What's new

Where to start

I've always been interested in pipe smoking as it looks like a good way to relax, slow down and enjoy some quiet time. However, since funds for an activity like this are severely limited I have a lot of questions before I jump in.
1) I'm a former cigarette smoker with a somewhat addictive personality. For those of you that smoke often, do you miss it or get cranky if you have to miss or skip a smoke?
2) What kind of pipe should I start with? I see so many different bowl and stem shapes and materials it seems easy to spend some money and end up with something that I may not like
3) What kind of tobacco to start with? Again there seems to be so many blends and not blends, flavors, aromatics, etc...
 

AimlessWanderer

Remember to forget me!
I've always been interested in pipe smoking as it looks like a good way to relax, slow down and enjoy some quiet time. However, since funds for an activity like this are severely limited I have a lot of questions before I jump in.
1) I'm a former cigarette smoker with a somewhat addictive personality. For those of you that smoke often, do you miss it or get cranky if you have to miss or skip a smoke?
2) What kind of pipe should I start with? I see so many different bowl and stem shapes and materials it seems easy to spend some money and end up with something that I may not like
3) What kind of tobacco to start with? Again there seems to be so many blends and not blends, flavors, aromatics, etc...

1) I am a former cigarette smoker too, and occasionally have a relapse into roll ups. By the time I have finished a pouch of rolling tobacco - which I tend to burn through far too quickly - I can feel the addictive aspects kicking in again. Not so with pipes. I smoke three or four bowls a week on average, but sometimes go a week or two without. Even if I have a heavy day - say three pipes - I'm not craving one the following day. In fact most of the bowls I smoke, are over several sittings. Smoke a while, let it go out, and light it up again later. It's not unusual for a bowl to last me two days.

Note: My nicotine "fix" comes from vaping, so the pipe is not my only intake.

2) Get a cob. There's a learning curve with a pipe, and a cob is a good set of training wheels to learn with. If you don't like it, or burn it out while you're learning, no harm done.

3) It depends where you are, as to what is available. Here in the UK you can get lots of tobaccos in 10g to 15g samples. Personal tastes can run the whole gamut of the tobacco spectrum, and you won't know where your preferences lie without a little exploration.
 
Welcome to the world of the pipe. It is indeed relaxing and encourages thought and reflection. I can't speak for every pipe smoker, but in my case I can puff away like a locomotive for weeks on end and then lay the pipe aside for a similar length of time. I don't smoke in the house, so I haven't fired up a pipe since before Christmas, but that's just me. I've never had withdrawal symptoms from my pipe.

I'm going to assume you're in the States, so if not you'll have to adapt some of these recommendations.

This can be an expensive undertaking. Before you know whether or not it's for you, start off inexpensively. Get one or two cob pipes. If anyone looks askance at you, tell 'em you're auditioning for the Little Theatre production of Huckleberry Finn. If you succumb to the charms of the pipe, come back here for briar recommendations; if you don't like it, you aren't out much $£€.

If you think you'll try aromatic and non-aromatic blends, get two cob pipes. Aromatics can ghost a pipe with leftover flavors, and even though cobs don't generally fall victim to ghosting, keeping separate pipes for each type of blend is a good habit to get into. Besides, you should get into the habit of rotating your pipes to let them rest.

Don't inhale. Just like cigars. Don't inhale.

Tobaccos are hard to recommend; we all have different tastes, but as you are a former cigarette smoker I suggest starting with some tried-and-true American burley blends. West Virginia Smoke Shop has a pretty good selection of these, and they will sell sample amounts in 1oz increments. That's if you're in the States.

If your town has an honest-to-goodness tobacconist or premium cigar shop, drop in and discuss the bulk pipe tobacco on offer and try an ounce of various blends. The folks there will be eager to assist you.

YouTube is a good source for smoking technique videos. You'll want to know how to fill and light your pipe and there's nothing like a good visual aid to demonstrate the various methods.

Just be warned, whatever money you think you're saving by traditional wet shaving - and trust me, you aren't saving a nickel - you'll spend it all and more on the pipe habit. And it will be with every penny.
 
I've never had any issues with withdrawals. I typically smoke 2 bowls a day, 5 days a week. I regularly go a week or two without smoking and it's never been an issue. It's a want, not a need.

I'd also suggest a couple of cobs. I personally hate the things, but there's no better budget pipe out there. Cheap briar is a gamble at best, and cheap meerschaum and morta don't exist. While you're honing your technique you can get a better idea of shapes that appeal to you. Pipe shape is largely aesthetic. There are some chamber size pros and cons for some types of tobaccos, but it's pretty subtle. Better to build a foundation first. If you do go with briar, I'd suggest straight pipes or 1/4 bent bulldogs or rhodesians to start.

As far as blends go, the sky is the limit. If you're going to order online I'd grab a good quality straight virginia like GLP Union Square. If you used to smoke darts you might enjoy chasing the flavor of a good virginia. Stanwell Melange would be a good aromatic at sub $10. It's one of my guilty pleasures. If you want to dip your toes in the latakia pool you could do a lot worse than SPC Plum Pudding. It's not particularly cheap, but it's top notch tobacco that's readily available which is somewhat of a rarity in lat blends.
 
Welcome, BSawhill,

I'm a classic addictive personality too, though I never smoked the white sticks. Originally I took up the pipe in the mid-'80s and smoked 2-4 times a month until the early 2000s, when I packed everything away. The pipes were too nice-looking to give away. Last year I broke everything out again, no idea why, and have discovered more pleasures to puffing now, 2-3 x a week. This forum has helped me to handle the pipe properly. Of course, reading and posting here boosts my interest, and I say to myself, "Self, maybe a pipe tonight . . .?"

The advice here is spot on about trying the classic American "drugstore" or "codger" blends like Sir Walter Raleigh, Prince Albert, Carter Hall, or Granger. Half & Half is a good blend, though it's polarizing. I don't know about cobs; one of these days I'll try one. I already had a group of nice pipes from the '80s when I started up again, so I didn't need to rush out or online and buy a briar. That said, cobs sound like a very economical way to get started.

Enjoy!
 

simon1

Self Ignored by Vista
Wise advise has been given above...don't know that I can add anything. A cob is great and inexpensive, and if you decide you'd like a better looking briar there is nothing wrong with a Dr. Grabow; I have two. You can usually pick them up, and cobs, at your local discount smoke shop.

The smoke shops also have the old codger blends like Prince Albert, Carter Hall, etc. Smokingpipes has a good selection of premium tobacco, but they are out of some things now like a lot of places...not just tobacco shops. The motorcycle shop here does not have many floor displays. They said they can't get them lately.

I smoked cigarettes for 50 years and quit about 8 months ago after both femoral arteries were blocked. The vascular surgon said the left one was about 80% blocked and right one was basically 100%. Things are flowing good now. I can light a pipe of an evening and sometimes I set it down and forget I still have 'baccy in it. I don't get cravings for it and finally got over the cravings for cigarettes. I usually smoke a pipe of an evening and don't even think about smoking of a morning with coffee now.
 
I recall, dimly, that my very first pipe was a Dr. Grabow from the drugstore, and either some Captain Black or Borkum Riff. The stuff made me a little lightheaded on my first smoke, but not sick or dizzy, so that was all good. We had a Tinder Box in the mall then, so I bought a Lorenzo Oom Paul. (BSawmill: "Lorenzo" is the brand, "Oom Paul" the designation for a shape of pipe.) For years I smoked mostly TB blends.

The pleasure and relaxation of smoking a pipe is certainly near-addictive, but unless you are going like a chimney all day, I doubt pipe leaf is as addictive as alcohol or cigarettes.
 
Hey all. Thanks for the direction, advice and candidness about and around smoking. I sometimes forget that I'm not the only person who has struggled with past addictions and an addictive personality. Once LOTH and I discuss it I will look into local tobacco shops (appears to be many) and find a couple of cobs and some codger blends to get started.

When it comes to cobs are there some that are better than others or will it not matter since I won't know the difference anyway?
 
Hey all. Thanks for the direction, advice and candidness about and around smoking. I sometimes forget that I'm not the only person who has struggled with past addictions and an addictive personality. Once LOTH and I discuss it I will look into local tobacco shops (appears to be many) and find a couple of cobs and some codger blends to get started.

When it comes to cobs are there some that are better than others or will it not matter since I won't know the difference anyway?
People here rave about the Missouri Meerschaum Company's cobs. Even they are not expensive -- less than $10 or something like that?

Let us know what you settle on. Pics encouraged. Have a look, too, at the "Codger Cabin" thread that Columbo started. You'll see lots of discussion of the merits of blends like Sir Walter, Prince Albert, Half & Half, and Carter Hall, plus the new versions, "matches," of vanished blends like Edgeworth and Field & Stream.
 
Hey! So you're asking good questions in good company. I got into it trying to get off cigarettes.

As has been said many times before, start with a Missouri Meerschaum corn cob. In my area, you can find them for under $12. They're not gimmicks, but real pipes.

Tobacco is way too much a YMMV thing. Get an ounce of this, tin of that there and there. Low nicotine blends abound, most aromatics and some English blends. Codgers are great, but harder to find in pouches. You'll probably have a few tins of C&D, Pease, maybe some Peterson. There will be jars of C&D and Lane. I would stay away from stronger scented aromatics to start with.

You mentioned in your OP limited funds. This is perfect for that, if you want/ let it. MM Legends and Washingtons are stupid cheap and last as long as you treat them well.

After that, your only expense will be a few Mason jars to keep your tobacco fresh.
 
You could get a couple of cobs ($25?), a pouch of Sir Walter Raleigh, one of SWR Aromatic, or one of Half & Half, about $5 each, some of the fuzzy craft sticks (aka pipe cleaners) at Walmart for $1, some wooden kitchen matches at the grocery for, what, $3? And you'd be ready to start. Use an old saucer as an ashtray and a roofing nail to tamp the tobacco down in the bowl. To clean your pipe, the $2.00 mini-bottles of cane rum, again from WM, work fine. $35 including shipping for the pipes and tobacco, and the rest can be had on your regular grocery run.
 

Kentos

Wiped out at 25
You will still get nicotine from the pipe. It’s tobacco after all. I will say the nicotine you get from a pipe is a slow gradual process, unlike the instant shot you get from cigarettes. In that sense the body doesn’t seem to crave it in the same way. That being said, in my opinion, there will be some minor semblance to nicotine craving associated with a pipe. If you smoke it sporadically it won’t be so bad. This is coming from a self admitted nicotine addict myself. I quit cigarettes a while ago myself.
 

Kentos

Wiped out at 25
Whatever you do, don’t inhale or it will be the same addictiveness as cigarette smoking.
 
Top Bottom