If you grew up watching your grandfather or an older uncle smoke their pipe, they probably loaded it by dropping the pipe into a pouch of tobacco and jamming the bowl full with their thumb. They would then withdraw the pipe, completely filled with tobacco, from the pouch and light it. And light it. And light it. And light it some more.
The problem with simply stuffing a practically solid column of tobacco into the bowl of the pipe is that there is very little air for the combustion to take place when you light the pipe. The result is you find yourself having to light and re-light it over and over again, creating a very hot and wet smoke. And a hot and wet smoke results in what is called "tongue bite", a sharp stinging sensation on the tongue.
The solution is to let gravity be your friend in loading the pipe. Hold the pipe in one hand and with your other hand, take a pinch of tobacco between your fingers. Sprinkle it into the bowl of the pipe, and keep adding more in the same manner until it‘s filled. Only then will you take your thumb or finger, or pipe tamper, and gently push down the tobacco until it‘s about halfway down into the bowl (or less).
Then repeat with another pinch or two of tobacco, i.e. sprinkling it in until it reaches the top and gently pushing it down so that it‘s now about two-thirds from the top.
Repeat this procedure once or twice more until the tobacco is now at the top of the bowl, and is kind of spongy to the touch.
I‘ve also found that between each filling of the bowl if I suck a little air through the mouthpiece and it remains clear, i.e. unimpeded, I‘m loading it correctly.
If done as outlined above, the tobacco will be very loose at the bottom of the bowl and tighter toward the top, allowing ample combustion to take place without excessive re-lights.
(...to be continued)
Prossimo articolo: Loading, Lighting and Smoking Your Pipe - part II