Disagreements about how moist tobacco should be

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Can't Leave
Sep 21, 2022
At the risk of beating an extremely dead animal I pose this question. I wouldn’t do it, except that I see this come up again and again with no way to bridge the opinion-gap and with confusing answers. Leaving aside that different blends may require different moisture levels for a smoker to achieve the optimum pleasure, some say that there’s a very basic answer about dryness and this seems logical as it assures the pipe will stay lit and the tongue will remain un-bitten. Others divide tobaccos into categories and say aros are different than Virginias, in some such way (which I’m not sure I understood) and should be smoked wet. Some say there’s no pleasure in a dry smoke, by the dryness that is commonly recommended (pinch it and it should stick for a moment but not remain stuck at all?). Some say that wet is OK, they insist the aforementioned method is silly and it’s all in a light pack and cadence but that the way it comes when the suction sound is heard, is the way it’s best. This argument may be totally played out. I apologize in advance to bring it up again. In the end, many will say there’s no substitute for just figuring it out yourself. That’s tough because it takes time. I guess any good thing takes time.
Jan 28, 2018
Sarasota, FL
I think you'll find the majority agree the moisture level should be on the driar side. I think if you broke it down to 4 categories, very dry, dry, moist and very moist, 75% or more prefer very dry or dry. Across all blends.

No need to care what others think though, it's extraordinarily easy to experiment and determine what suits you best. I don't care if you squeeze an oz of fluid out of a bowl of tobacco you smoke. If that's what gives you enjoyment, have a happy.


The Bard Of Barlings
Jun 15, 2013
I arrived at my solutions through experimentation with different moisture levels for different blends. I do what works for me. It might not work for someone else.

Since I primarily smoke Virginias, I find that drying down the tobacco provides me with greater flavors. How dry? That may vary a little, but generally it's just shy of bone dry, dry to the touch when squeezed, no sense of moisture against my skin rising in the squeezed tobacco, but still pliant it a little crispy. But some Virginia blends do well with a little more moisture. And aromatic, or semi armatics seem to have more of that topping preserved with more moisture. English/Balkan/Oriental blends are very forgiving as their leaves are relative flavor bombs, so moisture level is less of a concern for me.

It also varies with the manufacturer. Hearth and Home blends are often packed at the optimal smoking moisture, while Gawith blends are sopping wet and improved with hours of drying time.

I would tell anyone to try a blend at different moisture levels to see what happens with that blend.
For optimal flavor, I want to slow smoke the blend so that it just simmers around the glowing cherry, on the verge of going out. Snorking also helps.


Jul 10, 2018
Las Vegas
I find that the general recommendation to dry is usually a response to requests for help keeping a pipe lit and specific recommendations are usually in response to questions about a specific blend.

The caveat on specific blend questions is usually you have to experiment and find out what you like. For example, I've not tried drying KBV Fallen Cherry and love it as wet as it comes yet I plan on trying it dry to see if I prefer it that way.


Nov 26, 2018
Of course it's all different. They are not you. Right moisture level of the blend you are going to smoke is completely up on you. However, drying tobacco tends to help with number of beginner issues. So suggestion is, always dry your tobacco. How dry? Everyone's little different on that point. Only you can answer that by trial and error. Dry it to crisp if in doubt.


Part of the Furniture Now
Nov 17, 2017
You may find that a particular blend smokes & tastes best for you, much dryer than you’d imagined. I’ve found small plastic bags of baccy that I’d forgotten & was almost crispy. It was delicious when fired up. Much better to me than when smoked at a higher moisture level. It takes a bit of experimentation to see what works for you.



Can't Leave
Sep 21, 2022
These responses are so thoughtful. I wasn’t sure people would make the effort as it seemed like a done-to-death topic. But I think that even if this has been discussed a lot, these answers right here are valuable. These answers amount to a very clear way of thinking about something beginners really need to know.


Starting to Get Obsessed
Oct 22, 2022
As many have stated, it really depends on what you like and have explored within a specific blend.
Years ago I was curious as to what difference the moisture level made to my favourite blend.
I asked the question, got the same answers so proceeded to load two clay pipes with the same blend but two different moisture levels.
The result, quite surprising. The dry/crispy blend had more woody characteristics and more flavour, it also smoked cooler. From then on I dried my blends more than usual. But that's my take, ymmv. Happy drying puffy

Ray Popp

Starting to Get Obsessed
Dec 14, 2022
I can see how you think that this subject may have been covered many times over ... it probably has. But with this group of people on this forum, that is fine. They will tell you what they think, just as they did with the guy who asked the same question a couple of days ago and the guy who asked the question a year ago. I have yet to read anyone telling another to go to some archive to look up something ... as though they don't have the time of day for the noob.

Anyway, tobacco moisture ... yes, it seems to be a bit of a mystery. And even more complicated than the responses so far. Even ambient humidity is part of that equation, it seems. In both setting out your tobacco to dry (15 minutes, and hour, over night) and in smoking it. Try not to get too hung up on it, though. You will work it out. Try not to get too hung up on any aspect of pipe smoking and pipes ... you will work it out.


Jul 23, 2014
The Lower Forty of Hill Country
Many pipe-smokers tend to forget the stubborn fact that water is a byproduct of combustion. If your tobacco is moist to begin with, it will become more moist as you smoke it. The bottom line is that dryer is better. How much dryer? As sablebursh52 said above:
I arrived at my solutions through experimentation with different moisture levels for different blends. I do what works for me. It might not work for someone else.