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The Bottom of the Bowl

(53 posts)
  • Started 1 year ago by smokedragon
  • Latest reply from javajunkie
  1. smokedragon

    smokedragon

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    Hey all,

    I wanted to ask our more experienced smokers for some advice. Recently, a lot of people have been talking about tobacco storage, and monitoring their consumption to decide how much they need to store. I have been taking a closer look at my use, and have determined I am wasting too much tobacco at the bottom of the bowl. For some reason, I have a hard time getting the tobacco to burn all the way to the bottom. Any tips?

    Posted 1 year ago #
  2. nsfisher

    nsfisher

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    Make sure you get rid of the extra ash mate. Extra ash will make for a poor relight. You may also want to give your bowl a slight "stir", because if your a "wet" smoker, the baccy that sits in the bottom of the bowl is damp and hard to relight.

    If at first you don't succeed, have another bowl.
    Posted 1 year ago #
  3. smokedragon

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    Thanks nsfisher, ill try that out. I was just cleaning all my pipes, and there was too much unburned tobacco in the ash tray afterwards. I definitely am a wet smoker. I cannot clench at all because my salivary glands are over active when I smoke, and I can gurgle any pipe.

    Posted 1 year ago #
  4. mikephillips

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    It's not so much how you're smoking, but that what you're smoking is too damp to start with. You really can't load a pipe with the soggy aromatic mess you get straight from a tobacconist, it needs to dry considerable before it can be smoked as it should be. You've probably read about the pinch test here somewhere...if you can take a pinch of tobacco and squeeze it, and it sticks together easily (or at all in my opinion, but I smoke my baccy drier than most), dry it some more before you stuff it into a decent pipe. If you're not careful, you'll be building cake everywhere but the heel where it needs it most to achieve a perfect smoke (in my opinion).

    Posted 1 year ago #
  5. smokedragon

    smokedragon

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    Hey thanks Mike. Yeah I guess the Boswell blend I've been using isn't quite all the way dry. I switch to my tin of MacBaren Vanilla for a bit since it is more dry. Should I not have my Boswell tobacco in jars if it is too wet?

    Posted 1 year ago #
  6. smokedragon

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    Oh yeah. I was wondering Mike if you might give me some suggestions for non-aros to try. I tried some mild English from a local tobacconist, as well as some Frog Morton on the Bayou and Dunhill Royal Yacht. Not sure if it was just the blends or what (i smoked them in a broken in pipe), but I found them to be bitter so I have stayed away from the unknown. I always like hearing your straight-forward opinions here on the site. Help this noobie out.

    Posted 1 year ago #
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    Mike will probably suggest you smoke some straight Perique

    FWIW, McClelland's Frog Morton Cellar is a great crossover that's hard not to like.

    Posted 1 year ago #
  8. cortezattic

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    The moisture you experience is probably from condensation, not saliva. One would be hard pressed to intentionally
    get a significant amount of saliva into a pipe stem -- let alone do it inadvertently.

    The advice you've been given here is the place to start in addressing the problem. But also consider
    other causes of condensation such as: overly aggressive ignition; smoking to rapidly; packing too densely;
    starting with a relatively cold pipe or a massive one; local humidity, etc.

    And don't be discouraged by these moisture issues. If these things weren't a problem for everyone,
    then Peterson would never have invented the system pipe.

    I find myself sitting idly on the line dividing past and future,
    as if I could kill time without injuring eternity. -- Thoreau
    .
    Posted 1 year ago #
  9. weezell

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    cortezattic..+1...

    Posted 1 year ago #
  10. flyguy

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    nfisher wrote:

    Make sure you get rid of the extra ash mate. Extra ash will make for a poor relight. You may also want to give your bowl a slight "stir", because if your a "wet" smoker, the baccy that sits in the bottom of the bowl is damp and hard to relight.

    I'm not a wet smoker but I stir the tobacco after I dump my ash (about 2/3 to 3/4 from the bottom). I thought I was the only "stirrer". I have also adopted another strange habit with pipes that need to build a cake; I save the white ash I dump in a cupcake liner, making sure there are no live embers. When I'm finished and the bowl has been knocked out, I pour the white ash back into the bowl and shake the pipe with my thumb over the bowl. This leaves a coating of white ash on the inside of the bowl which I believe promotes a cake. Does anyone else do this?

    “Apples for walking, and a pipe for sitting.”
    ― Samwise Gamgee
    Posted 1 year ago #
  11. flyguy

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    Oops! I didn't mean to highjack the thread...disregard above.

    Posted 1 year ago #
  12. mikephillips

    mikephillips

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    Yep, Roth, straight perique would be a good choice, though a little light to suit me

    Smokedragon, I don't mind giving advice as to what to try that's non-aromatic, but my tastes tend to run to the extremes, so rather than suggest something I'd prefer, I'd steer you in the direction of a Virgina flake, Orlik Golden sliced is a good one. I'd also highly recommend Mac Baren Navy Flake, though I think it has more burley than the Orlik flake I mentioned. I prefer the Mac Baren myself, but only slightly, both good smokes. They also (luckily for you) both come out of the tin just about perfect to light up. Might rub out a flake and let it sit for 5 minutes on your desk, but that's probably not even necessary as I think they're both tinned with the intent of being ready-to-smoke as is.

    These other guys probably have better taste buds than me (not even sure if I have any left, considering what I smoke normally) and can probably give you better suggestions, but these are two I'd recommend if you're breaking into new territory for the first time. You'll get to experience both a new cut, and a new tobacco type, though even the Mac Baren Navy Flake might qualify as mildly aromatic in some eyes (mine included).

    Oh, and as far as jarring wet....it doesn't hurt anything, but if you don't want to wait half a day for a bowl's worth to dry it wouldn't hurt to dry it out some before you jar it up, just save some time on the important side of the equation.

    Posted 1 year ago #
  13. pstlpkr

    Lawrence

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    I have to concur with Cortez and add that a combination of good pacing and control of your sips/puffs and thinking about your tamping technique will be of tremendous advantage.

    Tamping is an aspect of pipe smoking that is often overlooked as being part of good technique.
    My personal opinions/practices will differ from others (and you will develop your own technique) is to never tamp by pushing the ash down with the tamper but rather allowing the tamper to do the work. The weight of the tamper should be sufficient to compress the ash adequately.
    Secondly; I have found that a good Char-light then True-light will really help to extend the burning time.
    After the Char-light, let the tobacco go completely out; then, using a twisting motion with the tamper resting on the ash smooth the surface. Doing so will facilitate a good True-light followed by good pacing (as mentioned above) and thoughtful controlled sips and puffs (to keep the temperature of the ember from getting too high [which will cause steam and condensation, and ultimately pipe gurgle]), combined with (in my case) nearly constant tamping will allow you to smoke not only longer, but will nearly always culminate in a cool, dry, satisfying, and exhausted bowl of your favorite blend.


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    Posted 1 year ago #
  14. mlyvers

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    all good advice here. i like my tobac very dry. tapping [tamping] is very important as well as the loading techque. all play a part in being able to smoke all the way to the heel. the heel is the hardest part of a pipe to break in. i laso do not like wasting pipe tobac. if i have to, i will make myself struggle through to the heel. good luck to you sir.

    mike.

    Edit: I added the word [tamping] to the above. I think that is what you meant. I hope you don't mind. L.

    Posted 1 year ago #
  15. smokedragon

    smokedragon

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    Thanks for all of the advice guys. I've tried stirring the tobacco once it gets to the heel, and it has been better. Ill try some of your suggestions for tobacco as well Mike. Going to watch some more videos and practice mt techniques.

    Posted 1 year ago #
  16. rhogg

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    I find that many pipes do not have a draft hole right at the bottom of the bowl. This complicates things, and is compounded by the moisture of the tobacco you are smoking. I find I can only successfully smoke ALL of some tobaccos in some pipes. I usually get pretty close most of the time, but only my most finely engineered pipes will smoke every last drop of tobacco, and then only certain blends with the right moisture content lead themselves to a complete smoke.

    A draft hole needs to be at the very bottom of the bowl unless your tobacco is bone dry to burn every last leaf. Most tobacco when burned produces moisture that naturally accumulates at the bottom of the bowl. Sometimes smoking that last bit of baccy is nearly impossible. I try not to worry too much about it if I had a good smoke, and I am definately not going to scorch my tongue on principle:)

    Posted 1 year ago #
  17. rhogg

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    If you really want to finish a whole bowl just for fun out of .03 cent pipe get some 5 Brothers pipe tobacco in the pouch. It burns like dryer lint and will likely elevate you to a new plane of nicotine induced bliss.

    It ain't the best tasting thing in the world but I garuntee if you are man enough you'll be left with nothing but ash..... It is about as dry as tumbleweed in west Texas. You'll make up for lost moistue in sweat when the vitamin N hits you. I reccomend inhaling if you are constipated as Nicotine is a natural laxative.

    Posted 1 year ago #
  18. smokedragon

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    Bought a tin of MacBaren NAvy Flake. I'll see how it is!

    Posted 1 year ago #
  19. salewis

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    Usually, if your can't smoke your tobacco all the way to the bottom it can be due a myriad of reasons most of which have already been mentioned. However, I haven't heard anything about pipe engineering. Often when the draft hole is too restricked or is not in the middle and at the bottom of a pipe it would cause you not to finish the tobacco at the bottom of your bowl. By having a professional open up the draft hole, assuming the hole is at the bottom center already, will diminish the moisture and aid in smoking your tobacco to the bottom of yor bowl.

    Posted 1 year ago #
  20. flyguy

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    I have also read on my sites that if you suffer from tongue bite cause by heat/steam, it is not advisable to smoke your pipe all the way to the bottom of the bowl. This being said, I waste very little tobacco, maybe 1/8 of a teaspoon. The taste is greatly diminished in that last bit anyway.

    Posted 1 year ago #
  21. nsfisher

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    I waste alot. I fill a pipe smoke it untill I don't want anymore. Set it in the but bucket, when I want another smoke, I take another pipe(sometimes) and dig out the remaining baccy. Usually 1/5 of the bowl get dumped.

    Posted 1 year ago #
  22. andrew

    andrew

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    Bottom of the bowl is like the butt of a cigar, it's nasty

    Posted 1 year ago #
  23. mikephillips

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    If you're getting tired of the pipe before you finish the bowl, you'd be better off starting with less tobacco in the bowl and trying to finish it....it's important to build a decent cake in the heel, it really does affect the way the pipe smokes. A pipe with a well caked heel will smoke drier, and won't have any flavor from the wood of the pipe, just tobacco. The most important part of the pipe to cake, and the hardest to get built.

    Posted 1 year ago #
  24. alex87

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    +1 on the stirring method. I'd been having a hell of a time getting down to the heel without either getting a lot of moisture and/or very bad burn. So i started stirring and dumping my ash, then relighting and lo and behold, my very first time down to the bottom of the bowl was a wonderful exp. Also i think when you stir and dump your ash for a relight you get a better relight which helps the overall flavour from the smoke...no ashy burn for the first few sips...

    Posted 1 year ago #
  25. spartan

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    The first tobacco that I smoked all the way to the bottom was G.L. Pease's Jackknife Plug.

    I cut off a small cube, put it in the coffee grinder for a few pulses, and loaded up the pipe. Heaven.

    I also find that smoking smaller pipes can help you learn smoking techniques faster because you can smoke more bowls of tobacco throughout the day since they don't last an hour each, and they are just naturally easier to smoke to the bottom since there is just less tobacco to smoke, and less time for it to absorb as much moisture during the smoke as with larger pipes.

    It helped me as a confidence booster and to try different packing methods multiple times and then apply them to my larger pipes.

    "I was born to lose. So I'll die to win." -Breaking Benjamin
    Posted 1 year ago #
  26. tbradsim1

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    The btm of the bowl is very important, kind of like driving slow for the first 500 miles in a new car, you have to put up with smokeing to the btm to have a good smokeing pipe, stirring at the btm and deashing works, sometimes the taste is not so nice but very important in heat treating the btm of the bowl, you don"t have shortcuts in breaking in a new pipe. The old cajun

    The Old Cajun
    Posted 1 year ago #
  27. cortezattic

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    Although a lot of good advice has been offered here, the comments that have resonated with me the most are those of mikephillips, Spartan, and the old cajun.

    Russ Ouellette has an interesting take on building a carbon layer on the bottom of the bowl. In essence, he says that if you never smoke a bowl down to the bottom, then don't worry about whether or not there is sufficient carbon cake down there. I think he was speaking in terms of the need for protection from burn-out. His article is New Pipe Break In.

    Personally, I baby my pipes for the first 100 smokes. (Ya, I keep track of it. I'm anal retentive.)

    Posted 1 year ago #
  28. cigrmaster

    cigrmaster

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    I smoke to the bottom of the bowl all the time because the flavor keeps getting better and better. My issue is going so far down I will end up sucking hot molten ash into my mouth trying the get that last bit of flavor. This happens at least a couple of times a week, you would think I would have learned after all these years but I am a greedy pig when it comes to flavor. I just never want it to end.

    If your tobacco is not getting more flavorful the more you smoke it down there are many reasons for it. Not dry enough, not packed properly, not dumping ash enough, not tamping properly, not smoking slowly enough, pipe is not clean enough. The best part of a cigar is the nub, all the flavors get concentrated and it is the same with a pipe in my opinion. I know that pipe smoking is difficult and it takes practice, just don't give up.

    flyguy, by putting ash back into your pipe, you are doing absolutely nothing to promote cake. All you are doing is making your next bowl taste like ash. There are no short cuts to building cake other than the type of tobacco you are smoking. Va and Vaper flakes build cake very quickly. I suggest you stop doing the ash routine, I think you will notice that the flavors will be better. I have heard this urban legend about the ash routine for years and it is just that an old wives tale. If you look at the physics of building cake and why it forms, you will understand how the ash thing is bunk.

    Harris
    Posted 1 year ago #
  29. mikephillips

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    My issue is going so far down I will end up sucking hot molten ash into my mouth trying the get that last bit of flavor. This happens at least a couple of times a week,

    I do the same thing, hard lesson learned there. Once, about 15 years ago, I was smoking some Charatan's English mixture in a big Savinelli and it started to go out...knowing I was near the end of the bowl, rather than try and re-light it I just gave it a few quick hard puffs to get it going, managed, and then gave it a few more hard quick ones to keep it going...on the last puff (obviously) I pulled pretty much every ember left in the pipe into my mouth and onto the tip of my tongue....lesson learned. Didn't smoke for about a week until the blister went away, and now I never pull hard if I think there's less than about a third of a bowl left.

    Another thing I do is keep trying to re-light nothing but ash for 5 minutes before I wake the hell up and realize there's nothing left in the pipe that will still burn.

    Posted 1 year ago #
  30. cigrmaster

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    [quote]Another thing I do is keep trying to re-light nothing but ash for 5 minutes before I wake the hell up and realize there's nothing left in the pipe that will still burn.[quote]

    I do the same thing. lol

    Posted 1 year ago #
  31. cigrmaster

    cigrmaster

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    Ok, how do you do the quote thing without the word quote showing up?

    Posted 1 year ago #
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    Ok, how do you do the quote thing without the word quote showing up?

    Click the quote tab (quote no slash), then paste the actual quote you want to insert, then click on the quote tab again (slash/quote).

    Posted 1 year ago #
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    I think too many puffers make too much of a big deal about cake.

    For me, it best to just let it happen. When I finish a bowl, I always scrape the bowl interior gently with a dull pipe knife, then "ream" it with a piece of clean paper towel, followed by the usual pipe cleaner cleaning drill. The cake takes care of itself; develops to my preferred dime's thickness over time, and I can't remember the last time I needed to use my Senior reamer on a pipe.

    Posted 1 year ago #
  34. cigrmaster

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    Click the quote tab (quote no slash), then paste the actual quote you want to insert, then click on the quote tab again (slash/quote).

    Did this work?

    I scrub the inside of my pipe with a couple of pipe cleaners and rarely have to use my Senor reamer, I also like a dimes worth of cake and feel that it produces a cooler and more flavorful smoke. roth is this the kind of tool you are speaking about when you refer to your pipe knife?

    http://www.smokingpipes.com/accessories/pipe-supplies/moreinfo.cfm?product_id=89673

    Posted 1 year ago #
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    Harris, I got mine directly from Peterson a long time ago. I thought it is made by Richardson Sheffield, but Google can't find it.

    Here's what it looks like though: http://pipesandcigars.com/mithsmknpopi.html#.USlRJqXOkxE

    Oh, and ya, your quote worked

    Posted 1 year ago #
  36. cigrmaster

    cigrmaster

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    roth, thanks for the link. I will grab one. The quote thing did work, thanks, I have always wondered how you guys did that. lol

    Posted 1 year ago #
  37. mikephillips

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    A light cake buildup is necessary for a pipe to smoke cleaner, without any taste of bare wood, but that can be accomplished with a dozen or so smokes. Past that it's unnecessary (this is all my own opinion, of course), but most pipers (myself included) don't bother removing it until it gets to be a problem.

    I think even those that think it's unnecessary will find that it's serving it's purpose. The break-in period of a pipe is nothing more than those first smokes needed to coat the lower portion of the bowl and the heel with enough carbon to keep the taste of the wood from polluting the tobacco.

    But like Roth said, you shouldn't worry about it, smoke your pipe and the cake will take care of itself.

    Posted 1 year ago #
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    I think even those that think it's unnecessary will find that it's serving it's purpose.

    I have to stress that cake is indeed important!

    But unlike sex, having too much of it is definitely not a good thing

    Posted 1 year ago #
  39. weezell

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    But unlike sex, having too much of it is definitely not a good thing

    Posted 1 year ago #
  40. oldredbeard

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    I also dump the ash and stir, glad to hear that is ok. I don't think I have read this before.

    Thanks to all of you for wisdom.

    I'm not complaining.
    Posted 1 year ago #
  41. flyguy

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    cigrmaster wrote:

    flyguy, by putting ash back into your pipe, you are doing absolutely nothing to promote cake. All you are doing is making your next bowl taste like ash. There are no short cuts to building cake other than the type of tobacco you are smoking. Va and Vaper flakes build cake very quickly. I suggest you stop doing the ash routine, I think you will notice that the flavors will be better. I have heard this urban legend about the ash routine for years and it is just that an old wives tale. If you look at the physics of building cake and why it forms, you will understand how the ash thing is bunk.

    Thanks cigrmaster. I discovered this practice on some "pipe expert's" blog and thought it was a clever idea. I will be glad to decease and desist as this is a messy ordeal.

    Posted 1 year ago #
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    mrhooker93

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    I normally dump the ash around the midpoint of the bowl to help with lighting the tobacco. As most have said, proper tamping technique and gentle puffing should usually do the trick. Also, I say put to use the many techniques and morsels of information given on this forum. You will eventually master which technique you prefer. Practice makes perfection; something I am still trying to master in the world of pipes....

    Posted 1 year ago #
  43. zdwebb12

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    I have issues finishing an entire bowl. There is often quite a bit of dottle left in the bottom of the bowl when I'm done. Therefore, my pipes don't have a super good cake buildup in the heel. I don't like to smoke all the way to ash because the last 1/5 of the bowl or so always tastes bad, and if I'm not enjoying the smoke I'm not gonna smoke anymore caked-heel be damned.

    “Pipe: a primary masculine symbol with authoritarian overtones but also indicative of reliability and contentment.”
    -The Dictionary of Visual Language, 1980
    Posted 1 year ago #
  44. foggymountain

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    I have tried those brass screens they sell for bongs, a little above the bottom. They are a nuisance because they have a tendency to get moved out of place when you load the bowl. But it can be done. Right now I prefer to think of the dottle as a filter and rarely smoke it.

    Posted 1 year ago #
  45. surlysoul

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    @cigrmaster and mikephillips: Nice to read more experienced pipe smokers having the same issues as me. I smoke to the bottom and from time to time get ash and embers to the mouth. I have tried light ash also not wanting the smoke to be over, or realizing that it has ended.

    Posted 1 year ago #
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    I have issues finishing an entire bowl. There is often quite a bit of dottle left in the bottom of the bowl when I'm done.

    Zdwebb, you really need to focus on proper prep of tobacco, your packing, and your smoking technique.

    Smoking good tobacco to the ash in the heel is where it's at, so that's the goal.

    Research, patience and practice will get you there.

    Posted 1 year ago #
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    instymp

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    I have a pipe tool like Roths but different brand, leave it with blade open because I use my Ejames antler tamper for tamping & would never be without either. Use them both all the time.

    Posted 1 year ago #
  48. alex87

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    I am still having issues, but i'm working on it. Nothing but practise i suppose. But to be fair, i'm still working on my packing and keeping my bowl lit....so this hobby will forever be a learning experience.

    Posted 1 year ago #
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    this hobby will forever be a learning experience.

    As it should be. It is and always will be the journey, never the destination, and the learning along the way never ends.

    Posted 1 year ago #
  50. philip

    Philip

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    Bottom of the bowl is like the butt of a cigar, it's nasty

    I don't know about cigars, but for pipes this need not be the case.

    I have many bowls that stay good until there is nothing left but fine gray ash. The key for me is smoking slowly.

    The three problems are tobacco that is too moist, packing too tightly and tamping too aggressively, all of which can cause puffing too hard to keep the bottom of the bowl lit which ruins the flavor.

    If the bottom of the bowl goes sour, dump it out, but don't give up working on your technique. You may be surprised how good the bottom of the bowl can be.

    Posted 1 year ago #
  51. cigrmaster

    cigrmaster

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    flyguy, you are welcome. Every time I read that urban legend I shake my head and laugh.

    Alex, try packing your bowl tighter. When you are done packing it, check the draw and if there is not a good amount of resistance, keep packing until there is. Many new pipers pack way too loose.

    Posted 1 year ago #
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    Every tobacco is different and in addition to proper packing, proper drying is huge.

    Not only that, even the same damn blend can be of differing moistness from tin to tin.

    That's why I find the "pinch test" so important. I take out a bowlful on a plate, take a pinch and drop it. If it clumps together it's too moist. Proper dryness is achieved when the pinch drops in pieces without (or very little) clumping; depending on the blend, proper dryness can take from 10-15 minutes to several hours, even overnight.

    Posted 1 year ago #
  53. javajunkie

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    [/quote]Bottom of the bowl is like the butt of a cigar, it's nasty

    I don't know about cigars, but for pipes this need not be the case.
    I have many bowls that stay good until there is nothing left but fine gray ash. The key for me is smoking slowly.

    The three problems are tobacco that is too moist, packing too tightly and tamping too aggressively, all of which can cause puffing too hard to keep the bottom of the bowl lit which ruins the flavor.

    If the bottom of the bowl goes sour, dump it out, but don't give up working on your technique. You may be surprised how good the bottom of the bowl can be.[quote]

    i know cigars, and agree that neither has to be the case. first bowl of nightcap i burned was like the first time i took a cigar down to the nub (and also the first entire bowl i burned without relight). if it is burning well, and tasting right, and leaving you in a state of relaxation and peace, keep following where it leads. hell, the best movies, you have to sit through the entire roll of the credits just to let it sink in.

    Posted 1 year ago #

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