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Advice for Noobs (and old stagers?)

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Advice for Noobs (and old stagers?)

Postby ruraldean » Mon Nov 29, 2010 10:03 am

I was talking with Dencappo yesterday and have no idea whether he was going to post this, but in any event I've beat him to it so hard luck son.

So here are my Top Ten Tips (including one or two old chestnuts) to aid in your pipesmoking experience. Hopefully they'll stop noobs getting tongue bitten and turning back to ciggies; who knows.

1. Dry tobacco slightly before loading your pipe. Don't let it get too dry (like biscuits) but just let it breath for 20 mins or so. Few baccies won't benefit from a little air time. Try several different drying times, or none at all. Whatever suits you but at least TRY the drying method.

2. You've all heard the expression "packing your pipe". Forget you ever heard it. One of the biggest noob faults is wedging tobacco into your pot and practically standing on it to "get it in there". Wrong. Compacted baccy is difficult to light, keep lit, and it WILL produce scalding steam which won't help increase your smoking pleasure. Plus the fact you'll have to suck like an Electrolux to get any smoke, creating horrifically high temperatures and blowing your eardrums.

You'll see a thousand different ways of filling your pipe on the interwebz from the Franke method to the screw method, from the three pinch method (compress like a child, woman and finally a man) to the scoop method and the air pocket method. Ignore them all. Simply drop your baccy into the bowl, tap the sides and then top up. Add enough finger pressure to keep it in and for it to stay there when you move the pipe about. If you invert your pipe and tap the side of the bowl it should fall out. Always fill looser than you would imagine. Trust me on this one.

3. Light the stuff by covering the surface of the baccy with your flame. This is called the "charring light". The tobacco will expand and curl up. Continue to smoke for 30 seconds or so, then tamp gently. Very gently. Relight and enjoy.

4. Tamping: Never forget you are lightly tamping the ash, not the tobacco. You're aiming to provide a sealing cover of ash which helps the baccy underneath to burn cleanly. Most noobs over-tamp and end up compressing the baccy in the bowl, thus ruining the efforts previously made when lightly filling the pipe. Eric has a great video showing you that the weight of the tamper is all you need; no downward pressure. it's tamping, not stamping.

5. Lightly sip the smoke from the pipe. Over-smoking is a sin. You will go to Hell. The baccy tastes like shit and gets red hot as you attempt those big billowy smoke clouds. With light loading and gentle but regular sipping you'll get that satisfying mouthful of creamy rich smoke whatever you're smoking.

6. Run a pipe cleaner through the pipe as you smoke. A couple of times per smoke is all you need to negate the need for a thorough strip down to clean it. Another tip from Eric, but tougher with bents or system pipes. Some pipes will always need taking apart for a clean. Only do it once the pipe has cooled, but try to avoid it at all if you can. Edit: Some of the following replies suggest that I'm saying you should never break down a pipe. I'm not saying that at all - I'm saying that it probably isn't as necessary as you imagine it is.

7. Some baccies will flavour or "ghost" your pipe almost beyond redemption. Keep separate pipes for baccies like Condor or 1792, infamous for their ability to hang around long after you've gone. If you're a purist you may keep separate pipes for different types of baccy: a couple for English Blends; a couple for VA's; some for Burlys. You get the picture. If you don't mind a bit of a latakia taste to your virginias then don't bother. Just remember you won't be smoking the tobacco as designed by the blender. That would be a shame, and also explains why we all have loads of pipes. You can tell your wife that I told you this. She doesn't know where I live.

8. Take it slowly. Anyone who tries to rush a pipe has really missed the point. Pipe smokers are legendary for their laid-back attitudes and abilities to ponder on an argument to the point where anyone who talks to them may think they've gone into a coma. This should be encouraged in an era when no one has time for anyone else.

9. Resting your pipe. Why? It's possible to smoke one pipe for months with regular pipe cleaner treatment as above. Eric's proved it, and I followed up on the same experiment with great results. Having said that, always allow your pipe to cool before re-filling. A hot bowl is a pain and it doesn't do the pipe any good. Edit: I live in England where we tend not to suffer the range of temperatures found across the States or in places like Iraq. Burning out a pipe is near impossible here. Not so some hotter countries.

10. Don't be afraid of relights. The average pipe smoker is going to relight a pipe several times throughout a session. This is normal. You are not a failure if you relight every 5 minutes, although you may want to "pack" your pipe even lighter and dryer next time.

Remember our forefathers didn't know about all of the new-fangled ways in which a pipe can be filled and smoked. But smoke they did, and as far as I can tell they loved it. Matt and I have adopted all of the above and I know he'll back me on this. It will transform your smoking experience.

Footnote: I was going to sell a beautiful Brigham three dot half-bent billiard. We didn't really get along. By re-thinking my smoking style and adopting my own advice it's now a perfect smoker. I'm smoking it now with some Butternut Burly with some added perique. Just for fun. Lovely.
Regards
Paul
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"The pipe draws wisdom from the lips of the philosopher, and shuts up the mouth of the foolish; it generates a style of conversation, contemplative, thoughtful, benevolent, and unaffected..."

-William Makepeace Thackeray, from The Social Pipe

We nicknamed our granddad Spider Man. Not because he had special powers, but because he couldn't get out of the bath...
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Re: Advice for Noobs (and old stagers?)

Postby Dencappo » Mon Nov 29, 2010 11:07 am

I agree on all points, as you know.

The only thing I would add, is that I think it helps to experiment with different 'airing' times for different blends; some smoke better a little more moist and some smoke better drier. Each blend has a subjective sweet spot in my opinion.

St. Bruno Flake sings when a little moist, not as moist as it is in the tin, but nearly.

FVF is better after a few hours airing. Almost biscuits.

etc, etc.

Happy sipping...

Sip.... Sip.... Sip.

:lol:
Matt

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Re: Advice for Noobs (and old stagers?)

Postby ScotsJim » Mon Nov 29, 2010 11:48 am

Aye ! Great posts from the pair o' yi !

One small point I'd like to raise. Personally, I frown on pushing a pipe cleaner into a pipe half way through your smoke and then pulling it out, unless absolutely necessary. Any gunk you cover the pipe cleaner in then has to be drawn back up and out along the stem and through the very mouthpiece you're putting back in your mouth :roll:

Or, to put it another way ; Yi canna sell the cou an sup the milk ! :lol:

Regards,
Jim
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Re: Advice for Noobs (and old stagers?)

Postby Dencappo » Mon Nov 29, 2010 12:09 pm

Hi Jim,

Whilst I've not personally had a problem with gunk landing in my mouth (not recently anyway), I make sure the inside of the stem, right up to the bit, is dry before commencing puffing. Sometimes it takes more than one pipe cleaner, but better that than let it dry in my pipe or, as happens rarely, begin the dreaded gurgle.

I think one of Eric's points is that if you follow this method, you will not really see gunk coming from inside your pipe. Nowadays, after a pipe cleaner has gone through during the smoke I just tend to get a soggy, but fairly clean looking pipe cleaner.

It's only my opinion, but this 'steam cleaning' (as that's what it does) recommended by Eric works wonders for me and I wish I'd adopted it sooner.

More info here:
http://smokingpipetobacco.com/2010/10/p ... intenance/
Last edited by Dencappo on Mon Nov 29, 2010 12:57 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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- C. H. Spurgeon


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Re: Advice for Noobs (and old stagers?)

Postby dlgillen » Mon Nov 29, 2010 12:54 pm

Good advice for all..it should be a sticky or a handy forum post!!
Dan
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Re: Advice for Noobs (and old stagers?)

Postby Seabilliau » Mon Nov 29, 2010 2:15 pm

How about everyone add on one or two things theyve learned? I've learned the following:

1. Different types of tobacco may require you to adapt your smoking to it. See note 2.
2. Considering any reputable company would not purposely make a blend "bite" your tongue. Maybe you are smoking that particular blend wrong. See note 1.
"They will endeavor to overcome difficulties, if any are experienced, by a cool and temperate perseverance in their duty--by address and moderation, rather than by vehemence or violence."

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Re: Advice for Noobs (and old stagers?)

Postby 12toneman » Mon Nov 29, 2010 2:45 pm

good stuff, all...lookee here, similiar topic with really good advice: http://tampandpuff.com/viewtopic.php?f=17&t=1020
...what helped to bring about that almost impious good-humor of his; that thing must have been his pipe.

http://tripesalamode.wordpress.com/
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Re: Advice for Noobs (and old stagers?)

Postby Muddler » Mon Nov 29, 2010 6:38 pm

Brilliant post - well done!
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Re: Advice for Noobs (and old stagers?)

Postby acaciavet » Mon Nov 29, 2010 10:32 pm

Great job thanks mate.

Up Spirits
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Re: Advice for Noobs (and old stagers?)

Postby winston » Mon Nov 29, 2010 11:52 pm

Great post. Its always nice to read good advice again!
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Re: Advice for Noobs (and old stagers?)

Postby Vulcan1976 » Tue Nov 30, 2010 12:03 am

A legendary post gentlemen......and great advice for all...thank you!
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Re: Advice for Noobs (and old stagers?)

Postby RompinDonkey » Tue Nov 30, 2010 2:41 am

I agree.

Put the baccy in your pipe - light it - then smoke it.

Easy
Alan

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Courage to refrain from buying bacca that I won't like; and Wisdom to know the difference.
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Re: Advice for Noobs (and old stagers?)

Postby brim325 » Tue Nov 30, 2010 2:47 am

Great advice there Paul! I think the biggest problem beginners have is smoking a pipe Way to Fast/ Hot & over tamping / packing the baccy.


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Re: Advice for Noobs (and old stagers?)

Postby chaissac1 » Tue Nov 30, 2010 3:13 am

Great post.
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Re: Advice for Noobs (and old stagers?)

Postby brim325 » Tue Nov 30, 2010 5:17 am

(and old stagers?) You are correct Sir, We are never to old to learn something, And I personally think we are never in life fully learned.


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Re: Advice for Noobs (and old stagers?)

Postby SmokinFool » Tue Nov 30, 2010 6:12 am

brim325 wrote:Great advice there Paul! I think the biggest problem beginners have is smoking a pipe Way to Fast/ Hot & over tamping / packing the baccy.


Yup. The biggest obsticle for me was training myself to **sip** slowly. I couldn't believe how difficult that was to master, and even now I still sometimes find myself puffing too fast.
Andy

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Re: Advice for Noobs (and old stagers?)

Postby KevLa » Tue Nov 30, 2010 7:50 am

ruraldean wrote:6...Some pipes will always need taking apart for a clean. Only do it once the pipe has cooled, but try to avoid it at all if you can...

Good tips there. However, in regard to the above, I agree entirely with the first part of the last sentence, but I'm not at all convinced by the second.
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Re: Advice for Noobs (and old stagers?)

Postby ruraldean » Tue Nov 30, 2010 9:02 am

KevLa wrote:
ruraldean wrote:6...Some pipes will always need taking apart for a clean. Only do it once the pipe has cooled, but try to avoid it at all if you can...

Good tips there. However, in regard to the above, I agree entirely with the first part of the last sentence, but I'm not at all convinced by the second.


Until recently I would have been with you Kev. Matt's been following Eric's advice on steam cleaning with great success, so the pipe never gets dirty. With system pipes, pipes with stingers and most bents I think it's an inevitable consequence though, so I take your point.
Regards
Paul
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http://lefthandedscribblings.co.uk

"The pipe draws wisdom from the lips of the philosopher, and shuts up the mouth of the foolish; it generates a style of conversation, contemplative, thoughtful, benevolent, and unaffected..."

-William Makepeace Thackeray, from The Social Pipe

We nicknamed our granddad Spider Man. Not because he had special powers, but because he couldn't get out of the bath...
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Re: Advice for Noobs (and old stagers?)

Postby Dencappo » Tue Nov 30, 2010 9:16 am

Pipes that will pass a pipe cleaner will still benifit from being broken down and deep cleaned periodically. That's what I do. About once a month.

Everything else gets broken down and cleaned after each smoke.
Matt

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- C. H. Spurgeon


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Re: Advice for Noobs (and old stagers?)

Postby ruraldean » Tue Nov 30, 2010 9:20 am

brim325 wrote:(and old stagers?) You are correct Sir, We are never to old to learn something, And I personally think we are never in life fully learned.


Thanks. I thought hard about including us old boys in the title. In the end it was simple: I've tried every packing method, including the weird and wonderful with varying degrees of success. It was the same when I played golf and took lessons - the more I had the worse I got. Only recently (and I MEAN recently) have I put all my simplest information into practice with transformative results.

I know the debate about smoking vs hobby will rumble on, and most of you know I accept both definitions for different circumstances, but sometimes I wonder whether there's a huge element of Emporer's New Clothes about the whole ritual thing. Richard Carleton Hacker is probably the most pretentious pipe snob I've ever read, so I'm almost inclined to do the opposite of everything he advises just out of spite.

It's already been said in this thread. Put tobacco in, light it, suck gently, blow a bit.
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Paul
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"The pipe draws wisdom from the lips of the philosopher, and shuts up the mouth of the foolish; it generates a style of conversation, contemplative, thoughtful, benevolent, and unaffected..."

-William Makepeace Thackeray, from The Social Pipe

We nicknamed our granddad Spider Man. Not because he had special powers, but because he couldn't get out of the bath...
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