A Pipe Smoking Primer

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Unless you’ve
been living under a rock, you know that smoking or using tobacco
products comes with health risks like cancer and emphysema. Thus,
like most things in life, from driving to eating refined carbs,
there are both risks and benefits to pipe smoking. Smokers would
argue that studies done specifically on the risks of pipe smoking
are quite sparse, and that some actually found that occasional pipe
smokers live
longer than non-smokers
. On the other hand, the National Cancer
Institute argues that “Pipe smoking confers a risk of tobacco-associated
disease similar to cigar smoking,” and puts the user at risk
for a variety of cancers
.

Now that
we’ve gotten the pros and cons out of the way, please remember
that it is a requirement of our comment
policy
that comments remain on topic. The topic of this post
is the basics of pipe smoking for grown men who understand the risks
involved, not whether or not pipe smoking is good for you. Please
stay on topic.

I can remember
visiting my best friend when I was younger. It was fun to get together
and have adventures like boys do, but one thing I really, really
liked was his dad. His dad was an old farm man and looked like it
from the weather-beaten lines on his face to his calloused hands.
He was quiet spoken and loved smoking his pipe. Since my dad was
a non-smoker, this fact really intrigued me as a young boy. I’d
see him lighting up and smoking his pipe in complete happiness.
He always smelled like pipe tobacco (Sir Walter Raleigh) and now,
whenever I smell that brand, I always think of him.

Maybe you had
a grandpa who was like my friend’s dad. Maybe you saw him smoking
his pipe in quiet contentment and enjoyed that manly
smell
as I did. Maybe you’ve never known a man who smoked
a pipe, so you don’t know what I’m talking about. Either
way it doesn’t change the fact that pipe smoking is a manly
art.

Why? Well,
pipe smoking is as much ritual as it is relaxation. There’s
a certain satisfaction you get when you pack the tobacco into the
bowl just right. Then, the whoosh of the match followed by that
wonderful, aromatic smell. Smoke a pipe with one of your favorite
cocktails (maybe an Old
Fashioned or a Martini
) in the comfort of your favorite armchair,
and you’ve got the makings of a perfect evening.

Even in cinema
from the 1930s and 1940s, oftentimes you’ll see men with a
pipe in their mouths. Movies like The
Quiet Man
, Goodbye
Mr. Chips
, and even It’s
a Wonderful Life
find men of all stripes smoking their pipes.
Today, men who smoke a pipe are taking part in a manly ritual that
stretches back to the dawn of time and has continued unbroken to
the present. Convinced? Then let’s get started.

Basic Supplies

Since this
article is for newbies, I don’t want you to go broke trying
something you may not like. So, I’ve provided a list of the
minimum items you need to start. When I first started smoking a
pipe, I paid $12 for all of my stuff, but prices may vary in your
area. Here’s what you’ll need:

  • A pipe.
    I recommend starting with a corn cob pipe. Yeah I know it
    sounds corny (no pun intended) but they’re cheap (mine was
    $4) and if you find you don’t like smoking a pipe, just toss
    it with little out of your pocket.
  • Pipe
    tamper/tool.
    Although not absolutely necessary, this is very
    helpful in packing the tobacco. Mine was $3 and was a combo tamper/cleaner.
  • Pipe
    cleaners.
    Obviously for cleaning your pipe when you’re
    finished. Most tobaccoists will gladly provide you with a handful
    at no charge
  • Wooden
    Matches or a pipe lighter.
  • Tobacco.
    This is where a knowledgeable tobacconist is HIGHLY needed. Tobacco
    comes in a variety of flavors and strengths. I recommend starting
    out with a blended flavor. The one I started with is called Almost
    Heaven and is a vanilla flavored tobacco. My tobaccoist sold me
    a 3 oz sample pouch for about $5.

Once you have
all this, you can get started.

Read
the rest of the article

August
14, 2010

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