Tongue Bite is a fairly common problem among pipe smokers; even veteran smokers can experience it from time to time. Aromatics tend to be the biggest villains when it comes to tongue bite. They tend to be very moist and burn hot, which produces very hot steam, which is the root cause of tongue bite. Fortunately, I have not experienced any real bad tongue bite in a few years. However, like most new pipe smokers, I did experience some major tongue bite when I first began smoking pipes.
Another cause of tongue bite is the packing of the tobacco. If it’s packed too tight or too loose, this will produce either a hard or loose draw, which will in turn make the tobacco burn hot….as a result…tongue bite. If you find you’ve packed your pipe too lightly, you can always use a packing tool and tamp it a bit tighter. But, if you’ve packed it too tight from the start, it’s very hard to loosen it up…shy of dumping the bowl and staring again.
Also, puff rate is critical. If you smoke fast, it will burn hot and produce tongue bite. Pipe smoking is meant to be relaxing and enjoyable. It’s not a race, take your time. Take the time to select your pipe and a tobacco blend. Pack slowly and lightly…fire it up and enjoy!
As I mentioned, aromatic blends and packing technique are at fault many times for tongue bite. Another reason is the type of tobacco. Virginia blends can burn hot, especially straight Virginia’s. Virginia tobaccos are naturally high in sugar, which burns hot when puffed fast. Virginia tobaccos like Russ’s Hearth & Home Virginia Memory and Virginia Night are wonderful….they have great flavor and aroma, but if smoked fast, they will rip your tongue up pretty bad. Many wonderful tobacco blends have Virginia tobaccos as a base and such things as Latakia, Perique, Burley and Cavendish are added to create unique, cool smoking pipe tobacco blends.
So, the lesson learned here is to pack less tight and smoke SLOWLY. I’ve been an English tobacco smoker for over 20 years (I love Latakia and Perique) and totally enjoy many blends. I even smoke Virginia blends, but I’ve learned that a slow smoke and light pack are the best way to truly get the most enjoyment from my pipes….no matter the blend.
Take it slow, relax and enjoy!