How to Smoke a Pipe and Keep Alight

“I believe that pipe smoking contributes to a somewhat calm and objective judgment in all human affairs.” -Albert Einstein

To start with, smoking a pipe is a leisurely activity.  I’d recommend setting aside at least 20 minutes. That’s one of the reasons pipe smoking is so enjoyable. It lets you take some time to slow down. Again, make yourself one of your favourite drinks, grab your pipe and tobacco, and take a seat on the porch to enjoy the evening.  Now you’re really ready to begin.

1. Fill the bowl of your pipe. This step is the most difficult to master, but it affects the rest of your smoke.  Fill the bowl loosely with tobacco and press it lightly down with the tamper. The bowl should now be filled halfway from the bottom. Fill the bowl again to the top and compress a bit more, packing more firmly. Now your bowl is about 3/4 full.  Now top off the bowl with more tobacco and press down.  There should be a slight space between the top of the bowl and the tobacco.

2.  Put the pipe to your mouth and take a test draw. If air doesn’t flow freely through the tobacco, it’s too tight.  If that’s the case, remove and try again. If your test draw is fine, you’re ready to light.

3.  When lighting your pipe, use a wooden match or pipe lighter. I recommend wooden matches because they’re cheaper.  Pipe lighters are made specifically for tobacco pipes and don’t alter the taste of the tobacco.  If using a match, strike it and let it burn for a few seconds to get the sulphur off.  Then, as you take gentle draws on the pipe, move the match in a circular movement over the surface of the tobacco. Do this until the tobacco is evenly lit.  Once it’s lit, you’re still not quite there.  This is simply the “false light.” Let it go out, then relight the same way. Once it’s evenly lit, this is the “true light” and you’re ready to smoke.  Note: It is suggested that you NOT inhale the smoke into your lungs.  Pipe smoking is different than cigarette smoking.  This type of tobacco is a bit stronger and is more for the flavor.

4.  Take it easy when smoking your pipe. Slow and steady, this is a marathon, not a 50 yard dash.  If you puff too quickly, you’ll get what’s known as “tongue bite”– a burning sensation on your tongue.  Definitely not what you want.  Your pipe may go out 2 or 3 times during your smoke, but that’s OK.  Remember, relax and enjoy.  If you have a friend over, your pipe may go out more often as you talk!  Enjoy the flavor of the tobacco.

That’s all there is to it.  If you enjoy your first and subsequent smokes, you can buy the more expensive pipes and tobaccos.  Who knows, there may be another article on the types of pipes and tobaccos in the future.

Some Other Tips

  • If you find that the pipe starts “gurgling,” there’s too much moisture in the pipe stem.  Simply take the pipe out of your mouth and put a pipe cleaner in the end for a second or two to remove the moisture.  Try to keep your mouth as dry as possible to prevent this from happening.

  • If the pipe gets too hot on your hand, let it go out and then relight.  If it’s burning too hot, it can alter the taste of the tobacco.

  • When finished with your smoke, always allow the pipe to cool before cleaning.

Golden Knights