Air Pocket Method: An Anecdote

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Trifecta13

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So please allow this post the typical disclaimers. Anecdotal only, YMMV, I'm no expert, etc. So yesterday I had a strange compulsion to look into the "air pocket" packing method. I normally use the three stage method, the gravity fill, and the occasional half-drunk caveman stuff. Quite frankly, I've had great experiences with all of them. In the interest of full disclosure, I've experimented with the "frank" method with limited success... But that it probably the topic for another thread.

At any rate, I decided I would look into the air pocket method for laughs. I've now tried it with two very different tobys and two polar opposite style briars. Here are my thoughts so far:

The Good:
Wow... Just wow. I find the smoke to be cooler and more flavorful. I'm finding nuanced flavors that I've never noticed before in tins that are nearly tapped out. It reminds me of that glorious day I started aerating red wines. I really look forward to revisiting some "old friends" to experience some things I may have been missing, or only catching glimpses of.

The other big difference that I'm putting in the plus column is the amount of tobacco used per bowl. Now many would probably just as easily put this in the minus column, but that's why opinions are beautiful things. Lately I've been averaging about 2 hours per bowl in my average to large sized pipes. Now this normally would not be a problem for me, but it is currently quite frigid in my humble corner of the Midwest, so sitting in the garage (as my superior officer has commanded) is not entirely pleasant even with the space heater. This method has reduced that time to approx. 1.5 hours or a little less. Now the smaller pipe I tried it in (normally about 1 hour) was reduced to about 35-40 minutes which does leave a little to be desired, but hey what's another bowl among friends?

The Bad (Maybe):
I included the "maybe" because this particular shortcoming doesn't really bother me, but I felt it necessary to include. I do find that more relights are necessitated than I have had to concern myself with using other methods. Now, this may be a definite turn off for some, but again- I just don't mind it (kind of adds to the experience if I'm honest). I can also potentially see there being issues with cake not building as it normally would at the heel. This may just me making a bit of a logical leap, but there it is. I welcome your thoughts on this and any other downsides I may not be seeing as well.

Possible Rationale/Closing Thoughts:
So, to what do I attribute this newfound dimension to our mutual pasttime/passion/preoccupation (for me anyway)? It could be rather simple honestly. This method sort of forces me to pack a little more loosely and tamp a little more softly. Two elements that I believe have pretty fervent support and well it should.

So do I think this will work equally well with every tobacco or every pipe? -Doubtful
Do I think it will work for every smoker, every time? - Not a chance
Am I enjoying the ride while it lasts? - Without question

Thanks for indulging me; I'd really love to hear some words from those who have tried it and those who haven't. Below is the video I watched that started this whole thing if you're interested.

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Harlock999

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I like the air pocket method, especially in pipes that have cone shaped chambers where the wad of tobacco can be easily wedged into the bowl. The down side is if an ash dump or tamp is required, as sometimes the whole ball of tobacco will fall through to the bottom, in the case of a tamp, or fall out after an ash dump.
 

alfredo_buscatti

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About 3 months ago I read to never, ever, ever push tobacco down into the bowl. I forgot about this and then remembered and started to apply it to packing. I use a variety of methods to pack depending on my mood, the cut of the tobacco and the pipe; sometimes I make up or alter a method on the fly. For me deciding how I'm going to pack the pipe is part of its charm. But I did implement the advice above with much success.

Last night I smoked GH Kendal Dark, and except for the twisting, which on reflection I need to implement, I did use the Air Pocket. It works.

Three things which have made my bowls more enjoyable:

1) all of the above
2) I find flake sexy. I've had an obsession with getting flake to smoke at its slowest. But I've had to rub it out more and more as I give up the dream of smoking it more or less intact. Fold and stuff doesn't burn at all well for me. The MB video describes what I've tried to do with this method, and my tongue gets sore from constant relights. Won't burn. Next I tried matchsticks worried to the extent that they frayed by remained intact. Better but still the same. Now I'm rubbing out matchsticks to the point that they separate into 3 or 4 pieces. Bingo.
3. Adjusting to the draw. I had an obsession with an entirely open draw resulting in using about 5 cleaners/bowl. Now I don't care as long as it draws without excessive force.
 

dkj42

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:cyclops: Just tried this method - WOW! Smoked cool - no gurgle - no wetness at the end. Only problem was it lasted about 75% as long as usual. Love it - can't wait to try it in other pipes. BTW I was smoking a peterson shannon 106 billard and aro tobacco. Thanks much for this post and video. :cheers:
 

Kyle Weiss

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I have a packing method that works for me, a hybrid of advice I've gathered from here over the last year or so. Rarely do I get swamp-heel in my chambers, but I'll let the onlookers and whoever else figure that part out on their own. Let's just say nothing magical or "technical" happens, and bowl shape seems to be irrelevant. Keeping it simple has helped. All I know is at this point, I have normally good smokes, the occasional "oh wow," get to the bottom easily and don't use pipe cleaners too often.

Meanwhile, if only getting through half a bowl is a concern about cake buildup--for at least the cold months, smoke only half bowls? *shrug*

It's all learning, experimenting, repeating and hopefully (eventually) succeeding, I figure.
 

Richard Burley

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I am reading Dr. Hanna's book right now, and I must say this packing method works for me. I can't see any downside. I thought it would diminish the length of the smoke, but I don't think it does. When the center of the wad finally collapses, you just gently tamp and go from there as normal. I just finished a bowl of FVF remnants (not one of my favorite VAs) and enjoyed it more than the rest of the 250g box. Kudos to Dr. Hanna, who, if not the first to use this method, was the first to bring it to light.

http://www.amazon.com/Perfect-Smoke-Gourmet-Relaxation-Reflection-ebook/dp/B00GYHDWCQ/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1419901814&sr=1-1&keywords=fred+hanna
 

RDPipes

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I would think, and that doesn't mean I think I'm correct but, leaving a air pocket at the bottom of the bowl with some damper tobacco's might cause the pipe to collect moisture/condensation in the heel of the bowl thus causing gurgle.
Why do I say this? Because on occasions when I load my pipe using the gravity feed
3 count method I don't pack the first count tight enough and I get a little gurgle till
I tamp it down. Anyway, I reckon it depends on what you smoke and sometimes how you smoke it. :scratch:
 

Richard Burley

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Cartaphilus":26hucx2h said:
I would think, and that doesn't mean I think I'm correct but, leaving a air pocket at the bottom of the bowl with some damper tobacco's might cause the pipe to collect moisture/condensation in the heel of the bowl thus causing gurgle.
Why do I say this? Because on occasions when I load my pipe using the gravity feed
3 count method I don't pack the first count tight enough and I get a little gurgle till
I tamp it down. Anyway, I reckon it depends on what you smoke and sometimes how you smoke it. :scratch:
Hey, I gave it a shot (more than one) and it works. So does the Frank method, but it's a pain in the ass. Packing a gd'd pipe has always been my weak point; this works for me, so far, better than the 3-step or variations thereof. One thing about this method is that's it's friggin FAST. You can screw it up, but it ain't easy. No condensation or gurgling that I noticed, though that has never been a problem with me. I shall continue, and report back if made a disillusioned fool.
 

MichaelM

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I tried this today after seeing this post and I'm actually impressed. I've always been a 3 stage packer and never found a method that made a signifcant difference. Also I can't say I have been dissatisfied with my packing. However, the air pocket method does seem to offer advantages and I certainly be trying in more in the future. Thanks for posting this!
Mike.
 

Richard Burley

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Michael, did you happen to notice how the tobacco tasted quite a bit different (better, in my case)? Just curious. I'm still playing with this.
 

MichaelM

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Richard Burley":qz4c52mo said:
Michael, did you happen to notice how the tobacco tasted quite a bit different (better, in my case)?  Just curious. I'm still playing with this.
Maybe.  I smoked C&D Epiphany, and this was only my third bowl of the blend.  The first two with my typical packing were very much like a standard C&D burley with a touch of latakia.  There were no nuances and I had pretty much started to write off the blend.  Today's smoke was very different with the first half showing prominent figgy and dried fruit notes and at times almost tasting like an aromatic.  The second half settled down a bit and the latakia became more prominent.  If the blend always delivers this profile it would be phenomenal.  I have to smoke more to decide if the packing method made the difference, but that aside I definitly found it to be a cooler and drier smoke.
Mike.
 

Richard Burley

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Ouch. Epiphany is one of my favorites. Glad you noticed the difference, whatever the means.
 

beardedbassguy

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I may try this method this weekend (still moving, no time or place to smoke really) to see if it really helps the flavor.

I have a terrible palate, and subtle flavors are lost on me. Maybe this will help.
 

SpeedyPete

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Kyle Weiss":37t7teia said:
 

It's all learning, experimenting, repeating and hopefully (eventually) succeeding, I figure.  
I've been smoking the pipe for more years than I care to remember. This is the first time I've packed a pipe and left a gap at the bottom on purpose. Smoking Irish Oak in a Sav 804ks and it's nice, very nice indeed.

A big THANK YOU for bringing this to my attention, Trifecta :cheers:
 

Ozark Wizard

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I have been making my own pipes, and I like aromatics. Most of my pipes are black walnut. The first few years I just blew them up. Wasn't cleaning them often enough, too many smokes in a row, humid weather, all took a toll. To keep the gurgle down, I packed only the top of the bowl, so the goopy mess could pool up on the bottom, where I could decant it off when I was finished.

Smirk

Seriously though, I did find that although I was cleaning my devices correctly, I was still only packing the top 2/3. Never thought that much about it, until I was going on a road trip into town and thought I'd fill the pipe, using that method of the first third light, second firm, top tight.

By the time I got to the bottom third, I was spitting out chunks (filterless pipes)and it was kind of unpleasant tasting. I've experimented with other methods of packing, (still not sure what the "Frank method" is, never seem to get a simple, straightforward answer) and found that leaving the bottom third empty is the way to go. The pipes seem to get caked down there well enough.... And now, no more blowing up bowls.
 

docwatson

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Since reading Dr. Fred Hanna's book I have tried this method of packing my pipes. It has given me more pleasure than any other method I have ever used. Why had I never thought of this process or heard of it before??? Thanks Fred.
I didn't go back and read all of the posts in this thread so forgive me if I'm repeating what others may have said. I just love this method of packing a pipe, for once I'm not lighting up every couple minutes. lol
AC
 

Stick

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Thanks for posting Jim. I've not tried this packing method yet but judging by yours and everyone else's comments, it is well worth a shot. From a 'mechanical' aspect, it sure makes sense.
 

Timbo

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Got to say. I just tried the air pocket method and it worked a charm. Had a bowl of wilderness (a Frank Hanna baccy serendipitously) in my Pete 312. The taste was sensational. It's a flavoursome enough smoke when packed normally but the air pocket allowed so much more flavour to come out. The other benefit is I rarely smoke the entire bowl, often dumping the last quarter as I hate burning my tongue on the relights. So this method of packing is much more economical for me.

Cheers all and thanks Jim for bringing this to my attention.

Tim

Edit

Meant to say that I only had one relight too which is abnormal for me.
 

J Soshae

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I find the old palm fill method achieves the same results. This is the way i have done it for years.


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