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Some basic questions

This is a discussion on Some basic questions within the The Pipe Hobby How-To Discussion Forum forums, part of the Pipe Smokers Forums category; Hey guys, I am looking to try a pipe. I am thinking about getting a corn cob to learn on, ...

  
  1. #1

    Pretentious Fella Milhouse's Avatar


     

    Some basic questions

    Hey guys,

    I am looking to try a pipe. I am thinking about getting a corn cob to learn on, and if I enjoy it, I would like to get a Boswell poker pipe.

    I have some questions.

    1- How often can you smoke from a briar, and how long do you have to rest it? can you smoke more than 1 bowl in a day?

    2- Can you smoke aromatics and non aromatics from the same pipe? Well, I am sure you can, but is it to be avoided?

    3- I like the idea of a straight pipe with a flat bottom, (looking at Boswell Poker) so I can rest it on a table. Does a straight pipe or a bent pipe offer a different smoking experience in terms of flavor?

    4- I see some pipes come with filters, some people say to toss em. Any pros or cons that you can mention?

    5- I read that inside the bowl a carbon cake builds up. Once the cake is created, wouldn't the benefit of briar wood be hidden behind the cake? Hope this one makes sense.

    Sorry for the newb questions.

    thanks,
    milhouse
    "Don’t congratulate yourself too much or berate yourself either – your choices are half chance, so are everybody else’s"- Mary Schmich

  2. #2

    THE MAN WHO LOVES TWANG! TonyBrooklyn's Avatar


     

    Re: Some basic questions

    I just smoked 3 bowls today out of one of my briars! Tomorrow i will smoke out of another! I have 3 Briars and rotate them in that way. I really don't smoke aromatics just flakes so am not concerned with ghosting! Sorry i am a noob at pies too. I am sure one of the more experienced will chime in!
    “When the power of love overcomes the love of power, the world will know peace.”
    Jimi Hendrix



  3. #3

    Snuff-hound steinr1's Avatar


     

    Re: Some basic questions

    Quote Originally Posted by Milhouse View Post
    Hey guys,

    I am looking to try a pipe. I am thinking about getting a corn cob to learn on, and if I enjoy it, I would like to get a Boswell poker pipe.
    Cobs seem to be the tool of first choice for a starter pipe. I say seem, as this applies to the US mainly. They are not as available or popular elsewhere. They have qualities as good as any other construction and are very forgiving to the inexperienced piper. I'd say go for it. I'm sure many will agree.

    I have some questions.

    1- How often can you smoke from a briar, and how long do you have to rest it? can you smoke more than 1 bowl in a day?
    You can certainly smoke several bowls in a day and resting overnight is enough in almost all cases. You'll need to suck it (literally) and see. The pipe will tell you - by starting to taste foul - when you overdo it.

    2- Can you smoke aromatics and non aromatics from the same pipe? Well, I am sure you can, but is it to be avoided?
    There is a risk of "ghosting" (See? You're getting nerdy terminology already) from the aromatic and vice versa. Everything may end up tasting a bit similar. Some tobaccos are worse for this than others; a particular warning about Ennerdale Flake on this point. With cobs being so cheap as to be almost disposable, why not consider buying two or three and reserve one each for "Straight" (my own term - not sure if others use it), "Aromatic" and "English" (English == Blends including Latakia and other oriental type tobaccos). They will always remain useful to you.

    3- I like the idea of a straight pipe with a flat bottom, (looking at Boswell Poker) so I can rest it on a table. Does a straight pipe or a bent pipe offer a different smoking experience in terms of flavor?
    This is a pure matter of taste, style and image. Straight and bent pipes can all be made to work equally well. A pipe with a flat bottom (A "Sitter") can be very useful. Moisture tends to gurgle more readily in a bent pipe but risks running into your mouth (yuck!) more with a straight. You pays your money and takes your choice.

    4- I see some pipes come with filters, some people say to toss em. Any pros or cons that you can mention?
    Again, personal choice. I don't use them but many do. They can help keep the moisture of combustion getting into your mouth or gurgling in the stem and keep bits of tobacco entering from your mouth. Practice will prevent the former and spitting out any bits deals with the later. Some say they alter the taste of the smoke for the worse (I agree) and some say it improves it (they may be right). Claims are made by some manufacturers that it is in some way healthier. Can't see it myself. There is a thread in the general section with opinions.

    5- I read that inside the bowl a carbon cake builds up. Once the cake is created, wouldn't the benefit of briar wood be hidden behind the cake? Hope this one makes sense.
    Cake is essential IMHO. It protects the wood of the pipe from charring and the odd flavours associated with that. The burn also tends to be easier and more even/controllable. The pipe can still "breath" through the cake allowing the wood to do its job (SOOOO much discussion can be had on this point. What's the purpose of the briar? Why is it so good as a pipe material? I believe it is because it is relatively fireproof, and when well seasoned and aged is light and absorbs water - and allow the water to evaporate through the body. It also is a lovely material in itself and a pleasure to look at and rub and fetish.) Some say that you smoke the cake, not the pipe. (I have read that cake does not build so well or should be removed from a cob. I only have one and don't really use it. Others will need to give advice...)

    Sorry for the newb questions.

    thanks,
    milhouse
    No apology needed. I feel that this is one of the main purposes of this forum. To help and encourage new pipe smokers. Keep the questions coming.

    I would suggest that you start with a cob, some pipe cleaners, a simple pipe tool (you can make do with anything that doesn't burn and fits in your pipe as a tamper - a large headed nail) and matches. Any other paraphernalia can come later if you wish. I'd recommend starting with a relatively "simple" tobacco mixture to start with and initially leave the aromatics alone. They sound fantastic (and are), but they have more of a tendency for "tongue bite" and this is a real risk for a new smoker still honing their technique. More experienced pipers still get this (I do), so no shame involved. I'd hate to think of you put off by a bad first experience with an more tricky aromatic. I believe Prince Albert is a readily available over the counter blend in the US and is a good choice as a first tobacco. Many experienced long term pipers enjoy it as a regular smoke, so it is no "baby's tobacco". Not available in the UK, so others more local would need to comment.

    ENJOY!!!
    Last edited by steinr1; 11-17-2012 at 08:16 AM.
    "Never keep up with the Joneses. Drag them down to your level." - Quentin Crisp

  4. #4

    Codger In Training gahdzila's Avatar


     

    Re: Some basic questions

    Yeah.....so.....I had this lengthy reply in my head, and Robert typed the whole thing out for me. +1 to everything he said.

    The only thing I will add is about ghosting - personally, I think newbies worry about it far too much. If you're not smoking any aromatics, I'd say don't worry about it at all right now. Even if you are smoking aromatics and non-aromatics, don't worry about it very much. Since you're starting with a cob, worry about it even less - one of the advantages of cob pipes is that they don't ghost very much at all. At the absolute most extreme, buy yourself two cobs for now, one for aros and one for non-aros. As your palate develops and your collection of pipes grows, you can start putting thought into smoking what genre of tobaccos out of what pipe. Right now, focus on technique.

    Prince Albert is a great place to start. It's one of the easiest to smoke tobaccos out there.

  5. #5

    The Cheese stands alone Commander Quan's Avatar


     

    Re: Some basic questions

    Quote Originally Posted by gahdzila View Post
    Even if you are smoking aromatics and non-aromatics, don't worry about it very much.
    +1 to this. When you start out, your filling and smoking technique is a much bigger factor in the taste/enjoyment of a pipe than what you smoked in it last time.
    “In my world, everyone's a pony and they all eat rainbows and poop butterflies!

  6. #6

    Snuff-hound steinr1's Avatar


     

    Re: Some basic questions

    Quote Originally Posted by gahdzila View Post
    Yeah.....so.....I had this lengthy reply in my head, and Robert typed the whole thing out for me. +1 to everything he said.

    The only thing I will add is about ghosting - personally, I think newbies worry about it far too much. If you're not smoking any aromatics, I'd say don't worry about it at all right now. Even if you are smoking aromatics and non-aromatics, don't worry about it very much. Since you're starting with a cob, worry about it even less - one of the advantages of cob pipes is that they don't ghost very much at all. At the absolute most extreme, buy yourself two cobs for now, one for aros and one for non-aros. As your palate develops and your collection of pipes grows, you can start putting thought into smoking what genre of tobaccos out of what pipe. Right now, focus on technique.

    Prince Albert is a great place to start. It's one of the easiest to smoke tobaccos out there.
    Glad to be of service . Point taken on "don't worry about ghosting" - not worth sweating over initially and particularly with cobs. Maybe you could settle a point for me: Do cobs build cake and is it normal to allow this? (300+ Briars and Cherrywoods, 1 cob - and I can't locate that)
    "Never keep up with the Joneses. Drag them down to your level." - Quentin Crisp

  7. #7

    My cat's Chief of Staff El wedo del milagro's Avatar


     

    Re: Some basic questions

    I have three cobs. Two are used regularly... at least as often as any of my briars or my meer, if not much more, they have no cake. My "go to" pipe is my third cob. A MM Washington. It is used constantly. It has a fairly thick layer of cake that I'm scared to try and scrape for fear of destroying my best smoker.

  8. #8

    Codger In Training gahdzila's Avatar


     

    Re: Some basic questions

    Quote Originally Posted by steinr1 View Post
    Glad to be of service . Point taken on "don't worry about ghosting" - not worth sweating over initially and particularly with cobs. Maybe you could settle a point for me: Do cobs build cake and is it normal to allow this? (300+ Briars and Cherrywoods, 1 cob - and I can't locate that)
    Yes, cobs build cake. The big question is - do you want cake in your cob? It's debatable. Some say you shouldn't allow any cake in a cob (wipe out the bowl with a paper towel after every smoke to help prevent cake buildup), others say a small layer of cake is fine. Personally, I allow a little cake in my cobs - mainly, because I'm too lazy to wipe the bowl out after every smoke, and I see no harm in allowing some cake. I ream them when needed just like a briar.

    To the OP - this is another point you don't need to worry about now. After you smoke your new pipe for a while and notice a buildup of carbon on the inside of the bowl, come back and ask us about cake then

  9. #9

    Maturing Puffer Fish Pipe Pastor's Avatar


     

    Re: Some basic questions

    I'm a newbie as well. All those things I've been told by the experienced guys.

    I've got a question about building cake on the bottom of the bowl. Seems I can build cake real well near the top and about 3/4 of the way down but I'm having trouble on the bottom and don't know why.

  10. #10

    My cat's Chief of Staff El wedo del milagro's Avatar


     

    Re: Some basic questions

    Try just packing half-bowls for awhile to build up cake in the bottom half.

  11. #11

    Disillusioned Freethinker AStateJB's Avatar


     

    Re: Some basic questions

    Great info so far!

    J.C., do you usually have dottle at the bottom of your pipe when you finish? I'm guessing probably so. It's hard to avoid. Particularly in some pipes. The dottle will basically "protect" the bottom of the bowl from carbon, thereby preventing cake.

    Any of you more experienced guys please feel free to correct me if I'm wrong.
    Hangin' out with Friends

  12. #12

    Puff's Resident Evil Dr. Dr. Plume's Avatar


     

    Re: Some basic questions

    I have heard this before. Smoke a half bowl when it's out let it cool put your thumb over the pipe whole and shake a little bit to evenly distribute ash and carbon over the whole bowl apparently this facilitates even cake building. Don't smoke a ton out of my briars and I have had them for years so its been a while since I battled this one.
    "The pipe gives a wise man time to think, and a fool something to stick in his mouth." My puny cellar http://www.tobaccocellar.com/Dr.%20Plume

  13. #13

    Maturing Puffer Fish Pipe Pastor's Avatar


     

    Re: Some basic questions

    Quote Originally Posted by AStateJB View Post
    Great info so far!

    J.C., do you usually have dottle at the bottom of your pipe when you finish? I'm guessing probably so. It's hard to avoid. Particularly in some pipes. The dottle will basically "protect" the bottom of the bowl from carbon, thereby preventing cake.

    Any of you more experienced guys please feel free to correct me if I'm wrong.
    For awhile I did. I couldn't smoke the tobacco all the way down. Today I did but there was a distinct difference between the caked part and the bottom. white/gray ash compared to the color of the wood on the bottom.

  14. #14

    Disillusioned Freethinker AStateJB's Avatar


     

    Re: Some basic questions

    Smoking all the easy to the bottom will help and so will the shake method Dave mentioned.
    Hangin' out with Friends

  15. #15

    Maturing Puffer Fish Pipe Pastor's Avatar


     

    Re: Some basic questions

    awesome! Thank You!

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