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 When to tamp or remove ash?

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len0413



Registration date : 2009-09-23

PostSubject: When to tamp or remove ash?   Wed Sep 23, 2009 10:44 am

Hi, I'm fairly new to pipe smoking, but getting better at smoking all the way through. My biggest question is that when I start a new bowl I get a nice thick layer of fine ash. Should I tamp that down or remove some before tamping? I'm not sure which is best or which will give the best tasting smoke. Any suggestions would be appreciated.
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Doc Manhattan

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Age : 39
Location : Land of Steady Habits
Registration date : 2008-05-26

PostSubject: Re: When to tamp or remove ash?   Wed Sep 23, 2009 11:19 am

Welcome! Matters of ash and tamping vary somewhat based on the pack, pipe, tobacco, and your smoking style, but as a general rule, you want to *gently* tamp down.

When I was just getting the hang of it, I realized I needed to tamp more often, but with much less force. I typically don't dump out ash mid-smoke, unless it's hindering a relight.
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PostSubject: Re: When to tamp or remove ash?   Wed Sep 23, 2009 11:20 am

len0413 wrote:
Hi, I'm fairly new to pipe smoking, but getting better at smoking all the way through. My biggest question is that when I start a new bowl I get a nice thick layer of fine ash. Should I tamp that down or remove some before tamping? I'm not sure which is best or which will give the best tasting smoke. Any suggestions would be appreciated.

Not sure if you're talking about the prelight. When you start a bowl, you light, then basically tamp until it goes out.

Really, there is no wrong way. I always hold my pipe upside down over my ashtray and let whatever loose ash falls out. If you packed properly, the ash will get knocked out, but not the unburned tobacco.

I like to keep a small layer of ash, but I do empty out as I start to get below the halfway part of the pipe.

I hope this helps; I'm a little drowsy, so I'm not sure if I'm making sense. Actually from re-reading your post: I would dump out some of it and THEN tamp.
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shootist51



Location : Indianapolis, Indiana
Registration date : 2007-12-28

PostSubject: Re: When to tamp or remove ash?   Wed Sep 23, 2009 2:46 pm

len0413 wrote:
Hi, I'm fairly new to pipe smoking, but getting better at smoking all the way through. My biggest question is that when I start a new bowl I get a nice thick layer of fine ash. Should I tamp that down or remove some before tamping? I'm not sure which is best or which will give the best tasting smoke. Any suggestions would be appreciated.

Tamping, to me, is a misnomer.

I find the best results are achieved by using no more pressure that the weight of the pipe nail I use. This "settles" the ash, more than tamping it.

Also, I never remove ash until it becomes deep enough to prevent the tobacco from taking the match. When that occurs, I "tamp", then turn the bowl over an ashtray, what ever is left,gets relit.

I smoke Virginias almost exclusively and prefer "cubed" flakes and find this procedure produces consistently cool and tasty smokes.
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ftrplt

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Age : 71
Location : Split between Raleigh, NC and OKC, OK
Registration date : 2007-12-15

PostSubject: Re: When to tamp or remove ash?   Wed Sep 23, 2009 7:50 pm

I tend to lightly/gently tamp all the ash down until the bowl is finished. FTRPLT
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Justpipes
The Duke
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Age : 59
Location : Randolph County, NC If you don't know, you wouldn't understand.
Registration date : 2007-12-17

PostSubject: Re: When to tamp or remove ash?   Wed Sep 23, 2009 8:03 pm

ftrplt wrote:
I tend to lightly/gently tamp all the ash down until the bowl is finished. FTRPLT

Same here. I rarely dump ash mid-smoke anymore.
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Ol'Dawg

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Age : 72
Location : Northeast Georgia
Registration date : 2008-01-03

PostSubject: Re: When to tamp or remove ash?   Wed Sep 23, 2009 8:11 pm

The only time I dump ash is when I'm finished smoking the pipe or accidentally drop the pipe. I do gently tamp as I go down the bowl.

Jim
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PipeGeek

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Age : 45
Location : Centennial, CO
Registration date : 2012-02-29

PostSubject: Re: When to tamp or remove ash?   Fri Mar 23, 2012 9:05 pm

I had been doing this all wrong.

I read this. As I'm smoking this bowl, whenever the bowl goes out, or the smoke isn't coming readily, I tamped and relit. Eureka!

It seems that the tobacco that burns forms a weak matrix, and if you don't tamp, the flame won't reach the tobacco that isn't burnt, hindering your ability to relight. I had been wondering about this, and when I read this thread, the lightbulb went on.

This was also the first bowl I've smoked where I had no dottle left. Just ash.

I wish I had found this forum sooner!
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KevinM



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

PostSubject: Re: When to tamp or remove ash?   Fri Mar 23, 2012 10:13 pm

Yep. The bowl of tobacco, once asmolder, will have a top layer of burnt tobacco (ash), a layer of smoldering tobacco (that's what you're smoking), and a layer still awaiting its turn. All it takes to "tamp" and keep the home fire burning is the lightest pressure to compress the first layer to the second. Just a very, very light touch is plenty. I don't dump any ash, though that may simply be due to my tobacco preferences. Outside on a breezy day you may find that your pipe can continue smoldering and building an ash column all the way to the bottom. You can relight a pipe with no trouble even though the ash column is deep, which may call into question the need to tamp a properly packed pipe at all. (Excepting the first tamp which readies the tobacco and smolder for what is yet to come.) Beware tamping in a vain attempt to coax a good smoke from a poorly packed pipe. And finally, some pipe smoking vets will maintain a good supply of ash in the bowl as the smoke comes to an end. Then they will stir the ash and remaining debris in the bowl until it is nicely mixed. They then cover the bowl and shake it vigorously for a few seconds before dumping it. This produces a pipe bowl that is evenly dusted with ash and -- the theory states -- will enhance formation of a thin carbon layer from the bowl's top to bottom, which is what's meant by "break in." At least that's how I understand these matters. You can see why many pipers slip into rigid orthodoxy on pipe maintenance in spite of themselves.
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KevinM



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

PostSubject: Re: When to tamp or remove ash?   Mon Apr 02, 2012 6:07 pm

P.S. In warmish weather I've been puffing out on my deck and paid some attention to my tamping tech. Instead of tamping in the middle of the bowl, I tamp lightly aroung the perimeter and then add one very light tamp in the middle to even 'er out. Perceived benefit: an even burn.
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monbla256

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

PostSubject: Re: When to tamp or remove ash?   Mon Apr 02, 2012 6:19 pm

I do as othershave stated, tamp as I smoke. Not mashing it down, merely a sort of settling the burn't ash down to the burning level. I do it all the way thru my full bowl I smoke. I do not dump out the ashes til the bowl is done and I've done this with all sorts of blends/mixtures from Burley Aro's thru English/balkans thru straight Va's. Same way bowl after bowl and year after year. I normally get a nice dry ash at the bottom this way, no dottle.
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taharris

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Age : 49
Location : Central Ohio
Registration date : 2011-11-10

PostSubject: Re: When to tamp or remove ash?   Mon Apr 02, 2012 7:25 pm

I don't actually tamp with the flat end of the tamper. I use very light pressure with the pointy end. Just enough to get the ash to settle. This helps keep good air flow throughout the smoke.

Todd
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Natch

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Age : 67
Location : foothills of the Ozarks
Registration date : 2007-12-21

PostSubject: Re: When to tamp or remove ash?   Mon Apr 02, 2012 9:55 pm

Guess I'm the odd man out (again!) in that I seldom tamp but to poke lightly with a long, thin nail, often scraping the rim of the bowl about 1/4 inch below the ash layer. I also dump the ash two or three times during the smoke.

The one exception to tamping is if I happen to full the bowl fuller than I should (which is often, I am a greedy fellow) and the tobacco swells up with the first lights, I'll tamp it down so it does't singe the rim.

Probably not a proper technique, but you know mantra we all refer to, "smoke what you like and like what you smoke", well, I think we can add smoke the way you like...... It seems to work for me.

Natch
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john-in-kc



Location : Flyover Country USA
Registration date : 2009-01-09

PostSubject: Re: When to tamp or remove ash?   Fri Apr 06, 2012 1:52 pm

I often find the natural weight of my tamper is enough to do the business of settling the ash.

I do drop some of the ash after about 30 minutes of smoking, to give the coals clear access to air.
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MisterE
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Location : Mexico City
Registration date : 2009-08-24

PostSubject: Re: When to tamp or remove ash?   Fri Apr 06, 2012 1:59 pm

I give the ash a poke or a light tamp and dump it as I go.
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