So you are having trouble keeping your pipe lit are ya? Well take comfort that there is help, that its nothing unusual, and you are not alone. Here are some basic tips to help if you are new to pipe smoking.
#1: Make sure you are packing your pipe correctly. See articles on this blog about methods of packing a pipe. After learning a proper packing method then you just need practice. You do not want the tobacco packed too tight or too loose both are bad. Make sure the tobacco after being packed is still spongy to the touch.
#2: Char the packed tobacco before lighting also called the False Start. I think you will find you will have to do less relights if you scorch before lighting. To do this light the bowl and take a couple nice even draws. Let it go out and very gently tamper it down. Make sure you do not apply force just ever so slightly. Then repeat by lighting and taking another couple of nice even draws. Let it go out and tamper again. If the top of the tobacco is blackened evenly you are now ready to do the final light or True Start.
#3: DO NOT puff so hard. If you are a cigar smoker or former then this especially applies to you. Cigar smoking, for me, was about big volume and tasting big billows of smoke roll off the tongue. However, if you come to the pipe and do that you are gonna tarnish the taste of the tobacco, the opposite of cigar smoking. And by puffing so hard the tobacco is gonna burn too hot and scorch your tongue with steaming hot smoke, "tongue bite." Drawing out the flavors in pipe smoking is more about "sipping" the smoke out of the bowl. Just flip flop your methods of cigar and pipe. It takes practice and time to learn. Do I always have to "sip"? No. You will learn eventually nuances and certain puffing techniques will draw out certain characteristics of the various tobaccos in a blend, etc. The key is to start slow and rhythmically but do not start off puffing like a cigar or a train you will not last long and will have missed all the glorious subtleties of pipe smoking, and we don't want that.
I'm getting gurgles of sour spit coming up the stem of my pipe...help! It is most likely not spit but "dottle" caused by either puffing too hard or the tobacco is considerably moist in the bottom of the bowl. It maybe saliva if you are a "wet" smoker or you are blowing excessively into the stem. You can either stick a pipe cleaner down the stem to clear some of the excess dottle out. DO NOT remove the stem to clean while pipe is hot. You risk breaking the pipe at worst and at best the stem will no longer fit snug as it should. If it is becoming too much for ya put it down and fill a different pipe and start over. No need to keep going cause dottle ain't no fun!
*** Stir occasionally with the stir stick portion of a pipe tool this will move the ashes around and loosen them up so that they collapse nicely on the unlit tobacco.
#4 Final thoughts - Your pipe is new. A new pipe can cause your tobacco to not stay lit. You got to break it in first, develope some cake in the bowl before she will start staying lit for you. Also you may want to try putting a portion of your tobacco you want to smoke out on plate to dry for 1-2hrs or up 24.
Other helpful thoughts:
#1: Take advantage of the wide community of knowledge You need to find what works for you within the arena of shared knowledge among the pipe smoking community. Find online forums. Talk with your local tobacconist. Get involved and experiment to find what works for you.
#2: Pipe smoking is organic in that you, your instruments, and your ingredients are always in flux and you will learn to adapt and work the little subtleties of each. So relax. You will not always have a bowl that you never have to relight and that's okay if you got the basics down. (see 1-3)
#3: Remember to always love it. That is really important! You have entered a very special hobby and lifestyle that will continue to surprise you with depth each day you learn more about it. Your goal is not to become a pipe snob but to fall more in love with the peaceful nuances of your new found hobby. Goal isn't to have zero relights but to enjoy yourself.
I hope this helps and until next time may your pipes be lit and your cellars full!
*The entire contents of this article are written by Chris Rehers
Did you know that your tobacco ages like wine? Actually, I think it ages even better! A lot of tobacco smokers will not even smoke recently purchased tins of tobacco but rather store them for aging, the storage place is called a tobacco cellar. So now you know what people mean by, "hey you should cellar some of this stuff." (see picture above)
Here are some tips on aging/cellaring your tobacco.
#1: When you find a blend you like it is always good to pick up 1 can to smoke now and 3 or more cans to cellar; one can to smoke 6 months later, one can to smoke 1 year later, and 1 or more cans to smoke 5-15 years later. Most major changes occur after the six month mark then the changes are more subtle and take longer to occur. There are general stages: 6 months, 1 year, 2 years, 5 years - all of which will show distinct changes but after five years the process will slow significantly.
#2: All tobacco does not age the same or does not deliver the same bang for your buck in terms of aging. Virginias and Perique blends will age most wonderfully. Beyond that you have Turkish and quality Orientals that will do alright, and possible Latakia though not great. Aromatics may or may not age it all depends on the casing which is responsible for killing the early aging process. Just not a good candidate.
#3: Tin vs. Bulk Storage and Aging. The best way to age tobacco is to buy it in a sealed tin and keep it sealed. Bulk tobacco simply doesn't offer the same results. Once you expose them to air the aging process is cut but not all is lost. If you find a tobacco you like you may buy in bulk and if its still fresh you can break up the tobacco and transfer it to air-tight jars like Mason or Ball jars. Make sure your tins are stored in a cool and dry place...you don't want rusting...nothing worse than aging a tin for 10 years only to pop it open to see it ruined by a hole due to rust. No need to refrigerate the tobacco either which may cause damage to the cell structure of the tobacco anyway.
DO NOT vacuum seal! Bad idea all around. You need some oxygen to maintain the aging process so stick with any air-tight jar and you will be good to go.
Also I prefer to store bulk tobacco in smaller jars of 8oz mainly because you are gonna want to test them over time and if you put all your tobacco in one large jar once you open it you are stuck smoking the entire bulk you stored for aging even if you think its not quite ready yet. Whereas if you spread it over several 8oz jars you can smoke up on 8oz jar and leave the other jars for another date should you need to.
#4 Ok you have finally aged a tin of tobacco for six months and you are ready to sit down to smoke it. Before you do though you should go out and purchase a fresh can of the same tobacco so you can notice the changes, especially if this is your first time or you are not yet familiar with the subtleties of the tobacco you are smoking.
#5 Need a way of tracking what tobacco is in your cellar? There is a free online tool that allows you to enter all the data about your tobacco and begins to track the age for you. Plus this will allow you and your friends to see what you have in your collection and aging. Everyone I know uses this online software at http://www.tobaccocellar.org
What you have never had aged tobacco? You can also buy aged tins from smokers like you at the tobaccocellar.org.
Hope this helps! And until next time may your pipes be lit and your cellars full!
*The entire contents of this article are written by Chris Rehers