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 Competition smoking

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J Soshae

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

PostSubject: Competition smoking   Sun Aug 26, 2012 8:42 am

Raymond blogs about a smoking competition and his technique.

http://pipesmagazine.com/birmingham0irish/tag/the-briary/
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Lesepfeife

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Age : 61
Location : Upstate NY or Southeast PA
Registration date : 2012-03-02

PostSubject: Re: Competition smoking   Sun Sep 02, 2012 3:47 pm

Very interesting blog post. Reading through it brought to mind some questions regarding various aspects and made me think that a better understanding might lead to some improvements in my technique and thus experience. Any comments, clarifications, or other information in response to my observations and questions would be welcome.

First are the references to the tamper and pick. For the former I infer that the author is judiciously using it to maintain the burn and keep it from going out rather than tamping after the need for a relight has occurred. My understanding of this is to keep the embers compact enough to keep contact and spread the burn while not pressing so hard as to snuff it or shut off oxygen flow around the contents of the pipe. The use of the pick or poker is a little more elusive to me. I've made some attempts at using this part of the tool (I commonly am using a reproduction cut nail) and searched trying to find hints but have never been confident in its use. In the description of the contest is this: "using his metal pick, trying to chase the ember. He draws, but no smoke comes out. He looks to find the ember. His pipe roars back to life." This is a foreign concept to me. What is being described here and what generally is the normal use(es) for the pick?

There is also reference made to gently removing ash. My previous reading leads me to believe that it's best to keep the ash until it's serving as an insulator/air barrier against relights. I infer the contestant is doing this but that he's not dumping but lifting the ash out with his tamper. It would seem he is taking out small amount intermittently rather than awaiting a build-up and then removing that.

The other word that raised a question is backdraft. Is this a gentle outward blow-puff instead of a draw on the bowl?

Probably some answers will bring other questions and I realize that a competition requires different techniques and mindset but figure that good everyday technique is just a less stringent version of competition.
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J Soshae

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

PostSubject: Re: Competition smoking   Mon Sep 03, 2012 7:36 am

I read this article back when it was first posted. I have tried to incorporate some of these techniques in my smoking. Here is what I have found:

I do not chase the ember but I do find myself picking areas that are on the sides and pulling the pieces of tobacco into the middle.

I do remove ash. In the competitions people are wiping tampers on paper. At the house I merely loosen the surface of the ash and shake a little out. Then I pull the unburned tobacco onto the hot embers. (have to be careful not to shake out the ember)

Backdraft is done very gently. It is much more like Greg Pease's description of the breathe technique. I find it is effective in controlling the heat in the bowl. To much backwards breathing requires the ember to be tamped back down into contact with the remaining tobacco.


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Lesepfeife

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Age : 61
Location : Upstate NY or Southeast PA
Registration date : 2012-03-02

PostSubject: Re: Competition smoking   Mon Sep 03, 2012 8:50 am

J Soshae wrote:
In the competitions people are wiping tampers on paper. At the house I merely loosen the surface of the ash and shake a little out. Then I pull the unburned tobacco onto the hot embers. (have to be careful not to shake out the ember)
So in competition they are lightly tamping and then whatever adheres to the tamper is wiped so in effect they are removing pretty small amounts but multiple times?

J Soshae wrote:
Backdraft is done very gently. It is much more like Greg Pease's description of the breathe technique. I find it is effective in controlling the heat in the bowl.
I think I read GP's article on this technique but don't recall the specifics. Maybe I'm not understanding this but it seems counterintuitive that the direction of the air flow would have different effects on the heat in the bowl. To my understanding, air movement across and through the ember would fan the fire and increase heat regardless of the speed of the draft. What am I missing? Is it that this technique keeps the ember burning because of the air flow but doesn't increase heat to the level that taking a draw on the pipe would do? If so why not just draft very gently?
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J Soshae

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

PostSubject: Re: Competition smoking   Mon Sep 03, 2012 9:45 am

Backdraft does 2 things that I can see. It creates a small channel through the surface ash so oxygen is available to the ember without having to pull so much air through the combustion area. The unburned bits of tobacco I have picked from the sides become part of the ember during the backdraft.

When the fire starts to die down, instead of only pulling air in, breathe technique is providing oxygen on both sides of the ember. Very gentle oxygen supply is the ticket. When taking a sip on a pipe, try opening your mouth to allow 50% of your intake to come from outside air and 50% to come through the stem and you will see the effects of "gentle air". The pipe will really start to cook.


Lessons from a campfire:

If you provide a lot of air (ex. blower), when you stop blowing it it tends to go out. Combustion was rapid but there was not a good base of coals.

To develop coals, you need the heart of the fire to stay hot. Fuel logs reflecting heat off of each other and keeping the core somewhat protected.

When smoking it is not good to totally exchange all of the air in the combustion area. Hence the term sipping a pipe.





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Lesepfeife

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Age : 61
Location : Upstate NY or Southeast PA
Registration date : 2012-03-02

PostSubject: Re: Competition smoking   Mon Sep 03, 2012 8:06 pm

The campfire illustration helped as did your good descriptions. Makes better sense now. All is appreciated.
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