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Smoking Technique--What Am I Doing Wrong?

(14 posts)
  1. pipefish

    pipefish

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    I'm somewhat new to the pipe, but I am a former cigarette smoker (quit seven years ago). Therefore, I do not want to inhale--I repeat--I do not want to inhale--I did enough of that in my cigarette smoking days. I really want to enjoy the pipe, the taste of tobacco, and try to limit the health risks.

    However, I think I am doing something wrong. I only smoke one bowl every two to three days. Different pipes (two briars and a cob) different tobaccos (mainly aros, although I tried Old Dublin the other night for the first time--really liked it). Each morning, however, I wake up with a scratchy throat, a filminess in my mouth, and a slight tightness in my upper bronchioles. I guess the filminess is most likely due to the richness of the tobacco (similar when I smoke a cigar) but I don't think the scratchy throat or chest tightness should be there--never have this when I smoke an occasional cigar.

    Based on the other posts on the forum, I know I am supposed to "sip" the pipe rather than "puff." When I'm smoking I'm doing my best not to inhale (even taking short breath while holding the pipe before I take a sip or puff to ensure I don't inhale), however I also find myself holding my breath a bit. Sometimes I notice that I get more flavor when some of the tobacco smoke gets in my nose, but I also wonder if I'm inadvertently inhaling when I do this. I don't feel like I get any flavor simply by "sipping" but then I must be doing something wrong because that is exactly what many of you say to do to get the most flavor from tobacco. Should I be sipping and exhaling smoke through my mouth and nose to get more flavor? Or just through my mouth? What is the technique of a good sip? Is it the same as sipping a cup of hot coffee or tea?

    Again, I am very cognizant about NOT inhaling doing everything in my power not to, but my technique must suck because I think I'm doing it anyway. I've read a little here about "retro-inhaling"-- Does anyone know what this is?

    Finally, are there any good instructions on how to do the breath smoking technique? It appears that this is one of the most preferred methods of pipe smoking by those on the forum. I've watched a YouTube video and tried it a few times, but I still find myself holding my breath a bit because I feel like I may be inhaling since you have to breathe through your nose while keeping the pipe in your mouth. Also, my pipe goes out constantly when using this method and I find myself relighting again and again, taking stronger puffs to get a good burn going and then burning my tongue in the process.

    Is there a way to know one is in fact NOT inhaling when smoking a pipe?

    Sorry, lots of questions here, but I am a little frustrated since I know there must be pleasure in the pipe because I really do love the taste of tobacco, I love how relaxed I am after smoking a bowl (really helps me fall asleep after a long day), and I've read post after post on this forum of how enjoyable pipe smoking can be without inhaling the tobacco. If that's the case, then I must be doing something wrong, because I doubt I'm supposed to feel this way in the morning after smoking only one bowl.

    Posted 5 years ago #
  2. lostandfound

    lostandfound

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    Pipefish, welcome to the lounge my man, and nice handle!

    First of all, I think you would know if you were really inhaling... Pipe tobacco smoke requires quite a bit more control in order to bring it into the lungs without choking and coughing, than cigarettes.

    When I "sip", I hold the pipe, put it up to my mostly-closed lips, rather than actually bite the bit, and then really just... Sip.

    Breath smoking, in its most effective fashion, involves clenching the pipe as frequently as possible, and then, in my experiences, allowing the pipe and tobacco to meld with your self, and your surroundings, so you are effectively breathing, while smoking, while being. If this sounds complicated, I do not believe it is. It's as complicated as putting a lit pipe in your mouth and relaxing completely. If this sounds astrological, or ethereal, that's because I believe it is. It allows you to center yourself. Breath smoking is the epitome of pipe smoking in my eyes.

    My suggestion after having said all this, is to persist, and hopefully these negative "side effects" will subside. It'll be worth it if they do.

    P.S.
    It is my firm belief that the problems you're experiencing with breath smoking arise precisely from focusing too much on technique, and worrying too much about relighting. Techniques vary, and worry only has a place in piping when it comes to whether or not you have tobacco to smoke.

    Jerod
    Posted 5 years ago #
  3. allan

    allan

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    Pipefish

    Welcome to the forum.

    I can understand your frustration. Since you mentioned you were a former cigarette smoker, your natural tendency is to inhale, most likely without even thinking. Inhaling pipe tobacco smoke is much stronger than cigarette smoke.

    In examining my smoking behaviour, I would say the smoke only stays in my mouth cavity, not ever getting down to the throat area, at least not deliberately. The 'sipping' would be like sipping a milkshake through a straw; you would normally take the liquid into your mouth, stop a moment, and then swallow. So, taking a sip of a pipe, waiting a moment, and letting it release from your mouth and then your nose would sense some smoke. As I understand it, the mouth and nose are integral in smoking cigars and pipes. The two go together.

    As 'Lost' has said, you could be focusing too much on technique and worrying so much that you may possibly get very tense. Just relax and let it happen. I relight all the time. So what?

    Good luck

    Allan
    Posted 5 years ago #
  4. easygoer

    easygoer

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    Pipefish welcome to the forum here is a link to the breath smoking you referenced. The Pease website is great reading and tobacco. There is also great forums on this site if you do a search.

    http://www.glpease.com/Articles/BreathSmoking.html

    Posted 5 years ago #
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    Anonymous

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    I can't add much to what the other guys have said, save to emphasise the point Allan has made: don't worry about relights, that is the least of your concerns as someone new to the pipe. It will all come together with experience, good luck!

    Posted 5 years ago #
  6. alex87

    alex87

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    Ya as the other guys have said the number of relights sorts itself out over time. I'm still new to the game as well, but I went from using about half a ton of matches to now only relighting two or three times per bowl (depending on packing and tobacco type of course). There is no "one technique to rule them all"...every pipe, tobacco, and pack and light are different. Over time you will learn great combos, and some not so great combos. Prime example is my Brigham Voyageur, I thought it would be brilliant to smoke my "English's" in, but alas not so much...so that's been marked for other stuff. So just enjoy the smoke, and you will learn your own way. Your relights will drop over time, and you will figure out what your best pipe/tobacco combo's are as you go. As long as you can accept that you will have more "bad" smokes than "good" to begin with and try to mirror the "good" then you will be well on your way.

    As for the inhaling thing, try to think of each draw on your pipe as an attempt to blow a smoke ring worthy of LOTR. I also am an ex-cig (or as someone else put it on this board "coughin-nails") smoker and found it hard not to inhale. But think of trying to blow smoke rings and you will soon realize that you taste more that way. And also it will become unusual to exhale through your nose.

    Hope some of this helps...

    Also as a side note, perhaps the type of tobacco you are smoking doesn't agree with your body chemistry. I have a much harder time with Lat than Va for example...feels like i'm getting the pasty's sometimes...

    Posted 5 years ago #
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    Anonymous

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    And also it will become unusual to exhale through your nose.
    Eh?

    Posted 5 years ago #
  8. loneredtree

    loneredtree

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    Welcome to PMF

    +1 Alex

    Also as a side note, perhaps the type of tobacco you are smoking doesn't agree with your body chemistry. I have a much harder time with Lat than Va for example..

    Old Dublin is an English type blend. It does have some cavendish also according to some reviews. The latakia may be bothering your throat. Try a mild blend like Early Morning Pipe or a straight Va. like Dunhill flake or Union Square.

    Enjoy the journey.

    There is a charm about the forbidden that makes it unspeakably desirable. Mark Twain

    “Very few people are focusing on the potential damage this ill-conceived and hastily assembled homage to the ability of bureaucrats to conceive of all manner of problems where problems don't exist then apply solutions to those problems that only create new problems without solving the original problems at all will bring to many sectors.
    Posted 5 years ago #
  9. bryanf

    bryanf

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    It could also be acid reflux or heartburn as your body gets used to the strength of pipe tobacco.

    Posted 5 years ago #
  10. pipefish

    pipefish

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    After I posted this thread I was surprised how lengthy it was, so first I want to thank all of you who took the time to read it and provide a response--I really appreciate it!

    Didn't smoke at all yesterday and woke up this morning with throat and chest feeling much better. I plan to only smoke one bowl once or twice a week and allow my body to get used to the tobacco, work on my technique, enjoy the relaxation and time with my pipe, and not stress so much about inhaling. Tough to limit myself though, as there are so many tobaccos on my shelf I want to try!!

    Most likely I'm slightly inhaling, but after reading a number of posts on this issue, it appears that it's almost unavoidable that a small amount smoke gets in to your lungs. And, since I live in a somewhat polluted city, I'm probably breathing in worse things on a day-to-day basis than a little bit of tobacco smoke twice a week.

    Again, thanks so much for all of your help and advice--this community is truly a class act!

    Posted 5 years ago #
  11. pipefish

    pipefish

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    worry only has a place in piping when it comes to whether or not you have tobacco to smoke.

    Thinking about engraving this statement on my wall somewhere--well said lostandfound!!

    Posted 5 years ago #
  12. nsfisher

    nsfisher

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    All sound advice mate. My theory, don't sweat it too much, just puff away and enjoy.

    If at first you don't succeed, have another bowl.
    Posted 5 years ago #
  13. cigrmaster

    cigrmaster

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    pipefish, welcome to the forum. My suggestion is to smoke at least 5 bowls a day for a few months so that you get used to it. If your lungs begin to hurt, get one of those home breathing treatment systems, load up on Prednisone to keep your bronchial tubes open and eventually you will be fine.

    Seriously though, you have gotten some good advice and just remember pipe smoking has a large learning curve so patience is required.

    Harris
    Posted 5 years ago #
  14. kashmir

    kashmir

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    My solution is to this problem is to clench pipe. I light the Charing light, tamp a bit, then a final light. I leave the pipe in my mouth till the bowl is done. A good hour or so depending on the bowl. Narry a re-light. Sip subconsciously. Don't inhale. Pipe five to eight bowls a day. Low nicotine Latakia forward blends. Works well for me. Walk a lot, sometimes with the pipe.

    The pipe eases you into the present moment - savor your pipe & you'll savor this moment.
    Posted 5 years ago #

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