How Does the Shape of Your Pipes Bowl Affect the Smoke?

A man lighting a pipe with a match

While many things have an impact on the tastes we get from our pipe, such as how fast we puff on it, how much tobacco we pack in and what we use to light it, the actual geometry of our pipe also plays a strong role in creating the flavours we receive. We take a look at the different flavours presented by wide and narrow chamber pipes.


Wide Chamber Pipes

Wide chamber pipes, with a larger, pot shaped bowl, features a bigger opening, allowing more oxygen to pass into the pipe. Therefore, when the tobacco is lit, it will be exposed to more air than in other pipe types, creating a larger ember, and producing more smoke. The higher level of smoke can help to enhance and develop any flavours present in the blend, allowing for a fuller flavour to be enjoyed.

While this may sound ideal, and like you should immediately throw out all of your narrower pipes, there are some downsides to choosing a wide chamber pipe. Because more air can enter the pipe, it means that the added oxygen can keep on fuelling the fire, raising the temperature too much. This can bring out unpleasant tastes in the tobacco, which can ruin what would have been a lovely smoke. The flavours can be impacted due to the sugar present in a blend being caramelised too fast, as it is too hot. To avoid this happening, it is important to keep the combustion temperature lower. You can do this by lighting the pipe with matches rather than a lighter, slowing down your smoke, or choosing a pipe tobacco blend with a lower amount of sugar.

Another way of reducing this issue is to use something, such as a finger, to gently cover over the bowl each time you draw on the pipe, stopping as much air from entering. This can restrict the airflow a little so that the tobacco does not burn too fast, while still gaining the benefits of more smoke from the bigger bowl!


Narrow Chamber Pipes

The smaller bowl size of a narrow chamber pipe means that airflow is a little more restricted than that of a wide chamber pipe. Therefore, the ember produced should be smaller, and the burning temperature should be lower, allowing for only the best flavours of each blend to be slowly drawn out, presenting an incredible flavour.

Yet, while the flavour presented by a narrower pipe may be truer to what it was intended to taste like, the lower amount of smoke produced means that it is more likely to present a thinner taste than if it were smoked on a bigger pipe, making it a little less intense. Unlike wider pipes, sugary blends



There are, of course, other factors which impact upon the enjoyment of our pipes. The main factor is the level of moisture present in the tobacco. When the moisture levels of the tobacco are wrong, it tends to be packed into the pipe too tightly. Moist tobacco sticks together, making it too dense, and will produce a lot of steam when lit. Similarly, tobacco that is too dry crumbles, so it appears that you need more. The dry tobacco will burn too hot and too fast, losing a lot of its flavour, as the crumbled pieces bypass smouldering and go straight to burnt. Tobacco that has the right level of moisture will allow for the optimum amount of airflow to pass through it, creating the perfect burning temperature.

What sort of pipe do you use to smoke your favourite blend? Let us know in the comments below!

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  1. Pingback: Trends in the Size of Cigars and Pipes | Havana House

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