Whether you’re smoking a cigarette, cigar or a tobacco pipe, the lighting stage is critical and can often have a great impact on the burn, taste and overall enjoyment of your smoke. Tobacco pipes are perhaps the hardest of the three to light correctly, so once you have carefully packed your pipe with tobacco it is important to slowly introduce it to a flame to achieve the best smoking experience.
What Should you Use to Light a Pipe?
There are a number of options when it comes to a lighting method. For some, choosing the right tool to light the pipe with is one of the most important steps when preparing your pipe for smoking.
Fluid Lighter – smokers are quite likely to have a fluid lighter, such as a Zippo, to hand, making it a common choice for lighting tobacco. Whilst these work well for cigarettes and cigars, fluid lighters can cause problems for pipes, as the larger flame can cause damage to pipe bowls and the tobacco itself can become over-toasted, leaving it with a bad burnt taste.
Matches – for the more discerning pipe smoker, matches are probably the most common lighting method used for producing a flame. To light a pipe with a match, simply strike the match and hold the flame to the surface of the tobacco; move the flame around the bowl slowly as you puff through the pipe, ensuring that all of the tobacco in the bowl is lit and burning at an equal rate.
Butane Lighter – although pricier than a standard lighter, butane lighters are far less likely to burn the pipe’s bowl or the tobacco, making it a better choice for when you’re on the go and haven’t got the time to spend lighting it with a match. Certain butane lighters have been specifically designed for use with pipes; this protects the pipe and yourself from the flame as it will be directed where it is needed, the pipe bowl.
How to Light a Tobacco Pipe
There are three main steps that should be taken to light your tobacco pipe:
- Hold the flame a little distance above the tobacco so that it becomes slightly charred, but not fully lit.
- Draw breath in through the pipe in a few small puffs as you move the flame around the tobacco in the bowl in a circular motion, ensuring it is evenly lit.
- Once the tobacco is evenly lit in the pipe, puff periodically in a steady and sharp manner to ensure that the pipe remains lit.
How to Relight a Pipe
Smoking a tobacco pipe is something of a delicate balancing act. The pipe needs to have air flowing through it to keep the tobacco alight, though, to much puffing and the tobacco can get too hot, causing damage to the pipe and altering the taste of the smoke. Finding the perfect balance that allows you to keep the pipe both lit and cool takes a lot of practice. Remember, it is always better to let your pipe go out than to make it too hot, so having to relight a tobacco pipe is more than likely to occur.
Remove any ash by giving it a gentle tap and tipping up the bowl to let any loose ash fall out. Don’t force this too much as you don’t want to lose any tobacco from the bowl. Let the pipe cool for a minute or two, as this will provide the remaining tobacco with a consistent temperature. Light the pipe again and gentle blow out through the pipe to help burn away any residual ash. You should then be able to keep smoking normally.