Since I opened The Pipe Nook, I've had inquiries from many who don't yet smoke pipes, in regards to how to get into the hobby. While pipe smoking for me is the most enjoyable form of smoking, I have to admit that there is certainly a learning curve! I made many attempts along the way before I finally discovered the secrets to pipe smoking success. Below, you will find some basic tips to get you started on your pipe smoking journey. If you're already a pipe smoker, this information is fantastic for sharing with friends. Look for the link below to save the contents of this blog as a handy one-page reference!
Things you'll need
1. Pack your pipe to about 75% full, to allow space at the top for the lit tobacco to "bloom." Most people recommend a 3-Step packing method, but sometimes I only need to do this twice. Here are some guidelines:
2. Don't pack so tightly that a test puff feels like a milkshake, or so loosely that it feels like no resistance at all. You want it to feel like sipping water or soda through a straw.
3. For the First light, take sips (not gulps) and move the flame around until the top of the tobacco is evenly lit. It will most likely bloom up and go out quickly. This is known as the "false light."
4. Once out, tamp the tobacco gently and uniformly. This is the “cake” or burning surface that you'll use to get your true light.
5. Light a second time the same way as the first. You should be on your way, but it sometimes takes a third light to really get going.
6. Tamp gently along the way whenever the top gets looser. Once you've smoked for a while, the top will get moderately "fluffy" with ash; gently upturn your bowl and tap the loose ash in an ashtray. A coffee tin or any similar metal or wooden container will work.
7. Take gentle sips and enjoy the taste of the tobacco. Congratulations, you're smoking a pipe!
If your tobacco is moist, leave it out to let it dry a bit. Moist tobacco causes too much hot vapor in the smoke, a large contributor to what is known as "tongue bite."
Don't fight to keep it lit! You'll only frustrate yourself and burn your tongue. If the smoke tastes too hot, let the pipe cool down for a bit. If it goes out, just tamp and relight. Take your time, be patient. Pipe smoking is about relieving stress and enjoying the moment.
Don't inhale! It's not a cigarette, and shouldn't be treated as though the point were to get a fix.
Learning a cadence that keeps the pipe lit better for you, yet doesn't make the smoke too hot to enjoy, is a knack only learned with time and experience. Your cadence won't be what another pipe smoker's cadence is, so don't compare. Just learn what works best for you!
If you don't like the first tobacco you've tried, don't give up: There are literally HUNDREDS of blends to choose from. I always recommend trying at least one of the following 5 blends before throwing in the towel: An Aromatic, a natural Virginia, a natural Burley, a Latakia Blend, and a Perique Blend.
That's it! Of course, pipe smoking is a nuanced and highly personal activity that you will get better at over time. But these general tips are all you need to get you on your way!
Click Below to Download these tips as a quick one-page reference!
I love starting the day with a few moments of quiet composure, gently smoking a pipe and sipping a cup of coffee. It's a treasured time that I try to carve out each day to come up with a daily game plan and mentally prepare for the challenges that await. Additionally, I find that the best way to end each day is to enjoy a hearty blend. Pipe smoking creates an atmosphere of reflection to thoughtfully consider the highs and lows of the day, and the many things for which I have to be thankful. It's a fantastic accompaniment for reading and writing, as well.
But, what makes it so? I've mentioned these things in a previous blog, but they are worth revisiting here. For me, pipe smoking is relaxing, stress relieving, and just plain fun. It can help create a time of thought when you're alone, and it can make times with friends even better. It can help you focus on the simple joys of all the senses, as you feel the pipe's finish and shape while holding it, see the beauty of a well-crafted smoking instrument, hear the gentle sizzle of a pipe that's "in the chuff," smell the aroma of a fine tobacco blend, and of course taste any number of flavors available today. In essence, pipe smoking is a celebration of many of the positive aspects of what it is to be human!
In today's high-tech, fast-paced world, it can be very easy to get completely caught up in the stress and mess of things. After some time, we may find ourselves completely lost in the chaos of the day-to-day grind, never taking time to pause and collect our thoughts. This is why I believe pipe smoking is making a comeback--it's low tech. The pipe forces you to calm down and take each moment as it comes. You can't rush through it like so much else in life. You have to settle yourself, and live in the here and now, not whatever is happening on your social media feed, or whatever notifications keep popping up on your smart device. And even if those things encroach upon your precious down time, having a pipe in hand simply gives it all a better sense of perspective.
Ultimately, I believe that pipe smoking has assisted me in my journey to becoming a more considerate husband, a more patient father, a more thoughtful friend. And I don't know anyone who wouldn't desire those attributes!
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