Want to learn how to pack and light a tobacco pipe? It’s not as complicated as it seems. For the newbie pipe smoker, learning to pack your tobacco properly will be a valuable lifelong skill. If you don’t pack your pipe correctly, you’ll be left with dottle at the end of the smoke, or a pipe that’s too difficult to pull. For your own enjoyment, learn to do it right.
Packing and lighting is an art form, like smoking. It may take some time to master the techniques, but once you do, you’re well on your way to pipe-smoking bliss.
What you’ll need:
- A pipe
- Some tobacco
- A tamper of some sort
- A flame
- Pipe cleaners
Pipe Packing Procedure
There are several methods for packing a pipe with tobacco, the best of which depends on the kind of tobacco as well as personal preference. The following methods aren’t the only methods, but they can help you find a process that feels right.
Be sure your pipe is free from obstructions and leftover residue, like ash. Run a pipe cleaner through the stem gently to force out any remaining gunk on the inside. You want a clean chamber.
Prepare the tobacco for smoking. Remove a small pinch from your tin or pouch, lay it out on a flat surface, pick apart any clumps, and get a feel for its moisture content. Too moist? Let it sit out for a few minutes, and then come back. After drying, the tobacco will be much easier to handle.
Fill the pipe. Trickle strands of tobacco into the bowl until it’s filled the brim. You may have the urge to push the tobacco down with your thumb half-way through this action, but this will only cause more clumps to form, erasing some of the prep work you have just done.
Compress the tobacco. Use a tamper, a pipe-nail, or something similar to do this. For bowls with straight sides, you should only fill about halfway; for tapered bowls, go for two-thirds.
Do a test run. Take the pipe to your lips and take a few draws. If it gives you resistance, dump the tobacco and restart.
Tobacco Pipe Lighting Procedures
Lighting the pipe is a much more straightforward operation. You simply need an open flame. There are, of course, measures you can take to maximize satisfaction.
Perform a “false light”: apply a flame to the tobacco and move it in circular motions around the whole surface of the tobacco. This will expel any extra moisture before you go in for the real smoke.
Tamp the tobacco back down. It might be useful to twist or spin the tamp in a circular motion as well. Just don’t go overboard; only return the tobacco to the level it was before.
Relight the match, apply it to the tobacco, and continue circular motions. Do some puffing while you perform this action. Does the tobacco unravel? It shouldn’t.
Now you’re ready to sit back, relax, and enjoy your smoke. If the process didn’t work out perfectly, no worries: pipe-smoking takes time and practice, sometimes a couple months’ worth. Having to relight your pipe is a fact of life from time to time.