't have it packed perfectly so that can aggravate the situation.

    Was this aromatic damp to the touch? Most of them are and they can benefit from a considerable amount of drying time - spread out the tobacco and give it enough time to become reasonably dry. If it is moist to the touch then you will probably have combustion problems.

    You said you decided to have a small bowl of the aromatic - how small?

    In my experience, partially filling cobs can be asking for smoking problems. I always fill to the top of the bowl because I find my packing/filling methods don't work out properly when I don't have the right volume and density in the pipe.

    Keep trying and keep sharing your experiences - I'm sure it will become better with time.

    Posted 12 months ago #
  4. chasingembers

    chasingembers

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    Wait for the aromatics until later down the road. They can taste exactly how they smell with zero tongue bite once you have packing, lighting, and cadence down. Enjoy the journey and take your time.

    I like coffee exceedingly.
    - H. P. Lovecraft
    Posted 12 months ago #
  5. hakchuma

    hakchuma

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    You're probably to focused on keeping the pipe lit so you are puffing too hard and fast. Relax.maybe roll the tobacco around in the bowl as you tamp and slowly draw. Perhaps dump off the top layer of ashes. The last thing you want to concentrate is on the volume of smoke you are getting and how lit the pipe is. That's gonna make you puff more thinking you need a big plume of smoke. That's going to bite you.

    "From tempers be it known that we are warm in the fields of battle and cool in the hours of debate"

    - Pushmataha, Choctaw Chief
    Posted 12 months ago #
  6. olkofri

    Olkofri

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    Well, I had a rather rewarding smoke to-day. I packed my MM Morgan cob with a house blend from the local tobacconist, an English aromatic hybrid, ribbon cut, which I dried for about 30 min. Contrary to my usual custom, I didn't let it dry to 'almost bone dry' but packed it when it was still a wee bit moist. Well, contrary to my usual experience (10+ relights, pipe going out after 1-2 sips, &c.) this one actually required only a couple of true lights and no relights till halfway through the bowl, even though I was smoking in a mild breeze. No tongue bite, and I got the latakia-dominant flavours.

    Teasing you? Gloating? Not at all. Encouraging you. Bite happens to all beginners; and I am still a noob, but I've noticed that as you gain experience your tongue becomes less over-sensitive to bite. Most of the bite is actually burn from the lighting/relighting. One reason I got no bite whatsoever to-day was the minimum number of relights.

    Another problem is trying to relight dottle. I tried that once to-day, and then just decided to toss the unsmoked amount left rather than to burn my tongue trying to smoke every little bit. I'd rather throw less than a gram of toby out and be able to smoke the day after (I keep my pipe smoking to one bowl a day), than to chase the fabled 'fine white ash' and be unable to smoke for a week whilst my mouth heals.

    One tip for you, who will be constantly relighting during your early piping stages, is Cosmic's advice to hold the flame about 1/2 inch above the tobacco or the rim of the pipe and let the superheated air ignite the toby. This will reduce the heat you suck through and hits your tongue, and will prevent the scorching of the tobacco, which would then result in an ashy taste.

    Yes, even though I'm an aromatic fan, I do concur with the advice that an English blend is probably your best bet to begin with as they burn cooler.

    Not the sweet, new grass with flowers is this harvesting of mine;
    Not the upland clover bloom...
    Posted 12 months ago #
  7. virginialover

    virginialover

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    Cavendish or Va/Bur are a better choice to start pipe smoking than Aromatics or medium to heavy Latakia blends.

    STG Orlik Golden Sliced is a good beginner Virginia with a light touch of Perique. Planta Presbyterian Mixture is another one with a slight touch of Latakia.

    The ashtray taste in the mouth comes from the chemical casing/topping in the Aromatic I would think. There's some strong pipe tobacco that can give you quite a nicotine buzz. Dark fired Kentucky, brown or black twist/rope tobacco made from Virginia, Burley or a combination of all these three tobaccos.

    Welcome to the hobby.

    Posted 12 months ago #
  8. jpmcwjr

    jpmcwjr

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    For many of us, pipe smoking is not "a hobby". It's just something we do.

    Welcome to the forum! The single most important bit is to dry the tobacco before loading the pipe. Don't worry about "technique" when it comes to packing any cut except flakes, cakes and ropes.

    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 12 months ago #
  9. ignaciojn

    ignaciojn

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    I wonder what's a "wooden cob"...

    Don't worry. Everything, and I mean everything, will evolve and improve with practice. And it's a fun journey.

    Ignacio
    Posted 12 months ago #
  10. jpmcwjr

    jpmcwjr

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    A wooden cob is a briar pipe carved and finished to look like a cob.....and now you may ask, "WHY"?

    Posted 12 months ago #
  11. ignaciojn

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    I have a briar carved to look like a squashed tomato, so I have no right to ask that.

    Posted 12 months ago #
  12. sablebrush52

    sablebrush52

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    Welcome! You have had the classically bad first date with a pipe. Congratulations! There's nowhere else to go but up from here.

    First observation: I couldn't keep the b**tard lit! I went through almost a dozen matches and I couldn't keep a smolder going. I have a feeling that that comes down to my complete inexperience in packing and tamping... That will come with practice though.

    Generally, tobaccos come much moister than is optimal for smoking. Manufacturers don't want their product to dry out before customers are ready to use it. So for starters, try drying your tobacco before packing. Excess moisture makes tobacco difficult to keep lit, and excess moisture kills flavors. Dry it so that if feels dry to the touch when squeezed, no feeling of moisture in the tobacco, but still pliant, just shy of bone dry. Try that for a start.

    Then lightly pack. Drizzle some strands into the pipe up to the top, then lightly compress that to about half way. Then drizzle some more and compress that so it's about 1/4 from the top, add a little more to a slight heap above the rim, and tamp that down lightly. That's the classic 3 step pack, something that was universally taught to beginners when I started smoking a pipe 48 years ago. Later you will learn different ways to pack, and pack in ways that feel natural to you.

    The draw should feel open, like there's nearly nothing in the bowl.

    Second: it's really hard to pull on one side of your mouth and blow out the other side like I've seen people do in videos without blowing out the match. There is an art form there in itself.

    Actually it's complete bullshit. I have revised my position on videos. Some of them are really useful and not completely narcissistic waste. I use to think that they were all narcissistic waste. Trying to turn your mouth into an air carousel is not a thing. It's okay to take the pipe out of your mouth once in a while. If you're intent on learning how to sidestream the smoke, that will come. Don't worry over it.

    Take a match or other soft flame and light up the top of your tobacco while puffing a few times. Move the flame around a little so that the top gets a full char and the tobacco puffs up a little. Then let the tobacco go out and lightly tamp the surface back below the rim. This will give you a bit of ash over the top and that can help with the rest of it. This is called a charring light. Not everybody does it, but at the beginning it can make things go easier.

    Fire up the bowl, getting a nice even burn across the top. Now once the bowl is going, stop puffing and start sipping, like you're sipping scotch or a milkshake through a straw. Draw in the smoke and taste it. Then blow it out and take another sip. Take it slow and easy.

    If the pipe goes out, no big deal. Just relight. Among the most prevalent of pipe bullshit myths is the notion that you should always be able to smoke an entire bowl with no relights. I can, often, but not always. Some blends are easier to smoke than others.

    BTW, if you can expel the smoke through your nose, you'll get more of the flavors in it.

    I'm not going to tell you what kind of tobacco to smoke or not to smoke. What I will say about some aromatics is that they do need drying or they won't stay lit. And that's true with the majority of blends available in all genres. It's just that some aromatics tend to be goopier.

    Don't worry too much about any of it. Practice makes it easier. Like I wrote above, I've only been smoking pipes for 48 years so I still have a ways to go in my apprenticeship.

    The only thing that actually matters is that you enjoy what you're smoking.

    It is better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to open one's mouth and remove all doubt. - Mark Twain

    It is pointless to argue with a fanatic since a dim bulb can't be converted into a searchlight. - Jesse Silver
    Posted 12 months ago #
  13. crashthegrey

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    Good start, keep on keeping on. It will get easier with experience more than anything we can tell you. Another small time, when lighting the pipe, keep the flame above the tobacco, not on it. Light with heat, not fire.

    Posted 12 months ago #
  14. arvetus

    arvetus

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    A wooden cob is a briar pipe carved and finished to look like a cob.....and now you may ask, "WHY"?

    I have stopped asking "why" and begun asking, "why not?"

    Posted 12 months ago #
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    mamaraewyn

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    Thanks all for your 2c worth. I appreciate all of the feedback.

    I was pleasantly surprised that I didn't get the nicotine buzz. I don't like that immediate dizzy-feeling.

    This is the pipe I got in cherry (I looked at it when I got home and realised the brand).I (tried) to pack a half bowl and it really didn't work. I'll try all of your suggestions.

    However, the moisture levels has begun to confuse me. I've seen information about keeping it 'humid' and now it has to be dry to smoke? I'm clearly missing a step here. But I really do appreciate the guidance of the members of this forum and not feeling any 'elitist' dismissal. Thank you!

    Posted 12 months ago #
  16. olkofri

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    Mamaraewyn, this might be helpful:

    http://pipesmagazine.com/forums/topic/effects-of-humidity-in-tobacco-while-smoking#post-1224870

    The toby in Video #3 is way too dry. #2 is about right.

    Posted 12 months ago #
  17. jpmcwjr

    jpmcwjr

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    Drying tests like this will mean a lot to those who live in the same climate, use the same blends with the same starting humidity, and prefer the same end level of moisture.

    For others, years of experience will get 'er done, or buying a hygrometer for five bucks and using it.

    Posted 12 months ago #
  18. olkofri

    Olkofri

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    It was more about the consistency of the tobacco than the time.

    Posted 12 months ago #
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    mamaraewyn

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    Thank you so much Olkofri. Those videos were exceptionally helpful!

    Posted 12 months ago #
  20. mso489

    mso489

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    There's just about nothing I enjoy when coming down with, or recovering from the flu. Sleep, more sleep, beverages, and the occasional bowl of broth. I regularly get the flu shot annually (debatable I know, but I have to do something). So give it a rest. Clean off the stem of the pipe rigorously so as not to re-infect, then try again when you are completely recovered. Take it slow, expect little, play around with technique. Pack it full but not too tight. You need a little springiness, air in the bowl. You'll get the hang of it. Dry out the tobacco in a crockery bowl.

    Posted 11 months ago #
  21. cajomu

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    Smoking when you're sick is not enjoyable and can delay the healing process. Try again when you've recovered completely and I'm certain that you'll enjoy it more.

    As for looking for a nicotine kick, I'd say "don't." As a (former, I hope) cigarette smoker, you know that nicotine is addictive and that addiction is no fun. You'll enjoy smoking a pipe a lot more if you do it because you want to rather than because you have to.

    Every other thing you complained about will resolve itself when you are a bit more experienced. Despite what some may think, there's no mystery to pipe smoking. Get a good pipe and some quality tobacco, don't pack it too tight and don't puff on it too hard. Viola, you're a pipe smoker!

    Good luck.

    Posted 11 months ago #

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