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 I feel like an idiot, but I need help keeping my pipe lit...

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number_seven

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Age : 52
Location : St. Louis Metro Area
Registration date : 2012-06-15

PostSubject: I feel like an idiot, but I need help keeping my pipe lit...   Mon Jul 23, 2012 5:09 pm

So I am a new smoker. I actually started about twenty-some years ago, but stopped after getting married. I picked it back up when the house cleared out again.

I have several pipes, a meerschaum that's my best smoker, a few canadians (my favorite style) and a Savinelli bent billiard that's rapidly turning into my favorite. Oh, and some MM cob pipes.

I have been trying different tobaccos, drying the Sam Gawiths, smoking the Dunhills straight from the tin, etc.

I can't keep any pipe lit.

I've tried almost every technique for packing and lighting, watched the youtube videos (which are almost all uniformly disappointing and poorly shot), and just try to soldier through. I have to relight a dozen or more times. Even on the "good" smokes I have (like last night with the Savinelli and Dunhill's Nightcap). Flake is almost impossible for me to smoke, which upsets me because I LOVE (lovelovelove) Sam Gawith's Balkan Flake during the times that it stays cool and lit.

I find that almost anything I smoke burns down the center, regardless of if I'm using flake or ribbon. I have found that the best way to proceed is to continue to smoke it that way until it goes out. Then I lightly stir the center and dump out the ash, trying to not disturb the dottle. Then I use the nail to repack and relight. If I'm lucky, I can do that only about 8-10 times for a full bowl.

I notice that when I light the whole top is light and red, but it RAPIDLY just goes down to the center burn.

I think the lowest relight count I've had doing this is six times.

I'm sure this is inviting disaster, but can folks give me ideas. I want the holy grail for me right now: a two or three light smoke....

Thanks in advance.

If you have questions on something I haven't made obvious, ask away. I'll answer anything, including the "Why are you so dumb" questions....
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Mr_Jeff

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Location : Durand, Mi
Registration date : 2009-05-08

PostSubject: Re: I feel like an idiot, but I need help keeping my pipe lit...   Mon Jul 23, 2012 5:20 pm

There's no shame in having to relight your pipe. However, try drying your tobacco out for a while before putting it in your pipe. With flakes, rub them out completely and then dry the tobacco. Use a pipe tool to to manipulate the tobacco in your bowl if you have to. My preferred method of filling a pipe is to do it by thirds. I fill the bowl to the top with loose tobacco then tamp lightly until the bowl is a third full. Put a little more in the bowl and tamp just a bit more firmly until the bowl is two thirds full. Finally, top it off and tamp again just a bit more firmly. Every layer is tamped just a little bit tighter than the one below it. I usually have a head space of about an eighth to a quarter inch at the top of the bowl. Then, of course, the tobacco stands up when you light it and then you tamp down a bit. I've filled a pipe like this for twenty years and it has suited me just fine.

Again, there's nothing wrong with having to relight a pipe.
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monbla256

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Age : 72
Location : DFW Metroplex, Texas
Registration date : 2012-01-15

PostSubject: Re: I feel like an idiot, but I need help keeping my pipe lit...   Mon Jul 23, 2012 5:46 pm

Mr_Jeff wrote:
There's no shame in having to relight your pipe. However, try drying your tobacco out for a while before putting it in your pipe. With flakes, rub them out completely and then dry the tobacco. Use a pipe tool to to manipulate the tobacco in your bowl if you have to. My preferred method of filling a pipe is to do it by thirds. I fill the bowl to the top with loose tobacco then tamp lightly until the bowl is a third full. Put a little more in the bowl and tamp just a bit more firmly until the bowl is two thirds full. Finally, top it off and tamp again just a bit more firmly. Every layer is tamped just a little bit tighter than the one below it. I usually have a head space of about an eighth to a quarter inch at the top of the bowl. Then, of course, the tobacco stands up when you light it and then you tamp down a bit. I've filled a pipe like this for twenty years and it has suited me just fine.

Again, there's nothing wrong with having to relight a pipe.

All of the above! I've done mine very similarly for as long and it will work! I always dry my Flakes out a bit after rubbing them out and as for re-lights, unless you are in a smoking contest, who cares how many times you re-light ? Razz
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Hermit

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Age : 65
Location : Ascension Parish
Registration date : 2008-04-22

PostSubject: Re: I feel like an idiot, but I need help keeping my pipe lit...   Mon Jul 23, 2012 7:02 pm

Try it dryer.
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DrumsAndBeer

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Age : 46
Location : Northern, CA
Registration date : 2012-04-04

PostSubject: Re: I feel like an idiot, but I need help keeping my pipe lit...   Mon Jul 23, 2012 7:21 pm

If this helps any, I had an absolutely wonderful smoke about 4 nights ago. I was relaxed, I wasn't concerned with time, I had nowhere to be. Just me, the pipe, a good beer and some PS Luxury Navy Flake. For some reason my frame of mind was just right. The smoke was superb but the technique and execution was far from perfect.

Afterwards I counted 10-12 kitchen matches altogether. I could have packed the bowl better, probably could have lit the thing better, maybe concentrated on perfecting a better or more appropriate cadence for the pipe and blend. But you know what, I could care less because all that matters is that I enjoyed that smoke.

Pipes go out, and need to be re-lit. That's just a part of the experience. Wink
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Dutch

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Age : 52
Location : On the road.......
Registration date : 2010-11-06

PostSubject: Re: I feel like an idiot, but I need help keeping my pipe lit...   Mon Jul 23, 2012 7:40 pm

Humidity here today in N. Alabama was outstanding. My guess is this time of the year in Missouri it is pretty high as well, a guarantee that your tobacco will not lose it's moisture. As others have mentioned, this time of year you really need to lay your tobacco out for 30-60 mins before smoking, unless you have the entire tin or jar kept at lower humidity. At this time of year you could probably lay a bowls worth out overnight, and wake up and it still not be too dry to smoke.
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Rob_In_MO

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Age : 44
Location : Park Hills, MO
Registration date : 2011-01-19

PostSubject: Re: I feel like an idiot, but I need help keeping my pipe lit...   Mon Jul 23, 2012 7:53 pm

Don't worry, 7. We've all had days and bowls like that.

I find that a combination of the humidity levels and moisture content of the tobacco can sometimes combine to make it a pain in the arse to keep a bowl lit. With the high normally humidity levels in my area this time of year, I often use a MM Cob - as these seem to deal with the excess moisture quite well.


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number_seven

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Age : 52
Location : St. Louis Metro Area
Registration date : 2012-06-15

PostSubject: Re: I feel like an idiot, but I need help keeping my pipe lit...   Mon Jul 23, 2012 9:41 pm

I've tried the drying out thing. Especially with the Sam Gawith. Which really seems to need it. It helps a bit, but I decided I don't want to dry it out TOO much because I've noticed I like the flavor better a little moister. It seems fuller and richer.

I know the three-part pack; never seems to work for me. I have gotten to something similar. May even be a three-part pack, for all intents and purposes....

I appreciate the advice; keep 'em coming.
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number_seven

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Age : 52
Location : St. Louis Metro Area
Registration date : 2012-06-15

PostSubject: Re: I feel like an idiot, but I need help keeping my pipe lit...   Mon Jul 23, 2012 9:43 pm

Also, it's not so much that I'm ashamed of lighting so much, but I hear a lot of gents mention that they have a two or three match bowl with certain blends. I figure technique is a big part of that and I want to refine my technique.

Unfortunately, there doesn't seem to be too big an organized pipe presence here in St. Louis, so I don't have people to help in person....
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Rob_In_MO

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Age : 44
Location : Park Hills, MO
Registration date : 2011-01-19

PostSubject: Re: I feel like an idiot, but I need help keeping my pipe lit...   Mon Jul 23, 2012 9:51 pm

number_seven wrote:
Unfortunately, there doesn't seem to be too big an organized pipe presence here in St. Louis, so I don't have people to help in person....

I'm about an hour south of you, but yeah - not much of an organized presence at all. Strange for a city the size of St. Louis...
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gravel

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Age : 44
Location : Oregon
Registration date : 2011-12-07

PostSubject: Re: I feel like an idiot, but I need help keeping my pipe lit...   Mon Jul 23, 2012 9:55 pm

It is hard to help via the intertubes.

In addition to the advise given above, try packing less in your pipe than you think you need.
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Harlock999

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Location : Los Angeles
Registration date : 2010-10-22

PostSubject: Re: I feel like an idiot, but I need help keeping my pipe lit...   Mon Jul 23, 2012 10:27 pm

number_seven wrote:
Also, it's not so much that I'm ashamed of lighting so much, but I hear a lot of gents mention that they have a two or three match bowl with certain blends. I figure technique is a big part of that and I want to refine my technique.

It happens sometimes, when all the variables are aligned nicely, and it should be savored.
But more often than not, multiple re-lights are standard.
If someone claims that they consistently smoke entire bowls on one or two matches, they may either be slow smoking contest champs, or fibbers. Cool
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tiltjlp

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Age : 71
Location : Cheviot Ohio
Registration date : 2009-01-14

PostSubject: Re: I feel like an idiot, but I need help keeping my pipe lit...   Tue Jul 24, 2012 3:01 am

I'll offer you the advice my dad gave me 53 years ago when I started smoking. I still use his pointers, and very seldom have any problems.

Dry your tobacco more than you think you need to.
Pack looser than you think you need to.
Smoke slower than you think you need to.
Tamp less, and more lightly, than you think you need to.
Clean your pipes after every smoke, using pipe spirits.
Donít worry if you have a few relights.
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Mr_Jeff

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Location : Durand, Mi
Registration date : 2009-05-08

PostSubject: Re: I feel like an idiot, but I need help keeping my pipe lit...   Tue Jul 24, 2012 5:19 am

I was waiting for Jon to chime in; his advice, or rather his fathers, is wise.
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idbowman

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Age : 36
Location : Painesville, OH
Registration date : 2011-12-19

PostSubject: Re: I feel like an idiot, but I need help keeping my pipe lit...   Tue Jul 24, 2012 7:49 am

Rob mentioned using an MM Cob. When the summer humidity rolls in, I almost exclusively switch to smoking from cobs - much, much, much easier to get a dry smoke when environmental factors are conspiring against you. Also, the longer you rest a given pipe between smokes, the longer it has to dry out, and the more you improve your odds of not fighting the re-light monster (I don't really subscribe to any particular length of rest per pipe, but when it's muggy you definitely need to give 'em a chance to dry).

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Kyle Weiss

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Location : Reno, NV
Registration date : 2011-09-18

PostSubject: Re: I feel like an idiot, but I need help keeping my pipe lit...   Tue Jul 24, 2012 2:29 pm

The only time I keep track of how many lights I've had to put to my bowl is the few, rare times when I only had to do it a few times...and even then, it's more of a, "...huh, I didn't pick up my lighter much this time." Usually that means I got lost in my smoke, the flavor and the meditation, which to me, equals success. Cool To that end, I hope some of the advice given will get you on the right track.
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number_seven

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Age : 52
Location : St. Louis Metro Area
Registration date : 2012-06-15

PostSubject: Re: I feel like an idiot, but I need help keeping my pipe lit...   Tue Jul 24, 2012 6:03 pm

Last night I smoked my last Balkan Flake flake. I tried the method I read elsewhere on this board about cubing and lightly dropping in the bowl.

It was a wonderful smoke. The best I've had so far with that flavor tobacco. Most of the smoke was cool and flavorful (I did dry it a little), and I had far fewer relights than I ever had before with this tobacco.

Now to buy many more tins of the stuff. I LOVE this aroma, both burned and unburned. Easily my favorite.

Thanks to everyone's input. I'm going to keep trying to reduce my relights, but I'm not going to worry so much anymore unless it's really bad, and then I'll know that the tobacco/pipe combination or tobacco moistness is to be adjusted.
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Kyle Weiss

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Location : Reno, NV
Registration date : 2011-09-18

PostSubject: Re: I feel like an idiot, but I need help keeping my pipe lit...   Tue Jul 24, 2012 11:38 pm

Cool deal #7...nothing worse than someone not enjoying their smoke around here. We've all been there. Cool
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KevinM



Age : 75
Location : Connecticut
Registration date : 2012-02-26

PostSubject: Re: I feel like an idiot, but I need help keeping my pipe lit...   Thu Jul 26, 2012 12:32 pm

U R being a bit hard on yourself. Six relights, eh? If you only had three would you be happier? See, you're close.

Let the tobacco dry for an hour prior to packing. Then try prepacking the pipe -- i.e., let it sit for a half hour or so before lighting. Try not tamping every new layer. Just lightly tamp the last one around the edges. Don't rearrange burnt tobacco in the bowl. Just tamp around the edges. Always let the pipe cool down to room temp before attempting a relight.

Some heresy for you to try Cool -- Go out and buy some tobacco that's notoriously EZ to light and keep lit (Say, 1Q or RLP-6) If anyone asks, "Watcha smokin?" just say "Gawith Best Brown Flake rubbed out." Just get the feel of handling this low maintenance smoke and it may carry over to your favs.

But I think you're doing creditably, you're just looking for perfection. When you're discouraged, remember the old saying, "Perfection is the enemy of the good."
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number_seven

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Age : 52
Location : St. Louis Metro Area
Registration date : 2012-06-15

PostSubject: Re: I feel like an idiot, but I need help keeping my pipe lit...   Sat Jul 28, 2012 12:28 am

I swear, ever since I started this thread, I've had nothing but awesome smokes in my library. A combination of the cubing technique in the Balkan Flake and the drying of the Skiff Mixture. (And the Dunhill tobacco is awesome also.)

Tonight, four matches on the Skiff for a two hour smoke in my meerschaum.

I think the thread let loose my anxieties and the reinforcement from everyone here made me stop worrying and just enjoy the smoke. It's turned into a Zen thing for me (I'm a Zen Buddhist).

Thanks again to everyone for their encouragement and advice.

And I think I'll try and start a Meetup Group for the St. Louis region. See if I can get a group together.....

(Lord, I think I'm addicted to Latakia. I LOVE the smell and taste....)
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KevinM



Age : 75
Location : Connecticut
Registration date : 2012-02-26

PostSubject: Re: I feel like an idiot, but I need help keeping my pipe lit...   Sat Jul 28, 2012 11:32 am

>>>It's turned into a Zen thing for me<<<

Good rabbit In unguarded moments I've said part of the appeal of pipes is that the controlled, rhythmic breathing needed to keep a cool smoke going is Yoga-like. (Or substitute the discipline of your choice.) I can't say that I get universal agreement. No matter, each to his own ...
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Kyle Weiss

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Location : Reno, NV
Registration date : 2011-09-18

PostSubject: Re: I feel like an idiot, but I need help keeping my pipe lit...   Sat Jul 28, 2012 3:58 pm

A Zen Buddhist should seek solace in the pipe and the moment, rather than the numbers.

Here's some Zen Piping for thought:

"If the pipe requires more fire, it is of the pipe's asking, not your failure. In kind, it is as natural to you to ask for water when you are thirsty, and you drink until you are quenched--the amount of water is not important."

Cool
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kaiser83

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Age : 34
Location : Wherever the smoke clears
Registration date : 2012-02-22

PostSubject: Re: I feel like an idiot, but I need help keeping my pipe lit...   Sat Jul 28, 2012 6:13 pm

Before I started smoking a pipe I watched this video and then when I started I used his technique and it has done darn well for me.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MGPlulm_tEc&feature=plcp
I don't so much worry any longer about the technique but the feel of it as I go along. It comes with time....and it doesn't take too long if you pay attention to the pack and try to repeat when you have a good one. Like others have said, pack looser than you think you need to. I also find the light to be of high importance and still use the technique in the video. Hope it helps.
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skaukatt

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Age : 57
Location : Queens, NYC
Registration date : 2007-12-26

PostSubject: Re: I feel like an idiot, but I need help keeping my pipe lit...   Sat Jul 28, 2012 6:27 pm

The keys for me have been uniformity of the tobacco and tamping. By uniformity I mean that I rub between my palms the load of tobacco for a given smoke. This makes for uniform "pieces" of leaf which makes it easier to pack and makes for a good burn with few re-lights, not that there is anything wrong with re-lighting by any means.

Tamping often is the other component for a great smoke, for me.

Lou
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J Soshae

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Age : 45
Location : Birmingham, AL
Registration date : 2011-08-19

PostSubject: Re: I feel like an idiot, but I need help keeping my pipe lit...   Sat Jul 28, 2012 7:09 pm

kaiser83
Quote :
Before I started smoking a pipe I watched this video and then when I started I used his technique and it has done darn well for me.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MGPlulm_tEc&feature=plcp


OHHH NOOO!!! He shredded the beautiful flake. He should stick with the bulk tobacco until he gets his act together. Wink
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