SPC University: How to Pack and Light Ribbon Tobacco

Many beginner pipers are often discouraged and turned away from the hobby due to bad experiences, mostly caused by improper lighting and packing. In this latest installment of our SPC University — a series in which we'll teach you all you need to know to start your pipe smoking journey, and show you veterans a few tricks along the way — we'll focus on packing and lighting one of the most common of cuts: ribbon tobacco. Pete and Jeremy spent a lot of time putting this one together, and we hope you enjoy!

Stay tuned to learn how to prepare and pack rope and plug tobaccos!
Category:   Resources
Tagged in:   Pipe Basics SPC-University Tips Tobacco Video


    • Tim S. on December 25, 2014
    • Good advice and information for a beginner. I learned to pack and light exactly this way, years ago. I remember my old neighbor always light his cigarettes with a lighter. But, he never lit his pipe with a lighter - always and forever a wooden penny or kitchen match. Never really knew why, until now. Granted, the old boys and other pipe lighters are nice, and goodness knows I've bought (and lost) many. But, in my humble opinion a match lit bowl will give you a better smoke. It's all about the heat. You want to light the tobacco with the lowest possible temperature - and, that would be a match (Paper matches are a no go - burn your fingers and they're implanted with accelerants which can alter the flavor) I use the match to do the false light, then even the charred surface as per normal and with a second match light "only" the very center of the bowl. The combustion with spread outward. But, the result will in more cases than not give you a lower temperature burning the leaf. As one leaf burns out the one next to it is going and so on and so on. There is science to back this up, but I am no scientist. Basically it's this - sugars and VOC (volatile organic compounds) burn at different temperatures. If you're burning too hot then some flavors will burn out and condensate before you ever get a chance to discern the flavors released. I've found that you'll pick up more sweetness, and subtle flavors otherwise missed as well as an overall drier smoke. Blends I once wrote off, I now enjoy. With what I smoke, VA's, VA/Per's, burley blends and English blends, since I put down the lighter and strictly used the match I have to honestly say that I have reduced bite and wetness in my smoke as well as enjoying my tobacco more. We all know to smoke slow, this lighting technique assists in that process right from the beginning. I'd highly recommend just giving it a try, you're only out a box of matches. Plus, if you randomly leave that box of matches somewhere, you've only lost a dime. Keep the 200 dollar old boy on your desk! Thanks for the video, and the blog, it's been a hoot thus far. Tim P.S.; As a side to this - don't waste your time trying to get "strike anywhere" penny matches, they're gone since 9/11. You can still get the strike anywhere kitchen sized matches but not he pocket penny sized. They are available overseas, but your order with be cancelled once you put in a US address.

    • Bryan W on August 15, 2015
    • I found a method that has been really good for ribbon blends and it lights and stays lit well. I grab a pinch and trickle it into the bowl until it fills to the top and then tap the side gently so it settles. ill repeat this until I have no more settling and the tobacco is filled to the top. Then I take a little bit just like the "pipe needs a haircut" and gently press it down on the filled bowl. I get a good draw about 99% of the time unless you let little crumb pieces settle the bottom first. Its a great way to pack ribbon cut and I kinda just stumbled onto it.

    • Ronald Leard on February 1, 2016
    • I received a pipe as decoration on a Christmas package. I asked my dad for some tobacco. My dad said" Son do you want to smoke a pipe " yep " will son a pipe is a art form. You just do not pack it and smoke it. The story went just as the video showed. After 50 plus years still enjoy my pipes. I worked at a drug store almost got fired. "Mam you just do not buy a pipe for your husband. It would be like him getting you a bra.

    • Adam O'Neill on February 2, 2016
    • @Ronald Leard Haha, nice. Thank Heavens for gift cards ;)

    • Jacqueline on April 10, 2018
    • I have smoked for 18 years and I started rolling my own cigarettes about a year ago and I have to say the ribbon cut tabacco is my favorite. It is easy for me to roll and I save a ton of money. :)

    • John Scott on September 12, 2018
    • I'm just beginning to smoke a pipe, any advice on pipe smoking will be greatly appreciated.

    • Tao W on March 19, 2019
    • 还有礼品卡?我怎么从来没有收到过?

    • Mark on July 18, 2020
    • Just have to say awesome beard! .

    • Carole on October 14, 2020
    • Great video! Perfect for a newbie pipe aficionado like me. I'm a rarity in the fact that I'm a woman who enjoys a good bowl once in a while. I wish my dad had shown me how he packed his pipes... Would've saved me a lot of drama. Cheers from Oz.

    • James on November 15, 2020
    • I can still remember the sweet scent of tobacco from my uncles’ pipes, and I remember saying then, that when I turned 50 I would take up this family tradition. I’m 54 and purchased my first pipe this year. I will confess I’m still attempting to master the art of the pack and light. But, to sit outside with Bourbon, Cognac or Dark Rum with my pipe is a treat that I reserve for my weekend, so I’m being patient with myself knowing that eventually they will come as second nature without even giving it much thought.

    • Christopher Holland on March 3, 2021
    • All’s well packing the pipe. Matche(s) for the false light and away we go. A good light, but.............regardless of the pipe used, I find I am stuck wth relights, 4 or more! What am I doing wrong?

    • andrew purdon on February 27, 2023
    • Firstly don't worry about religting your pipe it is part of the charm. If you really want to smoke an entire pipe without relighting keep your drawing cadence regular to keep the pipe smoldering it's usually goes out when you don't draw for a while The best way to think of this is draw just enough to keep the tobacco lit it all comes with practice

    • Patrick on March 16, 2023
    • Where did this video go? I was really looking forward to hearing and seeing what Jeremy had to share.

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