Aside from cigarettes, cigars and pipes are two of the most common ways for tobacco to be consumed. Unlike cigarettes, cigars and pipes both offer a more elegant way of smoking, as well as providing a richer tobacco experience. Many smokers switch between pipes and cigars periodically to enjoy the different experiences each offer. We take a look at these differences between pipes and cigars, so you can decide which way of smoking is best for you.
One slight difference between cigars and pipes is the equipment needed to smoke them. For a cigar, the absolute essentials will be a cigar cutter, lighter and an ashtray. For pipe smoking, you will obviously need to buy a pipe! You’ll be able to find a decent pipe for around £40; however, a lot of quality pipes will cost a lot more, with prices running into the thousands! To smoke a pipe, you will also need matches or a lighter, a pipe cleaner and possibly a pipe rest.
Another core difference is, of course, the tobacco. Cigars are made fully of tobacco, meaning the only preparation you will need to do is remove the cap. On the other hand, you will need to buy a pouch or tin of pipe tobacco to use in your pipe. This will need to be packed into the pipe properly to get a good smoke.
Aside from the obvious difference between cigar and pipe tobacco, there are a number of other distinctions. On the whole, cigar tobacco will be of better quality and more expensive. A great deal of effort goes into cultivating and processing tobacco for cigars, as the outer leaves need to be perfect to be used as a wrapper. Premium cigars will be made using the finest tobacco. On the other hand, unless it is for a limited-edition or premium tobacco range, pipe tobacco tends to be a little cheaper.
Cigars are also often made using a blend of tobacco from different harvests and even different countries. Whether this be a mix of filler tobaccos, or a filler tobacco from one country and a wrapper from another, the mixture of tobacco types in a cigar makes for a complex and flavourful smoke. Pipe tobacco will have two key variations; regular and aromatic. Aromatic tobaccos will have a flavour added to them during the curing process, providing an extra scent, such as vanilla or cherry. Regular pipe tobacco will only feature the natural tobacco taste.
The size of the tobacco also differs, as pipe tobacco is usually cut fairly finely to be packed into the pipe. Cigars will instead often use whole leaves; concertinaed in the filler, as well as the whole exterior wrapper leaf.
Cigars are often designed to develop in flavour as they are smoked. The initial notes can be quite different from the finish, and tastes and aromas will change in complexity and depth throughout the smoking experience. Conversely, pipes will typically provide a more uniform smoking experience, as the tobacco used is not rolled, and will usually come from the same batch.
If you are looking to take up cigar or pipe smoking, then both hobbies require a little maintenance. For cigars, if you are looking to purchase a box of cigars, collect cigars, or just have a few too many to smoke at once, then you will need to invest in a humidor. A humidor is needed to keep your cigars at the ideal humidity and temperature. Without it, the cigars can become brittle and dry, or soggy and wet – both outcomes leaving the cigar unsmokeable.
For pipes, you will need to find the perfect balance between building cake in your pipe and keeping it clean. ‘Cake’ is a layer of carbon that forms in the pipe, and helps to protect your pipe, allowing it last a lot longer. When cleaning out your pipe, you must avoid scraping, as this can remove the ‘cake’. Getting this right can take a little practice.
Many assume that cigars will be the most expensive of the two smoking hobbies. Ultimately, it is down to your personal preferences and choices, when it comes to brands and luxury vs budget. It is hard to directly compare the costs of pipes vs cigars. Pipe smoking is often more of an investment to start with, with pipes costing upwards of £30-40 (many premium pipes will be in the hundreds); however, pipe tobacco can be found relatively inexpensively and can be portioned out as desired.
For cigars, there are fewer upfront costs, although cigars can be a little pricier per smoke than a pipe if you choose premium brands. However, when you consider that one cigar can contain the same amount of tobacco as a whole pack of cigarettes, around £10 per cigar doesn’t seem too bad! Cigars can, of course, start costing a lot more if you find yourself getting into limited-edition smokes, collecting or have a taste for top premium brands.
So which do you prefer to smoke: pipes or cigars? Let us know in the comments below!