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Virus_Of_Life

To Begin Smoking Pipe Tobacco

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Virus_Of_Life

I still have cravings from my days of smoking cigarettes and chewing tobacco, but will not ever do those two again; however I have been known to puff on a cigar which doesn't do much for me. So I have been wanting to learn how to smoke a pipe to get a little nicotine with the evening cocktail and it seems like a great way to relax when sitting outside by the BBQ or the campfire when out camping.

I am sure we probably have a member or two who smoke a pipe so I thought I'd ask. Any suggestions on a type of pipe to buy, good first tobacco, etc?

You Tube will probably tell me how to probably pack and light it I imagine.

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ErichPryde

Christian,

I occasionally smoke a pipe. I started when I was 19 or 20, a friend in the OU dorms smoked and I thought I'd give it a shot. Since then, I've purchased a couple of pipes.

I'd recommend a relatively inexpensive savinelli for a first pipe. Savinelli's seem to smoke very well regardless of how expensive they are.

I'd recommend getting a bent or curved stem on your first pipe. I say this because as you smoke, saliva will get into the stem and bowl, and there's nothing worse than accidentally sucking some tobacco juice into your mouth. I feel like figuring out how to smoke on something like a curved stem is easier when you don't have to worry about things like that (that being said, straights and bents are equal).

Smoking is completely relative. There is no one best pipe, and expensive pipes do not necessarily smoke better than inexpensive ones. The only reason you would want to buy an expensive pipe is to have a unique look. The most important thing is going to be whether or not you like how the pipe smokes, and whether or not you like how it feels in your hand.

Purchase a pipe nail and some fluffy and rought pipe cleaners to begin with. a pipe nail shouldn't cost you more than a dollar.

Learn how to light your pipe properly, and how to break it in. as far as lighting a pipe, it can be a real struggle to keep it lit the first couple of times, but once you figure it out you're golden. the only advice I can offer is place the pipe tobacco in the bowl, and press it down gently with your finger. It should be somewhat springy, you don't want it to be tightly packed. Light the pipe, give it a couple of puffs (if you speed puff it will burn hot, burn your tongue, and taste bad. take it easy.), and then it will probably go out on you. that's fine, take your pipe nail (or your finger, if you're brave) and press down evenly and only slightly firmly on the tobacco, and relight. This second time it should be truly lit, and once you get it smoking properly it won't go out as much unless left unattended for quite some time.

As far as breaking the pipe in properly- cake (carbon deposit) layering needs to be evenly spread on the bowl including the bottom. Unless you want to smoke a LOT of tobacco, start with 1/4 or 1/2 bowls, with the intent of smoking everything in the pipe in order to get an even cake layer. A layer of cake inside your pipe bowl will help the pipe breathe and make it "taste better." the first couple of smokes in a new pipe might be squirrely and not taste the best, and that's normal.

DO NOT remove the stem from a hot pipe (there are only a couple of exceptions). The wood has expanded and has moisture in it. Typically when I'm done smoking, I run a fluffy pipe cleaner through the stem to remove excess moisture (and so it won't sour) and use a paper towel to dry-ream the bowl. Then I let it cool down a day before disassembling and cleaning (if it is necessary)

and last thing I can think of right now, when you bang the ashes out, hold it by the bowl, not by the stem! this is common sense but believe it or not people will snap stems doing that.

Here are some savinellis- I think there's a beginner sav set somewhere too, but couldn't remember a link.

http://www.cupojoes.com/cgi-bin/dept?dpt=W&srch=DW&tier2=4

youtube has some helpful videos, I'll try to hunt some down for you later. good luck!

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jcg9779

Wow...great notes, Erik! I've often thought it would be fun to start smoking a pipe, but never new where to begin. This will be a big help if I decide to pick it up!

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harshest

I have often thought about getting into pipe smoking but never got around to it. Here is a pretty good little intro, pretty similar to what ErichPryde already posted but there are also a lot of good suggestions in the comments as well.

http://artofmanliness.com/2009/10/14/a-pipe-smoking-primer/

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Brisko

I haven't smoked a pipe in about 15 years but always enjoyed it. The only thing I would add to Erich's great advice is that when you load the bowl, do it in several layers, not too tight, as he said. This gives it a more consistent pack and a more steady smoke.

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flintlock

Christian, I'll just touch lightly on pipe tobaccos. They sort of basically break into two camps: naturals and aromatics. Naturals are basically natural tobacco that is aged and dried and processed, but it's just tobacco, and it's made to TASTE delicious. Aromatics are usually (not always) cheaper quality tobaccos that are top-dressed with flavorings and are made to SMELL delicious.

Thats an oversimplification, but it kind of lays the ground work. Most dedicated connoiseurs probably live in the Natural camp - these are the English tobacco smokers - the tweed jacket, pint of stout, Hobbits in training. I'm in this camp. Natural tobacco tastes fantastic and is really wonderful stuff, but it tends smell like nothing more than plain old tobacco - it doesn't perfume the room up. Aromatics are those cherry cordial-smelling tobaccos you occasionally get a whiff of when a pipe smoker walks by - they make the room smell wonderful but they (to me) taste like mush. They try to make them taste like cherries or whiskey or apples, but it often doesn't work.

Pipe and Tobacco is a very good magazine to read. Superb tobacco can get gotten from Cornell and Diehl, Gawith and Hoggarth, and McClelland. C&D and McClelland are sort of the HH and BT of the tobacco world - most of the good stuff comes from one or the other.

Hope that helps. People tend to focus on the pipe, but it's often the tobacco that either makes or breaks them as a pipe smoker.

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ErichPryde

Ryan, some of my favorite English tobaccos are balkan, I particularly like McClelland Legends.

http://www.tobaccoreviews.com/blend_detail.cfm?ALPHA=C&TID=3946

Legends is an interesting blend of Latakia, Virginia Leaf, and Orientals.

As far as the cased and topped aromatic category goes I'll mostly agree with your assessment- Many aromatics you find at walgreens are very cheaply made, using mostly inexpensive tobacco and chemicals. However, I am a big fan of W.O. Larsen's signature blend- I feel that it's one of those uncommon aromatics that actually tastes good as well.

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Jono
Christian, I'll just touch lightly on pipe tobaccos. They sort of basically break into two camps: naturals and aromatics. Naturals are basically natural tobacco that is aged and dried and processed, but it's just tobacco, and it's made to TASTE delicious. Aromatics are usually (not always) cheaper quality tobaccos that are top-dressed with flavorings and are made to SMELL delicious.

Thats an oversimplification, but it kind of lays the ground work. Most dedicated connoiseurs probably live in the Natural camp - these are the English tobacco smokers - the tweed jacket, pint of stout, Hobbits in training. I'm in this camp. Natural tobacco tastes fantastic and is really wonderful stuff, but it tends smell like nothing more than plain old tobacco - it doesn't perfume the room up. Aromatics are those cherry cordial-smelling tobaccos you occasionally get a whiff of when a pipe smoker walks by - they make the room smell wonderful but they (to me) taste like mush. They try to make them taste like cherries or whiskey or apples, but it often doesn't work.

Pipe and Tobacco is a very good magazine to read. Superb tobacco can get gotten from Cornell and Diehl, Gawith and Hoggarth, and McClelland. C&D and McClelland are sort of the HH and BT of the tobacco world - most of the good stuff comes from one or the other.

Hope that helps. People tend to focus on the pipe, but it's often the tobacco that either makes or breaks them as a pipe smoker.

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taylor714

Peter stokkebye luxury flakes are hard to beat for the price.

35 bucks will net you a lb, and you can keep 2 ozs stored in half pint jars indefinitely. The tobacco ages and uses the oxygen in the container, eventually sealing it just like you would you do canning.

If you find blends you like, buy in bulk. It's much cheaper. I'd anyone wants some to try, ill gladly send a few flakes your way plus some others to sample

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Beer&Bourbon

I've smoked cigars in the past and wanted to get into pipes because: 1. you can control the amount of tobacco you smoke at each session and 2. the tobacco is much cheaper than cigars.

I picked up a pipe a few weeks ago from an estate sale with the intention of not having to break one in. For 10 bucks or so I got a Dr. Grabow from the late 70s/ early 80s. I took it to a local tobacco shop where they told me it was unused - so a great price, but needed to be broken in. That said, I'd check local estate sales to try to find a pipe for a very reasonable price - especially since you very well might make some poor choices with your first pipe (or so I'm told).

About aromatics vs. english blends: I picked up a few aromatics that the local tobacco shop (Straus tobacconist) recommended to try out. Flavors are fairly mild, but reasonably interesting. I like to release the smoke slowly out my mouth and inhale a bit to get the aroma. I haven't picked up any english blends; online it seemed like most pipe smokers recommended starting with aromatics first. It seems that the english style is a bit of an acquired taste (take that with a grain of salt since I haven't tried them myself). Any recommendations for english/ natural pipe tobaccos to start with?

On another note where do you all smoke? My wife is lenient on most items (read: everything else), but she's always had some minor breathing issues and can't stand smoke. I'd like to smoke a pipe when the mood strikes during the winter, but can't stand the cold; it's just not pleasurable if I have to be cold. Do space heaters generate enough heat to make a detached garage doable for a session? Any other suggestions?

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bourboncc
On another note where do you all smoke? My wife is lenient on most items (read: everything else), but she's always had some minor breathing issues and can't stand smoke. I'd like to smoke a pipe when the mood strikes during the winter, but can't stand the cold; it's just not pleasurable if I have to be cold. Do space heaters generate enough heat to make a detached garage doable for a session? Any other suggestions?

No cigar or pipe shops in your area?

Also, to answer the OP, I work for a cigar company so I might be a little biased, but I find pipes to be a PITA. The amount of maintenance that it takes to keep a pipe running well, not to mention to keep the tobacco lit while smoking, is just too much work for me. I also typically prefer fuller bodied Nicaraguan tobaccos, so generally pipe tobaccos don't do it for me.

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Young Blacksmith

I've been a piper for about 8 years now. Switched over from cigars when I realized price and enjoyment were not there anymore.

If you've smoked before, especially cigars, I'd recommend something not aromatic. A pure virginia or virginia with perique, a stout burley, or even a latakia laden english.

I also recommend using a cob as your first main pipe. It looks country, but costs less than $10 and breaks in within a few smokes. Lets you get a feel for the pipe and smoking it without worrying about break in, breaking it, or what you've smoked in it.

For tobaccos I'd recommend opening jars at your local good tobacco store and sniffing. If one trips your fancy, pick up an ounce and try it out. If you can't do that, then the Stokkebye Bullseye Flake is one I love, Dunhill's Deluxe Navy Rolls is another.

Most places will carry at least Prince Albert, Carter Hall, or Sir Walter Raleigh, all burleys. I prefer Sir Walter myself. I'm not much for the latakia englishes or balkans so I can't help there except to say try one and see if you like the flavors.

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taylor714
I've smoked cigars in the past and wanted to get into pipes because: 1. you can control the amount of tobacco you smoke at each session and 2. the tobacco is much cheaper than cigars.

I picked up a pipe a few weeks ago from an estate sale with the intention of not having to break one in. For 10 bucks or so I got a Dr. Grabow from the late 70s/ early 80s. I took it to a local tobacco shop where they told me it was unused - so a great price, but needed to be broken in. That said, I'd check local estate sales to try to find a pipe for a very reasonable price - especially since you very well might make some poor choices with your first pipe (or so I'm told).

About aromatics vs. english blends: I picked up a few aromatics that the local tobacco shop (Straus tobacconist) recommended to try out. Flavors are fairly mild, but reasonably interesting. I like to release the smoke slowly out my mouth and inhale a bit to get the aroma. I haven't picked up any english blends; online it seemed like most pipe smokers recommended starting with aromatics first. It seems that the english style is a bit of an acquired taste (take that with a grain of salt since I haven't tried them myself). Any recommendations for english/ natural pipe tobaccos to start with?

On another note where do you all smoke? My wife is lenient on most items (read: everything else), but she's always had some minor breathing issues and can't stand smoke. I'd like to smoke a pipe when the mood strikes during the winter, but can't stand the cold; it's just not pleasurable if I have to be cold. Do space heaters generate enough heat to make a detached garage doable for a session? Any other suggestions?

I didn't believe it til I tried it, but I smoke in my study with the door closed and windows cracked. For some reason, pipe smokers doesn't linger and stay like cigarettes or cigars

as far as English blends, McClelland dark English is excellent, as is peter stokkebye English. Squadron leader from Samuel Gawith is also phenomenal. If I loved the smokiness of English blends right away. Very rich, aromatic, and woodsy. If you want to try a few samples, send me your contact info and I'll get some your way.

For the record, I highly recommend corn cob pipes. They are inexpensive but smoke very well and can be replaced easily. If you smoke an English blends and don't like the camp fire smokiness and woodsy flavor, your pipe will still taste like that for many smokes to, come. It's called ghosting, where a specific tobacco impregnates the briar with its specific signature.

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taylor714
No cigar or pipe shops in your area?

Also, to answer the OP, I work for a cigar company so I might be a little biased, but I find pipes to be a PITA. The amount of maintenance that it takes to keep a pipe running well, not to mention to keep the tobacco lit while smoking, is just too much work for me. I also typically prefer fuller bodied Nicaraguan tobaccos, so generally pipe tobaccos don't do it for me.

I came from 7 or 8 cigars a week to almost all pipe smoking. Much more in the way of flavor expansion. Also, if properly packed, a pipe should need only a few relights, maybe every 15 minutes or so, and that is just a quick match. Certain tobaccos will burn the whole way without needing a relights. Ad far ad maintenance, a quick pass of a pipe cleaner when done smoking is all the needed maintenance. When starting a pipe, it can seem daunting and frustrating, but just as it takes time to develop a palate for bourbon, so does it take time to master the art and skills of piping.

With all that being said, I still love cigars! Who do you happen to rep for?

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Beer&Bourbon
No cigar or pipe shops in your area?

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Young Blacksmith

Just like bourbon, pipes and tobacco can be ordered from the net!

www.pipesandcigars.com

www.smokingpipes.com

www.4noggins.com

are just a sampling of my favorite retailers. Where I live I'm lucky to have a cigar store. I'm a member there because of their lounge with wi-fi. If I need to get away from the family and do some high speed surfing that's where I go. I rarely buy stuff from them though, and they know it. They have special ordered a few things in for me in the last few months just to be nice to me I think.

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ErichPryde

wow, had a LOT of posts since I was last here! It's good to see that people are contributing to this thread, and honestly, great to see there are some more pipers on the board!

Lots of good info here, now. For any of you who started smoking pipes recently (at this point, geologically speaking) I'd make another recommendation: If you started with aromatics and you LIKE smoking a pipe, you may want to consider picking up a second pipe for trying English tobacco. smoking both types from the same pipe can yield some very interesting and potentially undesirable results. It can be difficult to get the "ghost" of an english tobacco out of a pipe if it was dedicated to aromatics to begin with, and you may end up with a pipe that doesn't taste the same again without some serious reaming, salt & whiskey cleaning.

As far as smoking a pipe in doors, a delegated room with a HEPA filter works wonders. Pipe tobacco is way, way less acidic than cigar smoke and typically contains less chemical additives than cigarettes, so it tends to haunt a room less. But it can happen.

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p_elliott

As far as smoking a pipe in doors, a delegated room with a HEPA filter works wonders. Pipe tobacco is way, way less acidic than cigar smoke and typically contains less chemical additives than cigarettes, so it tends to haunt a room less. But it can happen.

The first car I ever owned was obviously previously owned by a pipe smoker. I always though that car smelled good.

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ErichPryde

I used to make a habit of smoking a small bowl of English tobacco while on my way to work in the evenings in the truck. My wife was none the wiser. (Don't tell her now!)

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Bourbon Boiler
I've smoked cigars in the past and wanted to get into pipes because: 1. you can control the amount of tobacco you smoke at each session and 2. the tobacco is much cheaper than cigars. ...

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squire

Not really, stronger English or Balkin may be considered cigar like, however you can buy pipe tobacco blended especially for cigar smokers and some include cigar leaf.

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Bourbon Boiler

I stated with Prince Albert last night, on the assumption that PA is to pipe smoking what Jim Beam is to bourbon drinking. It might be toward the bottom end of the quality spectrum, but it's available, inexpensive, and undoubtedly a "real" pipe experience, ie not a gimmik flavor.

I got what I was looking for, a decent taste similar to a cheap cigar, but a good ten minute smoke with a glass of bourbon instead of a forty minute investment. I think I'll stick with the pipe, I just need to figure out how to upgrade the tobacco eventually.

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squire

Not a bad choice, these old traditional brands are still around for a reason.

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Bourbon Boiler

Out of curiousity to anyone who might know, but are those traditional brands essentially unchanged over the years?

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ErichPryde

Prince Albert, Carter Hall, Captain Black, many of the really big brands that contain a high percentage of burley, may be relatively unchanged over the long run. I can't say for sure. What I can tell you is, that tobacco blends DO change. The greatest recent example of this was a massive warehouse fire that burned up nearly every existing ounce of Syrian Latakia, which was used in a good number of English blends. Those blends either went away, or they used Cyprian Latakia, which does not have the same flavor, instead. It has taken years but Syrian Latakia has started showing back up in quantity in some blends.

Pipe tobacco is actually amazingly similar to whiskey in some ways. Some sellers of tobacco are rectifiers of a sort (like KBD, VW, or HW), and outsource their blends to different companies who are sourcing the same tobacco, but in many cases, from different places. he blends change with time, and many smokers will go well out of their way to find an older dunhill blend or sobraine. Other blends, that use Perique, have also changed over the years as the way in which that tobacco is made, has changed.

Although Carter Hall and Prince Albert MAY be the same, I doubt that they are exactly the same. even burley has changed over the last 30 years, I'm sure.

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