PIpe Academy: How to pack a pipe

Pipe tobacco tins, bulk and sampler packsThere are probably hundreds of different methods for packing a pipe, and most of them have merit, but there are two principles that are vital for any method to work-

1.) the tobacco at the bottom of the bowl has to allow for free airflow; and,

2.) the tobacco at the top has to be packed firmly enough to stay lit.

Since the space to address this subject is limited, we will limit the instruction to the tried-and-true “three-layer” method. As I mentioned before, there are so many different ways to pack a pipe so that it stays lit and smokes coolly. If you come across info for other methods, please give them a try. You may find one that works better for the way you smoke a pipe, but until you find the “perfect” method, here’s the most traditional.

Start by gravity-feeding the pipe to overflowing (sprinkle loose tobacco into the chamber until it mounds up over the top). Next, press the tobacco down until it’s compressed down to about the halfway point. Repeat the gravity-feed and pack to tobacco down to the 2/3rds to ¾ level. Repeat the gravity-feed and pack the tobacco down until it’s just below the rim of the chamber. At this point, take a draw on the stem. If the draw has a similar resistance to sucking soda through a straw, you’ve done it properly. If it feels like an empty straw, you’ve packed too loosely; if it’s like a thick shake, it’s packed too tight.

Circulate a soft flame (match or non-torch type lighter) around the top of the tobacco, while using a firm, steady puff. The tobacco will rise up during this initial lighting (called the charring light). Tamp the tobacco and relight. The pipe should stay lit with minimal effort. When the draw loosens up (and it will), lightly tamp to keep the pipe going

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About Russ

Russ Ouellette is the blender/creator of the Hearth & Home series of tobaccos for www.pipesandcigars.com in Bethlehem, PA. He has been a pipe smoker and blender for over 30 years, and enjoys feedback from the pipe smoking public. You can reach Russ at russo@pipesandcigars.com or by calling 1-800-494-9144.

Comments

  1. chris cullen says:

    i find that the tabacco at the bottom of the pipe gets wet and then the draw becomes gurgly and the smoke is ruined

    • It sounds like you might be getting a lot of saliva down the stem & sitting in the bottom of your bowl. Try using your tongue to block the draft hole to stop excess saliva from entering the stem in between actual draws on the pipe. Keep a pipe cleaner handy to run through the stem & shank during a smoke to help eliminate excess moisture. I used to have the same problem until I started using the blocking technique.

  2. Daniel B says:

    That good advice Tuna. You can also always try a pipe that uses either a paper filter or a wood filter as well. My Savenelli (sp?) does well to eliminate these issues while still keeping a beautiful smoke!

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