Pipe Smoking Success! Hope for the Newbies

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haroldt

Member
Aug 4, 2013
243
0
Melbourne, Fl
I had been a frustrated pipe smoker between the mid 70’s through early 90’s. I encounter the same problems we all do - always had troubles keeping it lit. In the 90’s, I gave away all my pipes. Just 8 months ago (Aug 2013) decided to give it another try. If I had the information then that this site and you tube has given me today, I wonder if I ever would have given up.
Between this great, friendly site and the wealth of you tube info, I’m know a happy smoker, able to pack correctly and enjoy a long, cool smoke.
To those of you just starting and frustrated, review the info on this site, ask question. Check out you tube, Kal (smoke rings) on you tube has 42 videos and gives a wealth of knowledge.
Don’t be afraid of using the pipe cleaners. When the pipe seems wet and gurgles, side the cleaner down the stem and pull that slop out.
And if I may share something that seems to have helped me; I’ve not seen mention of this anywhere (or if so, don’t remember). When I find that I’ve pack too tight, rather than repacking, I take the poker piece of the 3n1 pipe tool and push it through the tobacco. I’ll make one or two pokes all the way to the bottom. What I’m doing is aerating the packed tobacco – making little holes that the flame and air can get through. I find this has launched my pipe smoking to the next level. I’m no longer having to light and relight. The baccy smokes nice and cool, and I’m enjoying life.

 

warren

Preferred Member
Sep 13, 2013
7,716
810
If you load in tiers, test the draw as you pack and the problem will not occur. The resistance should increase just a bit as you load each tier of tobacco. I twist my finger, no tamper tool when loading is my preference, a bit as I tamp to nestle the blend a bit so as to leave passages for air through out the bowl.

 

davidintexas

Preferred Member
Jun 4, 2013
609
32
Now that you mention it, I also at times just stick my poker down the middle of the bowl if I feel I've gotten it a little too tight, and that has worked for me too. I try not to get it too tight but sometimes I just misjudge it and glad you don't necessarily have to repack. Glad things are improving for you.

 

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tankbuster183

New member
Feb 27, 2014
30
0
Deptford NJ
If you think about it, you can always tamp it down if it's a little too loose, but if it's too tight, that's more of a challenge. Welcome back!

 

leparker

Member
Jan 22, 2014
224
0
Weyers Cave, VA
I also found that if the draw seems a little tight you can run a pipe cleaner into the tobacco to unclogged it. This works about 90% of the time I'd say.

 

deuce26

Senior Member
Jan 29, 2014
457
0
Slidell, Louisiana
I've done the pipe tool poke with success as well. Of course, success for me at this early stage still involves more than a handful of relights. But, its become much less frustrating.

 

warren

Preferred Member
Sep 13, 2013
7,716
810
If you are going to poke, poke a lot and then retamp lightly with a turn of the tamper to assist in an even burn. Just one poke and you will create an uneven burn with the fresh air drawing straight into the hole you poked, path of least resistance, and the embers then burning around that and out towards the bowl instead of an even burn from top to bottom. Boy! That's a clumsy sentence. I hope I got the point across. You really want to strive for an even burn with-out hot spots.

 

frozenchurchwarden

Preferred Member
Mar 1, 2014
2,068
192
This afternoon I had my first enjoyable smoke, the MacBaren Scottish mix actually tasted sweet!
My particular success was a combination of a few things
1. I packed that pipe hard. It felt like I was cramming the tobacco in the pipe, though I have yet to notice a change in the draw after packing so my gentle nature must be skewing my perception of a "tight" pack.

In the end it burned very nicely, so I must be pretty close to the right pressure (I also left the bundle to dry overnight).
I have a feeling one of the first things a beginner should do is find out what both "too tight" and "too lose" actually are, then you can tell where the middle is.
2. You don't need to re-light to keep your pipe lit (usually). I find that I can quickly bring the pipe to a billowing plume (not that you want to go that far) if I rapidly alternate between drawing and blowing through the pipe, like you would when blowing a smoke ring out of the bowl, but a little slower. Probably about three "puffs" from the bowl per second, and ideally that's tiny little puffs.

Sometimes it blows embers at me if I go too hard.

If you do it right (again, tiny puffs) you're barely drawing anything into your mouth, so it's not painful like constantly drawing is.

It's also better than just blowing through the pipe because if you just blow it might actually put the embers out, where alternating gives the embers fresh air and helps them spread.
3. If you use the technique described above (which I assume has a centuries old proper name for it), going slow enough you can actually just smoke the pipe that way. I find that if I switch between that and releasing the smoke out of my mouth, I can puff at the pace I like and keep the pipe at just the right temperature. That is, smoke through the pipe when you want it to get hotter, and smoke through your mouth when you want it to cool down. I'm guessing smoking through the pipe heats it up because you're passing twice as much air over the embers.

Of course, the temperature is also going to depend on your own style as well.
4. Smoking just through the pipe taught me to cut off my breathing from my smoking. Rather than only drawing while exhaling, I can actually puff at whatever rate I like and not gag on the smoke, which helps because then I can keep the temperature of the pipe in the sweet spot.
5. I found the smoke to taste best when the pipe looked like it was about to go out, if I puffed it up to a thick smoke it immediately took on a sour note. So it seems the ideal temperature is somewhere just above keeping the pipe lit.

 

tbradsim1

Preferred Member
Jan 14, 2012
7,694
915
Frozen you are courting disaster with your pipe by blowing in it, you are stoking a hotter fire and it will eventually harm your pipe. Docwatson who is a long time member refurbishes pipes and has said he can see who does this with his pipes by the damage to the briar. Just a friendly tip that's all.

 

frozenchurchwarden

Preferred Member
Mar 1, 2014
2,068
192
Thanks for the tip.
By "damage", does that refer to just scorching the bowl or something more catastrophic?
I read an entire thread on here about people commenting on whether or not they blow into their pipes, so it seemed like common practice.

The key to a good smoke is keeping it cool anyway, as long as I'm not messing up that part it shouldn't be particularly harmful.

 

frozenchurchwarden

Preferred Member
Mar 1, 2014
2,068
192
I've had a few more tries and I think I'm getting somewhere.
First off, yesterday I tried smoking Brown Bogie and St James Flake fresh out of the tin/bag. Unfortunately it would not burn, the only way I was going to get anywhere with that is if I kept a torch on the tobacco the whole time (at least with the packing method I was using at the time, more in a bit).
So I dry it out for about 20 hours.

The Brown Bogie burned, but not ideally, and it was really crumbly, which actually meant I could not get a tight pack no matter how hard I tried, but I did make it through the bowl.

The St. James Flake burned really well, I think I packed it decently hard, but the sun was going down by the time I got to it so I only did about a quarter of the bowl.

The real surprise was when I stuffed in a pinch of Frosty Mint, packing it as hard as I possibly could, and it burned beautifully.
The only conclusion I can draw from this is that the best packing technique is using as much brute force as you can muster. That's not the description I usually read though, so I guess it varies.

Next round I'm going to try taking some fresh moist stuff straight out of the tin and just pack it like pavement in a parking lot.

I'm hoping that helps with Nicotine transmission as well, otherwise I'm probably just completely immune to the stuff.
Lastly, I started just shoving the stem in my cheek while lighting, that seems to have helped avoid tongue bite.
Oh, and Frosty Mint is amazing, it actually became quite enjoyable after my taste buds got over the initial shock.

 

frozenchurchwarden

Preferred Member
Mar 1, 2014
2,068
192
More learning.

I tried stuffing a small bundle of moist tobacco in my pipe today, and for the first time I finally got a pack hard enough to restrict draw (almost stop it completely).

So I re-packed to just a slightly restricted draw, but the tobacco still didn't burn very well. Now that I've found the sweet spot with packing I can start figuring out how much drying is appropriate per tin.

 

settersbrace

Preferred Member
Mar 20, 2014
1,565
0
When I load a pipe I prefer the 3 tier method mentioned above. Gravity fill the empty bowl and tap with my palm to settle the tobacco and then use my pinky to pack it down BUT, only pushing down the inside wall of the bowl, not straight down into the center. Second fill the same way and then a top off fill wher I sort of twist as I pack with my thumb. You must check the draw after each phase and when it's all said and done the draw should equal what it takes to suck water up a straw. I've tried many other methods over the time I've smoked a pipe but this one has given the most consistent, reliable results.

 

frozenchurchwarden

Preferred Member
Mar 1, 2014
2,068
192
Turns out I am definitely not immune to nicotine.

Smoking a cigar 4 hours after a relatively light supper was not a good idea, and it was a "mild" cigar to boot. Thinking about it now those things probably give you three or four times as much tobacco in the same time period as a pipe.

From now on food is definitely going to keep a high priority on my list of things to prepare before smoking.

 

cooperator2

New member
Apr 12, 2014
1
0
Dallas, TX
I think your method of packing with your pinky is the way to go. I tried that tonight and it helped pack the tobacco just right! I'm a bit of a nicotine lightweight, despite the fact that I like to smoke cigars a few times a week so I know the sensation that you were feeling. If you ever feel really woozy, just eat a bit of candy or something with sugar in it and it'll fix you right up!

 

diana

New member
Apr 15, 2014
6
0
Personally, I only use a tamper while smoking. To fill it's all fingers. I use the 3 tier method as well, but use my thumb (which is comparable in size to most men's pinkies lol). On the last fill I do the tightest pack. Most of the time my pipe goes out when I forget I'm smoking one. Relights happen less often with this method I find.

 
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