So, you picked up a pipe!
Smoking a pipe is not the most complicated thing in the world...
- but we sometimes hear how people almost lost all hope of becoming a pipester because of various difficulties. Therefore we’ve made a little guide on how to deal with the tobacco, the smoking itself and the care-taking of pipes. If you have further questions, feel free to write us an email or visit us in our shop in the centre of Copenhagen.
There are several types of tobacco available – not just different types of plants but also different blends.
From the sweet and soft Aromatic and the golden Virginias to the heavy mixtures with dark Latakia and spicy Perique.
For some the search for the ultimate tobacco never ends!
How do I treat the tobacco?
Tobacco is somewhat moist and should be kept that way.
Dry tobacco is not un-smokable, but it behaves and tastes better when it’s not. It will most certainly dry up if it is opened and kept in its original tin or pouch for a longer period of time.
To avoid this, keep your tobacco in a clean glass jar with a good seal. This way it will stay fresh and moist for years.
Some people collect and ’cellar’ tobacco like this, and like wine, many types of blends will gain a lot from a couple of unopened years.
Unopened tins can be successfully stored for many years, and especially Virginia tobaccos can become quite extraordinary because of their high content of natural dextrose (sugars).
If the tobacco is very moist, it can cause the smoke to become too hot. If so, you can experiment with the moist levels by placing the desired amount of tobacco on a plate by room temperature for 30- 40 min. That way you can adjust the tobacco to fit your preferences.
Filling the pipe is important, and in many ways it dictates the smoking experience.
It must not be packed too hard; you must be able to draw some smoke through it.
Test this while filling the pipe by ’puffing’ it and see how it fares. It must not be difficult to pull air through it – that’s quite important – but the tobacco can’t be too loose either.
We recommend using these three steps when filling your pipe:
First with a child’s hand, then with a woman’s hand, and lastly with a man’s hand. Meaning looser packed in the bottom, medium packed in the middle, and most tightly in the top – rather a bit too loose than too tight.
Use your tamper while smoking to adjust the tobacco and pack it a little harder. It might take time to learn how to fill a pipe well, so don’t give up. Experiment a bit, and at some point you will find a way that is perfect for you.
Suggestions to you:
Find your favourite Tamper here»
When the pipe is filled, and you’ve placed yourself in a nice spot, its time to light it.
You do so in two steps: first you make a “false lighting” which means you light it once, but let it go out right away and gently tamp down the top tobacco. This makes a nice, even surface that will light and burn better when you light it again. Once in a while use your tamper to adjust the burning by compressing it slightly. This also flattens the ashes so the fire can breathe, which is important.
And remember: Puff gently, don’t rush it. You don’t need a big fire – too much heat will ruin the characteristics of the tobacco and burn your tongue, so if you want to experience the blend, keep you're smoking calm and relaxed. If you do puff too fast and the smoke is hot and sharp, then simply put the pipe down for a while. Especially the bowl itself should not be too hot, because it affects the taste. Let it cool down before you relight it.
Hey, my pipe gurgles...
Yes, it happens. When smoking, the pipe gets moist inside – partly from the burning tobacco and partly from having the pipe in your mouth. From time to time it gets wet enough to gurgle. But fear not. A good old pipe cleaner can fix that. Put it down trough the mouthpiece (stem), to the bottom of the tobacco chamber, and let it suck up the moist for a few seconds.
You don’t want to pull the pipe apart while it’s hot. It can ruin the tenon and make the stem unable to fit in the shank. Let it cool down before you separate it.
You don’t have to inhale the smoke. The common practice is to just swirl the smoke in the mouth, and from time to time exhale through the nose, which enhances the flavour reception.
Taking care of the pipe
When you’re done smoking, remove leftovers and run a pipe cleaner through the pipe. A good thing too is to wipe the pipe over with a piece of cloth. To clean it more thoroughly, wait till it’s cooled down and then remove the stem from the shank.
Use pipe cleaners to clean the shank area and the tenon. Carefully wipe the inner side of the bowl with a pipe cleaner, but don’t be too brutal. The bowl needs a thin layer of carbon (from the burning of tobacco), so the wood doesn’t start to burn (and ruin the burning of tobacco).
For each smoke, the carbon layer gets a tiny bit thicker, and if it gets really thick (more than a couple of mm) you should get a pipe reamer and work it down a bit.
Sometimes a pipe can turn sour, typically if it lacks resting time between smokes. This makes the experience not so tasty in the long run, but if you expand your collection and establish a rotation, your pipes will be able to catch a breather. If resting doesn’t help, you can use some alcohol (pure or one with a preferred taste) and a pipe cleaner and swipe the inside of the shank and the stem. Be careful not to get alcohol on the outside as it can ruin the wood.
There are special products made for both inside and outside cleaning and care of both the bowl and the stem. Just never use water or soap.
In general treat your pipe well. If you do, you have a friend for years, maybe even life.
When you’re not smoking, keep it in a safe place. A pipe is a delicate piece of equipment, and a beauty that deserves respect.
Some pipes are made to take a filter, either 6 mm or 9 mm, which absorbs a lot of the moist – plus, of course, some of the bad stuff too. Nicotine is affected, but it’s barely noticeable. The popularity of filter use varies from country to country; the 9 mm version is very popular in Germany, and the 6 mm is common in Italy.
Naturally a filter pipe can also be smoked without the filter if preferred.
Suggestions to you:
Pipes for 6mm filter»
Pipes for 9mm filter»
Piper with removable metal filter»
Eriksen Keystone pipes»
9mm filter adapter»
- and remember…
Now, with all that said, these are not rules - just a few pointers to help you avoid basic mistakes and have a more pleasant experience.
Of course, mistakes will happen; your pipe will burn hot and the smokes become sharp, but don’t worry! That will only teach you to tweak your technique.
Actually that’s the whole nature of the thing; you’ll find your ways and preferences. Just remember to have fun!