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Tongue Bite Question

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  • Started 3 weeks ago by adforbes
  • Latest reply from nunnster
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    adforbes

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    Hello All,

    Having smoked cigars for some time, I thought I would give pipe smoking a try this year and bought a Peterson system pipe with a p-lip. I have tried a few tobaccos so far, including My Mixture 965, S&G Black Cherry and Connoisseurs Choice. I have loved smoking my pipe (albeit I am a weekend only smoker and have therefore smoked only a dozen bowls so far), but am finding the tongue bite off-putting. I find pipe smoking much harder on the palette than cigar smoking and find it takes a day or two to get rid of cotton mouth/sore tongue. I have tried to sip the pipe, use Biotene mouthwash, to pack the bowl correctly and to dry my tobacco a few hours before each bowl, but still find myself with a sore mouth afterwards, and frankly am thinking of abandoning the pipe and going back to cigars.

    Can anyone out there offer any advice? Is it possible to overcome tongue bite quickly or does one need to smoke a pipe regularly for a long time before it goes away? I have some samples other tobaccos such as Early Morning Pipe and Quiet Nights which I haven't tried yet and may be gentler on the palette. Are there any other things I should be doing, or is it that pipe smoking can simply disagree with some people?

    Thank you in advance for any wisdom members can impart.

    ADF

    Posted 3 weeks ago #
  2. cortezattic

    Cortez

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    It's so common a complaint among neophytes that it's jokingly considered a rite of passage; but be assured, your tongue will become inured to the abuse. You will no doubt get plenty of advice on this, so I'll offer just two suggestions observations.

    First, the damage is probably caused by steam -- you're scorching your tongue -- most likely by lighting-up too aggressively. Having something to drink with your smoke may help. (I think the p-lip was invented to address this problem, but I dunno, really).

    Second, believe it or not, you may have to step up to stronger, more bold tobaccos. Perhaps without realizing it, you're trying to extract more flavor than your current blends can deliver (compared to cigars, at any rate), so you're "over-smoking" the pipe. G.L. Pease blends would be a good thing to try since they are bold and satisfying.

    Hang in there! This too shall pass. Eventually, you'll begin to experience Elysian delights that far surpass other forms of sensory enjoyment. (It's why we do it!)

    I find myself sitting idly on the line dividing past and future,
    as if I could kill time without injuring eternity. -- Thoreau
    Posted 3 weeks ago #
  3. chasingembers

    Embers

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    Give your tobacco time to dry, pack tighter, smoke slower.

    Damnation seize my soul if I give you quarters, or take any from you.
    -Edward Teach
    Posted 3 weeks ago #
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    adforbes

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    Thank you both for your kind and reassuring replies. In terms of drying time, can you give any rule of thumb? I am sure each tobacco must differ, but is there any general average range of drying time you would expect in order to mitigate the dreaded bite? Thank you again!

    Posted 3 weeks ago #
  5. chasingembers

    Embers

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    Very welcome! Some will say dry to the touch but still pliant, I go for bone dry. It's really up to the individual.

    Posted 3 weeks ago #
  6. jazz

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    I found it went away after a while but I'm uncertain if that's just because I got better at being a pipe smoker in general or I developed a tolerance. It was likely both but whatever it was it has not happened to me for years.

    My advice would be to experiment. Experiment with different packing techniques and firmness. Experiment with moisture levels. Some blends irritate when too wet and some when too dry. Experiment with different blends with different types of leaf and experiment with different pipes. I have one P-Lip and I don't like it. I don't get tongue bite anymore but that pipe and the way it directs smoke to the roof of my mouth makes my palate feel manky and I don't really care for it.

    Avoid aromatics (flavoured) like your cherry and Connoisseurs Choice for a while. For me, these tended to bite more.

    Slow down, new pipe smokers ALWAYS seem to smoke too hot and fast in my experience and it's always by a large margin. Slow down and keep it cool and when you think you have done that slow down and keep it even cooler than that. I introduced my buddy to this last year and held his pipe during one of his smokes on Saturday gone and it was FAR too hot. So after nearly a year, he is still burning his leaf at way too high a temperature and so occasionally he gets bitten.

    Also, sometimes there are tobaccos that just don't agree with us. For some reason, even after everything else stopped biting me, dark fired Kentucky still would and how badly depended on how much was in the blend. Mac Baren HH Old Dark Fired was particularly bad for me. However, I loved it so much I persevered and now it gives me no problems at all. I can't explain why this was. But it was. There is a fella here who I know can't tolerate red Virginias for whatever reason.

    The truth is, there is no definitive answer to the tongue bite question and it's only through trial and error that one gets to where one wants to be. You will find a blend, pipe and technique that works for you and that will be your foundation for future success. If you persevere I'm confident you will find enjoyment 100% of the time and the problem will pretty much vanish.

    Posted 3 weeks ago #
  7. npod

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    All great advice above. I don’t have much to add except maybe a wood Virginia blends at very first. Also, the drying the tobacco suggestions are very important.

    Neal
    Posted 3 weeks ago #
  8. workman

    workman

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    I agree that your tongue bite is probably caused by steam. When you start smoking, your tobacco is dry and tasty. After smoking too fast and hot for a few minutes, your tobacco builds up moisture that boils your tongue as you draw it in.
    You'll feel it when this happens. Toss the remains. What's left at this point is bad flavor and tongue bite. No need to stubbornly torture yourself.
    You'll get the packing and cadence down eventually. In the meantime, throw the soggy mess away. Maybe pack half bowls for a while.

    Smoking is one of the leading causes of all statistics.
    Posted 3 weeks ago #
  9. onestrangeone

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    I believe Cortez nailed it, I dry my tobacco too ‘just shy of crunchy’. One thing I’ve seen cigar smokers struggle with is the difference in the amount of smoke, with a cigar you get a nice little cloud of smoke, with a pipe you want just a tiny wisp.

    Posted 3 weeks ago #
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    adforbes

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    Thank you all again for your wise words. I shall keep on piping in light of your helpful suggestions. Much appreciated!

    Posted 3 weeks ago #
  11. newbroom

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    Yeah, not uncommon for new pipers to get tongue burn.
    Assuring that your draw is smooth, and not requiring a hard pull to get air through your bowl will help.
    Tongue burn is a "P" lip, that's pretty good.
    You're looking for impact and flavor right away, and you will get that with a fairly strong Latakia blend.
    I'd say smoke something like that, just to help get your cadence. I've heard that some say these blends smoke cooler than aromatic blends, too.

    Posted 3 weeks ago #
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    ofarrell

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    I’ve been smoking a pipe for two years. I suffer from tongue bite as well. Aromatics are a no no for me. I smoke english blends, C&D’s Mountain Camp being my favorite. You’re on the right track by using a P Lip. May I suggest smoking Prince Albert. It’s mild. I don’t get burned with it. There’s a reason it’s been around for over 100 years. PLip & Prince Albert should solve your problem

    Posted 3 weeks ago #
  13. bnichols23

    Bill Nichols

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    Welcome, adf! Glad to have you here. I won't offer too much advice myself since what's been given is good, but I did want to say one thing in particular -- Cortez's observations are 115% dead-on, especially about having something to drink along with smoking. That's a more popular subject around here than you might think. A lot of people gravitate to what we occasionally call "Jim's Bergs." One of the stalwarts here (*&* an absolute EXPERT on tobacco reviews), JimInx prefers just plain ice water. Drinking it will automatically slow you down & help minimize over-stoking the furnace!

    The only "advice" I'd offer is for right now, avoid tobaccos that advertise wonderful-sounding flavorings like cherry (Sorry, Embers! -laugh-), chocolate, vanilla, vanilla-cherry, cherry-vanilla, etc. They sound fabulous & inviting, but in too many cases the stuff that's used to flavor will be a big culprit in tongue burn. Go for more natural if you can. There are a lot of good tobaccos out there that have great flavor without all of that. If you're lucky enough to have a brick-&-mortar store near you, ask the tobacconist's guidance; they'll know what you mean.

    Again, welcome! You'll find more advice here than you ever thought you'd need. We're full of it. [Take that however you want. :)]

    Bill

    Head Black Frigate keelhauler, boss powder monkey, & troublemaker 1st class.
    Posted 3 weeks ago #
  14. jpmcwjr

    jpmcwjr

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    Thank you both for your kind and reassuring replies. In terms of drying time, can you give any rule of thumb? I am sure each tobacco must differ, but is there any general average range of drying time you would expect in order to mitigate the dreaded bite? Thank you again!

    I'll try, but need to know where you live and what you smoke. If in the South, do you have a/c on a lot? Or do you know the RH in your house?

    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 3 weeks ago #
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    adforbes

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    Regarding drying time, I live in London, UK. The average RH is probably between 60% to 70%. I do not have a/c.

    Posted 3 weeks ago #
  16. jpmcwjr

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    Ah, you're lucky. It—the RH— is probably not that high in your house or flat, but relatively benign. For Dunhill blends, I'd start* with an hour sitting on a counter. For the GLPease, a half hour. I don't know about aromatics, except they seem to feel wet due to the topping.

    Enjoy!

    * You may want to adjust those times drastically according to your own druthers as to taste and smokability.....

    Posted 3 weeks ago #
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    adforbes

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    Thank you, sir!

    Posted 3 weeks ago #
  18. donjgiles

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    If you get a bit of the tongue bite, try to have a bottle of this on hand...
    https://www.biotene.com/
    It will help you heal.

    Don

    Posted 3 weeks ago #
  19. ssjones

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    You are using a lighter, correct? Put it down and try matches, it's a much softer light and once you master keeping the match lit, tongue bit should diminish (it eliminated tongue but in my case). You definitely also don't want to puff real hard, like a cigar requires. Think sipping. Keep us posted.

    Al

    Posted 3 weeks ago #
  20. ron123

    ron123

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    There's no cure, once you get it, except time. I tried Biotene and it didn't do much, if anything.

    Virginia's seem to bite more that English blends, so you might want to avoid them for a while.

    Other than that, dry the tobacco, and puff slow. If you start to feel like you're getting hotter smoke/steam through your pipe, put it down. Leave it for 1/2 hour...maybe more. Don't try to power through it.

    Pipe smoking definitely takes way more time to get the knack of, than cigs or cigars. You just need to decide if you want to stick with it.

    Posted 3 weeks ago #
  21. mikefu

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    Everything said is really good advice. I'll add two things- 1. You could try quick drying your tobacco in the microwave. (I know, some people think this is barbaric and shun the practice, but I find it quite helpful when I have neglected to properly prepare a tobacco in advance) Nuke a pipeful for 9 seconds on high and then let it sit for a few minutes. Then take stock of how dry it is, and try leaving your tobacco out however long it takes to achieve the same level of dryness. 2. Smoke slowly, as has already been said. What I mean by slowly is that a small to medium sized bowl (.7 x 1.3in, roughly ) should take at least an hour to finish, and sometimes if I am really in the zone I can nurse a small bowl along for 1.5-2 hours, without any tongue bite at all, even with a notorious blend like MacBaren Va. #1 or Plumcake. Slowly. slowly.

    Posted 3 weeks ago #
  22. jfred

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    Lots of great advice above.

    I had a very similar experience, and the learning curve was very steep the first few weeks, then it just got better and better.

    My first really great smoke was with tobacco I forgot on a plate and let sit out for a couple of days. Very dry, but easy to keep lit, great flavor and no burning steam.

    Hang in there!

    Posted 3 weeks ago #
  23. olkofri

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    It varies. Everyone's different. I tried many of the suggestions suggested above and they didn't work. I no longer drink while smoking and love aromatics. I still get bite sometimes but my tongue now stops complaining within hours instead of days.

    Guess I can only come up with very few 'advice': 1) I hope you're not drawing on the pipe as you do a cigar, but sip so gently, even diffidently, that you can feel very, very smoke flowing into your mouth; 2) diligently practice packing and tamping: most, if not all, the bite I get comes from lighting and relighting—the more I have to relight, the more I burn myself—which brings me to the next point; 3) tobacco moisture (or lack thereof): smoke it on the drier side, without the tobacco crumbling too dust —one reason to avoid aromatics whilst you get the hang of it, since aromatics cannot be dried too much lest they lose taste; 4) don't touch the flame to the tobacco when lighting: light like a cigar, holding the flame about 1/4 inch above the rim of the bowl, letting the superheated air instead of the flame light the toby.

    Not the sweet, new grass with flowers is this harvesting of mine;
    Not the upland clover bloom...
    Posted 3 weeks ago #
  24. ryeguy

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    I have been in your shoes, tempted to abandon pipes because of scorched tongue. In my experience, the problem did not just go away (as though my tongue got calloused or something). My advice (most of which others have given above):

    --Dry your tobacco. Try leaving it till its crisp (multiple days of drying), if you want to go extreme as an experiment (though if you do try this, realize it will want to burn really hot, so you have to be extra careful will your cadence). I generally find that tobacco that is still pliable but feels rough on my fingertips is perfect. If you want to dry tobacco fast, 8-12 seconds (for one bowl's worth) in the microwave will dry it right out (while it's warm it will still feel really moist, but as soon it cools it will get rough or even crispy).

    --keep your cadence slow, don't puff constantly, let the pipe sit and smolder. If you are trying to get big billows of smoke like you can get off a cigar (or if you are trying to get the mouthfeel you get from a cigarette) you will burn your tongue by the end of the bowl.

    --use pipe cleaners liberally while smoking to sop up moisture. I use one or two pipe cleaners per bowl. I can feel the moisture in my mouth and throat (before I can hear it), and running a pipe cleaner down the stem makes a noticeable difference.

    --drink something (not carbonated) as you smoke. Water, whiskey, tea, coffee.

    Posted 3 weeks ago #
  25. didimauw

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    I have learned that my tongue can't handle Virginia's, so I stick to Burley forward blends. I also dry my tobacco for at least a couple minutes before packing. I still sometimes get a little sting at times, mostly on the roof of my mouth, but that's how I left the pipe hang, and I know I smoke fast. I just deal with it.

    "I don't know half of you half as well as I should like, and I like less than half of you half as well as you deserve."
    Posted 3 weeks ago #
  26. davek

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    A lot of good suggestions. I think it just goes away over time, but I think only part of that is your mouth "adapting" and the rest is just stuff you tried. Smoking a lot of different types of tobacco to see what suits might be important. As said, English blends are full of flavor and low on bite.

    Try all those suggestions, but…

    I'm an ex-cigar smoker but I used to smoke English blends as well back when I was mostly a cigar smoker.

    Sipping is important, but as a cigar smoker you'll want that big mouthful of smoke. Rather than taking big mouthfuls at once, try this. Take a number of little sips in rapid succession, not fully blowing them out, till you have a mouthful of smoke. That's not quite as hot and can be satisfying.

    Posted 3 weeks ago #
  27. trubka2

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    I feel your pain! The first 12 or so years I smoked a pipe, my mouth hurt like hell every single time. So I did it only occasionally, and for reasons that presently escape me. Once I quit cigarettes a few months ago (four months ago today, in fact!), I had to learn quickly how to avoid the bite because, you know, God forbid I give up nicotine altogether, so I was gonna have a pipe in my mouth all day, like it or not. Some Virginias, especially reds and brights, still get me if I get distracted and start puffing. Otherwise, I rarely get bit anymore, and it's not just because my tongue is now covered in lizard skin. All the above advice is golden, 100%, but...

    don't touch the flame to the tobacco when lighting: light like a cigar, holding the flame about 1/4 inch above the rim of the bowl, letting the superheated air instead of the flame light the toby.

    ... this is the single thing that helped me kind of get over that initial hump the most. Part of it is physics and chemistry, but a lot of it is psychology - it just slows me down and makes me focus more on treating the contents of my bowl with the attention and respect it deserves. Sometimes just one simple thing makes all the difference.

    100th post, woohoo!

    Posted 3 weeks ago #
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    adforbes

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    Thank you all for so much excellent advice and encouragement. I shall report back after my next bowl.

    ADF

    Posted 3 weeks ago #
  29. bnichols23

    Bill Nichols

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    shall report back after my next bowl.

    Looking forward to hearing from you on it!

    Ron, Didi, I agree. Virginias seem to be harder for tongues to assimilate; just the cut, I think. Good solid burleys on the other hand, are often easier.

    B

    Posted 3 weeks ago #
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    nunnster

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    I have been piping off and on for years now, but the most recent time I started back up it took me about a week to get my packing technique and cadence right again, and I got bit pretty bad after my first couple of bowl. The only thing I could taste was salt and sour and for days my tounge ached and was toasted. Biotine was a life saver. Even today if I am doing something, such as reading this forum, and mindlessly puff away I will occasionally get bit. I personally have found that that Blends with a high Va content are easy to push to hard and get bit. But hang in there. Try different packing techniques and get a feel for the tobacco, work on your cadence and find what works for you and your body.

    Posted 3 weeks ago #

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