Recently, I had a phone conversation with a friend of mine. It just so happens he's a new pipe convert from the church of cigarettes. Mid conversation he asked me a question as old as the pipe itself... "How do you pack your pipe?" A few brief seconds of silence passed as I prepared to answer him with the cliché answer of, "I take three pinches... (yadda yadda yadda)". But suddenly, something clicked inside of me, and I stopped. I realized that wasn't necessarily true. I pack it based on the tobacco I'm smoking.
For example, when I'm smoking Mac Baren's Vanilla Cream flake cut, I break up the flake, and load on-end three or four longer slivers of flake in the bottom of the pipe (in order to create a pocket of air). I then begin loading the bits from largest to smallest, which gives me some less dense pieces on top. I find this makes lighting much easier and helps prevent charring the rim of my pipe. Another example I can think of comes from Ted, here at Smokingpipes.com. Mac Baren's Navy Mixture is his poison, and he loads it with great care. At the risk of sounding overly pretentious, Ted loads Navy Mixture with the attention a painter gives his painting or a sculptor his sculpture. He takes his time, enjoys the process, and sorts out pieces of tobaccos making certain to place a healthy dose of black Cavendish at the top of the bowl. This, as you can imagine, makes the initial light, sweet and quite pleasant.
The point here is... tobacco, just like the pipe you smoke it in, is made to be enjoyed the way you want to enjoy it. Yes, there are some basic packing "rules", but all-in-all it's a matter of preference. Play around with the tobacco and realize there's more to smoking a pipe than simply creating smoke.
Speaking of pipes... In today's update, you'll see a selection of pipes that's sure to please any pipe smoker. We have pipes ranging from Savinelli, Peterson, Neerup, and Brebbia, all the way to Eltang and Bruce Weaver. So, happy hunting all.
Brandon Bellegarde: Pipe Manager