How Do You Pack a Pipe?
Updated: Oct 21, 2022
You can really pack a pipe anyway that works for you. We'll focus on the most common method and then discuss a couple of related topics.
While pipe smoking takes more effort and focus than smoking a premium cigar, the goal is always to provide yourself a bit of chill time.
The Three Pack Method
The most common approach used to pack a pipe is the three pack method. Your first pack is like kindling for a fire (loose), while the next two are progressively tighter packs. This approach is also referred to as the Three Layer method - since one layer is packed over another. Pipedia provides an explanation and Pipes Magazine provides a good video demonstration.
I can never seem to get my pipe packed correctly.
As long as you can get your pipe lit and keep it going, you've done a good job. If you aren't pleased with how your pipe smokes - make sure there are no blockages or that you aren't packing the pipe too tightly. Run a pipe cleaner through the stem and shank, making surre to check the opening at the bottom of your bowl, before every smoke. Once your pipe is packed, make sure you can draw easily before lighting the pipe. If it isn't an easy draw, use your pipe tool to loosen the pack.
You can also experiment with different packing methods. Any Google search will provide plenty of methods, but why not ask folks? There are several good pipe groups on Face Book, or join a Pipe Club. We welcome pipe smokers at Bailey's Cigar Room and are happy to discuss various pipe packing methods. You might even find someone using a pipe to finish off their cigar!
"A pipe is a fountain of contemplation, the source of pleasure, the companion of the wise; and the man who smokes, thinking like a philosopher and acts like a Samaritan." -- Edward Bulwer-Lytton, English writer and politician
How about lighting my pipe?
When you light the pipe, make sure you get that bottom pack lit and not just the top. Remember that first pack or layer? It serves as kindling and is what you are trying to light. It is easy to see the red glow atop your pipe and believe that the pipe is lit, but that won't keep your bowl burning. You need to light the tobacco at the bottom of your pipe not at the top.
A wooden match is the traditional method for lighting tobacco and still works well for pipes. However, butane lighters are very convenient and a bit more dependable. Unlike cigars, never use a torch to light your pipe as this will scorch the outside of your pipe. Always use a soft flame!
Pack, Light, Chill
While the Three Pack (or Three Layer) method is the most common for packing pipes, you can use the method that is most comfortable for you. Just make sure it get's your pipe lit and provides an enjoyable smoke. When you've got a method down, come show off your skills at the next Bailey's Pipe Smoking Competition!