In order to smoke a pipe, you must pack it with tobacco. Some people will just drop an arbitrary amount of tobacco into the bowl and go for it. While that will get you to be a pipe smoker, we do not think it is quite the right way to pack your new pipe!
Each pipe smoker has their own method and tradition when it comes to packing their pipe. This tutorial will walk you through a basic step-by-step process of packing your pipe how we do it. We believe this version of packing your tobacco pipe allows you to get the most flavor and enjoyment out of your pipe smoking experience.
Whether this is your first time smoking a tobacco pipe or you are just looking for a new method, these instructions on packing your tobacco pipe are sure to help you out!
If you are reading this, we think it is safe to assume that you already have a tobacco pipe and pipe tobacco at your disposal. If you are looking to buy one, the other, or both we recommend buying a Savinelli Series III pipe as a good high-quality starter, some Sutliff Tobacco Pouches as a flavor tester, and a 3-piece pipe tool that will come in handy for these steps.
Once you have the necessary materials and tools you are going to open you pipe tobacco and grab a healthy pinch of it. Put that tobacco into the bowl of your pipe and repeat until your bowl is filled with tobacco.
As you are completing the first fill of your bowl be sure to not yet push, or tamp, down tobacco into the bowl. We will get there but for now you are just looking to fill it to the top.
Many rookie pipe smokers will make the mistake of beginning to smoke their now filled pipe without tamping the tobacco down. While this will certainly allow you to begin your pipe smoking journey it will cause problems such as your bowl not staying lit and not getting the true flavor and aromas out of your pipe tobacco.
Since you are reading this tutorial you clearly would like to pack your bowl in what we believe to be the proper way, so begin pushing that tobacco down. While you certainly and get the done with a finger we recommend getting a 3-Piece Pipe Tool and using the tamper tool.
Tamp or push this tobacco down nice and comfortable until your pipe is about 1/2 to 2/3 full. As you can see in the image the tamper is the piece of the tool with a flat bottom. You will want to make sure you do not tamp the tobacco down too much as doing this will prevent you from getting any airflow.
Pretty easy step here as you are just repeating the previous one! Once again you will want to be careful to not tamp the tobacco down too tightly. A nice gentle ‘tap, tap, tap’ in a circle motion on the tobacco will pack it down comfortably.
Two issues can arise if the tamping is not done properly. Should you tamp too much and jam the pipe tobacco down into the bowl you will block all airflow. No airflow means no smoke, no smoke means you will not get to enjoy your wonderful pipe and flavorful tobacco!
The second issue comes from not tamping the tobacco down enough. If you just leave the tobacco loose and un-tamped your pipe will not stay lit. While some people prefer to light there pipe for each puff, we think true enjoyment comes from lighting once and smoking for a while without relighting.
This is the moment of truth on whether you packed your tobacco to tight. You will place the lip, or mouthpiece, in your mouth and lightly draw inward to make sure you have a decent airflow. Should you not be able to inhale at all through the pipe you likely packed it too tightly.
If this occurs, you will have gently tap out the tobacco and return to Step 1. Unfortunately, the only way to fix a pipe that is packed too tightly is to start over. If this has occurred for you it will be good practice to start over as it is all about finding that happy medium to pack your pipe perfectly.
If you are able to get a decent airflow through the stem of your pipe only one step left, and you are officially a proper pipe smoker!
Finally, you are ready to light it up! Holding the button, or lip, of the pipe in your mouth and apply the flame in a circular motion across the tobacco while lightly puffing. This is called the charring light, essentially preparing the tobacco to bit lit.
After this take a moment to tamp the charred tobacco very gently. Then you will light again, from the center of the bowl, puffing as you go! It may take a few tries to really get the pipe going, such is the fickle nature of smoking a tobacco pipe.
If your pipe does not seem to stay lit and repeatedly goes out you likely packed it incorrectly and will once again want to dump it out and start over. You will also need practice, as you do this more and more you will get better and find the nuances that work best for you and give you the most enjoyable experience!