How to smoke a pipe #4: Pick a pipe
In coming to Part 4 of our series on how to smoke a tobacco pipe, we realized that maybe we could’ve started with this, the first step: Choosing a Pipe.
If you’ve decided it’s high time that you spend more time slowing down and contemplating the world (or just prepping for draft day with Sports Center), you might have the urge to take up smoking a tobacco pipe. Good for you!
Since you’re reading this on TobaccoPipes.com, we’ll assume you’ve already seen a pipe or two. It’s probable you’re slightly disoriented, thinking this new hobby you’re considering might be a lot more fuss than it’s worth.
While it’s true that pipes come in a seemingly endless variety of types, colors and styles, it is also true that most new smokers can identify pretty quickly what works best for them--with a little bit of guidance.
Choosing a smoking pipe
Start with quality, or start disappointed
Many beginning pipe smokers head to buy their first set up for $20 or $30. In general, this is a recipe for disaster. A pleasant smoking experience, with a few rare exceptions, requires a little more of an investment. Expect to spend $50 or more for a good-quality machine-made briar pipe. In addition, you’ll need a few tobacco pipe accessories like tobacco, a pipe tool and cleaners. Expect to spend at least $100 to start your new hobby. Keep in mind, that a good quality starter pipe, like the Savinelli One series, will still be in most tobacco enthusiasts collections 20 years from now.
Consider pipe materials
Tobacco pipes are typically made of briar wood, corn cob, Meerschaum, or Clay. In general, we recommend new smokers begin with a briar pipe. This is because briar will offer the easiest learning experience for a newbie at the lowest price point. A corn cob pipe may be significantly cheaper, but learning how to smoke cool and dry is much more challenging.
Briar comes from the roots of a bush primarily growing near the Mediterranean Sea. Due to it’s saltwater-tolerant growing conditions, briar is extremely durable, heat resistant and breathable--the perfect material for enjoying a satisfying bowl of tobacco.
Consider pipe shape
Tobacco pipes are made up of three basic pieces--the bowl, shank and stem. The bowl is where tobacco is held and where it burns. The shank allows the smoke to cool a little before it reaches your
mouth. Finally, the stem is held in the mouth and draws the smoke. Three simple pieces, which come in an infinite variety of shapes, sizes and lines.
So how do you choose what shape will be best for you? It isn’t easy, and requires a little trial and error. The only way to know for sure what type of pipe works best for you is to browse a variety of pipes and look for ones that appeal to you based on looks and start there.
One thing we have found, is that new smokers generally do better with a fairly lightweight pipe. Sometimes we like to compare choosing a pipe to a woman choosing her wedding dress. She might browse many different shapes and styles, then narrow it down to a few to try on and when the right one comes along, it whispers to her seductively. The same is true with the right pipe for you.
How did you start smoking tobacco pipes? Any advice for new smokers? We’d appreciate your comments below!
- Holiday Gift Ideas for Pipe Smokers (See What "Celebrities" Recommend)
- Introducing Silver Gray Pipes: An artist and her process [Interview]
- Pipe Collector Daniel Billings: His favorite awesome smokes
- Making Peterson Pipes in 10 Steps (+ awesome history from Mark Irwin)
- Tobacco Pipe Collector Eric Chilton's shares his fascinating story