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 Reviewing The Basics

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tiltjlp

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

PostSubject: Reviewing The Basics   Sat Dec 22, 2012 5:46 pm

While we usually only read about some new pipe smokers having problems figuring out the basics, from what Iíve seen on some other forums, experienced pipe smokers do have issues too. And Iím sure there are a lot of veteran pipers who have never quite mastered the basics. If that wasnít a cut and dried fact, there wouldnít be pipe smokers of five and ten years who stubbornly refuse to dry their tobacco, and still have packing woes.

If weíre honest with ourselves, at least, we should be able to admit that every now and then we get a little lax, even a bit sloppy, and need to start paying closer attention to the little things. Being willing and able to admit when we foul things up, and correct our miscues, is the first sign of a serious pipe smoker. Taking pride in not only your pipes and tobacco, but also your technique is what marks a pipe smoker as a pipe smoker. So, as a public service, Iím going to review the advice my dad gave me back in 1959. It is advice Iíve used ever since, and it has never failed me. Except when I get lazy and forgetful.

Iím not suggesting for a moment that my dadís advice is the only method that works. I can only say that itís never let me down. Dadís advice will work best if you try all of its pointers at the same time, for at least a two-week period. Since there are no absolutes in pipe smoking, the Vernon Cool & Dry Method might not work for you, although it has worked its magic for a lot of other pipe smoker.

The Vernon Cool & Dry Method

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.

1, Dry your tobacco more than you think you need to.

While not everyone agrees, more and more pipe smokers are finding that smoking drier tobacco slower does in fact give them a cooler, more flavorful smoke. It also reduces tongue bite, which I think has a lot more to do with smoking moist blends too fast than it does with body chemistry, as some folks claim.

Tobacco can hold a fair amount of internal moisture, so the drier the better, up to a point. In fact, I recently talked to someone who has gone from smoking moist blends to drying them in several stages, and after two years, now feels his tobacco is at the proper moisture level. So, you might have to dry your tobacco more and more, in stages, before youíll benefit from this pointer.

2, Pack looser than you think you need to.

Packing a pipe seems to give more pipe smokers more of a headache than anything else. Packing a pipe overly tight is what leads to puffing too much, and too fast, just trying to keep the dang thing lit. There are all sorts of ideas and methods about packing, most which donít work very well, since experience is the only way most of us master the art of packing a pipe.

Many pipe smokers resist my dadís advice at first, since it makes for shorter length smokes. But with the rising cost of tobacco, buying drier tobacco and packing it looser can save you a few dollars. But if you think about everything, packing looser allows for a better draw, which allows you to smoke slower, which will help you relax and enjoy your pipe smoking more than ever.

3, Smoke slower than you think you need to.

Once you have dried your tobacco and packed it looser than you ever have before, puffing slower should convince you my dad knew what he was talking about. Smoking slower is the key to enjoying your pipes and tobacco more than you have in the past. With drier tobacco packed looser, youíll get a lot more flavor and taste from your tobacco, and a lot less moisture in the form of steam, which causes tongue bite and a hot, tired mouth. Doing all three of these things is the key to successful and enjoyable pipe smoking. Unless you do all three youíll never master the basics.

4, Tamp less, and more lightly, than you think you need to.

Improper tamping can ruin the progress youíve made so far, and even add some incorrect techniques to you troubles, if you use too heavy a touch. A tamper is actually intended, as I understand it, to compress ash and help bank burning embers, in order to keep your pipe going. Using your tamper to press down your loosely packed tobacco into the bottom half of your pipe defeats everything youíve done so far. It compacts your perfect pack so that you once again have to puff like a fool in order to get and keep your pipe lit.

The weight of your tamper is all the pressure needed to get the ash under control, and to keep your ember glowing. The metal tamper is a plus, in that the metal will attract the heat of a dieing ember, and revive the ember into enough heat to keep your pipe smoking to the bottom. With much practice, youíll be able to use your tamper to avoid some relights, moving you from novice to experienced.

5, Clean your pipes after every smoke, using pipe spirits.

From reading forums, it seems that a lot of pipe smokers donít clean their pipes completely until they start to turn sour, or get funky. Even in 1959, my dad said tobacco cost too much not to smoke it in a perfectly clean pipe, so you could enjoy each pipefuls flavor to the fullest. I happen to agree with dad on this, and only rarely will refill my cobs with the same blend for a second smoke without first cleaning the pipe. I simply donít understand why any pipe smoker would allow his or her pipes to turn sour, when a few minutes cleaning each pipe will keep them tasting so much better.

6, Donít worry if you have a few relights.

New pipe smokers often fixate about having to relight their pipes. Of course this is more of a problem for novice pipe smokers, but few if any of us never have to relight once in a while. Iíve been a pipe smoker for over 50 years, and to be honest, seldom have to relight unless I get distracted and allow my pipe to go out. But since none of us is letter perfect, every now and again Iíll foul up my packing, or wonít dry my tobacco enough, and will need two or three relight. When that happens I shake my head, vow to pay more attention next time, and relight. Itís no big deal.
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Richard Burley

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Location : North Coast NY
Registration date : 2011-04-09

PostSubject: Re: Reviewing The Basics   Sat Dec 22, 2012 6:39 pm

Great advice. Wish I could follow it religiously, but I tend to break the "rules" more often than not. I have also been smoking pipes for over half a century and I still pack too tight and am very lax with cleaning and reaming. I almost never clean cobs, and I even kind of like them to get funky. Tsk! Tsk!
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Kyle Weiss

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

PostSubject: Re: Reviewing The Basics   Sat Dec 22, 2012 6:42 pm

John, your pappy's advice actually has helped me tremendously. Even if not adhered to, to the letter, it's been a set of variables that comes into a checklist, that fortunately is now automatic, to see what's going on if there's a problem. Fortunately, most of the time, there aren't any. I've learned much.

I'll get discussion going on this, because, well, I can... Laughing (...and thank you, always, for this advice, by the way.)

Body and tobacco chemistry plays a factor, if you ask me. Hands-down. Coupled with the delivery system, it's present, for sure. In fact, I believe this to such a degree, eventually, I want to start my own study to see what the pH is of tobaccos I seem to get "reactions" from versus ones that are impeccably smooth. Meanwhile, moisture is a fine balance between flavor reception and problems. I dry my tobacco a little, or a little more, depending on what it is. Moisture and chemistry are separate but intrinsic variables here. I'm in both camps.

Packing is probably the most hard-to-describe and yet necessary step, which will make or break a bowl. Cut is dependent, though, too, and yep, it takes practice.

Smoking slower is something, at one time or another, we realize we need to do...when I'm out and about for work, I sit to smoke a pipe once in a while. I have to go from breathing required to oxygenate my body to almost meditative...and for good reason! Laughing

Tamping is like Packing's cousin. Defeating a good pack by bad tamping is easy to do. As I understand it myself, just by observation with a pipe, it creates a combustion area more accessible to oxygen needed to keep the leaf going. As with any "fire," it can be snuffed out. New guys love to play with their fire, and who wouldn't? They pack every six seconds. Most of the time I pack twice a bowl, and gently at that. Just when the ash won't take a relight, and you know darned well there's more goodness down there. Like packing, tamping is a learn-as-ya-go thing for sure.

Cleaning is essential, though I've noticed, especially at my Tinder Box, an overenthusiastic need to clean, and even ream, sometimes to a fault. One guy was reaming his pipe down to bare briar, neurotically stuffing pipecleaner after pipecleaner mid-smoke down the stem, and I wondered if he was doing more "pipe mothering" than smoking. Overkill! Meanwhile, do I clean my pipes after every single smoke? No. If they got particularly moist due to excess humidity, or if the end of a tin managed more "bacca dust" in there, sure. I cool 'em and clean 'em, but there's room for interpretation on "clean." There is such a thing as filthy and sour, and sanitized and scrubbed to the point of OCD.

Ah, relights. Discussion from a Tinder Box sit some months ago:

Me: *smoking, relighting*

New guy: "...I thought you'd been smoking long enough to not have to do that..." (giving me crap)

Me: "Um... what?"

New guy: "...you can't keep your pipe lit... I can..."

Me: "Huh. Congrats. How's your tongue?"

New guy: "Whaddya mean?"

Me: "Does it hurt?"

New guy: "I'm getting used to it, it's not that bad anymore."

Me: "Do you always derive pleasure from pain?" (I laugh)

New guy: "Doesn't yours hurt sometimes?"

Me: "Not since I wasn't smoking my pipe too hot to keep it constantly lit, no..."

New guy: "...so it's okay if the pipe goes out?"

Me: "...according to whom? This isn't a cigar or a cigarette, and no one's keeping score, dude." (I smile)

New guy: (contemplates...realizes his pipe went out...he relights)

Me: "See? No one threw ya to the wolves. Enjoy your smoke. That's the point." Smile

Cool


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monbla256

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

PostSubject: Re: Reviewing The Basics   Sat Dec 22, 2012 8:30 pm

tltjp's advice and comments mirror much of what I've observed and experienced over the several decades I've smoked a pipe and I really couldn't add much more. Even these days, after smoking as long as I have, I still have "those" smokes that don't "measure-up" as others. It's gonna happen as there are so many variables at play every time you load and light up regardless of how many times you may have smoked a blend or how many times you might have smoked a blend in a pipe "dedicated" to it.
Another thing I've learned after have smoked for as long as I have is "slow and easy" when you smoke. I've learned that "sipping" just about ALL blends/mixtures alows for much more enjoyable smokes from ALL blends of ALL types from flakes to ready-rubbed string cut. Just about ANY blend/mixture will "gurggle" if pushed and for me, that is a major sign I'm smoking way too fast and it's time to slow it down .
And being a smoker who doesn't really just sit and focus on smoking, I'm one who walks, cooks, reads, talks on the phone, drives etc with a pipe going I'm forever having to re-light" as it goes out many times thru a bowl. That's what the good Lord made matches for Razz I just tamp the ash down if need be, and put a match to it again and on our way we go !
And I still maintain that "ping-ponging" from blend to blend does more to getting in the way of learning how to smoke. I was advised to settle on one or two blends and just smoke them for at least a year to learn 'em and then add another one or two and do the same thing. After a decade of this you will have learned more about 'bac and smoking. But this is JMHO Twisted Evil Main thing is to just smoke, smoke, smoke Razz
















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Brewdude
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Age : 65
Location : Arid-zona
Registration date : 2011-05-04

PostSubject: Re: Reviewing The Basics   Sat Dec 22, 2012 9:29 pm

[Hi-jack on-]

Kyle, I've long decided you have missed your calling.

You really should be a columnist/ reviewer/ writer on P&T. As well as other related mags/blogs.

Seriously.

Your style of writing has substance, approachability, wit, humor, and balance. Your sense of taste and smell is always expressed in a solid and easy to follow manner. Also, some whimsy and interpersonal references everyone can always relate to.

I kid you not brother. You're really good at it. You got a talent for this stuff.

Exploit it. See if you can make it a secondary source of income.

[Hy-jack off]


Cheers,

RR




_________________
"Beer is proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy" - Benjamin Franklin


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Rob_In_MO

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Age : 45
Location : Park Hills, MO
Registration date : 2011-01-19

PostSubject: Re: Reviewing The Basics   Sat Dec 22, 2012 10:27 pm

Once again, great advice from John and Monbla.

I've been smoking a pipe for 20-years now, and I have to say that there's not much I could really add that hasn't been said already.

Excellent advice, Gentlemen. Much appreciated by many!
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KevinM



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

PostSubject: Re: Reviewing The Basics   Sat Dec 22, 2012 11:12 pm

I agree whole heartedly with your Dad. Enjoyment from piping = Make the basics habits; Dither, fuss and worry less. I guess that applies to a lot of things.
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DrumsAndBeer

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

PostSubject: Re: Reviewing The Basics   Mon Dec 24, 2012 12:08 am

Some of the best advice out there. Thanks John.

I now dry most of my tobaccos to the consistency of what I receive from Rich at 4noggins when I purchase one of your blends. I have noticed that this alone has made a huge difference in the performance of a tobacco in practically all my pipes. A while back I ordered 4 different samples from Steven Books at House of Calabash. Guess what? Same moisture level and same ease of use. Great minds think alike!

Cheers! Very Happy cheers
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tiltjlp

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

PostSubject: Re: Reviewing The Basics   Mon Dec 24, 2012 8:18 am

DrumsAndBeer wrote:
Some of the best advice out there. Thanks John.

I now dry most of my tobaccos to the consistency of what I receive from Rich at 4noggins when I purchase one of your blends. I have noticed that this alone has made a huge difference in the performance of a tobacco in practically all my pipes. A while back I ordered 4 different samples from Steven Books at House of Calabash. Guess what? Same moisture level and same ease of use. Great minds think alike!

Cheers! Very Happy cheers

And the bonus is that since it's drier, you get more product for your money. Nice to know that Steven Books and I are of like mind.
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BigCasino

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Registration date : 2012-11-27

PostSubject: Re: Reviewing The Basics   Mon Dec 24, 2012 8:51 am

Thanks! I am rather new at this, and after reading this my next bowl I packed less than I thought I needed to, and had the driest smoke I ever had, no gurgle through out the smoke and when I ran a cleaner through after, i could only slightly feel moisture on the very tip, also my pipe burned cooler than ever and the tobacco tasted consistent from first light to the last draw, and I had less relights
your Father was a genius!
Thanks for sharing
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tiltjlp

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

PostSubject: Re: Reviewing The Basics   Mon Dec 24, 2012 4:53 pm

BigCasino wrote:
Thanks! I am rather new at this, and after reading this my next bowl I packed less than I thought I needed to, and had the driest smoke I ever had, no gurgle through out the smoke and when I ran a cleaner through after, i could only slightly feel moisture on the very tip, also my pipe burned cooler than ever and the tobacco tasted consistent from first light to the last draw, and I had less relights
your Father was a genius!
Thanks for sharing

You're welcome. My dad would be proud to know he's still helping fellow pipe smokers.
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Kyle Weiss

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

PostSubject: Re: Reviewing The Basics   Mon Dec 24, 2012 5:09 pm

Hey, the times I've sniffed and poked the contents of a glass jar at a tobacconist and realized it was "on the dry side," I always smile inside and say, "...oh...more tobacco for me on the scale..." Twisted Evil Like excess on untrimmed/unboned meat, though it might lend itself nicely to the cooking process, it isn't likely to be eaten...why pay for it if you aren't going to use it? Laughing

RR, thanks, but... well, I can write, but there's too many questions and not enough original answers for me to join the ranks of those who already do it. I mean, if they'd have me, sure, but...I'm not sure what I'd contribute. Responding to someone's thoughts is much easier than coming up with ones own. Laughing I'd feel like a schmuck in the shadow of Pease's words, for example. Laughing Let's wait a few years.

Cool
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Jers

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Registration date : 2012-07-14

PostSubject: Re: Reviewing The Basics   Tue Dec 25, 2012 7:43 am

Thanks for posting the tips.........I've already discovered that I had started a bad habit of tamping too hard. Makes quite a difference! cheers

Fraternally

Jers
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somedumbjerk

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Location : Palo Alto, CA USA
Registration date : 2012-08-26

PostSubject: Re: Reviewing The Basics   Sat Dec 29, 2012 6:12 pm

what's confused me since day one, more than anything is how often and how thoroughly to clean your pipes. after every smoke i run a few cleaners through the stem into the bowl, until they aren't all gross when they come out. if the pipe is already caked, i'll bent the cleaner in half and rub along the inside of the bowl. about every month or so, or if the pipe tastes funky, i'll run some everclear in the bowl and dip a cleaner in it and run trough the stem until it stops coming out brown or black or whatever. generally when i do the everclear clean, i'll pull the stem as well, but i don't pull the stems that often. is this a proper cleaning regimen? i've gotten conflicting information via the internet and my local B&M.

thanks all!
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tiltjlp

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

PostSubject: Re: Reviewing The Basics   Sat Dec 29, 2012 11:30 pm

somedumbjerk wrote:
what's confused me since day one, more than anything is how often and how thoroughly to clean your pipes. after every smoke i run a few cleaners through the stem into the bowl, until they aren't all gross when they come out. if the pipe is already caked, i'll bent the cleaner in half and rub along the inside of the bowl. about every month or so, or if the pipe tastes funky, i'll run some everclear in the bowl and dip a cleaner in it and run trough the stem until it stops coming out brown or black or whatever. generally when i do the everclear clean, i'll pull the stem as well, but i don't pull the stems that often. is this a proper cleaning regimen? i've gotten conflicting information via the internet and my local B&M.

thanks all!

If you read my Primer, whicvh applies to all pipes, you'll get differing views from me and other experienced pipe smokers, and decide for yourself. I figure, why allow your pipe to ever get funky?

http://pipedia.org/index.php?title=The_Complete_Corncob_primer
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somedumbjerk

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Age : 32
Location : Palo Alto, CA USA
Registration date : 2012-08-26

PostSubject: Re: Reviewing The Basics   Sat Dec 29, 2012 11:39 pm

tiltjlp wrote:
somedumbjerk wrote:
what's confused me since day one, more than anything is how often and how thoroughly to clean your pipes. after every smoke i run a few cleaners through the stem into the bowl, until they aren't all gross when they come out. if the pipe is already caked, i'll bent the cleaner in half and rub along the inside of the bowl. about every month or so, or if the pipe tastes funky, i'll run some everclear in the bowl and dip a cleaner in it and run trough the stem until it stops coming out brown or black or whatever. generally when i do the everclear clean, i'll pull the stem as well, but i don't pull the stems that often. is this a proper cleaning regimen? i've gotten conflicting information via the internet and my local B&M.

thanks all!

If you read my Primer, whicvh applies to all pipes, you'll get differing views from me and other experienced pipe smokers, and decide for yourself. I figure, why allow your pipe to ever get funky?

http://pipedia.org/index.php?title=The_Complete_Corncob_primer

i've read our primer, and sent it to new smokers, including my brother as of this Christmas. your primer seems to be the most detailed cleaning, and other people say it's too much. i agree to not let the pipes funkify for sure. i also have plenty of pipes, so each pipe probably gets smoked less than five times when i do the thorough cleaning. again, thank you for the primer, it's been helpful as a newb, and simplifies things quite a bit. the only things i do differently than your cleaning regimen are the frequency of cleanings, (once a month me, every time you) and i don't put alcohol on the rim of my briar. it eats the wax and dulls it. i just use a little spit there. i think i will increase the amount of cleaning i do though and see if i notice a difference. the one thing that has stopped me from that is i have a good amount of pipes that are still breaking in, and i don't want to use the everclear on the inside of the bowl until i have a good cake. the cobs shall remain cakeless, but not the briars. am i off here? thanks again for the help. i love that this community is very helpful and thoughtful of others. maybe i'm over analyzing this. i tend to do that...
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tiltjlp

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

PostSubject: Re: Reviewing The Basics   Sun Dec 30, 2012 1:32 am

As far as cake, that's pretty much each smokers own choice. I don't allow cake to form in any of my pipes, but some pipers feel it adds to their enjoyment. I agree that you don't want Everclear to get on your pipe's rims or finish, but there isn't any problem with the inside of your bowl, or especially the shank. I use Isopropyl, since I'm on the wagon, and it evaporates very quickly, which I would think is the same with Everclear. I have always figured the major problem with funky pipes is the shank.
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