light my fire

Are you having trouble keeping your pipe lit? You are not alone. Here are some basic tips to help those new to pipe smoking

Pack the pipe correctly. After learning how it just takes practice. Start fairly loose, then pack more tightly as you add tobacco to the bowl

Light twice. You need to char the tobacco before lighting it properly. To do this light the baccy and take one or two draws. Let it go out and gently tamp it down. Don’t press too hard. If the top of the tobacco is blackened evenly you are now ready to do the final light

Don’t puff so hard. If you normally smoke cigars this applies especially to you. By puffing to hard you’ll overheat the bowl and scorch your tongue (we call this “tongue bite”). It takes practice to achieve the correct level of “draw” but once you’ve learned your experience will reward you with a sweeter, cooler smoke. The key seems to be slow and rhythmical drawing…which can lead to the revery known as the “pipe dream”

If you find you have gurgles of nasty spit forming in the stem or bowl, spoiling your smoke, you are probably drawing too hard again. To a pipe smoker this is not called simply spit, we call it “dottle” (as in the famous “he stabs at the throttle and bubbles with dottle and curses his unhappy life” from the poet Betjeman). Dottle occurs when puffing too hard or if tobacco was too moist in the bottom of the bowl to start with. It can be saliva if you are a "wet" smoker or in the habit of blowing down the stem. Stick a pipe cleaner down to soak it up. NEVER REMOVE THE STEM WHILE YOUR PIPE IS LIT OR STILL HOT!!! At best you’ll loosen the stem and at worst it’ll break. If it’s really too wet and a pipe cleaner won’t do it, just sit it down and start again with fresh pipe

Use your pipe tool to swirl about then tamp down the ashes every once in a while. This loosens up the ashes and helps them form an even crust. It helps the smoke stay cool

When your pipe is brand new it won’t have had time to develop the cake of carbon that coats the inside of a well used pipe and it won’t stay lit as well as an older pipe. The more you smoke it…the better it’ll get