Packing a Pipe Well

Log in Updates

Watch for Updates Twice a Week

PipesMagazine Approved Sponsor

PipesMagazine Approved Sponsor

PipesMagazine Approved Sponsor

PipesMagazine Approved Sponsor

PipesMagazine Approved Sponsor


Starting to Get Obsessed
Feb 15, 2022
I’ve seen a few videos about how to load my pipe, but I’m still having some issues getting a nice smooth burn or a decent amount of smoke.

Often, to this point, I end up with only a little smoke and needing many many relights.

I am doing the method where you load it about 2/3 full and tamp, then add a bit more and tamp lightly. Then I char it once and light again. But for some reason, I’m not having a lot of success.

Any advice for getting ample smoke and minimizing relights?
Last edited by a moderator:
  • Like
Reactions: Cap

Piping Rooster

Can't Leave
Jun 29, 2022
Champa Bay
I heard someone say you want the resistance when drawing on the pioe to be comparable to drinking milk through a straw and thought that was a good comparison. Not a milk shake and not water but milk. I do the 1/3, 1/3, 1/3 method and tamp lightly with each. Just keep practicing and you'll eventually figure it out. Everyone has their own way but you're the only one who can teach yourself for most pipe smoking skills. All comes with time behind the pipe.


Starting to Get Obsessed
Feb 15, 2022
What tobacco's have you tried? Sounds as if your tobacco may need more dry time.

I prefer to pack in one swoop. No 1/3 2/3 stuff. Fill it all the way, tamp lightly, and light. Then periodically I tamp when need be.
Mostly English. I put them in a mason jar after opening the tin, and have been smoking right out of the jar. I hadn’t been drying them at all.


Starting to Get Obsessed
Jan 5, 2020
I had a lot of trouble with this starting out.

I gravity fill every cut of tobacco except shag. Just pour or scoop the tobacco in and tap the side of the bowl until it settles. Repeat until to the rim. Lightly shove any overhanging tobacco in the bowl and smoke. The only exception with shag is to pack it only slightly tighter.

The point of all this is to (in general) pack lighter then you think. Once I stopped paying so much attention to all that "baby, woman, man" three pack BS i started getting much better smokes. Most of that is a major over complication.


Dec 3, 2021
Bagshot Row, Hobbiton
I consider tamping like putting frosting on a cake ... you don't want to wreck the cake just smooth the ash over. When it gets too much just tip the pipe over and the excess falls out and repeat only if necessary.


Nov 26, 2018
Couple of things. Those BS methods work. You just need to understand the logic behind them. When you do, you would think "why didn't I think of that?" Once you "get it", they will all work and you will find some methods work better with others like your experience with shag cut. Try codger scoop with OTC blends.

Tamping. It's to bring the ember to the tobacco. Meaning, you will have to gently push down so ember will make contact with tobacco underneath it. Just smoothing the ash won't do much. Also tamping will bring back the flavor mainly because the tobacco's simmering again. And, you will be able to smoke longer without relight, if done right.


The Bard Of Barlings
Jun 15, 2013
Mostly English. I put them in a mason jar after opening the tin, and have been smoking right out of the jar. I hadn’t been drying them at all.
Almost all tobaccos are packed with added water, in order to keep them from drying out before being sold. Drying down your tobacco will not only help with keeping the pipe lit, it will unmask the flavors in the tobaccos you smoke..
English are the most forgiving genre of blend to smoke as the Latakia and orientals provide a lot of savory flavors. Even they benefit for drying down.

While I'm not a believer in "methods" myself, I do acknowledge that many pipe smokers swear by them.
Thing is, to find out what combination works for you, you need to experiement. Try out different levels of moisture from straight out of the tin, to dry as dust, and see where you get the best result, the Frank, palm roll, drizzle, etc packs and see what works for you. Suggestions are fine, but experimentation is essential. There's no real shortcut that's worth spit.


May 26, 2012
Sarasota Florida
If my pipe ever goes out early it is because I packed it too loose. I want a firm pack of a folded and stuffed flake and they burn for hours as a nice cool temp. Too loose means you are having to keep lighting it and it tastes thin and week by the time you are done.

There are so many variables with different humidity's and packing methods you need to find what works for you. For a long time I used the cube cut method to great success. I think it is the way to go before full fold and stuffs.
  • Like
Reactions: OSOBUCO and coys


Staff member
May 12, 2015
Carmel Valley, CA
Yep, a bit drier will help a lot. You can batch dry tobacco, jar it, and you'll not have to wait for the next smoke!

My "method" for loading is as Didi's. Works every time, though sometimes I found I accidentally made a "false light" and thus I need a "true light".
Many purposely do the false light bit, but for me it's an accident of no consequence.


Mar 30, 2019
In the semi-rural NorthEastern USA
Remember the moisture tobacco is packed at is the higher end of smokeable but more about not damaging the leaf when shipped then it being ideal when smoked. And in a way you can't say it's meant to be drier when smoked but you can say it's meant to be smoked in a range that goes to much drier. I find the drier it is the easier it is to control the smoke and the more flavor I get period. When it's drier you can really smoke much more casually then with a wetter tobacco. That said I find the driness levels I enjoy vary ever so slightly from blend to blend.
  • Like
Reactions: coys