Taking up pipe smoking can be difficult – there are a lot of things that can go wrong if you’re not confident with what you are doing. One bad experience with a pipe when you’re getting started can be enough to make you put down the pipe for good.
Here at Havana House, we want everyone to be able to enjoy this fantastic experience for the best it can be, so to help out, we have compiled some common pipe smoking mistakes and how you can avoid them.
Smoking the Wrong Pipe
If you’ve decided you want to give pipe smoking a go, then it is likely you want to check if it’s for you before shelling out a tonne of money on a fancy, high-end pipe. However, this is where problems can quickly occur.
Briar pipes are one of the most popular types of pipe available – they look great, they can last a lifetime and can add an incredible flavour to the smoke.
But, if you were to choose a cheaper briar pipe, then it may not have been cured properly, as this process is timely and adds expense to the production. The curing process aims to reduce the tannins, sap and resins that are naturally present in briarwood.
If curing isn’t done properly, then it can make the pipe smoke too hot and wet, which can cause tongue bite and an unpleasant taste.
Solution: Try an Estate Pipe
If you want to enjoy a good smoke without having to fork out the cash straight away, then you could look for an estate pipe, which is one that is pre-owned.
Most estate pipes will be refurbished, cleaned and sanitised like new, but will be broken in already and much cheaper than a brand new pipe, allowing you to get a better quality briar pipe on a budget.
Corn Cob Pipes
Another solution to this is to choose a corn cob pipe. As the name suggests, these pipes are crafted from a corn cob, which makes them a lot cheaper, while still offering a decent smoke.
For a beginner looking to try smoking, this is a great option as they do not need to be broken in, are robust and provide great flavour.
Packing the Tobacco Too Tight in the Pipe
To smoke a pipe, you must pack the bowl with pipe tobacco, and this requires a bit of a knack that you will develop as you continue your pipe smoking journey.
While it might be tempting to jam in as much tobacco as the bowl can hold, this is a bad move and will make it hard for the tobacco to stay lit. To combat the poorly-lit tobacco, you’ll end up puffing harder, which can cause the pipe to get too hot and may cause tongue bite.
How to Pack a Pipe
To correctly pack a pipe, you want to loosely fill the bowl with tobacco, then use a finger or tamper to push it down to being around two-thirds full. The tobacco should not be as squished down as you can get it; instead, it should still have a bit of spring to it.
On top of this, you should then fill the remainder of the pipe and then press down again with less pressure. Continue until the bowl is filled, and drawing through the pipe should have a similar feel to drinking through a straw.
- If it whistles when you draw through the pipe, then it is packed too light.
- If it takes effort to draw through the pipe, then it is packed too tight.
Tamping is a crucial part of the pipe-smoking process, but it is easy to get wrong. The aim of tamping is to keep the tobacco burning right by keeping the burning tobacco in contact with the layers of tobacco underneath. This is needed, as the heat causes the lit tobacco to expand and pull away from the layer beneath.
Tamping helps to gently keep the pipe going, with gentle being the key word here, as it is essential to avoid compressing the tobacco as you tamp. Instead, the embers of the tobacco should just be gently nudged into contact with the tobacco underneath.
Do you have any tips to help pipe smokers avoid mistakes? Leave a comment below or on our social media channels with your best advice!
For more advice on pipe smoking, and how to make the experience even better, you can check out our previous post on pipe smoking do’s and don’ts!