Advantage: Pipes

It's sometimes difficult for pipe enthusiasts to understand how anyone could prefer other modes of tobacco consumption. That's not to say that we don't also partake of the occasional cigar, or perhaps a bit of snuff, but the pipe is always there for times of reverie and concentration, rather than just nicotine delivery. We return to it because it's the Porsche in a stable of vintage Gremlins.

I suspect it has something to do with the control a pipe smoker has. A cigarette is one-dimensional; you light it and that's it. A cigar is similar, with perhaps a bit more nuance of flavor and burn. But a pipe offers a world of options beyond the comprehension of those who succumb to simplicity.

First, of course, is the number of different tobaccos available. Currently, lists almost 7,000 different pipe tobaccos. Some of those no longer exist, but it's safe to say we have thousands of choices of tobacco with an embarrassing wealth of variation for any mood.

Then we have the different pipes available, with an astounding choice in shape, size, type, material, and maker. There's something for any taste whatsoever.

Furthermore, we prepare our tobacco to our own preferences. A flake may be rubbed out as coarsely or finely as we wish for different burning properties, for example. And many of us dry our tobaccos to different degrees of humidity according to our personal preferences. Some tobaccos work better if they are more dry; some can maintain quite a bit of moisture and perform remarkably. But it's our choice.

There's something for any taste whatsoever.

I've also enjoyed the control over the draw that a pipe offers. With practice, it isn't difficult to maintain perfect draw. When I smoked cigars regularly, I was sometimes disappointed in the draw; if it was too tight, there was little to do except poke a flue through the stick with a paperclip. But with a pipe, and with good tamping technique, however firm or easy a draw you prefer is easily attainable.

Maybe we all have a bit of control freak in us. Maybe those who are drawn to the pipe are people who prefer having direct command over our smoking experiences, rather than just accepting standardized and regularized, prefabricated tobacco consumption.

Or maybe we're all nuts.

Category:   Pipe Line
Tagged in:   Editorial Pipe Culture Tobacco


    • Dan Haffner on January 16, 2019
    • Chuck:

      You are nuts, but that is O.K.

    • Donald Meyer on January 16, 2019
    • I'm probably "nuts" too, but is there a pipe crafter who can make a reasonably priced [briar] pipe with a bowl in the likeness of a groundhog's head? Not that I really need another pipe... I've seen pipes carved in the likeness of many other animal species, but none of the groundhog.

    • Chuck on January 17, 2019
    • Donald: I have a pal who has been collecting factory figural pipes for decades. He's never seen a groundhog head, nor have I. Such a pipe could be made, but the reasonableness of the price is up to the individual. Most cost several hundred dollars. Polish carver Bartlomiej Antoniewski is doing fantastic figural work, but he's the only one who comes to mind. He specializes in portraits from photos, but does lots of animal and geometric figurals as well. His contact information is

    • Luiz on January 17, 2019
    • Love yours writings and yes, we are all a little nuts.

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