Tongue Bite, Smoking Technique, and 9MM Activated Charcoal Filters

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EvertonFC

Junior Member
May 5, 2020
82
152
Philadelphia
This post if strictly intended for any new pipe smokers who may be struggling with tongue bite.

On two separate occasions, I've sold all my pipes, tossed my tobacco, and went back to cigars. On this 3rd attempt, I went back into the hobby even more determined. However, I just kept getting tongue bite. No matter how many videos I watched or how many threads I read and reread, the tongue bite persisted. These forums, which are absolutely fantastic, mostly provided the same (quality) advice; dry your tobacco more and smoke slower. I followed that mantra and kept waiting for a moment when my "smoking technique" would finally solve my problem. It didn't. Finally, I stumbled upon a YouTube poster who had suffered with the same issue. He believed that a big part of his issue was with the alkalinity of his mouth. He went on to explain how using 9mm filters solved his problem.

Long story short... I've once again sold all my pipes... and replaced them with 9mm pipes. I now smoke as often as I like and never get tongue bite. I've gone from smoking less than bowl a day to smoking three (when time permits)... and never getting tongue bite. Some might suggest I simply never learned how to smoke properly. That's certainly possible. But the simple truth is, I didn't start smoking a pipe because I had any interest in mastering proper smoking technique. I did so because I think pipes are beautiful works of art, because I enjoy the taste of pipe tobacco, and because I enjoy the Zen nature of pipe smoking.

So if you're struggling with tongue bite, perhaps give 9mm Activated Charcoal filters a shot. You may find it solves your problem.

Cheers.
 

cosmicfolklore

Preferred Member
Aug 9, 2013
23,722
20,060
Helena, Alabama
Yeh, pipes aren't for everyone. It has a steep learning curve.

I'm glad you stuck with it, and resolved your issue.

I'd say that a large majority of people who are given a pipe or just buy a cob toss them in the trash after getting scorched. This is why I never give anyone a pipe to get them started. I suggest a large investment in a nice piece of well engineered briar... then if they get scalded, they are more likely to stick with it because of the investment.

But, most just move on to easier cigars or whatevers. It's really not for everyone, IMO,
 

TimeKiller

Junior Member
Feb 2, 2021
82
179
Texas
Beginners perspective here, when I started I had often underestimated how important the physical properties of the tobacco itself were when considering the quality of the smoke. Everything from how it's cut, it's moisture level, how it's prepared, what exact variety it is, if/how it's rubbed out. Then when you add in the pipe mechanics, what size bowl it's in, how it's packed, the draw, and how much fire you set to it, even a mm diameter difference in bowl size or depth seems to have huge effect on how this or that pipe affects this or that blend.... Then even further on top of that, you have your own user input, from how you're tamping it, cadence, sipping amount, relights, ash management... I mean, if you think about it there is a dizzying number of variables, if any one of them is too far off target, you could get a bad smoke.

I started with filters, but eventually gave them up. They definitely help make the smoke cooler, but I found the taste was affected too much for my liking and I didn't want to have to keep rebuying them all the time. But I don't begrudge any use of filters, or screens, they exist for a reason.
 

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anotherbob

Preferred Member
Mar 30, 2019
5,657
10,064
42
In the semi-rural NorthEastern USA
for me the big secret was lighters and lighting technique. Once I got my zippo the bite became a once a year thing, usually if I smoke angry (like ready to get the pitchforks out angry.) Before that I got at list a light bite. I highly recommend using a soft flame or zippo or the holy grail wooden matches. But if a filter works for you great. I always find the mute the tobacco and the thing is I really strongly believe that nothing works the same for everyone when talking about pipes.
 

DanWil84

Junior Member
Mar 8, 2021
94
556
The Netherlands (Europe)
I thought smoking a pipe had a steep learning curve when I started. I'm a cigar smoker also which gave me control and a sence when puffing fast is to fast. Combusting tobacco I learned to do with the heat of fire and not with the flame itself. I started with a couple of Cobs. Tobacco was a factor I think, started with some ready rubbed burley flake which I dried in advance. I used the much discussed breathing technique to get a good cadence. Tamping I did when I saw enough loose ash on top and didn't bother with how much I relighted.

All in all I honestly didn't think of it being a steep curve. I never got bitten, packing was a bit harder than I expected, the first time I didn't had enough tobacco eg packed to loose on the top to get a good starting base for a ember. Also drying I did wrong, I thought in the pipe would be OK, but changed it to air dry all the tobacco, not just the top of filled pipe.

I suggest you just keep going, learn from your experience and dare to experiment a little, it won't kill you. This makes me by no means an expert and I think you can always learn, even after decades doing something, but these are my €0,02
 

cachimbero

Member
Apr 9, 2019
177
75
52
Cordoba, Spain
I have been a pipe smoker for almost 25 years, Two years ago I was diagnosed a chronic autoimmune illness and was prescribed. a treatment which dries my mouth. I almost gave up pipe smoking until I tried one of my 9mm bored pipes with a filter. It made my smokes less mouth drying. I was a filter hater before. At the beginning, I thought I was losing flavor; maybe I have simply gotten accustomed to the filter, but now, when I smoke an unfiltered pipe, I find I am getting more of the rough edges. I smoke them (unfiltered) with a certain regularity, since I have many very nice pipes in my collection, all of them unfiltered as per my past habits. If you get a better experience by using filters, by all means use them, the purpose of pipe smoking is to enjoy. They are very popular in Germany, probably the country with a higher number of pipe smokers in Europe. They cańt be totally wrong :)
 

EvertonFC

Junior Member
May 5, 2020
82
152
Philadelphia
As best as I can possibly discern, I don't think it was the steep learning curve that got me. From what I've subsequently read, the alkalinity of everyone's mouths are different and some people are just more sensitive. I *think* I fall into this category. I've attempted mimicking the cadence of multiple pipe smokers, I've tried many styles of pipes, I've tried multiple packing methods, I've tried dozens and dozens of blends and brands of tobacco, and at various dryness levels, and nearly always to the same result... tongue bite. I mean hell, even a broken clock is right twice a day.

So, I simply thought I'd share my experience with those who may be getting frustrated from constant tongue pipe. There is another way. Besides, how can a million Germans be wrong? :)
 

cosmicfolklore

Preferred Member
Aug 9, 2013
23,722
20,060
Helena, Alabama
The best advice I can offer is to smoke your pipe at the verge of it going out. Like as if you are just drawing slowly to get that last little bit of smoke without further igniting the cherry. You never want billowing clouds of smoke, just thin wisps.
But, if you like filters, then use filters. Nothing wrong with it at all. Heck, I have some Stanwell charcoal filters and a drawer full of Savinelli balsas of different sizes, for those rare times when I want one. I am not repulsed by them, just find that 99.9% of the time I don't need them. Do what works for you.
 

greatdane

Junior Member
Dec 26, 2018
57
8
I had a similar experience. Started off with unfiltered pipes, which was not a good experience for me. Then tried balsa filters, nording stones, filter crystals, etc; before settling on the 9mm charcoal filters which worked much better imo. I actually think they improved the taste in a number of blends.

Unfortunately, there's a tendency to diss filters, portray them as a waste, unnecessary, or even "unmanly". When in reality we should promote 9mm filters, especially for beginners. It could help more people join our hobby.
 

EvertonFC

Junior Member
May 5, 2020
82
152
Philadelphia
Unfortunately, there's a tendency to diss filters, portray them as a waste, unnecessary, or even "unmanly". When in reality we should promote 9mm filters, especially for beginners. It could help more people join our hobby.
I too have gotten the sense that filters are viewed as primarily being for people who can't figure out how to smoke correctly. And there may very well be some smokers who gravitate to filters for just that reason. Hell, perhaps you and I have done so. Perhaps we simply can't figure out how to smoke a pipe properly. Or, perhaps, it's as I said earlier; some people just lack the appropriate alkalinity to enjoy pipe tobacco without a filter. But here's the thing... who cares? No one gravitates towards pipe smoking due to some overwhelming desire to master proper pipe smoking technique. If anything, "proper pipe smoking technique" is the reason cigars are wildly more popular than pipes.

As you said, I think, as a community, we'd do well to push new smokers towards filters.
 

TimeKiller

Junior Member
Feb 2, 2021
82
179
Texas
The best advice I can offer is to smoke your pipe at the verge of it going out.
It's funny, this is exactly how I approach, and is the primary advice I give to new people who want to give it a try. I tell them it's like a little bit of a tightrope walk, a little game you're playing, you want to try to stay juust barely lit, but without scorching and without going out - BUT that's it's ok if it gets a little hot, or does go out, you can relight it, there is no shame in that. The only other thing I really tell them is to sip or puff, not pull. I think it's the most concise advice you can give without accidentally sounding like they will need to take night classes to figure out this overwhelmingly OCD experience, and the best guidance you can give to help them enjoy it rather than be frustrated by a burnt tongue and a mouth full of ash.
If anything, "proper pipe smoking technique" is the reason cigars are wildly more popular than pipes.
That's why I stayed with cigars for so long myself, I always felt the pipe smoking was too esoteric and "fiddly" with all the stuff, little did I know how much it's totally worth it.
 
Mar 2, 2021
159
313
The best advice I can offer is to smoke your pipe at the verge of it going out. Like as if you are just drawing slowly to get that last little bit of smoke without further igniting the cherry. You never want billowing clouds of smoke, just thin wisps.
But, if you like filters, then use filters. Nothing wrong with it at all. Heck, I have some Stanwell charcoal filters and a drawer full of Savinelli balsas of different sizes, for those rare times when I want one. I am not repulsed by them, just find that 99.9% of the time I don't need them. Do what works for you.
I'll add that I can taste the Lakatia by smoking this way.
 

olkofri

Preferred Member
Sep 9, 2017
6,597
10,005
I think I can relate. Of all my pipes, the only one that's yet to bite me is my 9mm Vauen Almar. Now, I've been bitten by churchwardens before, so I thought that the length of the stem making for a cool smoke was a myth—now I think it's a factor. I've been smoking this Vauen repeatedly since I got it, puffing aggressively, lighting it with a vengeance even with the flame spurting out of the bowl in fiery reply to the flame of my Kiribi, wet tobacco... well, doing all the things you're continuously told not to do lest you get bitten, and only once I got a bit of an irritation (which was mostly due to the tobacco, by the way: a burley, of course). After all the mega- and giga- and terabites I've gotten from all my other pipes, this long stemmed, 9mm filtered Wunder is total wunderbar!

PS: I've used both Dr Perl's activated charcoal and White Elephant granular Meerschaum filters: I prefer the latter, since the Dr Perls impart a plasticky flavour if there's too much moisture. Either filter works great as far as bite prevention is concerned, though.
 

telescopes

Preferred Member
I have quite a few pipes with filters. I don't find they detract from the smoke, but then again, I'm fairly open minded.

Seat belts make me feel trapped in....

life jackets look dorky and are uncomfortable ....

Vaccines cause dna to change one's political beliefs....

wearing a condom detracts from any real pleasure one can get from a one night stand ....

and ..... pipe filters mute the taste of a good tobacco.
 
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elvishrunes

Junior Member
Jun 19, 2017
88
126
The first couple yrs I had more bite, I think I got bit pretty badly with a Va/Per blend, but less with others, although I can’t remember exactly, it was a while ago,,,

But when I got bit, I stopped for a couple days than did it again, and I haven’t had a bite in years... Pretty sure there is also just a natural immunity part, where you just adapt? Or maybe I’ve been lucky with tobacco selection...
 

mso489

Preferred Member
Feb 21, 2013
33,444
25,382
The best remedy I found for tongue bite and chemical burn was to smoke mostly non-aromatic blends for a while, and then add only tobacco-forward aromatics smoked slow. I had some holiday blends, aromatic of course, that made me jump out of my skin when peppermint toothpaste hit my gums at bedtime.
 

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