Flakes Really Aren't As Difficult As You May Think

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anthonyrosenthal74

Preferred Member
Jan 8, 2013
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I know, I know, I know... You take a flake that's been sitting out drying on a paper towel for 364 days, fold it in half, stuff it in your pipe, and then you light it with one of these....

...everything erupts into a glorious ball of flame, the briar wood is now charcoal, the stem melted and slowly dripping on the floor like some weird black cheese, the flake tobacco appears to be miraculously untouched. :?
You come on a forum such as this seeking help, after browsing smokingpipes.com for a new pipe to replace the one that just went defcon 1, seeking help and or divine intervention... the pipe gods seem to have frowned upon you. You are answered with pipe chamber sizes, drying times, and basically every alternative to the fold and stuff technique. You've heard it all before, and a lot of it is entirely correct... but you shouldn't have to give up the fold and stuff technique. I've discovered it's actually quite simple and I enjoy flakes regularly now, folded and stuffed in multiple different pipes. I'm actually enjoying some flake right now in a chamber some would consider too wide for flake.
To me (and perhaps your mileage may vary) the most important thing is flake size to chamber size comparison. Some pipes may take two flakes, some may only take one, and with the difference in flake sizes you may need to adjust the size of the flake to fit your pipe of choice.
For the meerschaum I'm smoking right now I took two full flakes of John Aylesbury Dragon Flake and tore off a small strip from the side of both, folded them in half and stuffed them into my pipe. That extra little bit can be rubbed out and replace in the tin to use for kindling later. The folded side of the flake tends to break apart a little and when I place them in the pipe that side goes up. I'll take my pipe tool and lightly scrape the top to break it apart just a bit more. Light, let go out, scrape it lightly again, lightly tap it with the tamper and light it again. After this my flake tends to burn as well as any other blend, and sometimes better. Dragon Flake by the way is an aromatic flake.
It's as simple as that. Let the flake dry a bit, match the flake size to the pipe and adjust as necessary (a little trial and error, but you'll get it), fold, stuff, break apart the top just a bit, light well, scape the top again a bit, light tap, light well and enjoy. :puffy:
Note: After doing some research, I discovered the squirrel in the photo above, was a WWII hero, saving the lives of many allied forces during the battle for Iwo Jima. He helped raise the flag in the iconic photo but is hidden behind a marine's boots.

...he's in there somewhere. Perhaps behind the second marine's boot?

 

carolinachurchwarden

Preferred Member
May 9, 2018
1,682
37
Raleigh, NC
Going to give your method a go the next time smoke some ODF Flake. Been rubbing it out the last several smokes because it can never keep the sucker lit if I fold and stuff. Could be I'm using too much, but I'll play with it some more until I get a decent to good result.
Nice post there, Anthony. I'm one of the few that always looked to the forums, but did find a lot of what you mentioned instead of what I needed. Maybe you hit the right spot. :puffy:

 

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chasingembers

Preferred Member
Nov 12, 2014
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It does take some trial and error. Leaving just enough space in the chamber for the flake to expand really helps keep things going. Great post!

 

anthonyrosenthal74

Preferred Member
Jan 8, 2013
7,489
672
Thanks guys. I hope it helps someone struggling with flakes. I feel like if done properly, even a completely new pipe smoker can enjoy fold and stuffed flakes.
Leaving just enough space in the chamber for the flake to expand really helps keep things going.
Oops! Yes, I left that out, and it's a very important factor. With too much in the chamber, the flake after expanding will become too tight of a pack.

 

bluto

Preferred Member
Aug 24, 2018
739
4
With too much in the chamber, the flake after expanding will become too tight of a pack.
Makes sense , last fold and stuff flake I tried seemed to go out periodically at nearly perfect intervals
The one before that ran perfectly , smooth as a babies butt
Now what to do with the bits sticking out on top which I pinch off ..

 

anthonyrosenthal74

Preferred Member
Jan 8, 2013
7,489
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Now what to do with the bits sticking out on top which I pinch off ..
Kindling. Put them back in the tin, next smoke, take some of the little bits in the tin and sprinkle it over the top. It will be dryer than the flake and help get a good first light going.

 

ashdigger

Preferred Member
Jul 30, 2016
5,296
170
I smoke so much flake I find it easier to load and pack than ribbon cut.
This is my current experience. It's one of those things that I do almost unconsciously anymore.
But thank you for the entertaining read.

 

redone

Member
Aug 4, 2018
279
35
Good advice. I’m still learning and have not yet folded and stuffed, just rub it out. But, going to try it this week.

 

npod

Preferred Member
Jun 11, 2017
2,870
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That was a great narrative, Anthony. Good on you. I fold and stuff more frequently over the past year, it took me forever to get comfortable with the technique.

 

anthonyrosenthal74

Preferred Member
Jan 8, 2013
7,489
672
I’m still learning and have not yet folded and stuffed, just rub it out. But, going to try it this week.
I'll have to give 'fold & stuff' another try, frustration has caused rubbing out to occur ...
Great! Good luck to you both. I hope what I've posted helps you in some way. Fold and stuff is quite rewarding in the flavor and length of smoke.

 

chasingembers

Preferred Member
Nov 12, 2014
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A loose pack is crucial for those wanting to give it a go. Rub out kindling as stated above to get a good burn going, and sit back for a long smoke.

 

lordofthepiperings

Preferred Member
May 3, 2010
6,309
208
Las Vegas, NV
DubInTheDam has a REALLY good YouTube video on loading flakes, showing how he does it himself. I pretty much do exactly what he does and it's worked great for me for the past five years or so. Basically he takes a flake or two (maybe one and a half depending on bowl size) folds it in half length wise then folds that vertically leaving a bit of a u shape at the bottom and pinching the top of it together. Then he rubs out the bottom just a bit and gently stuffs that into the bowl.
For me flakes usually take a bit more effort to get going, but once you do they basically smoke themselves. For me fold and stuffing usually has a slower cooler burn with flavors dancing a bit more.

 

erhardt85

Member
Apr 14, 2017
194
0
Mastering the fold and stuff method is pretty much the final frontier of pipe packing techniques. The best advice is to account for the expanding tobacco and don't pack too tight to begin with. Finally mastering the method has breathed new life into blends I had given up on or thought to be not worth the effort.

 

redone

Member
Aug 4, 2018
279
35
OK, I’m right now in the middle of my first fold and stuff experience. Wow! Great results so far.
I watched the video above. Picked a smaller bowl pipe - and older Paronelli briar (great smoker) and grabbed a Flake from my jar of Mac Baren Navy Flake and got going. Was concerned about how “dense” it seemed to be packed because I’ve been following the adage to dry it more than you think and pack it looser than you think and having great smokes with very few relights. I’m using my Czech tool pick to keep a draw hole poked down the middle and this bowl is going great. No relights so far. It’s staying very well lit and drawing nicely. Plus, with the pace I’m going, this bowl should easily last an hour whereas this pipe is normally down to dottle in about half an hour.
Thanks for the advice and a nice new experience!

 

lawdawg

Preferred Member
Aug 25, 2016
954
785
I just rub the flake out and dry it like any other tobacco. Works great! I would like to experiment some more with the fold-and-stuff method, but I have a hard time imagining that it has any significant effect on the smoking experience. Of course I will delay judgment on that issue until after successfully folding and stuffing multiple times.

 

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