Tobacco is an agricultural product processed from the leaves of plants in the genus Nicotiana. It can be consumed, used as an organic pesticide and, in the form of nicotine tartrate, it is used in some medicines. In consumption it most commonly appears in the forms of smoking, chewing, snuffing, or dipping tobacco(Dipping tobaccos are a form of smokeless tobacco. Dip is occasionally referred to as "chew", and because of this, it is commonly confused with chewing tobacco, which encompasses a wider range of products. A small clump of dip is 'pinched' out of the tin and placed between the lower or upper lip and gums), or Snus(Snus is steam-cured moist powder tobacco product that is not fermented, and does not induce salivation. It is consumed by placing it in the mouth against the gums for an extended period of time. It is a form of snuff that is used in a manner similar to American dipping tobacco, but does not require regular spitting.)
Tobacco has long been in use as an entheogen in the Americas. However, upon the arrival of Europeans in North America, it quickly became popularized as a trade item and as a recreational drug. This popularization led to the development of the southern economy of the United States until it gave way to cotton. Following the American Civil War, a change in demand and a change in labor force allowed for the development of the cigarette. This new product quickly led to the growth of tobacco companies, until the scientific controversy of the mid-1900s.
There are many species of tobacco, which are all encompassed by the plant genus Nicotiana. The word nicotiana (as well as nicotine) was named in honor of Jean Nicot, French ambassador to Portugal, who in 1559 sent it as a medicine to the court of Catherine de Medici.
Because of the addictive properties of nicotine, tolerance and dependence develop. Absorption quantity, frequency, and speed of tobacco consumption are believed to be directly related to biological strength of nicotine dependence, addiction, and tolerance. The usage of tobacco is an activity that is practiced by some 1.1 billion people, and up to 1/3 of the adult population. The World Health Organization reports it to be the leading preventable cause of death worldwide and estimates that it currently causes 5.4 million deaths per year. Rates of smoking have leveled off or declined in developed countries, however they continue to rise in developing countries.
Tobacco is cultivated similarly to other agricultural products. Seeds are sown in cold frames or hotbeds to prevent attacks from insects, and then transplanted into the fields. Tobacco is an annual crop, which is usually harvested mechanically or by hand. After harvest, tobacco is stored for curing, which allows for the slow oxidation and degradation of carotenoids. This allows for the agricultural product to take on properties that are usually attributed to the "smoothness" of the smoke. Following this, tobacco is packed into its various forms of consumption, which include smoking, chewing, sniffing, and so on.
The Spanish word "tabaco" is thought to have its origin in Arawakan language, particularly, in the Taino language of the Caribbean. In Taino, it was said to refer either to a roll of tobacco leaves (according to Bartolome de Las Casas, 1552), or to the tabago, a kind of Y-shaped pipe for sniffing tobacco smoke (according to Oviedo; with the leaves themselves being referred to as cohiba).
However, similar words in Spanish and Italian were commonly used from 1410 to define medicinal herbs, originating from the Arabic tabbaq, a word reportedly dating to the 9th century, as the name of various herbs.
History of tobacco
Tobacco has a long history from its usages in the early Americas. It became increasingly popular with the arrival of the Europeans by whom it was heavily traded. Following the industrial revolution, cigarettes became popularized, which fostered yet another unparalleled increase in growth. This remained so until the scientific revelations in the mid-1990s.
Tobacco had already long been used in the Americas by the time European settlers arrived and introduced the practice to Europe, where it became popular. At high doses, tobacco can become hallucinogenic; accordingly, Native Americans did not always use the drug recreationally. Instead, it was often consumed as an entheogen; among some tribes, this was done only by experienced shamans or medicine men. Eastern North American tribes would carry large amounts of tobacco in pouches as a readily accepted trade item and would often smoke it in pipes, either in defined ceremonies that were considered sacred, or to seal a bargain, and they would smoke it at such occasions in all stages of life, even in childhood. It was believed that tobacco was a gift from the Creator and that the exhaled tobacco smoke was capable of carrying one's thoughts and prayers to heaven.
Apart from smoking, tobacco had a number of uses as medicine. As a pain killer it was used for earache and toothache and occasionally as a poultice. Early missionaries often reported on the ecstatic state caused by tobacco. As its use spread into Western cultures, however, it was no longer used primarily for entheogenic or religious purposes, although religious use of tobacco is still common among many indigenous peoples, particularly in the Americas. Among the Cree and Ojibway of Canada and the north-central United States, it is offered to the Creator, with prayers, and is used in sweat lodges, pipe ceremonies, smudging, and is presented as a gift. A gift of tobacco is tradition when asking an Ojibway elder a question of a spiritual nature. Because of its sacred nature, tobacco abuse (thoughtlessly and addictively chain smoking) is seriously frowned upon by the Algonquian tribes of Canada, as it is believed that if one so abuses the plant, it will abuse that person in return, causing sickness. The proper and traditional native way of offering the smoke is said to involve directing it toward the four cardinal points (north, south, east, and west), rather than holding it deeply within the lungs for prolonged periods.
Rodrigo de Jerez was one of the Spanish crewmen who sailed to the Americas on the Santa Maria as part of Christopher Columbus's first voyage across the Atlantic Ocean in 1492. He is credited with being the first European smoker.
Following the arrival of Europeans, tobacco became one of the primary products fueling colonization, and also became a driving factor in the incorporation of African slave labor.
In Western Europe
The Spanish introduced tobacco to Europeans in about 1518, and by 1523, Diego Columbus mentioned a tobacco merchant of Lisbon in his will, showing how quickly the traffic had sprung up. Nicot, French ambassador in Lisbon, sent samples to Paris in 1559. The French, Spanish, and Portuguese initially referred to the plant as the "sacred herb" because of its valuable medicinal properties.
In the United States
In 1609, John Rolfe arrived at the Jamestown Settlement in Virginia, and is credited as the first settler to have successfully raised tobacco (commonly referred to at that time as "brown gold") for commercial use. The tobacco raised in Virginia at that time, Nicotiana rustica,did not suit European tastes, but Rolfe raised a more popular variety, Nicotiana tabacum, from seeds brought with him from Bermuda. Tobacco was used as currency by the Virginia settlers for years, and Rolfe was able to make his fortune in farming it for export at Varina Farms Plantation. When he left for England with his wife, Pocahontas a daughter of Chief Powhatan, he had become wealthy. Returning to Jamestown, following Pocahontas' death in England, Rolfe continued in his efforts to improve the quality of commercial tobacco, and, by 1620, 40,000 pounds (18,000 kg) of tobacco were shipped to England. By the time John Rolfe died in 1622, Jamestown was thriving as a producer of tobacco, and its population had topped 4,000. Tobacco led to the importation of the colony's first black slaves in 1619. In the year 1616, 2,500 pounds (1,100 kg) of tobacco were produced in Jamestown, Virginia, quickly rising up to 119,000 pounds (54,000 kg) in 1620.
Following the American civil war, the tobacco industry struggled as it attempted to adapt. Not only did the labor force change from slavery to sharecropping, but a change in demand also occurred. As in Europe, there was a desire for not only snuff, pipes and cigars, but cigarettes appeared as well.
With a change in demand and a change in labor force, James Bonsack, an avid craftsman, in 1881 created a machine that revolutionized cigarette production. The machine chopped the tobacco, then dropped a certain amount of the tobacco into a long tube of paper, which the machine would then roll and push out the end where it would be sliced by the machine into individual cigarettes. This machine operated at thirteen times the speed of a human cigarette roller.
This caused an enormous growth in the tobacco industry which remained so until the scientific revelations discovered the health consequences of smoking in the mid-20th century.
Nicotine is the compound responsible for the addictive nature of Tobacco use. There are many species of tobacco, which are encompassed by the genus of herbs Nicotiana. It is part of the nightshade family (Solanaceae) indigenous to North and South America, Australia, south west Africa and the South Pacific.
Many plants contain nicotine, a powerful neurotoxin, that is particularly harmful to insects. However, tobaccos contain a higher concentration of nicotine than most other plants. Unlike many other Solanaceae, they do not contain tropane alkaloids, which are often poisonous to humans and other animals.
There are a number of types of tobacco including, but are not limited to:
• Aromatic fire-cured, it is cured by smoke from open fires. In the United States, it is grown in northern middle Tennessee, central Kentucky and in Virginia. Fire-cured tobacco grown in Kentucky and Tennessee are used in some chewing tobaccos, moist snuff, some cigarettes, and as a condiment in pipe tobacco blends. Another fire-cured tobacco is Latakia, which is produced from oriental varieties of N. tabacum. The leaves are cured and smoked over smoldering fires of local hardwoods and aromatic shrubs in Cyprus and Syria.
• Brightleaf tobacco, Brightleaf is commonly known as "Virginia tobacco", often regardless of the state in which they are planted. Prior to the American Civil War, most tobacco grown in the US was fire-cured dark-leaf. This type of tobacco was planted in fertile lowlands, used a robust variety of leaf, and was either fire cured or air cured. Most Canadian cigarettes are made from 100% pure Virginia tobacco.
• Burley tobacco, is an air-cured tobacco used primarily for cigarette production. In the U.S., burley tobacco plants are started from palletized seeds placed in polystyrene trays floated on a bed of fertilized water in March or April.
• Cavendish is more a process of curing and a method of cutting tobacco than a type. The processing and the cut are used to bring out the natural sweet taste in the tobacco. Cavendish can be produced from any tobacco type, but is usually one of, or a blend of Kentucky, Virginia, and burley, and is most commonly used for pipe tobacco and cigars.
• Criollo tobacco is a type of tobacco, primarily used in the making of cigars. It was, by most accounts, one of the original Cuban tobaccos that emerged around the time of Columbus.
• Dokham, is a tobacco originally grown in Iran, mixed with leaves, bark, and herbs for smoking in a midwakh.
• Turkish tobacco, is a sun-cured, highly aromatic, small-leafed variety (Nicotiana tabacum) that is grown in Turkey, Greece, Bulgaria, and Macedonia. Originally grown in regions historically part of the Ottoman Empire, it is also known as "oriental". Many of the early brands of cigarettes were made mostly or entirely of Turkish tobacco; today, its main use is in blends of pipe and especially cigarette tobacco (a typical American cigarette is a blend of bright Virginia, burley and Turkish).
• Perique, a farmer called Pierre Chenet is credited with first turning this local tobacco into the Perique in 1824 through the technique of pressure-fermentation. Considered the truffle of pipe tobaccos, it is used as a component in many blended pipe tobaccos, but is too strong to be smoked pure. At one time, the freshly moist Perique was also chewed, but none is now sold for this purpose. It is typically blended with pure Virginia to lend spice, strength, and coolness to the blend.
• Shade tobacco, is cultivated in Connecticut and Massachusetts. Early Connecticut colonists acquired from the Native Americans the habit of smoking tobacco in pipes, and began cultivating the plant commercially, even though the Puritans referred to it as the "evil weed". The industry has weathered some major catastrophes, including a devastating hailstorm in 1929, and an epidemic of brown spot fungus in 2000, but is now in danger of disappearing altogether, given the value of the land to real estate speculators.
• White burley, in 1865, George Webb of Brown County, Ohio planted red burley seeds he had purchased, and found that a few of the seedlings had a whitish, sickly look. The air-cured leaf was found to be more mild than other types of tobacco.
• Wild tobacco, is native to the southwestern United States, Mexico, and parts of South America. Its botanical name is Nicotiana rustica.
• Y1 is a strain of tobacco cross-bred by Brown & Williamson in the 1970s to obtain an unusually high nicotine content. In the 1990s, the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) used it as evidence that tobacco companies were intentionally Snuff is a generic term for fine-ground smokeless tobacco products. Originally the term referred only to dry snuff, a fine tan dust popular mainly in the eighteenth century. Snuff powder originated in the UK town of Great Harwood, and was famously ground in the town's monument prior to local distribution and transport further up north to Scotland. There are two major varieties which include European (dry) and American (moist); although American snuff is often referred to as dipping tobacco.
A cigarette (French "small cigar", from cigar + -ette) is a small roll of finely-cut tobacco leaves wrapped in a cylinder of thin paper for smoking. The cigarette is ignited at one end and allowed to smoulder; its smoke is inhaled from the other end, which is held in the mouth. Most modern manufactured cigarettes are filtered and include reconstituted tobacco and other additives. Cigarettes are sometimes smoked with a cigarette holder.
The term cigarette, as commonly used, refers to a tobacco cigarette but can apply to similar devices containing other herbs, such as cannabis. A cigarette is distinguished from a cigar by its smaller size, use of processed leaf, and paper wrapping, which is normally white, though other colors are occasionally available. Cigars are typically composed entirely of whole-leaf tobacco.
Rates of cigarette smoking vary widely. While rates of smoking have leveled off or declined in the developed world, they continue to rise in developing nations. Nicotine, the primary psychoactive chemical in cigarettes, has been shown to be addictive. Statistically each cigarette smoked shortens the users lifespan by 11 minutes. About half of cigarette smokers die of tobacco-related disease and lose on average 14 years of life. Cigarette use by pregnant women has also been shown to cause birth defects, including mental and physical disabilities. Secondhand smoke from cigarettes has been shown to be injurious to bystanders, which has led to legislation that has banned their smoking in many workplaces and public areas.
Cigarettes are the most frequent source of fires in private homes, which has prompted the European Union to attempt to ban cigarettes that are not fire-safe by 2011.
Diagram of a cigarette.
1. Filter made of 95% cellulose acetate.
2. Tipping paper to cover the filter.
3. Rolling paper to cover the tobacco.
4. Tobacco blend.
Commercially manufactured cigarettes are seemingly simple objects consisting mainly of a tobacco blend, paper, PVA glue to bond the outer layer of paper together, and often also a cellulose acetate–based filter. While the assembly of cigarettes is straightforward, much focus is given to the creation of each of the components, in particular the tobacco blend, which may contain over 600 ingredients, many of them flavourants for the tobacco. A key ingredient that makes cigarettes more addictive is the inclusion of reconstituted tobacco, which has additives to make nicotine more volatile as the cigarette burns.
The paper for holding the tobacco blend may vary in porosity to allow ventilation of the burning ember or contain materials that control the burning rate of the cigarette and stability of the produced ash. The papers used in tipping the cigarette (forming the mouthpiece) and surrounding the filter stabilise the mouthpiece from saliva and moderate the burning of the cigarette as well as the delivery of smoke with the presence of one or two
The process of blending, like the blending of scotch and cognac, gives the end product a consistent taste from batches of tobacco grown in different areas of a country that may change in flavour profile from year to year due to different environmental conditions.
Modern cigarettes produced after the 1950s, although composed mainly of shredded tobacco leaf, use a significant quantity of tobacco processing by-products in the blend. Each cigarette's tobacco blend is made mainly from the leaves of flue-cured brightleaf, burley tobacco, and oriental tobacco. These leaves are selected, processed, and aged prior to blending and filling. The processing of brightleaf and burley tobaccos for tobacco leaf "strips" produces several by-products such as leaf stems, tobacco dust, and tobacco leaf pieces ("small laminate"). To improve the economics of producing cigarettes, these by-products are processed separately into forms where they can then be possibly added back into the cigarette blend without an apparent or marked change in the cigarette's quality.
The common name for the remains of a cigarette after smoking is a "(cigarette) butt". The butt typically comprises about 30% of the cigarette's original length. It consists of a tissue tube which holds a filter and some remains of tobacco mixed with ash. In extreme cases the filter is slightly burned. Cigarette butts are one source of tobacco for minors and low income people. The shape of a butt hinges on the manner of stubbing out. The intensely pressed butt possesses irregular shape at the end and wrinkled tissue. Cigarette butts may be a subject of studies over popularity of brands producing cigarettes.
Cigarette filters are made from cellulose acetate and are biodegradable, however depending on environmental conditions they can be resistant to degradation. Accordingly, the duration of the degradation process is cited as taking as little as 1 month to 3 years to as long as 10–15 years. One campaign group has suggested they never fully biodegrade. .
Selected cigarette brands
• 1st Class
• Army Club
• Benson & Hedges
• Embassy Number One
• Export A
• Lucky Strike
• Natural American Spirit
• Old Gold
• Pall Mall
• Virginia Slims
Smoking pipe (tobacco)
A smoking pipe for tobacco smoking typically consists of a small chamber (the bowl) for the combustion of the tobacco to be smoked and a thin stem (shank) that ends in a mouthpiece (the bit). Pipes can range from the very simple machine-made briar pipe to highly-prized handmade and artful implements created by renowned pipemakers which are often very expensive collector's items.
The bowls of tobacco pipes are commonly made of briar, meerschaum, corncob or clay. Less common are cherrywood, olivewood, maple, mesquite, and oak. Generally a dense-grained wood is ideal. Minerals such as catlinite and soapstone have also been used. Pipe bowls of all these materials are sometimes carved with a great deal of artistry.
Unusual, but still noteworthy pipe bowl materials include gourds, as in the famous calabash pipe, and pyrolytic graphite. Metal and glass are uncommon materials for tobacco pipes, but are common for pipes intended for other substances.
The stem needs a long channel of constant position and diameter running through it, and this is difficult to carve out of a pre-existing block. Because it is molded rather than carved, clay may make up the entire pipe or just the bowl, but most other materials have stems made separately and detachable. Stems and bits of tobacco pipes are usually made of moldable materials like vulcanite, lucite, Bakelite, and soft plastic. Less common are stems made of reeds, bamboo, or hollowed out pieces of wood. Expensive pipes once had stems made of amber, though this is rare now.
Tobaccos for smoking in pipes are often carefully treated and blended to achieve flavour nuances not available in other tobacco products. Many of these are blends using staple ingredients of variously cured Burley and Virginia tobaccos which are enhanced by spice tobaccos, among them many Oriental or Balkan varietals, Latakia (a fire-cured spice tobacco of Cypriot or Syrian origin), Perique (uniquely grown in St. James Parish, Louisiana) or blends of Virginia and Burley tobaccos of African, Indian, or South American origins. Traditionally, many U.S. blends are made of American Burley with sweeteners and flavorings added to create an "aromatic" flavor, whereas "English" blends are based on natural Virginia tobaccos enhanced with Oriental and other natural tobaccos. There is a growing tendency towards "natural" tobaccos which derive their aromas from artful blending with selected spice tobaccos only and careful, often historically-based, curing processes.
Materials and construction
The material and shape of a pipe has a profound influence upon the aesthetic of a smoke.
Tobacco pipe of briar wood
The majority of pipes sold today, whether hand made or machine made, are fashioned from briar ((French) bruyère). Briar is a particularly good wood for pipe making for a number of reasons. The first and most important is its natural resistance to fire. The second is its inherent ability to absorb moisture. The burl absorbs water in nature to supply the tree in the dry times and likewise will absorb the moisture that is a byproduct of combustion. Briar is cut from the root burl of the tree heath (Erica arborea), which is native to the rocky and sandy soils of the Mediterranean region. Briar burls are cut into two types of blocks; ebauchon and plateaux. Ebauchon is taken from the heart of the burl while plateaux is taken from the outer part of the burl. While both types of blocks can produce pipes of the highest quality, most artisan pipe makers prefer to use plateaux because of its superior graining. Some pipe makers use Brylon, a synthetic material which has properties similar to briar.
A meerschaum pipe
Meerschaum (hydrated magnesium silicate), a mineral found in small shallow deposits mainly around the city of Eskişehir in central Turkey, is prized for the properties which allows it to be carved into finely detailed decorative and figural shapes. It has been used since the 17th century and, with clay pipes, represented the most common medium for pipes before the introduction of briar as the material of choice in the 19th century. The word "meerschaum" means "sea foam" in German, alluding to its natural white color and its surprisingly low weight. Meerschaum is a very porous mineral that absorbs elements of the tobacco during the smoking process, and gradually changes color to a golden brown. Old, well-smoked meerschaum pipes are prized for their distinctive coloring. In selecting a meerschaum pipe it is advisable to take assurances that the product is indeed carved from a block of meerschaum, and is not made from meerschaum dust collected after carving and mixed with a binder then pressed into a pipe shape. These products are not absorbent, do not color, and lack the smoking quality of the block carved pipe.
Clay in this case is almost always a very fine white clay. Low-quality "clay" pipes are actually made from porcelain slip poured into a mold. These are porous, of very low quality, and impart unwanted flavors to a smoke. Top-notch clays, on the other hand, are made in a labor-intensive process that requires beating all air out of the clay, hand-rolling each pipe before molding it, piercing with a fine wire, and careful firing. Traditionally, clay pipes are un-glazed. Clays burn "hot" in comparison to other types of pipes, so they are often difficult for most pipe-smokers to use. Their proponents claim that, unlike other materials, a well-made clay pipe gives a "pure" smoke, with no flavor addition from the pipe bowl. In addition to aficionados, reproductions of historical clay styles are used by some re-enactors. Clay pipes were once considered disposable items and the large quantities discarded in the past are often used as an aid in dating by industrial archaeologists.
Calabash pipe with meerschaum bowl.
Calabash gourds (usually with meerschaum or porcelain bowls set inside them) have long made prized pipes, but they are labour-intensive and nowadays quite expensive. Because of this expense, pipes with bodies made of wood (usually mahogany) instead of gourd, but with the same classic shape, are sold as calabashes. Both wood and gourd pipes are functionally the same. They both have an air chamber beneath the bowl which serves to cool, dry, and mellow the smoke. There are also briar pipes being sold as calabashes. These typically do not have an air chamber and are named only because of their external shape.
On the other end of the scale, "corncob" pipes made from corn cobs are cheap and effective, even if some regard them as inelegant. The cobs are first dried for two years. Then they are hollowed out to make a bowl shape. The bowls are dipped in a plaster-based mixture and varnished or lacquered on the outside. Shanks made from pine wood are then inserted into the bowls. The first and largest manufacturer of corncob pipes is Missouri Meerschaum, located in Washington, Missouri in the USA. Missouri Meerschaum has produced the pipes since 1869. General Douglas MacArthur, Mark Twain and George Lincoln Rockwell were perhaps the most famous smokers of this type of pipe, along with the cartoon characters Popeye and Frosty the Snowman.
Corncob pipes remain popular today because they are inexpensive and require no "break-in" period like briar pipes. For these two reasons, corncob pipes are often recommended as a "Beginners pipe." But, their enjoyment is by no means limited to beginners. Corncob pipes are equally valued by both learners and experienced smokers who simply desire a cool, clean smoke. Pipesmokers who wish to sample a wide variety of different tobaccos and blends also might keep a stock of corncobs on hand to permit them to try new flavors without "carryover" from an already-used pipe, or to keep a potentially bad tasting tobacco from adding its flavor to a more expensive or favored pipe.
An aluminum-stemmed pipe.
Metal is an uncommon material for making tobacco pipes, but they are not unknown. The most common form of this is a pipe with a stem and shank made of aluminum, which serves as a heat sink. Mouthpieces are made of vulcanite or lucite. The bowls are removable, though not interchangeable between manufacturers. They are made of varying materials to allow the smoker to try different characteristics or to dedicate particular bowls for particular tobaccos.
Other metal tobacco pipes include the Japanese kiseru and the Arabian midwakh. Hookahs also have metal stems, but fall into the general category of water pipes.
A hookah, ghelyan, or narghile, is a Middle Eastern water pipe that cools the smoke by filtering it through a water chamber. Often ice, milk, or fruit juice are added to the water. Traditionally, the tobacco is mixed with a sweetener, such as honey or molasses. Fruit flavors have also become popular. Modern hookah smokers, especially in the US, smoke "me'assel" "moassel" "molasses" or "shisha" all names for the same wet mixture of tobacco, molasses/honey, glycerine, and often, flavoring. This style of tobacco is smoked in a bowl with foil or a screen (metal or glass) on top of the bowl. More traditional tobaccos are "tombiek" (a dry unflavored tobacco, which the user moistens in water, squeezes out the extra liquid, and places coals directly on top) or "jarak" (more of a paste of tobacco with fruit to flavor the smoke).
Smoking a pipe requires more apparatus and technique than cigarette or even cigar smoking. In addition to the pipe itself and matches or a lighter, smokers usually require a pipe tool for packing, adjusting, and emptying the tobacco in the bowl, and a regular supply of pipe cleaners.
Pipe tobacco can be purchased in several forms, which vary both in flavour (leading to many blends and opportunities for smokers to blend their own tobaccos) and in the physical shape and size to which the tobacco has been reduced. Most tobaccos resemble cigarette tobacco, but are substantially more moist and are cut much more coarsely. Too finely cut tobacco does not allow enough air to flow through the pipe, and overly dry tobacco burns too quickly with little flavour. Pipe tobacco must be kept in a humidor or an airtight container to keep from drying out.
Some pipe tobaccos are cut into long narrow ribbons. Some are pressed into flat cakes which are cut up. Others are tightly wound into long ropes, then sliced into discs. Flake tobacco (sliced cakes or ropes) may be prepared in several ways. Generally it is rubbed out with the fingers and palms until it is loose enough to pack. It can also be crumbled or simply folded and stuffed into a pipe. Some people also prefer to dice up very coarse tobaccos before using them, making them easier to pack.
In the most common method of packing, tobacco is added to the bowl of the pipe in several batches, each one pressed down until the mixture has a uniform density that optimizes airflow (something that it is difficult to gauge without practice). This can be done with a finger or thumb, but if the tobacco needs to be repacked later, while it is burning, the tamper on a pipe tool is sometimes used. If it needs to be loosened, the reamer, or any similar long pin can be used. A traditional way of packing the pipe is to fill the bowl and then pack gently to about 1/3 full, fill again and pack slightly more firmly to about 2/3 full , and then pack more firmly still to the top.
An alternate packing technique called the Frank method involved lightly dropping tobacco in the pipe, after which a large plug is gingerly pushed into the bowl all at once.
Matches, or even separately lit slivers of wood, are usually considered] preferable to lighters. Butane lighters especially made for pipes are made which permit a flame to be directed downward into the bowl. Naptha fueled conventional lighters are felt to impart a chemical taste to the smoke.
When matches are employed they are allowed to burn for several seconds to allow the sulfur from the tip to carry away and the match to produce a full flame. The flame is then moved in circles above the pipe while the smoker draws the flame into the tobacco.
With care, a briar pipe can last a very long time without burning out. However, due to aggressive (hot) smoking, imperfections in the wood, or just bad luck, a hole can be burned in the tobacco chamber of the pipe. There are several methods used to help prevent a wood pipe from burning out. These generally involve pre-coating the chamber with carbon, or by gently smoking a new pipe to build up carbon deposits (cake, see below) on the walls.
One method to prevent a wood pipe from burning is to make a 50/50 mix of honey or powdered sugar and water, then using one's finger to spread it around the inside of the bowl, and allowing this mixture to dry. After a few bowls, the mix will create a barrier that will be burn resistant.Some pipe makers use a combination of natural sour cream, buttermilk, and activated charcoal. The sour cream and buttermilk are mixed to the consistency of milk, and the activated charcoal is added until dark grey. A pipe cleaner is pre-positioned with the tip just entering the chamber, to keep the draught hole cleared, and the tobacco chamber is coated evenly with the mixture and allowed to dry.
Another is to coat the inside of the pipe bowl with a paste made from fine cigar ash. This is allowed to dry overnight. This speeds the build-up of the desired bowl cake.
Many modern briar pipes are already pre-treated to resist burn, and if smoked correctly, the cake (a mixture of ash, unburned tobacco, oils, sugars, and other residue) will build up properly on its own. Or a more accepted technique is to alternate a half-bowl and a full-bowl the first several times the pipe is used to build an even cake. Burley is often recommended to help a new pipe build cake.
Pipe smoke, like cigar smoke, is usually not inhaled. It is merely brought into the mouth and then released. It is normal to have to relight a pipe periodically. If it is smoked too slowly, this will happen more often. If it is smoked too quickly, it can produce excess moisture causing a gurgling sound in the pipe and an uncomfortable sensation on the tongue (referred to as "pipe tongue", or more commonly, "tongue bite").
A pipe cleaner can be used to dry out the bowl and, wetted with alcohol, the inner channel. The bowl of the pipe can also become uncomfortably hot, depending on the material and the rate of smoking. For this reason clay pipes in particular are often held by the stem. Meerschaum pipes are held in a square of chamois leather, with gloves, or else by the stem in order to prevent uneven coloring of the material.
The ash and the last bits of unburned tobacco, known as dottle, must be cleaned out with a pipe tool. A pipe cleaner is then run through the airways of the stem and shank to remove any moisture, ash, and other residue before the pipe is allowed to dry. A pipe should be allowed to cool before removing the stem to avoid the possibility of warping it.
A cake of ash eventually develops inside the bowl. This is generally considered desirable for controlling overall heat. However, if it becomes too thick, it may expand faster than the bowl of the pipe itself when heated, cracking the bowl. Before reaching this point, it needs to be scraped down with a reamer. It is generally recommended to keep the cake at approximately the thickness of an U.S. dime (about 1/20th of an inch or 1.5 mm), though sometimes the cake is removed entirely as part of efforts to eliminate off flavors or aromas. Cake is considered undesirable in meerschaum pipes because it can easily crack the bowl and/or interfere with the mineral's natural porosity.
When tobacco is burned, oils are vaporized and condense on the walls of the bowl in the existing cake and the shank. Over time, these oils can oxidize and turn rancid, causing the pipe to give a sour or bitter smoke. An effective measure called the Professor's Pipe-Sweetening Treatment involves filling the bowl with kosher salt and carefully wetting it with strong spirits. It is important to not use iodized salt, as many experts feel the iodine and other additives impart an off flavor. Some people find that regularly wiping out the bowl with spirits is helpful in preventing souring. Commercial pipe-sweetening products are also available.
"Pipe tobacco brands"
• Black and Mild
• Borkum Riff
• Captain Black (cigar)
• Prince Albert tobacco