How To Pack & Smoke A Pipe
How To Pack And Smoke A Pipe
One of the most frequent comments I hear from new pipe smokers is “my pipe keeps going out”. Don’t worry about it, it happens to the best of us. Any number of things can cause this, to include improper packing, tamping, smoking technique, and the tobacco itself.
When packing, I use the “three step” process. Loosely fill your pipe to the top, and using your tamper, lightly pack the tobacco down. Follow this by adding more tobacco and tamping it down a little firmer, and finally, add a third fill followed by a firm packing. The object is to have a pipe filled with tobacco packed to a consistent density. The final draw should be somewhat like sucking a drink through a straw.
Next, apply fire using a soft flame lighter or a wooden match. Never use a torch (cigar) lighter as the flame is way too hot and you will burn a hole in your pipe. Avoid the use of paper matches or any lighter that uses lighter fluid, as these contain chemicals that will spoil the taste of your tobacco. Let me also suggest buying a pipe lighter. These have angled flames that will both save the rim of your pipe, and keep you from cooking your finger when trying to light that last bit of tobacco in the bottom of your pipe.
Lighting your pipe is a two step process. The initial light is called a “char” light and is intended to get things started by applying heat which “relaxes” the tobacco, causing it to rise in the bowl. Take the time to get a good light, and then take your tamper and flatten this rise without “repacking” the tobacco. Now this is the best part – light your pipe again and enjoy. Don’t work your pipe hard like a cigarette, and don’t neglect it like one can a cigar. Nice easy draws repeated at a leisurely pace is the trick. While smoking, you should be able to hold your pipe against your cheek at any time without burning yourself. If it’s too hot, let your pipe cool down, re-tamp, relight, and slow down. Most importantly, don’t forget to re-tamp the ash down occasionally and don’t dump this ash out, it serves a purpose. With proper tamping, you will get a cooler – drier smoke, the cap you form will create an oven effect which will pre-cook the remaining tobacco, and your pipe will stay lit longer.
Finally, when you are finished, take the spoon part of your tamper and remove whatever remaining tobacco there is (don’t ever bang your pipe against anything) and then run a dry pipe cleaner through the stem until clean. Don’t ever take a warm pipe apart as you run a good chance of breaking the stem. Wait at least half an hour and be careful. To finish the job, I then fold this cleaner in half and wipe the inside of the bowl. That’s it!