A Beginner’s Guide to Smoking A Tobacco Pipe

Pipe Smoking for Beginners – Smoking tobacco pipes is really all about relaxation and in that sense fundamentally differs from some other forms of tobacco consumption. One needs time and patience to truly enjoy smoking a tobacco pipe, hence the reason why it is traditionally more popular among the ‘time rich’, the upper classes and the retired. However, the traditional tobacco smoking pipe is seeing something of a resurgence as a new generation looks for different ways to relax and wind down.

A hobby to most and even an art form to some, one of the greatest barriers to the uninitiated is that pipe smoking often appears a little complicated. Many people, particularly younger generations, may like to try a tobacco pipe but simply don’t know where to start whilst the more mature amongst us may have seen an older relative smoking a pipe but never bothered to learn the techniques. For this reason we have put together an in-depth guide to tobacco pipe smoking that we hope will enable beginners to get up and running, and at least establish whether it’s ‘for them’. We will cover the basics such as the anatomy of a tobacco pipe, a little about the different shapes and materials used as well as filtration systems, pipe tobacco for beginners (a simple overview of pipe tobaccos), the bare necessities in terms of pipe smoking accessories, and then get down to the nitty gritty of preparing and smoking your tobacco pipe. You will also find a small contribution from us in the form of a Beginner’s Discount Code, to help you get under way! The post pipe smoking routine and general pipe care will be covered in our Beginners Guide to Pipe Care. All of this will provide a good grounding which, should you enjoy pipe smoking, you can develop in line with your own personal tastes… Enjoy!

Tobacco Pipes

Like many things in life different pipes serve different purposes. Over time many smokers build up a range of tobacco pipes to cover all their needs, be it a short smoke pipe for a snatched 10 minutes or a highly regarded brand name for showing off! This will only come with time but one principle should always apply – a good tobacco pipe is a thing of beauty, even if only to the owner! It should be a pleasure to hold, inspect, perhaps even tell a story about, and demands a certain amount of respect. As simple as a tobacco pipe seems there is an incredible amount of skill that goes into making a quality example and most conform to the same basic construction:

  • Bowl – This is where the pipe tobacco is burned
  • Shank – A continuation of the tobacco bowl up to the pipe stem
  • Stem – Fits tightly to the shank and contains the filtration system (if applicable)

Tobacco Pipe Materials

Without going into too much detail in this beginner’s guide to tobacco pipe smoking, the majority of tobacco pipes are made from briar wood, although other materials commonly used are meerschaum (a white mineral found underground particularly in Turkey and parts of northern Africa), corn cobs (often referred to as Missouri Meerschaum and a cheap, disposable entry into smoking), and cherry, pear or rosewood (often regarded as a poor alternative to briar and less hardy). Each material has its own history and developmental evolution, as do tobacco pipe shapes and designs which make fascinating reading, but that is for another time. For simplicity, a briar tobacco pipe is a great starting point as they are the most commonplace, provide a neutral smoke and can be long lasting if cared for properly.

Tobacco Pipe Shapes

Essentially preferences regarding tobacco pipe shape, design and finish are a purely aesthetic and thereby individual decision. Although they will all have a bearing on the quality of the pipe smoking experience the differences will be subtle and the understanding of the impact of these variables will likely come with experience. Probably the biggest decision for any beginner new to the pipe smoking world will be whether to go for a straight or bent pipe shape and again this will come down to individual preference. If you feel you want to clench the tobacco pipe in your teeth to keep your hands free, a bent pipe may be best. Such a tobacco pipe has a lower center of gravity and puts less strain on your teeth. You will also want a lighter weight pipe, so steering clear of large and bulky designs would make sense.  A straight tobacco pipe must be clenched harder and can give your jaw muscles a real work out. However, there is no right or wrong answer so simply pick a pipe you like… The best piece of advice I ever saw with regard to buying your first tobacco pipe was to take a small pocket mirror and look at yourself with pipe in hand and mouth – if you like what you see it’s the right tobacco pipe for you!  Pure vanity.

Tobacco Pipe Filtration

Often overlooked, the type of filter system can dramatically change the pipe smoking experience and will come down to personal preference after a certain amount of trial and error, e.g. some filters provide high levels of filtration but can create resistance during the smoke and also can sometimes subtly change the flavour of the pipe tobacco. There are brand specific systems such as EA Carey’s patented Magic Inch or that of the Falcon range of metal pipes, and then there are the generic systems such as 9mm charcoal filters, chalk pipe bowl filters and metal filters, or even no filter at all. Many EA Carey customers swear by our patented system but it really is a case of personal taste. For pipe smoking beginners however, we would certainly recommend at least some filtration.

Pipe Tobaccos

To repeat a mantra once again, buying pipe tobacco is entirely down to personal preference and to a large degree trial and error. Many pipe smoking beginners really are drawn to the aromatic scents that are so commonly associated with tobacco pipe smoking, so the best advice as a beginner is to start with a mild aromatic pipe tobacco and let your tastes develop from there. As time progresses you will begin to appreciate the different types of pipe tobacco that are available here in the UK and further afield, with many pipe smokers looking to move away from the flavoured pipe tobaccos and on to the more ‘unmolested’ traditional blends. A great way of understanding your preferences is to buy a Carey Private Blend Sampler pack, which includes a range of high quality blends, aromas and tastes – this will give you a great foundation for developing your pipe smoking palette.

Tobacco Pipe Accessories

Although part of the enjoyment of tobacco pipe smoking is tailoring all the paraphernalia to your exact tastes and preferences such as pouches, stands, lighters, etc there are really only three must have accessories for the beginner pipe smoker. These are a gas and flint lighter (preferably specifically designed for pipe smoking with a side or angled flame aperture), a 3-in-1 smoking pipe tool (reamer, tamper and pick) and tobacco pipe cleaners.

Art of Pipe Smoking – Beginner’s Guide to Smoking Your Tobacco Pipe

Now that you’re kitted out with your smoking pipe and tobacco of choice, and a few of the basic accessories, its time to put it all to good use. It’s important to remember that learning how to pack, light, and smoke a tobacco pipe is something to be perfected over time. You won’t be an expert the first time you light up no matter how many pipe smoking guides you read. But just remember, it’s supposed to be both relaxing and enjoyable and you will ‘get it’ sooner or later!

The first thing you may have to tackle is breaking in your new tobacco pipe.  This is a subject unto itself and, as with all things pipe smoking related, there are as many different ‘right methods’ as there are pipe smokers!  The simple fact is that although briar wood, the most common wood used in tobacco pipe production, is very heat resistant to the point where it won’t actually catch fire, it can be prone to ‘burnouts’, ‘hot spots’ and cracking if not treated with respect.  We cover the finer points of breaking in your smoking pipe elsewhere but for now we’ll assume you’re ready to go…

If you grew up watching your grandfather or an older relative smoke their tobacco pipe, they probably loaded it by dropping the pipe into a pouch of tobacco and jamming the bowl full with their thumb. They would then withdraw the pipe completely filled with tobacco, and light it. And light it. And light it some more.

The problem with simply stuffing a practically solid column of pipe tobacco into the bowl of the pipe is that there is very little air for the combustion to take place when you light the pipe. The result is you find yourself having to light it over and over again, creating a very hot and wet smoke. And a hot and wet smoke often results in what is called “tongue bite”, a sharp stinging sensation on the tongue.

The solution is to let gravity be your friend. Hold the tobacco pipe in one hand and with your other take a pinch of tobacco between your fingers. Sprinkle it into the bowl of the pipe, and keep adding more in the same manner until it’s filled. Only then will you take your thumb or finger, or pipe tamper, and gently push down the tobacco until it’s about halfway down into the bowl (or less). Repeat this procedure once or twice more until the tobacco is now at the top of the bowl, and is spongy to the touch. Between each filling of the pipe bowl try sucking a little air through the mouthpiece – if it remains unimpeded it’s loaded correctly. If done as outlined above, the tobacco will be very loose at the bottom of the bowl and tighter toward the top, allowing ample combustion to take place without excessive re-lights.

Now to light your wonderful new tobacco pipe…with a gas and flint lighter or matches (preferably wooden), approach the top of the bowl with the flame. As soon as the flame is over the tobacco, draw air in through the stem like you’re sucking from a straw. You’re not going to inhale the smoke but rather draw it in to the mouth and exhale it back out. Give the pipe several good deep puffs while moving the flame evenly around the opening, lighting all areas. Remove the flame and give your new best friend several more good puffs, which should generate a lot of smoke.

Counter intuitively, it is important at this point to let it die out. This is known as the “charring” or “false” light, and ensures that any excess moisture has been removed from the pipe tobacco prior to the actual smoke – as your tastes develop and you try different pipe tobaccos you will notice a huge variance in the moisture content and therefore the way different blends have to be treated to give you a perfect smoke. At this point you want to very gently tamp down the thin layer of ash using the tamper on your pipe tool. Light the pipe again using the same procedure as in the charring light, but this time the pipe should stay lit. Give it some good puffs to get it going, but then slow down the pace and vigor of your puffing. The object now isn’t to produce great volumes of smoke (this isn’t vaping after all!), but rather to keep the fire going by light, even puffing and occasional tamping down of the ashes. Never force the ashes down – always use easy, gentle pressure when tamping. Many pipe smokers will relight at least once during a smoke. In order to best enjoy the tobacco flavours, experienced smokers will take the smoke into their mouths and roll it round, as if tasting a wine. It is extremely unusual to inhale tobacco smoke whilst smoking a pipe, and those that do often quickly realise that this is a very different form of tobacco smoking from that which they may have previously experienced, and should be respected as such!

You may find the pipe getting a little ‘juicy’ as you smoke. To avoid this try keeping your mouth as dry as possible. You may want to consider running a pipe cleaner down the stem to clear it out should it become particularly bad. (Carey’s Magic Inch System was created to eliminate exactly this problem).  Let the pipe cleaner sit for a moment and withdraw, but whatever you do, don’t take the stem off the pipe while it’s still hot as this will eventually cause the stem to become loose or even break. If you find that the pipe becomes too hot in your hands put it down for a few minutes – although briar pipes are heat resistant, they will burn or crack if smoked too hot. Wait until the tobacco pipe is warm to the touch, but not hot, and re-light. If at any time your pipe starts to taste nasty, stop. Pipe smoking is supposed to be pleasant and there’s no reason why it shouldn’t always be so. This is most likely caused by smoking too fast or the pipe not being properly broken in.

Depending on the size of the tobacco pipe, the type of pipe tobacco, and how slow or fast you smoke, a full bowl of pipe tobacco can last anywhere from 10 minutes to an hour or more. The taste of the tobacco will often change as it gets closer to the end of the smoke, as the oils from the leaf will concentrate in the bottom of the bowl causing the tobacco to taste a bit stronger.

And finally…

Hopefully this simple guide will help you to enjoy your first few smokes before developing your own routines and preferences. The beauty of smoking a pipe is that other than some of the basics there are no hard and fast rules or trends, thus allowing those that partake to develop their own habits, routines and rituals and to express themselves. As long as you are enjoying it, you are doing it right. And, to help you on your way, we are offering readers of this article a 10% discount on your first order by using code BEG10 at our online checkout… Enjoy!

Here are a few thoughts about starting out that we put into a short(ish) YouTube video…

Featured Products

Here we have picked out some of the products most likely to be of relevance to a beginner pipe smoker.

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54 Responses to A Beginner’s Guide to Smoking A Tobacco Pipe

  1. avatar Joe wright says:


  2. avatar Derrick says:

    Hi there

    I am a complete nubie to the world of tobacco pipe smoking. I hope I do not sound too silly. But would you recommend one of the starter kits for someone who would like to try out using a pipe? I was looking at this one- http://www.eacarey.co.uk/shop/carey-standard-starter-kit-1-4-bent-mi.html
    Although i be much happier with an expert recommendation. I also live in Australia. Will you post it out to us? Also with the silly tobacco restriction our government has imposed any tobacco over 50g will be taxed or something. Though i am not too clear on that myself. Your expert advice would be greatly appreciated.

    I thank you in advice. Also thank you for this great article for beginners!

    All the best from down under.


    I am happy to receive replies to my email. :)

    • avatar Marcus says:

      Hi Derrick – welcome aboard! The Starter Kits are a great introduction into the world of pipe smoking and were put together based on reuqests from ‘nubies’, so I would say that this would be a good place to start. Australia is no problem – we regularly send to countries around the world for a fixed price of £4.95 p&p. As for your local taxation, we are not able to give advice since the differences from country to country are so big and the way rules are enforced also changes dramatically from time to time. I guess our only caveat is that local taxes and duties are the responsibility of the customer as we have no way of paying them on your behalf, unlike here in the UK, but its not often we hear of problems.
      Hope that helps, and happy puffing!

  3. avatar Kevin Halford says:

    Hi everyone at Carey’s I’ve been smoking a pipe for aprox 3 months and after reading your guide for beginners I have taken all the information on board and smoking my pipe is an even better pleasure.
    I’m now ready to try different types of pipes and be more adventurous with different blends of baccy.
    Thanks again for a great service.

  4. avatar Kevin Halford says:

    I placed my first order and 2 days later it arrived.
    It was all that I expected so today I will place my 2nd order and I know that I will be well looked after.
    It’s a first rate web site jam packed full of information for beginners to the experienced pipe smoker.

    • avatar Garrick says:

      Kevin, we are very pleased to hear how satisfied you are with the service so far. We endeavour to keep all customers happy, and will do our utmost to provide you with the best service now and in the future. Don’t forget you can review your products here on the site and be entered in our monthly best review competition. The winner receives discount on their next order so it’s worth a try. Happy smoking!
      By the way, how did you hear about E A Carey?

  5. avatar Elliot Manktelow says:

    Hi Marcus,

    My pipe and baccy turned up just a few days after ordering, after my first few smokes I am now a fully converted pipe smoker, how I have not tried it sooner I will never know!

    I would just like to commend you on this post which went a long way to pushing me to make that first purchase. You’ll be pleased to hear I have promptly bought a fully fledged Briar pipe this evening, a Dr Plumb and what a beauty!

    Thanks again Marcus.

    • avatar Marcus says:

      Thanks for letting us know Elliot – I’m delighted you’re pleased with your purchases and your new hobby. The world of pipe smoking is large and varied and I’m sure you’ll have a great time exploring! Let us know if there’s anything else we can help with. Happy puffing, m.

  6. avatar Elliot Manktelow says:

    I know I might be a bit late to be replying to this post however I have just purchased your corn cob pipe. Mainly because I have never smoked a pipe but it is something I can see very much appealing to me.

    The question is does the corn cob pipe come with a filter? It would appear that a filter make the smoking of a pipe much more enjoyable.

    • avatar Marcus says:

      Hi Elliot – hopefully you’ll have received the pipe by now and will see that it comes with filters that we add to the pack. Whether filters make a smoke more enjoyable I would say is entirely down to personal preference. More traditional smokers will probably tell you that it changes the flavour of the tobacco, whilst others will say it’s their nod to health. Each to their own!

  7. avatar Wikus Pretorius says:

    Hi i just bought myself a 9mm pipe and some filters with two ceramic caps – how often should i replace the filters?

    • avatar Marcus says:

      Hi Wikus. Advice varies on this… if cost and supply are not an issue then after every smoke, but if you’d rather be more economical then base it on how ‘used’ it looks after every smoke and apply common sense. Hope that helps…

  8. avatar Bran says:

    I want to say thank you for this beginner’s guide. Really nicely done. I bought from you a couple of days ago a pipe and it arrived today. Thank you again. It’s a Peterson and it is a beautiful pipe. Question is how do i take it apart to clean it? I’ve tried to twist the stem but no luck and I dont want to break the pipe. Thanks for your help. Btw peach brandy tobacco is absolutly lovely. What a pleasure. All the best from your new customer.

    • avatar Marcus says:

      We’re pleased you’re happy Bran. As for cleaning the pipe, it is sensible to be gentle but twisting the stem is the only/best way to separate it into the required pieces. Just be careful when doing it, and let the pipe cool before attempting it. All the best…

  9. avatar William says:

    Have been a pipe smoker for 67 years, the last 30 of which have been with Carey’s. Your beginners’ guide is excellent advice.

    • avatar Marcus says:

      Thanks William – that’s great to hear. After 67 years I’m guessing you could write a few guides to pipe smoking yourself! Happy puffing…

  10. avatar Kevin Gilder says:

    I have just purchased a Peterson 9mm filter pipe but I am not sure which way the filters should go. I was told that the green end goes towards the bowl but have since learned that the ceramic end should go towards the bowl which makes me think that the white end should go towards the bowl. Any advice would be gratefully received.
    Thank you for the article. I enjoyed the read and will put the advice into practice.

    • avatar Marcus says:

      Hi Kevin – due to the heat generated at the bowl the filters are designed to be used with the heat resistant ceramic part (white) closest, with the plastic end towards the mouth. Many years ago the filters would have had ceramic at both ends but plastic at one end reduces manufacturers costs… enjoy!

  11. avatar AlexB says:

    What a fantastic site, i’m finally set up and have everything ready to go but my tobacco. Any recommendations for a beginner, i’d like something very sweet and that has a pleasant room note as well as, obviously, being easy on the old tongue .

    • avatar Marcus says:

      Hi AlexB – thanks for your comments. My recommendations are simple… either take my word for it and plump for the Wild Cherry or Peach Brandy (I don’t like the drink, but love the baccy!) or sample a few different ones by buying the Aromatic mini-sampler which is not much moree expensive than a single pouch of 1 blend. Hope that helps.

  12. avatar Guy says:

    Good afternoon,
    I am looking for my first pipe which I shall only use out hunting. Is it easy to keep re-lighting when out and about as I can only smoke it when the horses stop!!! Also, is it good/bad/indifferent for a pipe to be continually re-lit , does it have any effect on the tobacco?
    Kind regards

    • avatar Marcus says:

      The simple answer is that it is easy to re-light a pipe but to be honest I wouldn’t recommend it too often as you will end up with a very bitter smoke. Best bet would be to have a pipe before mounting, and then wait until you’ve finished for a follow up. Alternatively buy a short smoke pipe and simply don’t fill it full, so you have enough tobacco for 5 or 10 minutes only and refresh the bowl each time you stop. Hope that helps.

    • avatar guy engley says:

      Many thanks , I shall start my quest for my first pipe

  13. avatar Sean says:

    Hi, thanks for the guide its been a great help. I bought a pipe today, some un named device, for £20 and what I would call commercial brands tobacco. St Bruno, clan etc. I had an ok smoke but I think the pipe is probably crap. No filter.
    I’m going to order one of your starter sets after I’ve sent this and one of your samplers. I’m so into this already! I recently started smoking good cigars and my mouth literally waters when I’m browsing through cigars and tobaccos!
    A couple of things I’d like to ask please. I go fishing for 4 days at a time and would definately want to have say 3 smokes a day of a pipe while I’m relaxing by the bank. Do I therefore need 3 pipes or is there a pipe that would suit that amount of action a day?
    Breaking the pipe in. Am I right, half bowls? How many times do I need to do this. How do I know a pipe is good to go?
    This site is great. I can see the salon greatly enhancing my experience.

  14. avatar shaun jones says:

    Hello i’m a newbie at smoking pipes and always smoke rollups with clan tobacco rolled up in them. i get the taste of the tobacco in rollups but not in the pipe i smoke – why don’t i get any taste of the tobacco from my pipe? i would like to know the best way of smoking a pipe to get the taste. i smoke my pipe at a slow pace. can you please help me?

  15. avatar greg blewitt says:

    What a fantastic introduction this was!! I am looking at getting a pipe for christmas and this has definitely sent me in the right direction. I hope to become a regular customer of yours.

    Great job!

    • avatar Marcus says:

      Thanks Greg – pleased we could help out and if there’s anything else you’d like advice on be sure to give us a shout and we’ll try our best!

  16. avatar Steve miles says:

    Could you recommend a good English full bodied but cool tobbaco. Thanks steve

    • avatar Marcus says:

      Hi Steve. We sell 2 traditional ‘English’ blends, both of which may suit your tastes. Old English Ready Rubbed is probably a cooler smoke than the Broad Cut English Mixture and arguably displays more Body too, so this would be a good start point. Alternatively for only 50p more than a pouch of Old English RR you could buy our Traditional Blend Mini Sampler which would enable you to try all 6 of our traditional blends… Hope that helps.

  17. avatar Andy Crook says:

    I’ve been considering taking up pipe smoking for a while now and this article has really helped me make the decision to go ahead with it. Is there any particular tobacco you’d recommend for a first time pipe smoker?

    • avatar Marcus says:

      Hi Andy. I’m pleased to hear we were able to help in your decision making. As far as tobaccos are concerned, I always suggest that people start with Aromatics as these tend to be milder both in strength and flavour. Our mini sampler, where you receive 1 or 2 bowlfuls of each tobacco, will be the easiest and cheapest way for you to try out a few different kinds. Hope that helps… all the best!

  18. Hi I have been smoking pipes for the last 35 years. Also i have helped some people to start smoking a pipe, eventually becaming a pipe guru to them. I live in India and these days pipe tobacco is not available, so I no longer have the great pleasure of smoking a pipe. However, if i get a chance to smoke a tobacco pipe again, i will try your style of smoking. I have a pipe marked ”KIKO”whose bowl is covered with leather and stiched neatly. Also i heard the pipe is made of clay(though it doesn’t look like it) with a ‘rhino’ embossed on the stem which i can’t find in any catalogues. I have heard this was purchased somewhere from Africa. If you could throw some light on it i would be very much indebted to you, as this pipe holds a sentimental value for me. Also what could be the price of such a pipe these days? Much appreciated. Monty.

    • avatar Marcus says:

      Hi Monty. My own research and comments on Facebook suggest this is meerschaum rather than clay, and the Kiko company were from Nairobi, Kenya, and operational since the 1950s. I think the animal is in fact a stylised elephant although without seeing yours i can’t be certain. If you visit our facebook page i have posted a picture of an example – maybe it is like the one you own. As for value, one estimate is perhaps £30… Hope that helps, and if you need any pipes or tobacco I’m sure we could get some to you in India!

  19. avatar William Taylor says:

    As a pipe smoker for over 60 years I found your introduction, and some of the answers to queries, very helpful, in particular those relating to filters. For the past 30 years I have used your introductory pipe without breaking it in my pocket, something I was always doing prior to becoming your customer. I am today placing an order by post for a little gem and filters. Regards William.

    • avatar Marcus says:

      Thanks William – I’m pleased to hear that your introductory pipe is still going strong and that the website has been useful. The Little Gem is a great little pipe so I’m sure you’ll be pleased with your purchase!

  20. avatar Roy Monk says:

    As a new pipe smoker, I was given an old(ish) catalogue of yours from which I chose a magic inch pipe and two varieties of tobacco. Having read the various comments and advice above, I realise that I am sucking a little too enthusiastically and so finding that the bowl gets uncomfortably hot. Thanks for all the information, I am sure that this will enhance my enjoyment of the pipe.
    Incidentally, fantastic service – I ordered my pipe on a Sunday afternoon and it arrived on Tuesday morning – the tobacco arrived on the Thursday. Thank you.

  21. avatar Dave Jenn says:

    For the beginning pipe smoker, don’t make the mistake of only focusing on being concerned with choosing a good quality pipe, of which I recommend that they begin with a filter-style pipe, ie Carey, Brigham, or a variety with 9mm charcoal, etc while learning the ‘art’ of pipe smoking. This will help aleviate the issue of bite. Later, you can try an unfiltered brand and different shape/style, which is fun; ie meerschaum, calabash, etc.

    Equally as important however is your choice of tobacco. Don’t feel you need to necessarily begin by using a flavoured tobacco. Years ago there weren’t quality flavoured tobaccos produced and those available were frankly very poor as they used low quality leaf and alot of added sugar, which made them burn hot, ruining your pipe as well as not having a pleasant taste, despite the flavouring. Most good tobacco shops have several of their own blends which will have high quality tobaccos you can chose between and many flavour choices as well as slightly milder versions of the Solani, all of which are a good choice for beginners.

    The upshot of my advice is that to enjoy pipe smoking you need to invest in both a quality pipe as well as quality tobacco. The difference in prices between poor choices and good ones isn’t alot of money but will make the difference in whether you enjoy smoking a pipe or quickly give it up.

    One final piece of advice: don’t smoke your pipe again without letting it dry out and clean well with several pipe cleaners (they’re cheap). You need to either have several pipes or wait a day to re-use. Even the finest pipe in the world needs to rest between smokes. Buy yourself a couple of different style Carey’s, a good tamper and lighter and enjoy yourself!

  22. avatar bob jones says:

    I have been smoking a pipe occasionally for almost a year now. I have one with a metal ‘filter’ and one with no filter, both ‘straight’ pipes. I still however get tongue bite and would appreciate your advice on a bent pipe with an appropriate filter. Hope you can help – Bob

    • avatar Marcus says:

      Ahh, the dreaded tongue bite! There are so many possibles that can cause this – smoking too hot, smoking too long, stale tobacco, tar in the stem, etc – which is why it’s the enemy of all pipe smokers! With a metal filter it could well be that the smoke is not cooling enough before entering your mouth, and a straight pipe may be allowing some of the bitter tar to make its way up the stem also, so its not a bad idea to try a different pipe and system. Our Magic Inch system is renowned for removing ‘bite’ so one of our simple, low cost Milano pipes may be a good start point. Or if you are looking for more aggressive filtering, a Carey 9mm pipe such as a Little Gem may be just the job. Both these will give you a chance to test different systems and shapes/sizes confident in the knowledge that they are genuine quality briar, to see which will best suit and so giving you a good foundation to work from. Hope that helps…

  23. avatar Dave Jenn says:

    It might be a good idea to give a rundown on packing a Carey pipe, it being more critical than with any other pipe, the reason being that even if slightly too tight, it won’t stay lit as the path of least resistance for air won’t be through the bowl but through the air slots on the stem. I say this as a beginner will get quickly get frustrated.

  24. avatar Ian says:

    Hi, I bought my first pipe just before Christmas and so far I’m generally enjoying it apart from sometimes I get a rather bitter taste in my mouth whilst smoking. My pipe is an economy pipe, has a metal (filter)? in the mouth piece, I’m smoking a vanilla and cherry tobacco, which I was advised was fairly mild and good to start with. I don’t smoke the whole of the bowl in one go, 1 bowl probably lasts over a two day period, and probably have 2-3 smokes of it a day. Any advice/tips appreciated.


    • avatar Marcus says:

      Hi Ian. Thanks for getting in touch. There are a few points that may be relevant… Firstly the pipe – you don’t say where you bought it but as an ‘economy pipe’ it may simply be not very good in terms of the briar, the design, etc. The metal filter simply cools down the smoke as it passes through so is not really a filter in the true sense, and is quite common in economy pipes. The condensed smoke contains some of the tar and if this has no way of escaping and is finding its way up the mouthpiece it may cause the bitterness you mention. The tobacco sounds like a good choice and in itself will not be causing the issue, but I would also suggest refreshing your tobacco after each smoke, i.e. don’t fill the pipe and then return to it, rather put a small amount in, smoke to the end, clean the pipe and then when you come back for another smoke start again. Hope that helps…

    • avatar Ian says:

      Thanks very much for the advice, I had a feeling it could be re-lighting the ‘old’ tobacco, because I wasn’t getting the bitter taste when the pipe was freshly filled. I will try the method you’ve mentioned of putting in a small amount and smoking to the end. Thanks again, Ian

  25. avatar john maguire says:

    How can I receive a catalogue? It has been many years since I dealt with your co. & I am hoping the service and quality of your products has been maintained thru the years. Pls advise for catalogue thank you.

  26. avatar Peter Grimshaw says:

    Is the 9mm filtration system any better or easier to insert than the Magic Inch system?
    Also what filtration system is suitable for the Peterson pipes
    I am looking to order a couple of pipes, as a resurgent pipe smoker. Would you recommend the Sheer genius mark 2
    over the Peterson range
    Have thoroughly enjoyed the time spent reading your Autumn brochure and have found your website to be very informative
    Peter Grimshaw

    • avatar Marcus says:

      Hi Peter. I’m pleased you are enjoying the catalogue and site… A few questions to answer, so here goes! Filter systems are very much user preference so its hard to say if one is better than another. We obviously feel that the Magic Inch is the ultimate system and some would agree whilst others would disagree, and some people like to have no filtration at all as they believe it gets in the way of a genuine smoke. Both the 9mm and Magic Inch systems are very easy to manage – simply a case of removing the mouthpiece and replacing the cartridge or papyrate sleeve. Petersons often have no filter, simply a ‘moisture trap’ which stops the tobacco becoming wet. I would say the best thing would be to try a few different ones over time and settle on your favourite… Personally I smoke a Sheer Genius MkII and get on very well with it. I would recommend this over a Peterson simply because the quality of the briar and manufacture is equally as good but one isn’t paying for a brand, plus it has the advantage of the 9mm filters. Hope that helps…

  27. avatar mark wileman says:

    i’m choosing my 1st pipe . i have decided that i going to have a bent one . 2 questions 1 is alitlle gem just shorter than normal? 2 what if anything is the difference between an apple and a billiard and should it affect my choice

    • avatar Marcus says:

      Hi Mark – thanks for your interest. The Little Gem is what we would term a ‘short smoke pipe’, i.e. smaller than a standard pipe in all dimensions including length and capacity of the bowl. As for the difference between Apple and Billiard, they are purely variations of a similar shape and are simply about aesthetics – either should be fine. Enjoy!

  28. avatar Derrick Powell says:

    May thanks for your recent e-mail containing the short film and Beginners Guide ti Pipe Smoking.
    I have enjoyed my Pipe Smoking over the last 25 years and hope to continue for many years to come.

  29. avatar flash hard drives says:

    A Beginner’s Guide to Smoking Pipes: Great post, this is one of my favourite topics and close to my heart. LOL. I love keeping up to date on everything new so I will be bookmarking this site. Keep up the great work!

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