Pack and Tap: Is my Strange Way Wrong?

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Sacred_summit

Starting to Get Obsessed
Jan 24, 2024
130
468
Calgary, Alberta.
I've adopted something that I have not seen anywhere else. I'm wondering if it's causing my tobacco to be too tight once lit and smoking. Keep in mind that when I test the draw, It's still consistent with the typical method, but more often than not in doing it my way I find certain tobaccos make my pipe burning hot no matter how slowly I smoke and it's frustrating.

Here we go.
I do this for both the three-pack method and the gravity fill method.
I sprinkle in the tobacco to the brim. Instead of pushing it down, I tape the side of the pipe with my finger 5-6 times. The tobacco jumps around and all of the pieces eventually fall into place, like how the pieces fit together in the game of Tetris. The tobacco drops a noticeable amount when I do this. I then lightly push down with my finger, and fill it back up to the brim, then repeat the tapping, I fill it to the top and repeat the same tapping and push it down to just under the brim.
Or, after I've filled to the top and tapped until the tobacco lowers, I add more and tap again. Then I push it down halfway and repeat until I have a full bowl.

Gravity method
I sprinkle in the tobacco until it's at the rim. I tap it several times just like before and the tobacco drops a lot. I sprinkle more to the rim and tap it again, which usually drops more. I sprinkle more and tap the side of my pipe a few more times and it drops to just below the rim and I gently tamper it and I'm ready to smoke.
Every time I sprinkle tobacco into the bowl, I tape it numerous times with my finger on the side so the pieces fit into place.
I have never seen anybody else do this. They sprinkle to the rim and then compress, sprinkle, and compress more, sprinkle and compress to below the brim (For the three-pack method).
Or they sprinkle until it's just above the brim and gently tap it with the heel of the pipe, light tamper, and voila
Without tapping the pipe several times on the side I believe that the tobacco has little gaps where some of the pieces do not fit tightly together. Even when you fill to the rim and then tamper it down, there are still gaps unless you have first tapped it several times to shake the tobacco pieces into fitting closer together. Are the little gaps beneficial, and is this why everybody loads without tapping several times as they slowly fill up the bowl?
To summarize, I have watched a trillion videos on YouTube about packing, and I have read hours upon hours about packing. I've never anybody or read about taping the pipe until the tobacco fits together after each sprinkle as I do. I'm wondering if I should NOT be doing this because it's impacting how the tobacco burns in some negative way.
The odd thing though, is that when I test the draw, it's still a good draw and no different than if I didn't tape the pipe. It does hold more tobacco this way.
Any advice would be greatly appreciated!

Again, think of it like this.
Load to the brim, tap tap tap tap tap, add a little more tap tap tap tap tap, once it's at the brim after a few loads and taping I push down. Repeat, Repeat. Vs load to the brim and push down, load to the brim and push down, load to the brim and push down.
Both ways push down with the same force, and both ways have a similar or identical draw. The same goes for the gravity method.
This has been driving me bonkers, I've been meaning to post a thread asking about it for a while now.

Thanks for your help!
 
Last edited by a moderator:

proteus

Lifer
May 20, 2023
1,340
2,262
53
Connecticut (shade leaf tobacco country)
Whatever way gives you the best results for your purpose. If you get nice flavor and smoke and a good result that's the way. I use a totally different method. I just fill in one long continuous fill from a pile of tobacco or a very wide jar using one finger. For me the pack is easier to pack tighter with a tamp than loosen with a pick. Just like Reese's there no wrong way to fill a pipe - if it gives you what you want.
 

VDL_Piper

Lifer
Jun 4, 2021
1,232
12,391
Tasmania, Australia
My personal experience is that if you don't crowd the airway at the bottom of the bowl you have a much better smoking experience, this can be achieved two ways. First you don't pack or try to push/tap tobacco to the bottom of the chamber and secondly you could use an intervention like a pipe grate or meerschaum chips, key stones etc. Both work, one takes a bit of practice the other costs a few cents a bowl................
 

Sacred_summit

Starting to Get Obsessed
Jan 24, 2024
130
468
Calgary, Alberta.
Whatever way gives you the best results for your purpose. If you get nice flavor and smoke and a good result that's the way. I use a totally different method. I just fill in one long continuous fill from a pile of tobacco or a very wide jar using one finger. For me the pack is easier to pack tighter with a tamp than loosen with a pick. Just like Reese's there no wrong way to fill a pipe - if it gives you what you want.
I've tried this, but notice that after a light It tamps down half way or is extremely loose.
Do you tap the side of the pipe at all to have the pieces fall into place?
 

Sacred_summit

Starting to Get Obsessed
Jan 24, 2024
130
468
Calgary, Alberta.
My personal experience is that if you don't crowd the airway at the bottom of the bowl you have a much better smoking experience, this can be achieved two ways. First you don't pack or try to push/tap tobacco to the bottom of the chamber and secondly you could use an intervention like a pipe grate or meerschaum chips, key stones etc. Both work, one takes a bit of practice the other costs a few cents a bowl................
This makes sense. Based on this reasoning, I would never want to tap the side of my pipe several times, even if didn't tap the first two fills but tapped it when topping off the 3rd (If I did the 3 pack method for example)
Because then all of the tobacco will fit snuggly into place at the bottom of the pipe impeding the airflow.
Can pushing a pipe cleaner through the shank creating a little air hole at the bottom of the pipe bowl be of help before you start smoking?
Bottom line, however, the tobacco falls into place you tamper down to your leisure (Based on how firm you want your draw to be) but never tap the sides of the pipe so the pieces shake about and fit closely together or you'll over pack and over tighten the bottom part of the bowl?
 

StPatrickPiper

Might Stick Around
Apr 6, 2024
51
62
31
Marchand, Manitoba, Canada
This makes sense. Based on this reasoning, I would never want to tap the side of my pipe several times, even if didn't tap the first two fills but tapped it when topping off the 3rd (If I did the 3 pack method for example)
Because then all of the tobacco will fit snuggly into place at the bottom of the pipe impeding the airflow.
Can pushing a pipe cleaner through the shank creating a little air hole at the bottom of the pipe bowl be of help before you start smoking?
Bottom line, however, the tobacco falls into place you tamper down to your leisure (Based on how firm you want your draw to be) but never tap the sides of the pipe so the pieces shake about and fit closely together or you'll over pack and over tighten the bottom part of the bowl?
I sometimes stick a pipe cleaner in when I pack. All it takes is one silly little particle of tobacco to get sucked into the draft hole and your smoke is over. But again, this could be remedied by running a pipe cleaner through as soon as you notice
 
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Nov 20, 2022
2,426
24,142
Wisconsin
Keep experimenting. Each type of tobacco requires a different density of packing and cadence. Cut, moisture, pipe, environment all contribute. At first you require a "method" to learn, after awhile you get a feel for it. You will then start scooping the pipe and be able to judge based on all the variables to get it in the ballpark.

Patience and practice my friend...
 

SmokeBreak

Lurker
Dec 4, 2023
14
20
@Sacred_summit As long as the tobacco burns well and you enjoy the smoking experience, I wouldn't worry about it being "right" or "wrong." We all develop our own little techniques. It's really just about personal preference in the end.
 

VDL_Piper

Lifer
Jun 4, 2021
1,232
12,391
Tasmania, Australia
This makes sense. Based on this reasoning, I would never want to tap the side of my pipe several times, even if didn't tap the first two fills but tapped it when topping off the 3rd (If I did the 3 pack method for example)
Because then all of the tobacco will fit snuggly into place at the bottom of the pipe impeding the airflow.
Can pushing a pipe cleaner through the shank creating a little air hole at the bottom of the pipe bowl be of help before you start smoking?
Bottom line, however, the tobacco falls into place you tamper down to your leisure (Based on how firm you want your draw to be) but never tap the sides of the pipe so the pieces shake about and fit closely together or you'll over pack and over tighten the bottom part of the bowl?
Hey Sacred, don't over think this too much my friend. I have recommended this method (see the attached video) to quite a few new pipe smokers and they have all enjoyed good success with it. This method avoids tobacco around the airway and allows you to focus on tamping and cadence which are both crafts that you will come to master too. In the end it's about pleasure so relax, enjoy and try and experiment until you find "your" method or groove.
 

Choatecav

Starting to Get Obsessed
Dec 19, 2023
240
670
Middle Tennessee
Codger scoop for me. A couple of taps on he tobacco with my fingertip to lightly press it down and I'm off to the races. Flakes can be a little different, but I'm looking for the right "feel" and it just works.

Keep in mind that some blends just smoke hotter than others. Cadence will help with that.
This is more like the way I have found best for my own personal experience. I have tried the gravity drop and tap method, but it is just a little too loose for my liking. I need just a bit of packing in there for the best burn.
A lot of what impacts the experience, for me, is how moist or dry the tobacco is. That makes a huge difference.
 

sablebrush52

The Bard Of Barlings
Jun 15, 2013
20,183
46,856
Southern Oregon
jrs457.wixsite.com
This is more like the way I have found best for my own personal experience. I have tried the gravity drop and tap method, but it is just a little too loose for my liking. I need just a bit of packing in there for the best burn.
A lot of what impacts the experience, for me, is how moist or dry the tobacco is. That makes a huge difference.
Bingo! Gotta get the moisture right so the flavors peak!
 

jpmcwjr

Moderator
Staff member
May 12, 2015
25,416
28,704
Carmel Valley, CA
Whatever way gives you the best results for your purpose. If you get nice flavor and smoke and a good result that's the way. I use a totally different method. I just fill in one long continuous fill from a pile of tobacco or a very wide jar using one finger. For me the pack is easier to pack tighter with a tamp than loosen with a pick. Just like Reese's there no wrong way to fill a pipe - if it gives you what you want.
Yes, that's the no-method method I use for the most part.
Only thing I'd add is moisture level has to be right, which usually means the tobacco needs to be dried before loading,
 

FLDRD

Lifer
Oct 13, 2021
1,898
7,207
Arkansas
You'll eventually find some combination of "methods" will work just fine for you.

Sometimes it only takes a couple of years practice and things just "click" for you! ;)

I've often wondered why that most recent "aha!" took so long to occur - since it's so obvious to me - after the fact...

And those moments still occur from time to time.
 
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