Pipes and Tobacco

Happy Monday of Easter Week, friends! I’m giving Royal Yacht a try and so far I like it!

A prayer for today from my Anglican tradition–in hopes it will be a blessing:

Grant, we pray, Almighty God, that we who celebrate with reverence the Paschal feast may be made worthy to attain to everlasting joys; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

Smoking a clay pipe

A clay pipe can very inexpensively obtained from Pipes & Cigars. I got this one as a Christmas present this year. It offers a great, pure-flavored smoke, with some caveats:

First, the bowl gets super hot, so be careful if–as I do–you have a habit of holding the bowl. You will have to adjust to grasping the stem in order to keep from burning your fingers.

Second, since the entire thing is made out of clay, I found clenching as I am doing in photo to initially be not very pleasant due to the chalky texture of the material. I will say after some practice I’ve gotten pretty used to it. I don’t think it’s ever going to be as comfortable as other materials, but you figure it out, and if you’re not a big clencher it’s even less of a deal.

There’s something very pure, unassuming, and honest about a clay pipe; the simplicity coupled with a quality, consistent smoke is what I find attractive.

Fr. Nathan smoking a clay pipe

Thankfuk to RNAtreasures for this great find at a fair price. Perfect little pipe for walking the dog, reading, and on the go. The deep bend in the stem means cleaning is not quite as simple as my straight pipes, but it’s a worthy trade for portability and clenchability

Pretty stoked to give this new pocket pipe from RNAtreasures a go on my evening walk tonight. I imagine I’ll load it it up with some BLWB.

A couple of Christmas gifts from my lovely wife that will be treasured: an estate Tim West pipe that is light, smokes exceptionally well, and has a beautiful grain along with a book of Rilke poetry. The innaugeral smoke was Figgy Pudding from the Country Squire.

The makings of a fine autumn evening. Yes, I’ve got that Carolina Gent loaded with C&D Autumn Evening tobacco

It may have been 88 degrees today but I got into the Fall spirit with some Oktoberfest and Autumn Evening pipe tobacco before dinner

Popped a fresh tin of Rattray’s Red Rapperee this morning. Like welcoming an old friend.

The beginner's pipe smoking starter kit [everything you need for $40 or less]

Before you start smoking a pipe, know what you’re doing. It’s not like cigarette smoking, but it’s not without risk, especially if you inhale (which you should never do anyways) or if you smoke a ton (always a possibility if you tend toward making vices habits). As with many similar pursuits, moderation and wisdom are key to enjoying the pipe over the long haul.

You need to know that you can get a great great smoking pipe for cheap to start with. Don’t believe the hype about expensive gear. If/when you decide pipe smoking is for you can invest in higher end and more artistic pipes.

Choose a pipe:

Missouri Meerschaum - Ozark Mountain Hardwood Tobacco Pipe - Oval Bowl, Straight Bit

Missouri Meerschaum Country Gentleman Corncob Tobacco Pipe Straight

I recommend a straight vs bent stem to begin with, because they’re easier to clean.

You need a butane lighter with a soft flame, or matches. Any standard Bic will do. Personally, I like the Bic minis for portability. No torch lighters; they can can damage the pipe.

Get some pipe cleaners and some rubbing alcohol to clean your pipe.

Round out your starter kit with a Czech pipe tool - small and durable.

As far as tobacco goes, I recommend you start with Lane BCA or 1Q. These are both aromatic tobaccos (usually sweet with added toppings for aroma). Get whichever sounds best to you to start.

When you can, add Orlik Golden Sliced (Virgina), and Peter Stokkebye Proper English (full disclosure, I haven’t tried this one myself but it is a well-reviewed, simple option). Virginias are bright, grassy, sometimes citrusy, and Englishes are usually a bit more savory, with a smokey wood flavor and sometimes incense-like aromas.

All of these are high-quality tobaccos that will give you a sense of the main “families” of tobacco (aromatics, Virginias, Englishes) and help you figure out what general flavor profiles you’d like to explore next. There are many more genres of pipe tobacco, and blends of families of tobacco as well, but this will get you started.

If you get all this, it should only set you back about $40 or so, plus shipping. Maybe even less.

How to smoke a pipe, demystified:

Load your tobacco however you want, just not too tight. I like to fill once to the top and press it halfway down the bowl, then fill to the top and press to 1/3 down the bowl, then fill one last time, pressing down to just below the rim.

Light the top of the tobacco once, then let it go out (this is a “char light”). Light it again, this time drawing the flame deeper in the bowl. Don’t be afraid or frustrated with relighting whenever you need to. You’ll get the hang of it, and relighting is just part of pipe smoking.

Don’t draw deeply the way you would on a cigar. Sips are where its at to avoid tongue bite and extract the most flavor. You want the smoke to be a cool as possible when it hits your mouth, so puff slowly.

When you’re done, empty the ash out of the bowl. You may need to gently(!) scrape some out. Run a pipe cleaner moistened with rubbing alcohol through the stem, then fold in half wipe out the bowl as needed.

YouTube is your friend for seeing all this stuff in action and getting ideas.

A note about filters: You don’t have to use the filter —I don’t! That said I did at the beginning and tons of people do on the regular. Filters can help reduce tongue bite by taking some of the moisture out of the smoke. Lots of people swear by them. I recommend trying with or without and seeing which you like best. I’ve been thinking of giving them another go in some of my pipes that accept filters myself. Replace every 3 smokes or so.

That’s really all there is to it–don’t overthink it, enjoy it!

Happy Cob Tuesday. Today is sermon day for me, so I’m smoking some Country Squire Summer Breeze in my MM Morgan. This small and lightweight pipe is a great clencher, so it’s perfect to help the inspiration flow while writing.

After 10 days traveling I’m ready to get back to my pipe and Bible time! With a new MM Shire churchwarden my wife got me for Father’s Day. Appropriately, some Country Squire Rivendell is loaded for its inaugural smoke.

Sunday evening in the back yard…time for a few minutes of relaxation before putting the kids to bed. Cult Blood Red Moon in my trusty Cassillero 591 bent pipe.

Good to be home. Escudo in a MM Legend in the Arizona room.

My little Missouri Meerchaum Morgan pipe looks comically huge here because because of the angle, but it’s actually tiny and light. A great pocket pipe and nice when you need to go hands-free.

A little bit of Sutliff Christmas Spice during the downtime before tonight’s Epiphany Party at church.

The Christmas fun continues with tea, pipe, and novel.

☕️ Trader Joe’s Candycane Green Tea
💨 Sutliff Christmas Spice in my Cassillero
📚 Dark Fire by C. J. Sansom

Out for a lunt this afternoon. C&D Nutty Irishman in my MM Carolina Gent cob.