How to Smoke a Pipe

Man in a field smoking a pipe

If you want to enjoy all the wonders that tobacco tasting has to offer, but cigars aren’t quite your style, then you’re in luck. There are plenty of other ways to enjoy tobacco, but none are as distinguished and sophisticated as pipe smoking.

However, if you don’t know how to smoke a pipe or do so incorrectly, then you will easily lose the classy effect that it can create. That’s why we’ve made this guide on how to properly smoke a pipe.

Pipe Smoking Dos and Don'ts

What is Pipe Smoking?

Pipe smoking, like cigar smoking, is a method of tasting tobacco. However, instead of the tobacco being neatly rolled up and ready to smoke in that form, it is instead smoked using a pipe.

These pipes are typically carved out of wood, and you may recognise them being used by figures in films and television like Robert Downey Jr.’s Sherlock Holmes.

What Do You Need to Smoke a Pipe?

Pipe smoking requires a few more tools than smoking a cigar. Rather than overwhelm you with all the specifics, we’re going to cover the basic equipment that you’ll need in order to get yourself started with pipe smoking.

A row of wooden pipes

Your Pipe of Choice

Tobacco pipes come in all shapes and sizes, from your country bumpkin style corn pipe all the way to the more classically recognised curved shape like this Savinelli Siena Smooth Shape 616.

What pipe you choose has more to do with aesthetic taste than it does the smoking experience, so the world really is your oyster for which pipe you use.

A Way To Light Your Pipe

Where there’s smoke…

Another key piece of equipment you’re going to need in order to smoke your pipe is a way to light it. While you technically can use a standard cigarette light, it’s not an easy feat to get the flame into the bowl and might ruin the image of pipe smoking.

That’s why we recommend using either a proper pipe lighter like this Dissim Inverted Soft Flame Pipe Lighter or wooden matches.

Pipe Tamper

This piece of kit is beautifully simple and is used to properly pack your tobacco into the pipe bowl to keep it looking crisp and classy.

Smokers Companion 3 in 1 Pipe Tool: Buy Now

Pipe Cleaners

Pipes that get a lot of use are inevitably going to get clogged. That’s why it’s essential that you keep some pipe cleaners on hand.

Pipe Tobacco

Now for the main event! The tobacco.

Pipe Tobacco comes in a variety of styles, cuts and brands – all of which can impact your pipe smoking experience. Some of the different cuts include:

  • Shag tobacco
  • Ribbon cut
  • Flake cut
  • Plug

Which cut you go for will affect how fast and how hot the tobacco will burn, so do your research ahead of hand. You can browse our full range of pipe tobaccos available in our store below.

Buy pipe tobacco online

How to Smoke a Pipe

Now that you have your equipment, it’s time to get down to business. Here, we’re going to walk you through how you go about smoking a pipe.

Pack the Bowl

Grab a loose pinch of your chosen tobacco and put it in the bowl of your pipe. Gently pack it down with your tamper.

Add a second pinch and tamp it down. Your bowl should be half full.

Add a third pinch of tobacco and tamp it down. If your bowl is two-thirds of the way full now, add another pinch of tobacco and tamp it down, leaving a little space at the top of the bowl.

Take a Test Draw

Before you light your tobacco, you need to make sure that air flows freely through the pipe. Do this by taking a couple of test puffs on your pipe.

If the air isn’t flowing freely, you’ll need to empty your pipe and start over.

Light Your Pipe

You need to be careful when lighting your pipe, as burning anything that isn’t tobacco can alter the taste of the smoke. If you’re using matches, let it burn for a second after lighting so the sulfur can burn off.

Apply the flame from your match or lighter to the bowl in a circular motion while drawing gently on the pipe.

Pipes will typically light once with what’s known as a “false light”. In order to get “true light”, you’ll need to let the false one go out and then light the tobacco once more.

Draw on Your Pipe

As with cigars, pipe smoking is about tasting the tobacco, not inhaling the smoke. Since pipe tobacco can be rather strong, inhaling the smoke can be overwhelming and easily put you off the entire experience.

Take little puffs into your mouth and try to savour the flavours in the tobacco before blowing the smoke out.

A pipe, a lighter and a tin of pipe tobacco on a table

Pipe Smoking Advice

If you are a complete novice in pipe smoking, then here’s some advice for your first time.

Take Your Time

Smoking a pipe too fast can cause what’s commonly called “tongue bite”, which is an irritating burning sensation across your tongue. This can easily ruin your entire experience and alter the taste of the tobacco.

Try to puff at a leisurely pace to properly enjoy the experience.

Relight Your Pipe When Necessary

Smoking a pipe can take, on average, between 20 – 40 minutes. During this time, it’s likely that your pipe is going to go out, but this isn’t something to worry about. Simply relight your pipe where required using the previously mentioned circular technique and then carry on.

Always Clean When Finished

Hygiene is essential when using tools for smoking. Most pipes should be disassembled and deep cleaned once a month and also have an alcohol clean every few smokes for general maintenance. This will stop any of the tobacco flavours from being tainted by burned tobacco or moisture build-up.

To make these cleans easier on yourself, be sure to tap or scrape out the bowl of your pipe as soon as you’ve finished smoking.

That’s everything you need to know to get yourself started as a pipe smoker. If you’re new to pipe smoking and want to see what kinds of tobacco and pipes are available, head over to our store, where we have a great range from several top brands.

Buy pipes online

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