Many people consider pipe smoking to be the most civilized form of tobacco consumption. But in order to be civilized, one must first know how to start the process. As far as enjoyment goes, being a proficient smoker comes down (mostly) to the prep work. To begin, loading and packing are detrimental to the smoke. The steps may vary by who you ask and what tobacco you are using, but I will be more general to include the basic steps.
Pipe smoking is meant to be enjoyed so take your time and remember many of these steps are more of an art than a science. It will take lots of practice! Don’t get discouraged if it does not work out right on your first try.
Pipe Smoking Prep Work
As a beginner, it may benefit to start out with the method of pinching and stuffing. Your first pinch should be your largest; you will want to fill the bowl to about a third of the maximum volume so as to not be sprinkling bits the entire time. Pat VERY lightly only to keep stray parts that are sticking up from inhibiting an efficient pack. Next, fill the bowl to a little above halfway and pack down in a medium pressure. Then, for your second to last fill, top off the bowl, leaving as little space between the top of your pile and the brim of the bowl. Finally, overfill your bowl by a half a centimeter and pack down until the top of the pile is back to where it was before you proceeded with the last pack (slightly below the brim of the bowl.)
Your work is not yet complete. Before lighting, test the draw of your pipe by puffing on the stem. If there is too much resistance, (any difficulty at all is too much resistance,) stick a thin object town the inside of your bowl and clear up the airway until the draw is to your satisfaction. If your pipe still has not enough draw, empty your pipe and re-pack it; following the steps above but making your final pack less heavy.
Finally, we come to the initial light. Use a soft flame (match, yellow-flame lighter) whenever lighting up a pipe. Torch-style lighters project more fuel than they can burn in vapor form and it commonly taints the tobacco as you draw. Position the flame so that it glances the top of your tobacco lightly. This is so that you do not over-burn the tobacco. Puff sternly into the pipe as the flame plunges into the pipe. Move the flame around the bowl and continue to puff until you have covered the entire surface of the bowl. Continue to repeat the last action until all of the top has been adequately lit. as you burn the bowl, you will see that some of the flakes will follow the path of the heat and spring from the top of the bowl slowly. while continuing to puff, use a tamping tool to press down on all areas of the bowl so that the tobacco does not burn too quickly on its own.
As you enjoy the bowl, notice how the glow seeps down into the bowl. As this happens, tamp the left behind ash into the burning mound in order to keep the heat in the middle of the bowl, which in turn keeps the smoke coming through the stem. Continue to do this until the bowl has been completely burned and then congratulations, you have successfully finished a pipe bowl!
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