In the words of the great Albert Einstein, “I believe that pipe-smoking contributes to a somewhat calm and objective judgment in all human affairs.” Just like cigars, pipe-smoking is an age-old tradition that serves as a relaxing hobby to many. It serves as a sign of sophistication and an aid for contemplating life.
Pipe tobacco is not inhaled and contains no additives, making it a healthier alternative to cigarettes. In addition, pipe-smoking provides you with many different tobacco flavors and blends to explore and are considerably easier on your pocket than all of the other forms of tobacco.
To get you started on the right foot we’ve broken down the basics of pipe-smoking into 4 main sections and we have even put together a Beginner’s Pipe Smoking Kit!
Here it is, Pipe Smoking 101.
Choosing the Right Pipe
Choosing the right pipe for you can become an overwhelming process because of the magnitude of varieties that are available. But fear not! Tobacco pipes come in all shapes and sizes so the first thing to decide is if you want a straight pipe, or a bent pipe.
If you plan on pondering the wonders of the Universe while relaxing on your rocking chair, then a straighter shaped pipe is best for you, such as the Porch Rocker. Straight pipes are ideal for the pipe smoker who will keep the pipe in-hand while smoking and are typically easier to clean.
On the other hand, if you are more of a multi-tasker and would prefer to have your hands free while enjoying your smoke, a more bent shape pipe, like the Scotland Yard, is the one for you. The bent shape allows the pipe’s weight to be held closer to the face, which makes it easier to keep in your mouth while smoking.
Packing of the Pipe
The act of packing the perfect pipe is a learned skill that takes some practice to perfect. If you are smoking a new pipe, you must be sure to “break it in” to ensure the best quality smoke from your pipe.
Smoke the first dozen bowls slowly in order to build up a uniform ‘cake’ in the bowl, which is the carbon residue from burning tobacco. The cake absorbs the impurities in the tobacco to provide a more mellow smoke.
The next step is to take a pinch of your tobacco of choice and put it in the bowl of your pipe. Then, you want to use a pipe tool to ‘tamp’ (pack down) the tobacco to the optimal consistency. Based on how long you intend to smoke your pipe, repeat this process until the desired amount of tobacco is reached. While doing so, concentrate on the Yin and Yang of all things, and how important it is to keep a healthy balance in life.
The tricky part about packing a pipe is getting the consistency just right. Pack it too tight and it will be difficult to draw in air, but pack it too loose and it won’t stay lit. As a test, take practice draws (puffs) while tamping to see if it is either too tight or too loose.
Lighting / Smoking
To light your pipe, start with a pipe lighter, such as the Vertigo Governor Soft Flame Pipe Lighter. Hold the flame over the bowl, but not touching the tobacco.
Just like cigars, when it comes to the actual smoking of the pipe remember, NEVER INHALE. Pull inwards (sip) with your breath, while simultaneously moving the flame around to light all tobacco evenly. If the tobacco catches on fire, you’re sipping too hard. If it is only singing the top of tobacco, you’re not sipping hard enough.
While smoking your pipe, aim to keep a nice balance of “sips” to keep the tobacco lit. However, be careful not take too big of a sip which causes the pipe to overheat and will burn your tongue and affect the tobacco’s taste.
Once again, this is a practice of balance that takes time to perfect, and is different based on the pipe you are smoking. It is normal for a pipe to go out while smoking, however it should not go out more than a couple of times per smoke, just simply relight the same way when it happens. If your pipe is going out multiple times during your smoke, you are probably not packing the tobacco correctly.
Cleaning the Pipe
After you have finished smoking your pipe, and gained more wisdom of how the universe works, let your pipe cool off for a little while. Then, once the pipe has cooled down use a pipe tool to scoop out the ashes of the tobacco. Do not scrape off the ‘cake’ in the chamber as this protects the material of the pipe and helps give you a better smoke. For extensive cleaning, remove stem and use pipe cleaners.
So there you have it folks, Pipe Smoking 101, the basics of pipe smoking laid out right in front of you. Put that in yo’ pipe and smoke it!
Pipe Smoking 101 by David Sabot