Filling the Pipe
process of filling a pipe is simple, yet important to smoking pleasure.
If the chamber is packed too tightly with too few air spaces the pipe
will go out easily and have to be relit often. A pipe packed too
loosely will burn hot and fast.
way to fill your pipe is in pinches. The first pinch at the bottom
should be tamped down with your fingers ever so lightly to leave a
maximum of air between tobacco leaves at the bottom of the bowl. Tamp
the second tamp down a little more firmly, the third tamp more firmly
still, and so on till the pipe is filled.
when you “break in” a new pipe, the pipe is only partially filled with
tobacco – this is covered in more details in one of the following
The way you fill your pipe will
depend on the tobacco you are using. Ribbon cut tobacco holds more air
and should be tamped a little firmer. A coarse or plug tobacco may
leave too little air and smoke slower, requiring relighting if not
filled with care. Good fresh tobacco will pack tightly and may also
form blockages and areas in the chamber with too little air for proper
combustion. Dry tobacco will fill easier, but will smoke hotter and
As you fill the pipe, draw
through the mouthpiece to check on the air flow. If it draws too
easily, tamp down a little more firmly. If it is difficult to draw,
empty your bowl and start again or you will find yourself constantly
relighting your pipe.
Filling one’s pipe is an art in itself. As your expertise grows you will find your skill a source of great satisfaction.
Lighting the Pipe
goal is to light the entire tobacco surface evenly. This can be
accomplished in three steps. First spread the flame from a wooden match
or lighter evenly in a circular motion across the tobacco, drawing on
the mouthpiece with long draws. Then smooth and tamp down the burning
tobacco across the entire surface. Finally, relight the tobacco again
spreading the flame as evenly as possible.
Cleaning the Pipe
after each smoke a pipe cleaner is run though the mouthpiece, down the
length of the air channel and through to the base of the bowl. With
Peterson System pipes, it should be used to clean the reservoir where
most of the moistures accumulate.
should then be left to dry, since the briar or meerschaum absorbs some
of the moisture produced during smoking. After a few smokes, every pipe
should be rested a day or two to allow the absorbed moisture which has
accumulated in the pipe to evaporate. This is why you need more than
one pipe to smoke in rotation and why most pipe smokers have up to a
dozen or more.
For a more complete cleaning
an alcohol based liquid, rum, brandy etc. can be used to clean the pipe
which should then be left to dry thoroughly, Periodically, a pipe
should be disassembled and cleaned scrupulously. Always do this after
the pipe has been allowed to cool and be careful to disengage the stem
from the bowl by gently twisting, not pulling the two apart. Leave the
pipe unassembled to dry out.
Breaking in the Pipe
in your new pipe is a crucial step in making a sweet tasting, long
lasting pipe. It takes time, patience and skill. But it is an
investment whose rewards will be reaped many fold.
goal when breaking in a pipe is to develop a uniform cake around the
wall of the entire smoking chamber or smoke hole. The cake is actually
a carbon deposit left by the smoked tobacco rather than charred wood.
The cake serves to insulate the briar and reduces the possibility of
burning out your new pipe.
The cake also
sweetens the pipe, since the carbon is formed from the sugars in the
tobacco. The sweet cake absorbs the flavour of the briar and the result
of smoking a pipe with a well formed cake is a mellow, sweet smoke.
However, you can have too much cake which is discussed later.
second and most important step is to fill the pipe only one-quarter
full. Light the partial pipeful evenly. Tamp down the burning tobacco
and again light the tobacco evenly.
pipe slowly and completely. Taking long, slow draws will help to form a
good, even cake. It is important to smoke the pipe to the bottom to
establish the cake all the way to the bottom. The cake at the bottom of
the bowl is the most difficult to develop and this is why such care
must be taken in the breaking in process.
smoking a few pipefuls at one-quarter, move up to smoking at one-half
full, then several at three-quarters. Allow the pipe to cool after each
smoker and after a few pipefuls remove the residue from the bottom of
the bowl. This must be done very carefully so as not to disturb the
cake which you have obtained with your efforts. The purpose of
gradually increasing the tobacco level is twofold – first, it will help
form an even cake from the bottom to the top of the bowl and second, it
ensures that the new pipe will not become overheated and burn out
before it has a thick enough cake.
Scraping out the bowl
not allow too much carbon to form inside the bowl as this may cause the
wood to split due to outward expansion of the “cake” when the bowl is
cooling after use. The ideal carbon thickness is 1.5mm.
a pipe should be emptied immediately after smoking this should not be
done by hitting or knocking the top of the bowl against a hard surface.
The latter may result in a cracked or split pipe.
order to gain the maximum life and pleasure from your pipes it is
essential that you take proper care of them. They will last longer and
smoke sweeter if you let them dry thoroughly between smokes. Clean them
frequently and scrape them clear of excess cake when it develops.
and particularly for heavy smokers, it is recommended that you keep at
least three or four pipes alternately in use. This will ensure maximum
smoking pleasure and longer life for your pipe.
takes a little time to break in a pipe correctly and keep it cleaned
properly, but the increased smoking pleasure will make it worthwhile.