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The information presented here was originally formed from the excellent FAQ from the [http://www.aspipes.org/faq/faq/official.html Alt.Smokers.Pipes FAQ]
 
The information presented here was originally formed from the excellent FAQ from the [http://www.aspipes.org/faq/faq/official.html Alt.Smokers.Pipes FAQ]
 
   
 
   
== Selecting a First Pipe ==
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== Selecting your first pipe ==
 
When selecting your first pipe, the best advice is to follow is "Pick one you like." However, given the considerable range of materials, prices and designs, more in-depth guidance follows. (If you are trying to switch to pipes and give up cigarettes check out this excellent article by Steve Fallon: [[Good-Bye Cigarettes, Hello Pipe!]])
 
When selecting your first pipe, the best advice is to follow is "Pick one you like." However, given the considerable range of materials, prices and designs, more in-depth guidance follows. (If you are trying to switch to pipes and give up cigarettes check out this excellent article by Steve Fallon: [[Good-Bye Cigarettes, Hello Pipe!]])
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See Also: [[What Makes a Good Briar Pipe]] by R.D. Field
 
See Also: [[What Makes a Good Briar Pipe]] by R.D. Field
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=== Estate Pipes ===
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=== Estate pipes ===
 
In the pipe smoking community, "estate" is a euphemism for "used." By buying an estate pipe, it is possible to get a high quality pipe for much less than it would cost new. (It is also possible to buy a piece of junk at a greatly inflated price, so caveat emptor applies.) While these pipes are usually thoroughly cleaned before they are sold, some people are appalled at the idea of smoking a pipe that was smoked by someone else; I wonder if these people bring their own silverware to restaurants. It should be noted that the previous owner's smoking habits will have at least a minor affect on the taste the pipe will impart to tobacco.
 
In the pipe smoking community, "estate" is a euphemism for "used." By buying an estate pipe, it is possible to get a high quality pipe for much less than it would cost new. (It is also possible to buy a piece of junk at a greatly inflated price, so caveat emptor applies.) While these pipes are usually thoroughly cleaned before they are sold, some people are appalled at the idea of smoking a pipe that was smoked by someone else; I wonder if these people bring their own silverware to restaurants. It should be noted that the previous owner's smoking habits will have at least a minor affect on the taste the pipe will impart to tobacco.
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== Selecting a First Tobacco ==
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== Selecting your first tobacco ==
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As with selecting your first pipe, "Pick one you like". If you have had experience with only cigarettes and cigars, you're in for a real treat. The variety of pipe tobaccos is positively staggering, and the flavor of a blend is influenced not only by its component tobaccos, but also by myriad other factors such as the style of cut and the pipe used to smoke it. The only way to determine which sort of tobacco is right for you is to try a number of very different blends to decide which general type you like, and then proceed from there. Some of us are constantly searching for the perfect blend, affectionately known as "The Holy Grail."
    
=== Varieties ===
 
=== Varieties ===
This question lends itself to the short answer given for how to select your first pipe: "Pick one you like". If you have had experience with only cigarettes and cigars, you're in for a real treat. The variety of pipe tobaccos is positively staggering, and the flavor of a blend is influenced not only by its component tobaccos, but also by myriad other factors such as the style of cut and the pipe used to smoke it. The only way to determine which sort of tobacco is right for you is to try a number of very different blends to decide which general type you like, and then proceed from there. Some of us are constantly searching for the perfect blend, affectionately known as "The Holy Grail."
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;"Drugstore" Tobaccos
 
;"Drugstore" Tobaccos
 
:Generally, you will be better off purchasing your tobacco from a tobacconist. Many of the commonly available blends found in discount stores or supermarkets are made from lower quality tobacco, and the additives with which they are laced for preservation and "taste enhancement" alter the way a tobacco smokes, usually for the worse. Of course, there is no harm at all in sampling these tobaccos; you may discover that one such blend is just your cup of tea. Most "drugstore blends" have been around for decades, so they must have something going for them.
 
:Generally, you will be better off purchasing your tobacco from a tobacconist. Many of the commonly available blends found in discount stores or supermarkets are made from lower quality tobacco, and the additives with which they are laced for preservation and "taste enhancement" alter the way a tobacco smokes, usually for the worse. Of course, there is no harm at all in sampling these tobaccos; you may discover that one such blend is just your cup of tea. Most "drugstore blends" have been around for decades, so they must have something going for them.
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;Aromatics vs. Non-Aromatics
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;Aromatics vs. non-aromatics
 
:These are the two broadest subdivisions of pipe tobaccos. As a general rule, most beginning smokers tend to go for an "aromatic" tobacco, which has been "cased" or "topped" with flavorings such as vanilla, cherry, etc., while those converting from cigars or cigarettes often prefer an "non-aromatic" or "natural" tobacco.
 
:These are the two broadest subdivisions of pipe tobaccos. As a general rule, most beginning smokers tend to go for an "aromatic" tobacco, which has been "cased" or "topped" with flavorings such as vanilla, cherry, etc., while those converting from cigars or cigarettes often prefer an "non-aromatic" or "natural" tobacco.
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::A good aromatic tobacco is lightly topped with a natural flavoring. Aromatics tend to be more moist than non-aromatics, which can lead to problems smoking them. These problems can be avoided if care is taken in the preparation of the tobacco and in the pack of the pipe.
 
::A good aromatic tobacco is lightly topped with a natural flavoring. Aromatics tend to be more moist than non-aromatics, which can lead to problems smoking them. These problems can be avoided if care is taken in the preparation of the tobacco and in the pack of the pipe.
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:;Non-Aromatics
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:;Non-aromatics
 
::These are tobaccos that contain no flavored additives; in fact, a good non-aromatic blend will contain no additives whatsoever, other than perhaps a bit of water. [SIDE NOTE: You may see the word "English" used as a descriptor for non-aromatic or natural blends. To some purists, an English blend contains only Virginias and latakia (see [[Pipe Tobaccos]]), and the term is used in a broad sense by some to refer to almost any unflavored tobacco (at one time, British law prohibited adulterants in tobacco). Typically, however, the term is used to describe a non-aromatic blend that contains latakia.]
 
::These are tobaccos that contain no flavored additives; in fact, a good non-aromatic blend will contain no additives whatsoever, other than perhaps a bit of water. [SIDE NOTE: You may see the word "English" used as a descriptor for non-aromatic or natural blends. To some purists, an English blend contains only Virginias and latakia (see [[Pipe Tobaccos]]), and the term is used in a broad sense by some to refer to almost any unflavored tobacco (at one time, British law prohibited adulterants in tobacco). Typically, however, the term is used to describe a non-aromatic blend that contains latakia.]
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If your tobacco is too moist, you can leave the container open slightly, while monitoring it closely. If your tobacco has dried out, it is usually possible to revive it. (There is a point beyond which no amount of re-moistening is going to restore the flavor of a tobacco, but that time span is generally measured in months or years.) Some advocate placing a slice of apple or potato in the tobacco container. This will work, but if left too long, you run the risk of introducing mold with this technique. Unlike cheese, the flavor of tobacco is not improved by mold, and once your container has been so contaminated, it is almost impossible to completely rid it of the mold spores that will attempt to infest any tobacco placed in that container in the future. A much safer method is to spray a tiny amount of water into the container and reseal it for a day or two, or purchase a ceramic humidifying disk from your tobacconist and place it in the storage container.
 
If your tobacco is too moist, you can leave the container open slightly, while monitoring it closely. If your tobacco has dried out, it is usually possible to revive it. (There is a point beyond which no amount of re-moistening is going to restore the flavor of a tobacco, but that time span is generally measured in months or years.) Some advocate placing a slice of apple or potato in the tobacco container. This will work, but if left too long, you run the risk of introducing mold with this technique. Unlike cheese, the flavor of tobacco is not improved by mold, and once your container has been so contaminated, it is almost impossible to completely rid it of the mold spores that will attempt to infest any tobacco placed in that container in the future. A much safer method is to spray a tiny amount of water into the container and reseal it for a day or two, or purchase a ceramic humidifying disk from your tobacconist and place it in the storage container.
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== Smoking Basics ==
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== Smoking basics ==
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=== How do I "break in" a pipe? ===
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=== "Breaking in" your pipe ===
 
The process of "breaking in" a pipe serves two functions. First, any saps, resins, acids, stains, demons, or other nasty things that have remained in the briar are driven out. Second, and most importantly, a "cake"--the layer of charred residue that builds up inside the bowl as tobacco is smoked in it--is developed. This cake protects the bowl of the pipe from the heat of burning tobacco and prevents it from "burning out." It should be noted that most of the information in this section applies to briar pipes only. Most other pipes require no break in period, or at most a very brief one. Additionally, one should not allow a cake to build up in a meerschaum or clay, as this could cause the bowl to crack.
 
The process of "breaking in" a pipe serves two functions. First, any saps, resins, acids, stains, demons, or other nasty things that have remained in the briar are driven out. Second, and most importantly, a "cake"--the layer of charred residue that builds up inside the bowl as tobacco is smoked in it--is developed. This cake protects the bowl of the pipe from the heat of burning tobacco and prevents it from "burning out." It should be noted that most of the information in this section applies to briar pipes only. Most other pipes require no break in period, or at most a very brief one. Additionally, one should not allow a cake to build up in a meerschaum or clay, as this could cause the bowl to crack.
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Fred Hanna has written an excellent article on this subject that we highly recommend called [[The Mysteries of the Briar Break-in Process]].
 
Fred Hanna has written an excellent article on this subject that we highly recommend called [[The Mysteries of the Briar Break-in Process]].
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=== How should I "pack" my pipe? ===
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=== "Packing" your pipe ===
 
A pipe must be packed properly to ensure a good smoke; unfortunately, learning to do this takes time and practice. In fact, the art of packing a pipe is the most difficult task associated with pipe smoking, and this can be very frustrating for the beginner. I suspect that most people who have given up on trying to learn to smoke a pipe did so primarily because they couldn't master packing a bowl quickly enough to suit them.
 
A pipe must be packed properly to ensure a good smoke; unfortunately, learning to do this takes time and practice. In fact, the art of packing a pipe is the most difficult task associated with pipe smoking, and this can be very frustrating for the beginner. I suspect that most people who have given up on trying to learn to smoke a pipe did so primarily because they couldn't master packing a bowl quickly enough to suit them.
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A recent pipe-packing technique known as "The Frank Method" has grown in favor, presented at the 2004 Chicagoland Pipe Show. See the following links: [http://www.newyorkpipeclub.com/FrankCentral.html New York Pipe Club's presentation] or [http://members.bellatlantic.net/~vze43wza/franck.html Jim Murray's site]. Here's a set of YouTube videos posted by Herr Frank demonstrating his pipe filling method [http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kJP0JaNRw6Q Frank Method].
 
A recent pipe-packing technique known as "The Frank Method" has grown in favor, presented at the 2004 Chicagoland Pipe Show. See the following links: [http://www.newyorkpipeclub.com/FrankCentral.html New York Pipe Club's presentation] or [http://members.bellatlantic.net/~vze43wza/franck.html Jim Murray's site]. Here's a set of YouTube videos posted by Herr Frank demonstrating his pipe filling method [http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kJP0JaNRw6Q Frank Method].
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=== How should I light my pipe? ===
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=== Lighting your pipe ===
 
Barring such bizarre contraptions as parabolic mirrors, lasers, and miniature blowtorches, there are three ways to light your pipe: with a match, with a butane lighter, or with a fluid lighter (e.g. a "Zippo").
 
Barring such bizarre contraptions as parabolic mirrors, lasers, and miniature blowtorches, there are three ways to light your pipe: with a match, with a butane lighter, or with a fluid lighter (e.g. a "Zippo").
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Fluid lighters share the convenience feature of butane, and they provide the only truly reliable means of lighting a pipe in a stiff wind. Zippo makes a lighter designed for pipes that has a circular hole in the chimney which is placed over the bowl while the flame is "sucked" into the tobacco. Other types of fluid lighters may be used as well, but their broad flame makes it all too easy to char the rim of the pipe bowl. The primary disadvantage to fluid lighters is that they can impart a slight taste to the tobacco. Some swear that this can be prevented if one merely waits a few seconds after igniting the lighter before lighting the tobacco. I can still taste (smell?) the lighter fluid, however, and I prefer my tobacco sans naphtha.
 
Fluid lighters share the convenience feature of butane, and they provide the only truly reliable means of lighting a pipe in a stiff wind. Zippo makes a lighter designed for pipes that has a circular hole in the chimney which is placed over the bowl while the flame is "sucked" into the tobacco. Other types of fluid lighters may be used as well, but their broad flame makes it all too easy to char the rim of the pipe bowl. The primary disadvantage to fluid lighters is that they can impart a slight taste to the tobacco. Some swear that this can be prevented if one merely waits a few seconds after igniting the lighter before lighting the tobacco. I can still taste (smell?) the lighter fluid, however, and I prefer my tobacco sans naphtha.
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=== How do I keep my pipe lit? ===
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=== Keep your pipe lit ===
 
Don't be overly concerned if you have difficulty keeping your pipe lit at first. It is not unusual for even experienced smokers to have to re-light several times, especially toward the bottom of the bowl. Try to relax and enjoy yourself--that is the whole point, after all. You'll find it much easier to keep your pipe lit with practice.
 
Don't be overly concerned if you have difficulty keeping your pipe lit at first. It is not unusual for even experienced smokers to have to re-light several times, especially toward the bottom of the bowl. Try to relax and enjoy yourself--that is the whole point, after all. You'll find it much easier to keep your pipe lit with practice.
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:The pace at which you smoke (i.e. the rhythm at which you puff your pipe) is very important. With practice and experimentation you will achieve the perfect pace for you. The idea is to puff frequently enough to keep the tobacco lit, but not so frequently as to cause the pipe to burn too hot, which contributes to tongue bite and may damage your pipe. If you can't hold the bowl of your pipe comfortably in your hand, or if you can't hold the side of the bowl against your face for more than a few seconds, then you're smoking too fast. If this happens, set the pipe down for a few minutes to cool, then re-light and start again. Someone once described the perfect smoking pace as one where the pipe is always on the verge of going out.
 
:The pace at which you smoke (i.e. the rhythm at which you puff your pipe) is very important. With practice and experimentation you will achieve the perfect pace for you. The idea is to puff frequently enough to keep the tobacco lit, but not so frequently as to cause the pipe to burn too hot, which contributes to tongue bite and may damage your pipe. If you can't hold the bowl of your pipe comfortably in your hand, or if you can't hold the side of the bowl against your face for more than a few seconds, then you're smoking too fast. If this happens, set the pipe down for a few minutes to cool, then re-light and start again. Someone once described the perfect smoking pace as one where the pipe is always on the verge of going out.
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== Basic Pipe Maintenance ==
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== Basic pipe maintenance ==
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=== How should I clean my pipe? ===
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=== Cleaning ===
 
Your pipe should be cleaned after each smoke. To do this, first let the pipe cool and then scoop or dump out any ash and "dottle" (unburned tobacco that sometimes remains in the bottom of the bowl). Do not bang the pipe against a hard surface, as this may result in a cracked shank or broken stem. If you must, hold the bowl of the pipe in one hand and strike the top of the bowl against the open palm of the opposite hand. Once the bowl is empty, run a pipe cleaner through the stem until it just enters the bowl and remove it. Repeat with additional cleaners until they come out clean (many people, myself included, will use both ends of a pipe cleaner before switching to a new one). Finally, take one of the used cleaners, bend it into a "U" shape, and wipe out the ash clinging to the sides of the bowl. [NOTE: Some people prefer to leave the ash in the bowl, believing that it promotes a good cake. If you like, try both ways and see what works best for you.] Set the pipe aside to dry completely. *Ideally*, the pipe should be allowed to "rest" for around 48 hours before smoking it again, but you might have to forgo this luxury until you have enough pipes to do so.
 
Your pipe should be cleaned after each smoke. To do this, first let the pipe cool and then scoop or dump out any ash and "dottle" (unburned tobacco that sometimes remains in the bottom of the bowl). Do not bang the pipe against a hard surface, as this may result in a cracked shank or broken stem. If you must, hold the bowl of the pipe in one hand and strike the top of the bowl against the open palm of the opposite hand. Once the bowl is empty, run a pipe cleaner through the stem until it just enters the bowl and remove it. Repeat with additional cleaners until they come out clean (many people, myself included, will use both ends of a pipe cleaner before switching to a new one). Finally, take one of the used cleaners, bend it into a "U" shape, and wipe out the ash clinging to the sides of the bowl. [NOTE: Some people prefer to leave the ash in the bowl, believing that it promotes a good cake. If you like, try both ways and see what works best for you.] Set the pipe aside to dry completely. *Ideally*, the pipe should be allowed to "rest" for around 48 hours before smoking it again, but you might have to forgo this luxury until you have enough pipes to do so.
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See Also: [[Pipe care/cleaning]]
 
See Also: [[Pipe care/cleaning]]
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=== Why is my tongue "charred"? ===
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=== "Tongue bite" ===
 
"Tongue bite," an intense burning sensation of the tongue, is an unpleasant side effect often experienced by the new pipe smoker (it is also experienced by non-newbies who take up the pipe again after a period of abstinence). While irritating, it will usually go away after a week or so of smoking. If you experience this problem for an extended period, then you may be smoking a tobacco that's too moist, you may have failed to pack the bowl properly, or you're smoking too fast. Some tongue bite sufferers have also experienced relief by using an oral rinse sold under the name "Biotene." It works for some; you might want to try it.
 
"Tongue bite," an intense burning sensation of the tongue, is an unpleasant side effect often experienced by the new pipe smoker (it is also experienced by non-newbies who take up the pipe again after a period of abstinence). While irritating, it will usually go away after a week or so of smoking. If you experience this problem for an extended period, then you may be smoking a tobacco that's too moist, you may have failed to pack the bowl properly, or you're smoking too fast. Some tongue bite sufferers have also experienced relief by using an oral rinse sold under the name "Biotene." It works for some; you might want to try it.
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=== Why is my pipe "gurgling"? ===
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=== "Gurgling" ===
 
This is caused by moisture collecting in the bottom of the bowl and/or in the shank or stem. Possible causes of "gurgle" are:
 
This is caused by moisture collecting in the bottom of the bowl and/or in the shank or stem. Possible causes of "gurgle" are:
  
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