The Initial Tamp

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Jeremia Johnson

Junior Member
Apr 15, 2020
96
332
Westchester County, NY
I while back I bought an estate pipe on eBay. and when it arrived, the receipt included some basic pipe-smoking instructions. In describing the initial tamp after the first lighting, the seller said to tamp down in the center of the chamber only, and said that on the second (main) lighting, the flame would ignite the tobacco around the edges as well as the tobacco lower down in the center of the chamber - where you'd tamped. This does seem to work well, and prevents the problem of when the bowl is 1/2-2/3 burned down having unlit tobacco around the edges of the chamber. That's not how I had been tamping after the first lighting before; I had been tamping all around the surface of the tobacco.

I'm just wondering if this method the seller described is how others generally do their initial tamping, and I'd been doing it "wrong." or at least differently. Or is this method new to some of you? Anyway, I like it, and it's now how I do it.

Happy tamping!
 

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chasingembers

Captain of the Black Frigate
Nov 12, 2014
27,185
35,449
I haven't done a charring light for many years. I just light a pipe and smoke it. As the ember burns down and begins to rise off of the unburned tobacco I tap the ash cap down with my finger and repeat when the volume of smoke decreases.
 

tschiraldi

Preferred Member
Dec 14, 2015
1,753
3,301
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Ohio
I spin the tamper to coat the entire top with ash, then light again, making sure to cover the entire top layer with a gentle flame. I don't have problems with the tobacco on the sides not burning, so I guess it works for me.
 

Road To Pines

Junior Member
Sep 2, 2020
79
127
Ontario, Canada
Muttnchop Piper offered a video about tailoring the shape of the ash and ember when tamping. According to him, a dome shaped ash layer increases the tendency to build cake (because the edges burn hotter with less ash), a crater shape decreases it.

It may not be a question of right or wrong way, but a question of different effects: what do you want to burn hot/cool, and why?


Personally, I tend to stir then tap out thick layers of ash when smoking most tobaccos.
 
Last edited:

kcghost

Preferred Member
May 6, 2011
4,452
4,451
74
Olathe, Kansas
A guy on a fairly recent pipes magazine radio show tamped his in the exact opposite fashionand said it really worked, so once again we are confronted with a personal choice.
 
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Grangerous

Preferred Member
Dec 8, 2020
973
3,462
East Coast USA
Wow! Thanks for sharing.

Always done the opposite, scraping the sides down leaving sort of a mound. A great many tampers are shaped to encourage this mound shape.

But....

This sounds sensible and it will be tried!

Perhaps a golf tee pressed dead center.

Hope others report back. Better more even burn?
 
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Jeremia Johnson

Junior Member
Apr 15, 2020
96
332
Westchester County, NY
Someone on one of the PipesMagazine Radio show podcasts advocated twirling the tamper light on top. I try to remember that and it works quite well.
As my grandmother would have said, "Fancy-schmancy!" I'll give it a try - not going to be easy with Czech tool, but I do own one tamper it will work with. Maybe I need more tampers!

BTW, I have something that belonged to one of my parents that I realized might work as a tamper: it's a stamp for pressing the wax seal on an envelope. It's a silver deer's-leg, and the hoof is glass or lead-crystal with a monogram. Not sure what the monogram is. Something random I think.
 
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Toast

Member
Feb 15, 2021
254
419
UK
That sounds like the advice Tim West offers on his eBay listings (specifically to build Cake is my read): 'Fill as you would normally do, Light and then Tamp the Middle before lighting the edges again to build a cake easily and evenly.'

I'm nor one for cake, so...
 

Jeremia Johnson

Junior Member
Apr 15, 2020
96
332
Westchester County, NY
That sounds like the advice Tim West offers on his eBay listings (specifically to build Cake is my read): 'Fill as you would normally do, Light and then Tamp the Middle before lighting the edges again to build a cake easily and evenly.'

I'm nor one for cake, so...
Yeah, it must have been him. I'd forgotten these instructions were for building cake, and my problem is really too much cake! But right now I'm still using this method at times.
 

Grangerous

Preferred Member
Dec 8, 2020
973
3,462
East Coast USA
Tried it and I shall continue to do the exact opposite, leaving the center higher than the sides.

I scrape down the sides and barely tamp the center leaving a mound.

I used to scrape the sides and tamp flat “evenly”

Experimenting today, the mound method burned with fewer relights. Enjoyed two bowls of granger back to back. One in a cob. The other a Meer-lined Grabow.

Cob Side note. It is amazing just how well new Cobs Smoke. My Third full bowl and the sides of the cob pipe are still clear and yellow. Offers a perfect smoke and no cake build up at all. No moisture. Performing quite like Meerschaum does.
 

cosmicfolklore

Preferred Member
Aug 9, 2013
24,151
21,802
Helena, Alabama
This does seem to work well, and prevents the problem of when the bowl is 1/2-2/3 burned down having unlit tobacco around the edges of the chamber.
The surrounding un burned tobaccos around the edges are pushing off essential oils and making the smoke more flavorful.
To each their own, but for me, I don't worry so much about having a cherry that burns around all of the edges.
 

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