Packing your pipe correctly can seem like a complicated task, but in fact, it is a pretty simple process. I don’t want to downplay its importance however, a poorly packed pipe can be hard to keep lit and experience the full flavor of the tobacco. By following the steps laid out below, you can ensure that you have a better smoke every time.
The first step of packing your pipe begins by preparing your tobacco. This is especially important if your tobacco is a flake or curly cut. Separate the individual pieces of tobacco out until there are no clumps. You can do this by picking it apart with your fingers, rubbing it around between your palms, or with any other method you can think of. This is most easily done on some kind of flat surface.
The next step is to gently fill the pipe with the loose tobacco all the way up to the top. It’s important to do this gently so as not to create more of the clumps that you just spent time separating. Typically I hold my pipe in one hand keeping the bowl steady and using my fingers to create a sort of funnel, and sprinkle the tobacco in with my other hand letting gravity do most of the work. Then, using a tamper, a pipe nail or your finger lightly compress the tobacco down into the bowl. After this first fill, typically you should have about half of the bowl filled with compressed tobacco.
This next step is important to ensure the quality of your pack, and to keep from having to completely start over at the end if you mess up. Go ahead and check the draw of the pipe. You want the draw to be no more difficult than sucking water through a straw. If your draw is okay, then continue to repeat the process above until the compressed tobacco is just below the rim of the bowl. However, if the draw is already becoming difficult, it is best to just go ahead and start over. Having a smooth and easy draw through the pipe is essential to a good smoke.
Once you have your bowl filled with tobacco, and you’ve made sure the draw is to your liking it’s time to light that puppy up! I hope these steps will help as you continue to discover all of the wonderful delights of smoking a pipe.
P.S. If you’re still having trouble packing your pipe, here is a handy infographic laying out all of the steps. It even includes a tip for lighting your pipe. Happy smoking!