Pipe and Tobacco Myths

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peregrinus

Preferred Member
Aug 4, 2019
1,052
3,092
Pacific Northwest
When I started smoking a pipe the generally accepted belief at the local tobacco store and on the infant web was that a good thick cake in a pipe’s chamber was absolutely essential and this needed to be faithfully and ritually pursued.

This turns out to be not true, at least for me. I learned to easily maintain a thin and hard cake on my pipes and they smoke better for it.

Over time I have learned that a great deal of conventional pipe and tobacco wisdom is not universal truth.

Have any pipe or tobacco dogma that you’ve come to see as senseless myths or useless rituals?
 

cachimbero

Member
Apr 9, 2019
216
218
53
Cordoba, Spain
Meerschaum pipes don´t ghost. I believed it until, following this wisdom, I smoked Ennerdale in one of my Altinays. It tasted like it for about twenty smokes. Probably a briar pipe would have kept the flavor for longer, but they do ghost.
Meerschaum pipes don,t need rest. Again, they do. Less than a briar but taste deteriorates if you smoke them non stop.
New pipes offer a bad taste until seasoned. It depends, I have had wonderful first smokes from some pipes, and awful ones as well.
Meers don´t cake. False, in some of mine it seems to grow just by looking at them. I´ve had cake build in the tamping area of czech tools. Any surface can cake.
As the OP, I prefer a thin cake in my briars. I have seen somo people let it grow until a pencil barely fits. By the way, I know of no one who has had his briar or meer bowl cracked by the inner pressure from the cake (another myth).
Rusticated or sandblasted pipes from reputable houses don,t have fills...
There are so many myths about pìpe smoking that it is very difficult to select them :)
 

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rushx9

Preferred Member
Jul 10, 2019
2,302
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Shelby, NC
One man's religion is another's mythology.
I generally do the opposite of what is commonly recommended at pipe shops. I don't build cake. I don't sweat the break-in, as in I don't coat chambers, or use codger burleys or start with a 3rd of a bowl. I don't pack "baby, mama, daddy" style or use "Frank's?" method. I dry my tobacco *fully. I don't false light/true light unless it's actually necessary. I've been in tobacco shops that recommend jet lighters to pipe smokers...🙄 I definitely don't use those.
My experience in tobacco shops is everyone is a wannabe cigar aficionado, and pipe smokers are anathema. The clerks rarely, if ever, smoke pipes so they're just regurgitating the misinfo they've heard local codgers say.
The only tobacconist that I've been to in my region (NC Foothills/Piedmont) that really seemed to care about pipesmokers, pipe tobacco, and pipes, is McCranie's in Charlotte.
 

telescopes

Preferred Member
Myths and legends have a basis in truth. Four decades of smoking have taught me cake can improve a smoke in many pipes and it can cool the heat in others while preventing burnouts in those with peculiar softer wood in the chamber. Not always, there are no absolutes, but busting myths is a thing until you get bit by a monster.
 

saltedplug

Preferred Member
Aug 20, 2013
4,859
4,138
A long stem make a cool smoke
thick walls maker s cooler smoke
rusticated or blasted pipes pipes, given the enlarged surface area, give a cooler smoke than smooths
pipes need be rested
the internals need to be cleaned with a multitude of cleaners or their bristled cousins twice a year
you either like or don't like latakia. there is no middle ground.
 

saltedplug

Preferred Member
Aug 20, 2013
4,859
4,138
The lousy part of the myths is that seasoned tobacconists will incorporate myth in their pitches though though they no doubt know them untrue.

One of them that I admire will say that thick walls make a cooler smoke. He also extolls the wood of one Italian maker given its lengthy cure. I think the jury remains out about the benefit of such a cure and attributing to the wood so cured superior smoking qualities.

These are some of the glaringly doubtful attributions of fact in pipe smoking. And if you're talking to one of "them," you know, the guys who say that pre-1950 Dunhills are special, and who can not say just how they are special, becomes exasperating. I won' even talk to them anymore, because if you can't guide me toward replicating your results, your findings are unreliable.

One famous blender stood his ground in a discussion with me maintaining that Will Purdy's pipes were magic. I asked him how. He replied, they just are. Rubbish!
 

mso489

Preferred Member
Feb 21, 2013
34,617
30,980
Water is deleterious to briar and Meerschaum. You can run water through both with no problem. I wouldn't soak 'em, but water is used in carving both materials and is fine for cleaning. At my local pipe shop, the guy who didn't know gave me the big shaming, whereas the owner, who knew, didn't say a word ... about my rinsing out my estate Meerschaum.

I am one of those who keeps cake to a thin carbon layer. I've never built cake. Better to keep the chamber its original size and not get into reaming.
 

DAR

Member
Aug 2, 2020
260
752
Tiburon, California
1. You won't get a good smoke until you "break in the pipe by building a cake in that bowl". I thought there was something wrong with me because I enjoyed the first bowl in a new pipe more than any following smokes. No cake necessary for me. I wipe with a paper towel after every smoke. Thin cake?

2. "A more expensive pipe will smoke better than an inexpensive pipe". Hence my large pipe collection trying to justify what I heard. The "more expensive ones" smoke just as well, and sometimes worse, than a $5 cob.

3. "Don't handle your meerschaum because it won't color correctly". My nicely colored meers that have been handled as if they were briar tend to disagree.

It's a buyer beware attitude you should have towards any pipe smoking advice. It's all very personal.
 

warren

Preferred Member
Sep 13, 2013
8,748
4,262
Pipe smoking relaxes one, makes one smarter, more affable, better looking, makes one look extinguished, oops sorry, distinguished, and so on ad infinitum.

One can pay too much for a pipe. Not if the new owner values and wants the smoking tool. There is one truth to pipe smoking, "If the smoker is enjoying the bowl, he is doing it right."
 

cigrmaster

Preferred Member
May 26, 2012
17,236
31,242
63
Sarasota Florida
I personally think some of the dogma is worth noting. For example I keep a nice hard cake in all my pipes as for me they smoke cooler and when dedicated taste better. I like about a dimes worth and barely have to use my Senior Reamor.

Some of the b.s makes me laugh, like putting honey in your bowl to break in a pipe. I use only Va,Vaper or Vabur flakes to break in my pipes. I smoke them from the top and then to the bottom. I have never burned out a pipe in my life. The biggest joke on pipe smokers iis when you are done close of the pipe and shake ithe ash around and that will help build a cake. No people that doesn't help build a cake all it does it make your pipes taste like ash.
 

saltedplug

Preferred Member
Aug 20, 2013
4,859
4,138
Common sense tells you you get what you pay for. It makes perfect sense that a $500 pipe will smoke better than a $100 pipe.

It makes perfect sense but it is untrue. Retailers do their best to perpetuate the myth, and and I and most others spent more money on these pipes until we proved to ourselves that it is untrue.

Finding this out is called the Grand Disillusionment.

One retailer doers a write-up on every one of their pipes in a paragraph, and in the loftiest language possible they describe the pipe. Sometimes I find this language useful, sometimes not, but in the end I find it a cloying retail-oriented constant.

But you may find it educative.
 

jiminks

Preferred Member
Aug 31, 2012
44,704
175,829
I personally think some of the dogma is worth noting. For example I keep a nice hard cake in all my pipes as for me they smoke cooler and when dedicated taste better. I like about a dimes worth and barely have to use my Senior Reamor.

Some of the b.s makes me laugh, like putting honey in your bowl to break in a pipe. I use only Va,Vaper or Vabur flakes to break in my pipes. I smoke them from the top and then to the bottom. I have never burned out a pipe in my life. The biggest joke on pipe smokers iis when you are done close of the pipe and shake ithe ash around and that will help build a cake. No people that doesn't help build a cake all it does it make your pipes taste like ash.
I never understood using honey to coat a bowl. It imparts a flavor that takes a little time to get past. I find it very unattractive. I want to taste the tobacco I put in there without an imposed flavor.
 

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