Relights and Packing Methods

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DamienPiper

New member
Jul 17, 2021
16
48
Moscow
There are two things I’ve noticed while smoking different tobaccos of different dryness (aros, English, Virginia) out of different pipes (briar, meerschaum). First: relights in most cases coincide with the number of layers you put while packing. Three step method - two relights. Frank’s - one or none, airpocket - one or none (mostly none). Second: your pipe might also get too hot if you don’t puff enough, let it rest too much, not only from fast smoking. So, a certain balance is necessary. Have you noticed those things? Or are those conclusions based on experience of me doing something wrong?
 

elvishrunes

Member
Jun 19, 2017
139
226
I‘ve not noticed a direct correction that mathematically precise… There are lots of factors, tobacco moisture and even type. I’ve had dry stuff that should burn well, burn poorly and vice versa. I don’t mind relights either, but I do try and aim for less. I do think there’s skill in less, and overtime I’ve improved.
 

Grangerous

Preferred Member
Dec 8, 2020
1,602
5,778
East Coast USA
Different blends will behave in different ways. Being able to tame unruly tobacco is what makes us higher beings.

I have learned to rub out some of my tobacco until it’s fine and mix that with the chunkier cut. I obtain fewer relights. — I learned that trick when I smoked the fine remnants of my jar— it smoked a bit hotter than usual, but it didn’t require a single relight.

Reaching primarily for one blend leads to fewer surprises. All things being equal, there are still variations due to time of year. Someone mentioned humidity. Ever been to NJ in Summer? It’s a dry rain.
 

saltedplug

Preferred Member
Aug 20, 2013
5,221
5,058
Relights occur at the intersection of packing and technique. With good enough packing a pro can sustain an ember from the top to the bottom of the bowl, without a relight. Should that perfection be your goal? If you want, but perfection is granted few mortals. I think a better goal is a reasonable amount of relights such that they are not irritating. So if you have more relights than the next guy and they don't bother you but his bother him, you're the winner.
 

krizzose

Preferred Member
Feb 13, 2013
2,126
7,504
Michigan
Second: your pipe might also get too hot if you don’t puff enough,

I disagree on this. If you don't puff enough, your pipe will go out. It's huffing and puffing trying to get the ember stoked back up that will make your pipe too hot. Solution - just relight it. If you catch it when it's just starting to feel like it's going out, a light tamp may be all that's necessary to get it going again. If not, just give it a light tamp and relight.

Poor packing can of course cause too many relights, and that should be addressed. Otherwise, who cares? Unless you're in a slow smoke contest, relights are normal and not something anyone should bother counting. I'd rather do several relights with cool, tasty smoke than huff and puff to keep an ember going and end up with hot steam.
 

AKinser79

Junior Member
Aug 3, 2021
82
184
42
Central Florida
There are two things I’ve noticed while smoking different tobaccos of different dryness (aros, English, Virginia) out of different pipes (briar, meerschaum). First: relights in most cases coincide with the number of layers you put while packing. Three step method - two relights. Frank’s - one or none, airpocket - one or none (mostly none). Second: your pipe might also get too hot if you don’t puff enough, let it rest too much, not only from fast smoking. So, a certain balance is necessary. Have you noticed those things? Or are those conclusions based on experience of me doing something wrong?

Just my two cents here.

1. I haven't noticed a correlation with the layer numbers used when packing a bowl to give any indication as to the number of relights needed to smoke the entire bowl. I pack as I do. I don't know what method you'd call it. I put tobacco in, tamp with my fingers till I like the density and add more as I feel it needs to fill the bowl and maintain the density desired. (I of course do this by feel so it is hard to describe really.)

2. I find that if your pipe gets too hot to the touch then one is smoking it too hard. It is far better to slow down, let the pipe stay relatively cool to the touch (IE you can hold it in your hand relatively comfortably for extended periods of time) and relight as needed than to fight that ember to keep it going.

What I have found is a correlation between relights and the cut of the tobacco. Pressed cakes, ropes and flakes tend to require more relights than do shags, ribbons and crimp cuts. I usually take my fingers and break up those kinds of tobaccos the best I can, or until I get the constancy I desire.

I am rather fond of Mac Baren's Dark Twist and find it smokes best for me if I take a few disks and rub them in my palm until they appear like long ribbons. I will then pack these into my bowl and find I don't have to relight it very often. It also mixes up the lighter and darker colors of tobacco making the smoke more consistent than merely breaking up the disks.

Dark Twist must also be smoked slowly or it will give you tongue bite. So I generally end up relighting it a few times.

An other correlation is between relights and a bowl is the size of the bowl too. I find that for me, smaller bowls usually require fewer relights than larger ones. I can't imagine trying to smoke a MM General without relighting it at all. But a much smaller bowl like say a MM Shortstop or MM Huck Finn might not need to be relit at all.

Edited for grammar and clarity.
 

AKinser79

Junior Member
Aug 3, 2021
82
184
42
Central Florida
That's where frequent tamping is your friend. Pipes the size of the General's depth are where my small pipes lie.
Indeed. The Cobbit Wizard and the General are my largest pipes. I have a large Canadian style briar too. But I find these pipes harder to clench so I gravitate toward smaller bowls. (also I sometimes sneak out at work for a smoke break, I mean take out the trash, and it is far easier to go missing for 15 minutes than an hour...shush don't tell my boss ;)) Last Sunday I was smoking my General and only had to relight it twice. The second time because I sat it down to make a pot of coffee and it went out.
 

Chasing Embers

Captain of the Black Frigate
Nov 12, 2014
31,086
50,245
Indeed. The Cobbit Wizard and the General are my largest pipes. I have a large Canadian style briar too. But I find these pipes harder to clench so I gravitate toward smaller bowls. (also I sometimes sneak out at work for a smoke break, I mean take out the trash, and it is far easier to go missing for 15 minutes than an hour...shush don't tell my boss ;)) Last Sunday I was smoking my General and only had to relight it twice. The second time because I sat it down to make a pot of coffee and it went out.
They know I smoke at work. 🤣

20210806_220334.jpg
 

anotherbob

Preferred Member
Mar 30, 2019
8,649
16,014
43
In the semi-rural NorthEastern USA
Relights occur at the intersection of packing and technique. With good enough packing a pro can sustain an ember from the top to the bottom of the bowl, without a relight. Should that perfection be your goal? If you want, but perfection is granted few mortals. I think a better goal is a reasonable amount of relights such that they are not irritating. So if you have more relights than the next guy and they don't bother you but his bother him, you're the winner.
I've found the best way to not get relights seems to be to accept relights as not a big deal. Once I stopped feeling like I wasn't smoking right if I had to relight it I've had so many more single light smokes. That's the thing relights aren't a big deal.
One thing I have found with relights that waiting a few minutes before relighting seems to cheap the smoke a bit cooler.
 

AKinser79

Junior Member
Aug 3, 2021
82
184
42
Central Florida
Oh they know I smoke at work too. There isn't cologne that can cover up the stank of chicken blood, Kinser Sweat and Prince Albert (let alone latakia--been mixing in a little Amphora English Blend with the PA, very nice). We're just not supposed to take smoke breaks outside of our scheduled 30 minute break due to a stupid corporate rule. Hence why I take the kitchen trash with me. I took the trash out to the dumpster, ergo, I was working. The smoking while doing it was incidental.

Nice meerschaum. I've been wondering if I should get a different one. I have one that I don't smoke very often because I don't really like it that much. A cheapo 20 dollar thing. I've often wondered if I went out and got one that was better quality if I'd like those more.
 
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AKinser79

Junior Member
Aug 3, 2021
82
184
42
Central Florida
I've found the best way to not get relights seems to be to accept relights as not a big deal. Once I stopped feeling like I wasn't smoking right if I had to relight it I've had so many more single light smokes. That's the thing relights aren't a big deal.
One thing I have found with relights that waiting a few minutes before relighting seems to cheap the smoke a bit cooler.

Interestingly today on my way home from work I had a fantastic bowl that I only had to light once. My zippo ran low on fluid and I couldn't find my emergency lighter in my backpack. I said to myself. Well I'll smoke it as long as it's lit and go to the tobacconist on the way home.

Long red lights are great for tamping.