Like cigars, smoking a pipe is an experience, rather than just a quick fix of nicotine like a standard cigarette. The enjoyment of packing the tobacco, getting a great light and drawing through the first few plumes of smoke is something that is hard to replicate. Although pipes may simply be something to smoke from, they also play a much larger part in the history of smoking culture and have their fair share of interesting facts associated with them. Here, we take a look at just a handful.
Pipes Date Back Thousands of Years
With scattered origins, it’s hard to exactly pinpoint the first use of pipes in the world. Instead, there are varying degrees of use and evolution with smoking, beginning around roughly 500BC. Found in Europe, it is believed that the Scythians, a group of nomadic warriors that lived in what is now Siberia used wooden stems or reeds to inhale smoke from campfires.
Similarly, Greeks and Romans developed a pipe for the purpose of smoking, although this is more likely to have been used for smoking herbs or leaves. Christopher Columbus discovered the tobacco plant in the late 1400s, and not long after, the manufacture of smoking pipes began.
Pipe Tobacco Holds More Flavours that Cigarette Tobacco
Ready-made cigarettes are a cheap and cheerful way to get a fix of tobacco; for this reason, tobacco farmers tend to save their higher quality tobacco for pipe smoking products. With higher quality tobacco, this allows for more subtle flavours to permeate through the smoke onto the palette, rewarding the smoker with a more enjoyable experience.
Tobacco Used to be Used as Medicine
Since it’s discovery by Columbus, and likely before in its native country, tobacco was used in a range of medicinal ways. In 1529, it was recorded that breathing the odour of fresh leaves brought relief of headaches. Additionally, fresh green leaves could be used to relieve catarrh or colds by rubbing them around the inside of the mouth. In fact, in Europe during the 16th century, tobacco was prescribed for many of the common ailments.
Even in the later years of the 19th century, tobacco was still be administered in a medical fashion, but in a more measured way. Now aware of the potential harmfulness of the nicotine content of the leaves, physicians replaced older administration methods with more advanced systems. That being said, tobacco smoke would still be administered per rectum for curing constipation.
Smoking Wasn’t Always Called Smoking
The term smoking started to take hold in the 1600s and continues to be used across the world in various languages and dialects. Before this time, smoking was commonly referred to as ‘dry drunkenness’ or ‘puffing’.
Briar Roots Are Aged First
When a briar pipe is made, the root is allowed to grow for 30 to 60 years before being harvested. Following this, the roots are cooked for a couple of hours then dried for a number of months before being made into pipes.
Dirty Pipes Are Beneficial to the Smoker
Although it’s important to clean your pipe after you’ve finished each smoke, it’s worth remembering the importance of a good pipe cake. Caked ash is left around the bowl after a smoke and when left, can reduce the chance of burning the pipe along with enhancing the flavour of the smoke. Although briar root is used as it can withstand a strong amount of heat, cake can provide a protective layer that helps the pipe to last longer. You can read more about the importance of cake in our article here!