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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I figured we needed to get a little conversation going here on the pipe thread. So here goes!

PIPE-SMOKING AXIOMS

The Bowl


1) A fresh bowl of tobacco that tastes bad from the first light, but certainly by the true light, will never taste good.

2) A bowl that starts out so-so can improve but probably not be great.

3) A bowl that starts out good can become great.

4) Any bowl can eventually go down hill. Most do.


The Day

a) If the first bowl of the day tastes bad, all subsequent bowls will taste bad.

b) If the first bowl of the day tastes good, all subsequent bowls will taste at least pretty good.

c) The day ends before dinner. After dinner you get a fresh start.


The Drink

I) Coffee makes any bowl taste better but can't redeem a bad bowl.

II) Cough syrup makes any bowl taste bad, except Cult Blood Red Moon!


What say you gentlemen? Are my calculations off? 馃槣
 

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I鈥檒l have to say that you鈥檙e pretty much spot on. Here lately I鈥檝e had quite a few bowls that start of good or even great and by the halfway point start to fizzle out. These are blends that I鈥檓 very familiar with in proven pipes. I blame the weather for this, the last month or so weve probably averaged 90% humidity, even tobacco that started off bone dry is a soupy, gummy glob by the end of a bowl.
 

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Being down here in Houston, and only smoking outdoors, I've dumped so many half bowls that resembled a spent pinch of long cut snuff that I've lost count.

The coffee and tobacco synergy is real.
Whisky and pipes play well together too.
 

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I blame the weather for this, the last month or so weve probably averaged 90% humidity, even tobacco that started off bone dry is a soupy, gummy glob by the end of a bowl.
In my experience, unless the tobacco sucks, the reason for bad bowls is bad burning via bad draw, usually overpacking. I do not dry my tobacco, but there is a wrinkle here, which is that too much humidity makes the tobacco clump together and you get a terrible bowl as a result.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
In my experience, unless the tobacco sucks, the reason for bad bowls is bad burning via bad draw, usually overpacking. I do not dry my tobacco, but there is a wrinkle here, which is that too much humidity makes the tobacco clump together and you get a terrible bowl as a result.
You make an excellent point: packing is probably the most important variable in getting a cool, pleasant smoke. I tend to be a bit undisciplined about it鈥攕omething between a codger scoop and pinch method.

Are you the author of the Nicotiana essays? They look very interesting. I'm looking forward to reading them.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 · (Edited)
@deathmetal, I just read your essay on flake tobacco. It's excellent and not just because I agree with you that flakes are best smoked as flakes.

Reading further, I found myself chuckling at the hilariously cynical social commentary alongside the pipe-smoking wisdom. Is this death metal philosophizing or your unique take on modern life? Whatever it is, it's terrific! 馃憤
 

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Thank you for reading! Yes, this is my writing, as are the bits about pipe smoking from the death metal site. It's tangentially related, I suppose, since both pipe smoking and death metal look simple on the surface but have a lot of complexity beneath them.

I have been stalking the perfect packing technique for some time. The answer, surprising no one is, is that there are several. I am working on my ability to perfectly pack flakes now because I love smoking them in flake form, but they are quite tricky because of the expansion and the tendency of solid flake to block some air flow. Have you had any luck with kitchen matches and flakes?

I used to post to certain social media sites, but as the terms of service agreements started to become anti-tobacco, I threw in the towel and started posting on write.as because it is an interesting lightweight blogging service. Right now, I have defected yet again to cigars -- this happens once every few weeks, er, um, days -- with an antique Partagas 1845 I picked up at an infamous den of sin in my city, the Hollywood Food Store.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Thank you for reading! Yes, this is my writing, as are the bits about pipe smoking from the death metal site. It's tangentially related, I suppose, since both pipe smoking and death metal look simple on the surface but have a lot of complexity beneath them.

I have been stalking the perfect packing technique for some time. The answer, surprising no one is, is that there are several. I am working on my ability to perfectly pack flakes now because I love smoking them in flake form, but they are quite tricky because of the expansion and the tendency of solid flake to block some air flow. Have you had any luck with kitchen matches and flakes?

I used to post to certain social media sites, but as the terms of service agreements started to become anti-tobacco, I threw in the towel and started posting on write.as because it is an interesting lightweight blogging service. Right now, I have defected yet again to cigars -- this happens once every few weeks, er, um, days -- with an antique Partagas 1845 I picked up at an infamous den of sin in my city, the Hollywood Food Store.
Yesterday afternoon, I read everything on Nicotinia. Which says somethimg about how interesting and well-written it is. I think I understand your general philosophy鈥攁nd why, unfortunately, you were kicked off various social media platforms. Your writings on pipes, the pleasures of tobacco and even about the modern world are informative and engaging. I really enjoyed reading them. But I can see why your more controversial opinions would be unwelcome on pipe forums that seek to create a congenial "safe" space. Anyway, I will be following your blog with pleasure. And if you don't get too bored, I hope you'll hang around here from time to time too.

As for packing (a misnomer according to you), I agree it's the most important variable in getting a good smoke. By trial and error, I arrived at the same approach to loading flakes as you describe鈥攊ncluding twisting the bolus, leaving space at the perimeter and using kindling. Let us know If you make any new discoveries. Be well!
 

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I enjoy it when people find anything I write to be useful. There's a lot of trial-and-error (aka "doing it all wrong the first 300 times") in what I write about with pipes. There is some blunt codger talk in there but it is offered because learning from failure, not safe spaces that avoided it, is always what has worked for me! I am thankful to the elders and often youngers who have pointed out to me when I was doing something illogical in the past, or have passed on information even if it was not what I wanted to hear. I mean, I'm not going to claim I didn't pout and drink a whole six-pack of Red Stripe afterwards, but I got over it at my own pace... eventually. I really enjoy flakes. I rediscovered the Mac Baren HH Bold Kentucky the other day, and there is not a week that goes by that I do not mourn Dunhill Dark Flake. Learning to smoke flakes has been one of the challenges for me, but what obsesses me now is regulating breathing at different paces at different times in the smoke. It's a bell curve: for most of the smoke, you can use a fairly regular pace, but early in the bowl you need slightly (very slightly) kick up the pace, and for the last quarter of the bowl you want to slightly reduce the pace. At least, that's the current theory. I will post further bulletins as events warrant!
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
@deathmetal, your description of the breath method is the best one I've read. I can't create a negative pressure in my mouth just be sealing my lips鈥擨 have to very slightly draw in鈥攂ut I get it in a way I never did before. And of course it's easier to do with a pipe you can clench. I have some real doozies so it's not alway possible!
 

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The breath-smoking method (from Mr Kerslake's video) changed my life, although I was already heading that way. It leads to good solid bowls. The other factor of course is the packing, which is where I think I'll spend a lot of future time refining technique. I can do it well, but I'd like to do it fast and well. The gravity fill is still my favorite method, including the most extreme extension of that, which was when I filled up a plastic pitcher with C&D Cube Cut Burley and just poured it into the pipe like the laziest lazy person who ever lazily lived...
 
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