Seven Bowls In: Tips and Comments Appreciated

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lithicus

Starting to Get Obsessed
Sep 9, 2023
127
807
Pennsylvania
On Tuesday, I smoked my first every tobacco pipe. The tobacco was Arango Balkan Supreme ribbon cut. It was a pleasurable experience, even though the pipe was hot. I found myself taking breaks whenever the pipe went out to allow it to cool down. I smoked two bowls on Tuesday and two bowls on Wednesday, learning how to navigate this new hobby; all Arango Balkan Supreme. I was trying to eliminate variables to improve upon my technique.

Thursday morning, I had my best bowl to date; again Arango Balkan Supreme. I let it dry out for around 45 minutes and I finally seemed to figure out how to keep the bowl cool. And, I was so excited about that, I didn't even care I was relighting maybe more than I should have to. I'm not sure if the bowl is finally breaking in, or if the dry time / my technique helped with the temps. I had another bowl around lunch, which also smoked cool. This I only dried out for 15 minutes or so. But, I found myself trying to figure out why I was relighting so often. I ended up tamping this bowl way too tight. And, for the first time ever, I had to run a pipe cleaner through it to loosen up the draw.

I had one last bowl Thursday night when watching football. This time trying Mac Baren HH Old Dark Fired ready rubbed. I kind of tore it into smaller pieces as it didn't seem like it would pack well. Dried it out for 30 minutes or so. I also tried using the frank method this time packing instead of the 3 step method. This bowl smoked cool and required more relights than I would've liked. But boy... did this bowl kick me in the groin. It was a much stronger tobacco, but I also packed way more of it that I should have. And, I seemed to not have the self constraint to stop an hour or so in. It took me probably 3 hours to get through the whole thing; keep in mind I had to relight 2 dozen times or more. The draw was never so tight I needed to run a pipe cleaner, but the draw was not loose / zero resistance either. My stomach did not feel great after that bowl, but as I went to bed I thought to myself no wonder. That was way too much nicotine for a single sitting even though I am a pack a day smoker for 20 years or so.

Reflecting on things, I've now experienced a pack that is too tight. I also need to show self restraint and be okay setting a bowl down to come back to it later. I'd like to try the other extreme of packing and work towards a pack that is too loose. Once I know what is too loose and what is too tight, I should be able to find a happy middle ground. I'd also like to figure out why I'm having to relight a dozen times or more, but that may work itself out as I gain more experience.

Any advice or tips are much appreciated! I have a meeting coming up, but already have some Mac Baren HH Old Dark Fired drying out to light up afterward. I think I will do a gravity fill only this time and try to keep everything super loose. Hopefully, this doesn't result in a pipe that is too hot.

Thanks all! I've learned a lot from reading posts in this community. You all are much appreciated!!
 

proteus

Lifer
May 20, 2023
1,317
2,239
53
Connecticut (shade leaf tobacco country)
Arango is fantastic and old dark can be a bit strong but old joe Krantz is stronger so be careful. Bajou Morning is a strong too. Key is go slower and eat sugar. There's something with blood sugar and strong tobacco. Stay hydrated. I know this sounds like gym training but it's really not. Pipes are an elite club. You need to slow down to enjoy it. Relax. And use the breath method. Close mouth and breath through nose to get flavor. Practice...
 

lithicus

Starting to Get Obsessed
Sep 9, 2023
127
807
Pennsylvania
Arango is fantastic and old dark can be a bit strong but old joe Krantz is stronger so be careful. Bajou Morning is a strong too. Key is go slower and eat sugar. There's something with blood sugar and strong tobacco. Stay hydrated. I know this sounds like gym training but it's really not. Pipes are an elite club. You need to slow down to enjoy it. Relax. And use the breath method. Close mouth and breath through nose to get flavor. Practice...
Good to know Old Joe Krantz is stronger! I have that and Haunted Bookshop to try before I start trying my aromatics. I wanted to save them for last as I heard they can burn a little hot and require more relighting. But, I will definitely give the Haunted Bookshop a try before the Old Joe Krantz now. Thanks!!

And, I will definitely try to keep some more sugar around and drink more water!!

Sip the smoke in other words...it's not a straw to drink a milkshake through.
I find sipping the smoke is easier for me to do than the breathe method. I'm not sure I'm doing the breathe method right despite reading up on it and watching videos. I feel I'm doing it wrong as my attempt at the breathe method results in a hot pipe, whereas if I just sip on it I get a relatively cool to warm pipe.

I'm also trying to find that balance with the draw. My Dr Grabow seems to have a fairly open draw; perhaps because it can hold a 6mm filter but I do not use one and do not have any adapters. I've heard the milkshake analogy though and I definitely got to that point with excessive tamping one time. I'll try to stay away from milkshake bowls! 😆

You've started out with some stout blends! Much better than burning yourself repeatedly on mild aromatics, like I did.

It's fun learning these early lessons and noticing the experience get better and better each time. 👍
Yea, I did pick up a couple aromatics. But, I'm trying to hold off on them at first. I'd like to get my technique down just a little bit more before attempting those! And, definitely been learning a lot over the last few days. Some ups and some downs. But, progress!!
 

lithicus

Starting to Get Obsessed
Sep 9, 2023
127
807
Pennsylvania
Well, I definitely need to try that gravity fill only method another shot. It smoked in a much more reasonable 45mins or so. But, I think I ended up over tamping it as toward the end of the bowl I ended up having to run a pipe cleaner through the pipe to loosen things up. I believe I need to try it again with better tamping technique to come to any conclusions.

I'm also still struggling with keeping the pipe lit. And I don't mean to say I despise having to relight a pipe. But, I'm trying to slow my cadence down as that seems to be a common issue with beginners / ex-cigarette smokers. Yet, it seems like keeping the pipe lit and slowing my cadence are working against each other for me. If I slow my cadence down to, say, 60 seconds between sips, the ember has gone out or is very close to it. Feels like I'm having to sip every 10-15 seconds to keep things going. I'm able to do this, to my surprise, without overheating the pipe. My sips must be light enough to avoid running hot. I also think my pipe is starting to break in and this is likely helping with heat management.

I am getting much better at detecting when the ember is getting ready to go out; which is definitely helping me learn and progress. With this bowl in particular, I was able to detect the ember going out and get it going again on occasion with a few "power puffs". However, more often than not, these "power puffs" weren't helping and the pipe would go out. I found tamping while "power puffing" seemed to rectify the issue quickly in most circumstances for this particular bowl. This might've been because of how loosely it was packed. I don't think having to tamp is an issue; it is a nearly a requirement of pipe smoking. So, perhaps, with better and proper tamping and a loosely packed pipe, I can manage the ember better and maybe even slow my cadence to something closer to 60 second sips.

I'll probably give this blend another shot after work, gravity fill only with no pressing, and try to keep the tamping very light. I've heard the recommendation of using only the weight of the tamp and I'll try to abide to that. I would like to eventually find out why I can't go more than 10/15/20 seconds between sips. But, my pipe isn't overheating and I think I need to get to a point where I can properly maintain an ember with a loose pack and light tamping first.
 
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nathaniel

Part of the Furniture Now
Jan 4, 2011
791
507
Just smoke and enjoy. You'll figure far more out on your own through trial and error than by someone explaining their subjective experiences. Of course, don't hesitate to ask or talk about it here... Its what we do here anyway! But you will always be your best teacher so just keep at it and enjoy.

I've read everything there is on the subject, and have smoked a pipe for over 15yrs, but i still pack a bad bowl occasionally, smoke too fast sometimes, burn my tongue, don't dry out enough, get gurgle, and relight constantly. Just not nearly as often as i used to.

Im currently smoking some MM American Patriot that i dried out for 3hrs today and i still keep having to relight every minute. 🤣

Welcome to the forum, and dont forget to put us in your will once you have a full cellar. 🤭
 

sardonicus87

Lifer
Jun 28, 2022
1,211
12,998
37
Lower Alabama
Sounds like you're already figuring it out and what works for you. It's really something you have to get a feel for.

The only advice I have is don't worry about relights. Some tobaccos will just need relights no matter how perfect your techniques. Even the easiest burning tobacco smoked by the most experienced smoker will occasionally need relights. It's no big deal unless you're in a slow-smoking competition.

The only other advice is related specifically to ODF. Mac B's ODF doesn't really rub out like a normal flake. If you get something like Mac Baren Navy Flake or Escudo Navy Delux, PS Navy Flake or PS Bullseye or take your pick, if you rub them out, you'll notice most becomes a fluffy shag. When you rub out ODF, notice it's not fluffy, it's just a bunch of harder chunks. Nothing wrong with rubbing it out (that's what I do with ODF), but don't pack it. Just "gravity fill" the bowl and leave it at that.

Not everything will pack the same way. Don't worry too much, just draw on the pipe while you're packing it and you'll get instant feedback as to whether or not it's packed too tight. You should be able to easily draw air through with light pressure, but it shouldn't whistle if you draw hard on it. That's going to be just right for most stuff.
 

bullet08

Lifer
Nov 26, 2018
9,278
38,814
RTP, NC. USA
First thing about the pipe is, it's like a.. Rocket stove. In order for it to work well, it needs air. A plenty of air. No air, no smoke. You can keep apply fire to it, mess around with fuel (tobacco), but it will go out. Drying the tobacco is a good idea, but how long? Don't guess at it Feel it, touch it, but don't have to make love to it. Pinch it with your thumb and index finger and see how dry it is. It shouldn't crumble at touch, but it should be dry enough there should be no cold, moisture to the pinch. Frank method and 3 pinch method both work as long as you don't put in too much tobacco. But if you can't decide which is too much, use gravity feed method. Just drop in the tobacco, tap the bottom a little. Drop in more, tap few times.. Until it's near top. Gently press down just to make sure nothing falls out. Providing you are nothing pushing down on tobacco, that would give enough air to burn.
 

RookieGuy80

Part of the Furniture Now
Jul 6, 2023
681
2,327
Maryland, United States
Hey! Cigarette smoke here as well, and you are absolutely correct about bad habits from cigarettes biting us with pipes. Between the cadence and looking for mouth filing volumes of smoke.

Don't worry at all about relights. That's another cigarette bad habit. Bics, Zippo fluid, matches, and butane are cheap enough not to be concerned with relighting. There's no secret level up. You're not going to come back with reports of having smoked three consecutive bowls with one match each and we'll tell you how to get Esoterica shipped to your door any time. The goal of smoking a pipe is to enjoy it. Sometimes it takes more relights to get that enjoyment.

That said, I've had the best luck gravity filling and figuring out what a proper charring light is. The cadence I'm starting to figure out for my favorite blends after a couple years. I have my own bad habits to break.

You started out with some heavy hitting blends. That's awesome! I don't know if it was chance or planning on your part, but that's great. I can tell you it's easier to learn the mechanics of smoking a pipe if you're not also hunting for flavor.

Yeah, ODF packs a wallop. I saw Haunted Bookshop on your list. Do you have that yet? Or is that what you're getting next? HB is one of my favorites, but that's because it's quirky like an old British motorcycle. If you get it bulk, fresh is going to be a very raw smoke. That's not necessarily a problem if you don't mind it. But it's very raw and unpolished. Very green. If pushed even a tiny little bit, it'll turn itself into a Camel unfiltered. If you puff bit gently it tastes and feels just like a Camel cigarette. I can see where it would be off putting to people, but it's a handy idiot light for me to slow down. And it has every bit the nicotine punch as ODF. A ginger ale and full stomach are recommended for your first bowl or two. Last, every order, either B&M store or online purchase had been dry. Very dry. Smokes just fine from the bag. But it in a jar for 6 months and it gets much smoother. It goes from raw to rustic and the perique settles down. And it takes a little bit more to get the cigarette taste. However, it's still what my grandfather would have called a "man's smoke".
 

lithicus

Starting to Get Obsessed
Sep 9, 2023
127
807
Pennsylvania
Just smoke and enjoy. You'll figure far more out on your own through trial and error than by someone explaining their subjective experiences. Of course, don't hesitate to ask or talk about it here... Its what we do here anyway! But you will always be your best teacher so just keep at it and enjoy.

I've read everything there is on the subject, and have smoked a pipe for over 15yrs, but i still pack a bad bowl occasionally, smoke too fast sometimes, burn my tongue, don't dry out enough, get gurgle, and relight constantly. Just not nearly as often as i used to.

Im currently smoking some MM American Patriot that i dried out for 3hrs today and i still keep having to relight every minute. 🤣

Welcome to the forum, and dont forget to put us in your will once you have a full cellar. 🤭
Appreciate the kind words!! I feel I've learned a lot already in just 7 or 8 bowls, but I know I have a lot more experience to get under my belt as well. I fully intend on enjoying the journey along the way!

Also, 10-15 seconds between sips is very respectable. 60 is just masochistic. No one does that unless competing in a slow smoke contest.

Check out my recent post on "cadence" to see what works for others.
I'm very glad you said this... I was so worried about having "too fast a cadence", but I had no idea what too fast was. I saw one video where someone said you should be able to use the washroom and come back with a pipe that is still lit. And, I simply am nowhere near that. It's good to hear that is an extreme and not the norm. I'll definitely check out your post and thanks again!!

Sounds like you're already figuring it out and what works for you. It's really something you have to get a feel for.

The only advice I have is don't worry about relights. Some tobaccos will just need relights no matter how perfect your techniques. Even the easiest burning tobacco smoked by the most experienced smoker will occasionally need relights. It's no big deal unless you're in a slow-smoking competition.

The only other advice is related specifically to ODF. Mac B's ODF doesn't really rub out like a normal flake. If you get something like Mac Baren Navy Flake or Escudo Navy Delux, PS Navy Flake or PS Bullseye or take your pick, if you rub them out, you'll notice most becomes a fluffy shag. When you rub out ODF, notice it's not fluffy, it's just a bunch of harder chunks. Nothing wrong with rubbing it out (that's what I do with ODF), but don't pack it. Just "gravity fill" the bowl and leave it at that.

Not everything will pack the same way. Don't worry too much, just draw on the pipe while you're packing it and you'll get instant feedback as to whether or not it's packed too tight. You should be able to easily draw air through with light pressure, but it shouldn't whistle if you draw hard on it. That's going to be just right for most stuff.
It's very nice to hear someone else sharing my experiences with Mac Baren HH Old Dark Fired. I had smoked 6 bowls or so of ribbon cut before trying the ODF. And, my first bowl of ODF lasted 3 hours and nearly made me sick. I should've had more restraint to put the thing down after an hour. Another lesson learned!!

But, I 100% agree about only doing the gravity fill with Mac Baren HH Old Dark Fired and leaving it at that. Tried that late this morning and it worked like a charm. Bowl lasted about 45 minutes or so, which is much more reasonable!

Hey! Cigarette smoke here as well, and you are absolutely correct about bad habits from cigarettes biting us with pipes. Between the cadence and looking for mouth filing volumes of smoke.

Don't worry at all about relights. That's another cigarette bad habit. Bics, Zippo fluid, matches, and butane are cheap enough not to be concerned with relighting. There's no secret level up. You're not going to come back with reports of having smoked three consecutive bowls with one match each and we'll tell you how to get Esoterica shipped to your door any time. The goal of smoking a pipe is to enjoy it. Sometimes it takes more relights to get that enjoyment.

That said, I've had the best luck gravity filling and figuring out what a proper charring light is. The cadence I'm starting to figure out for my favorite blends after a couple years. I have my own bad habits to break.

You started out with some heavy hitting blends. That's awesome! I don't know if it was chance or planning on your part, but that's great. I can tell you it's easier to learn the mechanics of smoking a pipe if you're not also hunting for flavor.

Yeah, ODF packs a wallop. I saw Haunted Bookshop on your list. Do you have that yet? Or is that what you're getting next? HB is one of my favorites, but that's because it's quirky like an old British motorcycle. If you get it bulk, fresh is going to be a very raw smoke. That's not necessarily a problem if you don't mind it. But it's very raw and unpolished. Very green. If pushed even a tiny little bit, it'll turn itself into a Camel unfiltered. If you puff bit gently it tastes and feels just like a Camel cigarette. I can see where it would be off putting to people, but it's a handy idiot light for me to slow down. And it has every bit the nicotine punch as ODF. A ginger ale and full stomach are recommended for your first bowl or two. Last, every order, either B&M store or online purchase had been dry. Very dry. Smokes just fine from the bag. But it in a jar for 6 months and it gets much smoother. It goes from raw to rustic and the perique settles down. And it takes a little bit more to get the cigarette taste. However, it's still what my grandfather would have called a "man's smoke".
I do think it was by pure happenstance that I ended up with some heavy hitting blends 😅 I just looked at the top 25 on smokingpipes and picked blends that seemed appealing and came in a "noob friendly" cut. The 7 blends I picked up as a part of my initial journey and trying to learn what types of tobacco I like are:
  • Arango Balkan Supreme
  • Cornell & Diehl Old Joe Krantz
  • Cornell & Diehl Autumn Evening
  • Lane 1Q Golden Cavendish Blend
  • Lane BCA Black Cavendish
  • Mac Baren HH Old Dark Fired
  • Cornell & Diehl Haunted Bookshop
I've only tried the ODF and Balkan Supreme so far. I'm trying to stay away from the aromatics until I get a better grasp on pipe smoking. I mostly picked those up as I think the wife will be more approving of those 😝 She smokes cigarettes and stuff too though. So, she hasn't complained about any of my pipe smoking so far. Nevertheless, I'd love to hear that she enjoys the smell of some of my tobacco and would try to smoke those blends around her more often!

I've also heard nothing but great things about Haunted Bookshop and am quite excited to give it a shot. Camels are my cigarette of choice. So, it's kind of great to hear that when smoked properly it takes like a Camel!! I was trying to work my way into the blends with more virginia in them as I've been a little worried about tongue bite. But, I also heard that Old Joe Krantz is a pretty heavy hitter. So, I think Haunted Bookshop will be next on my list followed by OJK and then maybe 1Q. The Autumn Evening sounds tasty too. So, may try that before the 1Q. Still deciding 🤣


Thanks everyone for all of your input!! It is greatly appreciated!
 
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Coreios

Lifer
Sep 23, 2022
1,630
2,704
41
United States Of America
The blends you're smoking are strong. HH Ky. is really good. My tip would be feed the tobacco in to the top like the Frank method, but then, push on the tobacco with your finger while drawing on the pipe until its almost the tightness like then feed to the top and test it again then light. I'd that for a short while and now i just feed and stuff. Helped me a lot.
Cobs are more forgiving with new smokers. Might be something to consider they're cheap and some even have Forever Stems on them.
 
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lithicus

Starting to Get Obsessed
Sep 9, 2023
127
807
Pennsylvania
The blends you're smoking are strong. HH Ky. is really good. My tip would be feed the tobacco in to the top like the Frank method, but then, push on the tobacco with your finger while drawing on the pipe until its almost the tightness like then feed to the top and test it again then light. I'd that for a short while and now i just feed and stuff. Helped me a lot.
Cobs are more forgiving with new smokers. Might be something to consider they're cheap and some even have Forever Stems on them.
I've been thinking about picking up a pack of cobs. Mostly because I think it would be good to have a few more pipes in my rotation so I'm not smoking the same briar day in and day out 😅 It's good to hear they are more forgiving as well!! And, I guess I decided to jump into the deep end regarding the strength of my blends 🤣
 
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sardonicus87

Lifer
Jun 28, 2022
1,211
12,998
37
Lower Alabama
Camels are my cigarette of choice.
I also smoke Camels (Camel Wide menthol). The wides are a different blend than the regulars. If you're going to keep smoking cigarettes in addition to the pipe, I would highly recommend switching to the Wides—they are much smoother than their regular cigarettes. The Wides also have oriental leaf in them that I think the regulars don't, which you may appreciate considering you enjoyed Arango Balkan supreme.
 
Last edited:

Coreios

Lifer
Sep 23, 2022
1,630
2,704
41
United States Of America
I've been thinking about picking up a pack of cobs. Mostly because I think it would be good to have a few more pipes in my rotation so I'm not smoking the same briar day in and day out 😅 It's good to hear they are more forgiving as well!! And, I guess I decided to jump into the deep end regarding the strength of my blends 🤣
lol Yeah your all in for sure. I really love my cobs because the pipe cleaners always go straight through the way the shanks are inside the bowl so cleaning is super easy. Easy to clinch most of them too. Definitely a cheap way to start your rotation.
 
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lithicus

Starting to Get Obsessed
Sep 9, 2023
127
807
Pennsylvania
Well, the gravity fill method seems to be working very well for me with this Mac Baren HH Old Dark Fired. Yesterday, my second bowl of the day was gravity filled and when I used proper tamping technique I had a great experience. I did the same thing this morning and was able to reproduce the result. Getting some consistency is kindly appreciated and I think a personal advancement in my journey. One thing I did do this morning was something maybe more akin to the frank method as I found that a gravity fill alone resulted in around 3/4 of a bowl or less after a few false lights and tamping with only the weight of the tamp before the true light. The bowl this morning stayed full to the true light.

I also revisited the breath method this morning; trying to gain a better understanding of it. My tongue/throat/gullet/mouth will not "automatically" draw by just putting the pipe in my mouth and breathing through my nose. I get no smoke and the pipe goes out. I can, however, sync a very slow tongue/mouth draw with my breath, however, and I was getting better at finding a rhythm here. I'm still not sure if I'm doing it right and at my current level of experience I feel I get more flavor with gentle sips instead. I'll keep working on and practicing the breath method as I think it will help me keep the bowl lit and bring out nuanced flavors. Plus, it seems super relaxing when done right.

That being said, I was pleasantly surprised with the last few puffs of my pipe this morning. I got an incredibly sweet note unlike anything I had tasted to date. I believe it came from the tobacco, but the bowl this morning burned all the way down unlike my bowls before which had some doddle. I wonder if I hit some of the honey coating I put on the pipe when I first cleaned/restored it. Either way, it was delicious.

I hope everyone is having a great start to their weekend and a pleasant smoking experience! puffy
 
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lithicus

Starting to Get Obsessed
Sep 9, 2023
127
807
Pennsylvania
Not at all, I often forget to draw while working and several minutes pass between draws. Then there's times that I put the pipe down to make coffee or some other task then pick it back up and continue smoking.
It's interesting because I had heard similar things through other forms of media. The example one individual in particular used the washroom; saying if you packed the pipe correctly and with tobacco of proper moisture you should be able to set the pipe down, use the washroom, and come back to a pipe that is still lit.

Yet, I can't seem to go more than 30-45 seconds (if I'm being generous, it's probably closer to 20-30 seconds) without risking the ember going out. I don't think it can be that I am packing it too loosely as lately I've been doing a "gravity fill only" method and still have issues. Perhaps, my tobacco isn't dry enough? I've read it should not crumble when pinched but also shouldn't stick and stay together. Maybe I need to pay more attention to my tobacco's moisture content.

Any tips on how to keep an ember alive for a minute or two while the pipe is set down would be greatly appreciated!!