Smoking a pipe is not a healthy activity, and the inhalation of smoke can cause damage to your mouth while also causing addiction. Of course in theory smoking a pipe is not as unhealthy as smoking cigarettes, because you are not supposed to inhale the smoke. However the tobacco that you use is also much stronger than a cigarette, and some people still do find that they prefer to inhale.
That said, when used sparingly and correctly, smoking a pipe can be a fun and sociable experience, and can also be a good alternative to smoking cigarettes. Smoking a pipe is a much slower and more enjoyable experience than smoking a cigarette – like the equivalent of drinking a can of beer versus indulging in a glass of champagne. It can mark a special occasion, it has a certain retro charm to it, and many people find it aids in thinking and in ‘feeling like Sherlock Holmes’. Finally, because you can smoke lots of different types of tobacco with a pipe, that means that there is a lot to explore and it can be a more varied experience. It’s a lost art to a degree, but it’s gaining popularity. You should certainly not start smoking a pipe regularly, but as a one off or for special occasions it can be a fun experience. But how do you start?
Choosing a Pipe
First of all you will need to choose your pipe. These come in a variety of different shapes and sizes and at a variety of different prices. Your local tobacconist should stock a few, and it’s worth going down there to try each one out (rather than buying online where you cannot try holding or examining the pipe).
The pipes will vary in a number of ways as mentioned, but to start with you will do fine with a relatively cheap pipe. The most important factor when choosing a pipe is the way that it fits in your hand, and if it feels snug and natural then this is a good sign. Don’t choose it, but let it choose you. If you are struggling then going for a pipe with a good bend in it will help for most people, as it allows you to hold it more easily.
What Else You Need
You will also need a few other things. Specifically you will obviously need tobacco as that’s what you are going to smoke. There are various different kinds of tobacco which your tobacconist can help you select. You are going to base this mostly on smell, so go for the smell that appeals to you. These will have various different names such as ‘Old Scotch’ or ‘American Delight’. Choose the one that appeals to you most, and try a different one next time. Do note though that for beginners it is easiest to choose a dry tobacco which lights more easily.
Other things that can be handy are to use a pipe lighter – which lights sideways rather than out the top – and pipe cleaners which you pull through the pipe to remove residual tobacco.
How to Light Your Pipe
At first, lighting the pipe can be a little tricky. This is because you will be new at it, but also because your pipe is new and won’t have built up any carbon. To light your pipe you will need to pack it correctly, and to do this you should think of your pipe as though it is split into thirds. Pack the first third of the pipe at the bottom lightly, the middle third a bit tighter, and the top more tightly still. Thus it should look tightly packed, but feel springy to touch. When you try to breathe through the pipe it should offer some resistance like drinking water through a straw. It can also help to leave your pipe overflowing just slightly so it looks as though it needs a haircut.
Now try to light your pipe with the pipe lighter. Hold the flame over the pipe for a while while tipping it slightly. To let the flame in more. Move it around a lot to cover the whole of the top and then draw in slightly to bring the flame down and through. You may find that it goes out the first time which is fairly normal – this is called a ‘false light’ but doing the same again it should normally stay alight.
Smoking and Your Health
When you smoke a pipe it is important to ensure you don’t actually inhale the smoke as this would be highly damaging to your lungs. As mentioned there is still a risk of mouth cancer and other problems as the smoke can damage the delicate tissue in your mouth. Every few weeks a pipe won’t pose too much risk and if you are quitting smoking it can be a good transition, but do make sure that you weigh up the pros and cons before you start and don’t smoke regularly. You can also help to avoid health issues by making sure not to smoke the pipe whenever you have a sore or blister in your mouth, and by making sure that you move the pipe around in your mouth occasionally and avoid leaving it in the same spot.