Whether you’re new to pipes or you just want to ramp up your game, here are a few useful steps to smoking a pipe the right way.
Get to know your pipe
A tobacco pipe is simply a device that’s specifically designed to smoke tobacco. In fact, pipe smoking is considered the oldest known traditional method of smoking tobacco.
Pipes can range anywhere from simple briar models to artisanal ones made by renowned pipemakers and are sought after by serious pipe collectors.
No matter what the model, a smoking pipe consists of the bowl or the cup-like outer shell that’s being held when packing.
It also involves holding and smoking the pipe, the inner chamber that holds the tobacco, the draught hole where air travels in the chamber through the tobacco bringing the smoke with it to the shank.
Furthermore, it also includes the mortise and tenon located at the end of the shank that are two detachable parts connected by a hole where the mortise meets the tenon, the stem, the bit or mouthpiece, the lip and the bore.
Pipes can be made of different materials that mostly dictate their price. The more common tobacco pipes are made of corncob, meerschaum, briarwood, rosewood, pear wood or clay.
The pricier ones, on the other hand, are made of dense-grained woods like olive, cherry, mesquite, maple, bogwood and oak.
Pipes are usually classified according to their shape. Some of the most popular types and subtypes include:
- Apple (Author, Egg, Diplomat, Hawkbill, Tomato)
- Billiard (Brandy, Panel, Chimney, Pot, Nose Warmer)
- Bulldog (Bull Moose, Rhodesian, Czech Bulldog)
- Cavalier (Pseudo-cavalier)
- Freehand (Blowfish, Tomahawk, Nautilus, Volcano)
- Sitter (Poker, Cherrywood, Tankard)
- Vest Pocket
Tobacco pipes are also categorized according to their finish, bowl material and other characteristics, which also determine their exclusivity and price.
So if you’re starting a collection, you can begin with the basic and cheaper models and work your way through the more expensive ones.
Shop for the basic supplies
If you have no experience with pipes or don’t own anything yet, we’ve compiled some of the basic supplies that you will need to smoke a pipe for the first time:
- Pipe. A corncob pipe is the perfect beginner pipe mainly because it’s the cheapest. Although it’s not the best quality pipe out there, it helps you get the feel of what it’s like to smoke a pipe. If you don’t like it, you can easily give it away without feeling too bad that you wasted money.
- Tobacco. Tobacco comes in a wide range of flavors, strengths and types, so it’s very important to find a good tobacconist in your area to help you choose the right starter tobacco. You can also ask for a sample pouch that’s cheaper than buying an entire pack that you may not like.
- Pipe cleaner. You can’t leave your pipe un-cleaned after using it, so a pipe cleaner should come handy.
- Pipe tamper/tool. This tool is very helpful when packing tobacco, especially if you’re a beginner, so it’s worth the investment.
- Lighter. You can’t just use any lighter to light your pipe because there are specific lighters designed just for lighting tobacco. Pipe lighters usually give out a softer flame so you won’t burn your fingers.
Break in your new pipe
If you have a new pipe, it’s very important to break it in first before you could get to the real smoking part. Breaking in is as simple as smoking quarter full bowls and slowly increasing the portion of your tobacco each time.
This will allow you to build cake in your pipe or a consistent layer of carbonized tobacco deposit. This cake is important because it helps insulate your pipe and improve the flavor of your tobacco.
Puff your pipe
A full-bowl of an average pipe will usually last between 20 to 40 minutes depending on the technique. While there is no single rule for smoking a pipe, it’s very important to keep a few things in mind while smoking your pipe:
- Never inhale pipe smoke. When smoking a pipe, you should enjoy the smoke with slow sips rather than inhaling it.
- Don’t clench the pipe stem. Clenching the pipe stem too hard between your teeth could cause the saliva to go inside the stem and cause gurgling. You can either let the pipe hang naturally or just hold its weight with your hand.
- Puff the cigar like you would a straw. Think of drawing on a pipe like sucking a straw. But instead of swallowing, you should hold the smoke in your mouth so its flavor lingers over your palate and you really get to appreciate the quality of the tobacco before exhaling it.
- Control your puffing. Don’t draw too hard because it could cause the tobacco to overheat and may also burn the pipe, which results to some discomfort in your mouth called a tongue bite.
- Keep your puffing steady. Do not puff too often as it will burn your tobacco quickly and shorten your experience. But you should also not puff too infrequently because it would cause your pipe to go out, which can be frustrating. It will take some time before you can master the right puffing pace, so make sure that you practice any chance you get.
Re-light your pipe
There will be times when the tobacco would go out, especially when you’re just a beginner. But re-lighting your pipe shouldn’t be that hard because you simply need to apply the flame above the tobacco and take a few puffs.
Never put the flame directly on the tobacco because it may cause it to burn too fast which will waste your experience.
On the other hand, if your pipe is already further down, you should dump the ash using your pipe tool before you can re-light the pipe. This will help you avoid that unpleasant bitter taste when you relight the pipe right away.
Stoke your pipe
Once you’re used to smoking pipe, it will be easier for you to determine if the embers are about to go out so you can stoke it.
Stoking a pipe means pressing your index and middle fingers gently over the bowl as you take a few puffs. You can also use the pick of your pipe tool to do this.
Clean your pipe
After enjoying a good smoke, it’s time to clean your pipe by dumping its contents into the ashtray. If the leftover tobacco is already cool, you can simple tap the pipe into your hand so the leftovers will come out.
But if you’re outdoors, you have to use the sole of you shoe for the purpose.
Finally, while it’s not necessary to clean your pipe after every bowl, it’s considered good practice to use a pipe cleaner through the stem whenever you have the chance to. This will help remove any extra deposits on the pipe and keep it in good shape for a long time.