Please Help, Very Frustrated

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jason64

Junior Member
Dec 12, 2012
87
2
Hi folks,
After a few years I decided to go back on pipe smoking. At the time I started I read about how to break in a new pipe, how to pack etc but still I am struggling.

Here are some issues I have now and I greatly appreciate any input:
1) my pip immediately goes off regardless of the pipe or tobacco that I use. some of my tobaccos were dry as bone and I restored them, I tend to smoke the tobacco drier but still, immediately goes off. Not sure if my packing (famous 3 step approach) is the culprit or what.
2) I have very nice brand new pipes and I want to break in them, but I am not sure what the best way is. Ironically, I think I still I dont have a clear concept of the cake!
Again, thank you very much for your time

 

milehighpiper

Senior Member
Sep 10, 2018
360
132
So I don't know much about cake and how to build it up (simply because I do not want it on my pipes). However, one trick that helped me obtain longer lights, barring any long winded speeches, was to pack my bowl and start off with a charring light. The charring light should be (based on what I was showed and my experience), when you light for a few seconds and puff until the embers go out. Once the charring light goes out, you tamp the drier tobacco down and "re-light" the true light. As you continue to smoke, tamp down while puffing. As opposed to tamping with the pipe in your hands and away from your face.
This technique has helped me go through full bowls without a relight. Maybe a second relight towards the bottom of the bowl.
Hope this helps!

 

ashdigger

Preferred Member
Jul 30, 2016
5,296
126
First off, I'm glad you found the caps lock key.
You state that you rehydrate your tobacco. Smoke it dry.
What are you smoking? Try something simple like Prince Albert.
The three step pack is crap. Load your pipe....compress a little with a finger. Light. Puff. Light again. Puff.

 

jason64

Junior Member
Dec 12, 2012
87
2
thank you, I do charring light all the time, it doesn't stay lit after I re-light it

 

verporchting

Preferred Member
Dec 30, 2018
538
508
Buy some Prince Albert or Carter Hall, something that is simple to keep lit and easy to smoke and still tastes good.
Pack the pipe about 1/2 full without thinking too much about it - with one of those burley blends it will probably not matter too much even if your packing isn't perfect. Light up and enjoy it. Don't worry about relights or keeping it lit or cake or breaking in your pipe or anything else. Just enjoy the moment. If it goes out relight it.
The cake will take care of itself. The pipe will be broken in by the time you finish the pouch and you won't have frustrated yourself.
Repeat with full bowls and any tobacco you like after that. You've got the rest of your life to perfect the technique.
Just my two cents worth.

 

bassbug

Preferred Member
Dec 29, 2016
867
14
Don't overthink the cake thing. If you find it gets too thick, ream it out, but don't go back to bare wood. Some guys like a cake, some don't and from the very many discussions I've seen here as well as my own experience, there's no definitive right or wrong.
It's almost impossible to say why your pipe goes out immediately. Maybe the packing, maybe you're being TOO gentle with puffing, maybe you're just simply not lighting it well enough. Change one variable at a time and you'll get a handle on it soon enough. I know a lot of people will chime in and say it takes years to get it right, but I will respectfully disagree. Just relax and enjoy the process. If you're not having fun, chances are you're not going to be long for pipe smoking.

 

olkofri

Preferred Member
Sep 9, 2017
3,524
2,564
Packing too loosely? There's too much air between the strands of tobacco and the cherry will not come down and puff itself out.
Packing too tightly? There's not enough air pockets for the cherry to get oxygen from and it will be invariably extinguished.
Cake is overrated. Don't worry about 'breaking in'. The best way to 'break in' a pipe is to pack it and smoke it.

 

jason64

Junior Member
Dec 12, 2012
87
2
I have Carter Hall, its kind of ok. My problem is with my Boswell blends, FVF, Connoisseur's choice, etc. I thought over hydration is the reason but I let them dry and still they dont burn as they should. I kind of struggle with packing. How do you guys pack if not the 3 step?

 

olkofri

Preferred Member
Sep 9, 2017
3,524
2,564
Although some here will swear by the Dry, Dry, Dry motto, your tobacco doesn't really need to be crumbling dry in order to burn. As a matter of facts, aromatics shouldn't be dried to the point of bone dry: they'll lose flavour.
Relights are a fact of life. Only in pipe contests do pipers get disqualified if their pipe goes out. This is not a contest. I relight my pipe like 20 times. Of course, I'm still doing something wrong, so I feel your pain, but a few relights per bowl is nothing to get yourself kaflustered about.
There are several packing methods. The Codger Pack isn't too complicated: just pinch tobacco into the chamber with your finger and gently press on it; repeat till it's full.
There's also the Frank Method. Don't let the derision it gets from some here deter you from trying it. Heck, if it works for you, who cares how others pack their pipes.
Here's a packing primer for three different cuts of toby, by one of our piping veterans: Packing: Three Methods.

 

bassbug

Preferred Member
Dec 29, 2016
867
14
How do you guys pack if not the 3 step?
It's hard to quantify, I just kinda stuff the tobacco in the pipe. Not too loose, not too tight. Just keep a mental note of what you did the previous time and how it worked out. Do it 10-20 times and you'll get the hang of it.

 

hoosierpipeguy

Preferred Member
Jan 28, 2018
2,616
1,927
How many bowls per day are you smoking? Pipe smoking isn't rocket science. Try getting it right with something simple like the Carter Hall. If you can pack, light and smoke it fine, that's a good indication you're smoking the other stuff too wet. Error on the side of packing too loose, you can make that up with tamping. The make up for too tight is to dump the bowl. When you're lighting, use a long, slow, deep draw to get it going good. If you do pack it loose, dry drawing lightly while you're tamping to try to achieve the right draw. I can feel the draw get better as I tamp down when I've packed too loose. Don't be afraid to tamp it down good. If you screw one up, no big deal. Empty it out and start over.
Aside from that, smoke more. In other words, practice. If you get your tobacco dry enough, it really shouldn't take long to figure it out. If you're smoking 1 or 2 bowls per week, it may take awhile. If you smoke a couple of bowls per day for a couple of weeks, I would bet you'll be doing reasonably well.

 

judcole

Preferred Member
Sep 14, 2011
4,769
380
Detroit
I think these gents are correct that it is your packing technique. I tend to do a sorta modified three step method (modified because it is sometimes four steps), but I have been doing it so long I do not even think about it.

My current break in technique is: smoke a bowl of Lane Ready Rubbed every day for about two weeks. Let the pipe sit for two weeks. Then move it into the rotation.

 

pipesmoker30

Junior Member
Jan 1, 2019
74
1
South East (England)
I had a brand new pipe and to break mine in a went up in states, quarter full smoke all the way to the bottom/to a fine ash, I done this for about 5 bowls, then half full again slow smoke all the way to the bottom and to a fine ash, then 3quarters the same. Once you have done that you should have a nice build up of cake like I have then you can go to full bowls. Pack it, light it, puff a few times, tap it down so you have a crusted layer on top then relight and enjoy. It takes time but tbh now my pipe is a dream to smoke, very rarely goes out, a nice build up of cake and smokes cool and slow. :puffy:

 

dadosaurusrex

Junior Member
Jan 22, 2019
63
0
I agree with what the others have said about Carter Hall and Prince Albert. Those are very forgiving blends, as far as packing goes, and they really helped me out, because I always had issues packing too tight. I also agree about not over thinking packing. Just keep trying different things until you find something that works for you. I used to religiously try the three step thing and it never really worked for me, and I didn't get the hang of packing until I just practiced more (smoked more bowls). Just hang in there and practice and you'll get it!

 

jason64

Junior Member
Dec 12, 2012
87
2
thank you all for your input. So if I pack too loose I can tamp it, what if I pack too tight? what can I do then?

also if I dump a whole bowl after charring light and a few puffs, can I use the same tobacco to pack again or I should toss it?

 

olkofri

Preferred Member
Sep 9, 2017
3,524
2,564
If you pack too tight you can use the pick in your pipe tool to punch a few holes in the tobacco to create air channels. Be gentle, so that you don't scratch the bowl.

 

carolinachurchwarden

Preferred Member
May 9, 2018
1,682
17
Raleigh, NC
what if I pack too tight? what can I do then?
You should test the draw after filling your bowl before you ever light it up. It should draw like sucking on a straw in a cup of water. If it's like sucking on a milkshake, you should dump it and refill.
If it gets tight from tamping, you could try to use your poker and poke some holes through the top and make it'll open some.
if I dump a whole bowl after charring light and a few puffs, can I use the same tobacco to pack again or I should toss it?
Why would you want to do that? If you start a bowl, you can just set it to the side. If you needed to do that, for some reason, I'd scrape the ash off, dump that, then empty the bowl into somewhere else, but you could do what you're saying if you wanted to.