Smoking a tobacco pipe is among those activities—like learning an instrument, or painting, or golf—where you can get started quickly but easily misstep and learn bad habits. But a pipe is also more than just a hobby; it’s a sacred and contemplative pastime, and one that’s poised to serve you with years of pleasure, deep thoughts, and camaraderie with a worldwide community of like-minded pipe lovers. To get these goods, you need to put in the work early and learn the ropes in the right way. It’s not uncommon for the early pitfalls of learning to smoke a pipe to be so discouraging that one gets fed up and abandons this newfound pleasure. Fortunately, there are a few basic lessons to set you on the right course. Some require a deeper understanding of the instrument itself, some are slight tweaks in our framework of thinking about pipes, some are adjustments to technique, and a few are good reminders even for the seasoned pipe smoker who has forgotten the basics. The good news: by the time you finish this series of videos you’ll be eons ahead of the average newbie and save yourself a lot of pain, frustration, and tongue bite along the way. Let’s get started.
I.Purchase a Quality Pipe to Start
Choosing your first pipe can be a daunting process. From Pokers to Churchwardens to Tomahawks to the Calabash, not only are the shapes and the vastness of the selection intimidating, the price range can make selecting a quality pipe challenging as well. The key thing here is to get a pipe of sufficient quality at the outset so you’re not prohibiting your first venture into the pipe world with a cheap instrument that smokes poorly. Take a look at Professor Walker’s video below on how to select a solid beginning pipe and don’t forget the most important rule of all: pick a pipe that resonates with you; your first pipe is something you’ll keep as a memento for a lifetime.
A few of the pipes in Professor Walker’s video below:
Dr. Grabow Big Pipe - Smooth
Savinellii Roma Rustic 320
Peterson Bent Pipe
OMS (One Man Smoke) Billiard
II.Pack it Proper – The Three Step Method
One of the easiest mistakes for a beginning pipe smoker to make is packing your pipe improperly. The result: the pipe can be terrifically difficult to keep lit and can burn too hot. To ease one of the most common frustrations in pipe smoking, it pays dividends to master pipe packing now for cool and consistent smokes every time. Once the pipe is packed, a two-step light and proper smoking technique (more on that below) ensures you’re burning true and in for premium downtime. While the following is not the only approach, The Three Step Method is a popular and effective strategy for packing your pipe with a new pipe tobacco to try.
III.Keep it Clean
Depending on your disposition, maintaining the cleanliness of your pipe is either one of your favorite activities or a loathsome task. Either way, it’s a necessity so get used to this part of the process. A well-tended pipe maximizes the flavor of your tobacco and ensures any leftover tar isn’t ruining an otherwise great smoke. Cleaning your pipe means more than just running a pipe cleaner through the stem during or after a smoke. Pick up a pipe tool to make sure you’re prepared for cleaning out any blockages and that your pipe is ready for use.
Dr. Grabow Classic 3-in-1 Pipe Tool
BJ Long Extra Absorbent Pipe Cleaners
IV.Master Smoking Technique
No rookie pipe smoking mistake is as painful or as much of a turnoff as the dreaded tongue bite. The result of misunderstanding the peaceful cadence of pipe smoking and employing an improper smoking technique, as well as tobacco that is too moist, are two common causes. Tongue bite can be described as a “burning” sensation in the tongue or the roof of the mouth caused by the pipe burning too hot. Fortunately, the pipe smoking community has struck on a novel smoking skill—the Breathe Method—that, when properly incorporating, dramatically improves the smoking experience and banishes tongue bite for good. Additionally, by “breathing” the smoke back through the shank of the type, the Breathe Method has the added benefit of fully revealing the nuances of your tobacco and helping your pipe to stay lit. While it may take a little practice for the new pipe smoker, this technique is well worth mastering early in your pipe journey.
V.Get Comfortable with Relighting
While the Breathe Method goes a long, long way in helping to keep your pipe lit, a pipe smoker views smoking as a wholistic activity: it’s about conversation, reflection, rest, or getting swept into a grand idea or a great book. Pipe smoking should never be rushed and from the outset, and the aficionado ought to fix it in his mind that relights are a part of the experience. This is no cigar you puff away at relentlessly or a quick cigarette. Pipes are the slow and sophisticated smoking experience that recalibrate the chaos of a given day into order through pace and patience. As a benefit of this new way of living, the gentleman exercises a counter-agency to the frenetic demands of 21st century living.
The beauty of smoking a pipe is a lifelong journey of distinct and pleasurable experience. From the incredible array of tobacco blends to the nuances of each and every pipe, there is never a shortage of knowledge to learn about and technique to improve upon. Even the greats agree there. In the pipe world, we have masters, but all of us, from the most seasoned veteran to the beginning smoker, are ultimately students of the pipe.