Enjoying the aroma of wonderful tobacco from a pipe, especially when you purchased it from BnB Tobacco is a timeless tradition. Generations upon generations have relaxed while enjoying a good smoke. For those new to smoking pipes, or are considering smoking them, one of the main causes of apprehension is whether or not they are packing their pipe correctly. Some may want there to be a science or measure behind packing a pipe, but really it is more of an art. You get better with experience. There is no “proper amount of tobacco” depending upon size, shape, or brand. What there is, however, is the right way to enjoy your pipe.
First, ensure that your pipe is clean. The shank and stem (the pieces that connect the bowl to the lip that goes in your mouth) need to be clear of any obstructions. The bowl should be cleaned of any major ash or char buildup. After smoking a pipe, it will build up a black cake inside the bowl’s chamber. This is fine. Do not scrape this off. Lightly scrape off only excess ash and char.
Next, ensure your tobacco is good, then pick it up in your thumb and two forefingers. It should clump and slowly fall apart. If it breaks apart upon picking it up, then it is too dry. If it stays clumped and does not or barely falls apart, it is too moist, and the portion you are using should be set out a little while to dry before smoking.
Now, to correctly pack your pipe, no matter what size or shape of your pipe, the end result should be a nice, smooth, enjoyable drag. Pack a pipe too tight and it will be hard to pull from. Pack a pipe too loose and it will burn too hot and cause what is known as “tongue bite.” Not enjoyable. A good rule of thumb is the “3 hand shake” rule. Your first fill of the bowl is somewhat loose, and you tamp it down with the force of shaking a small child’s hand. You fill it again, and tamp it down with the force of shaking a lady’s hand. Fill it a third time, and tamp it down with the force of shaking a gentleman’s hand. The more times you fill the bowl, the tighter you tamp it down. This lessens the air pockets between the pieces of tobacco, and helps the ember remain lit as it travels from one piece of tobacco to another. Don’t tamp it too tight or you won’t be able to pull as easily from the pipe. The tobacco should have some give to it.
Your first light will be your char light. Don’t expect it to hold. You should tamp your tobacco down again a little after your char light, as heat will cause the tobacco to expand. Your second light should take, and if tamped nicely, should stay lit for most of your smoke. New smokers may find they have to light their pipes a few times before reaching the end, but with experience, you will need to relight it less often.
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