Smoking pressed tobacco - flakes plugs twists and kakes

Sir Saartan

The Tan Saarlander
I’ve seen it called “block” and “rod” before, but I tend to consider it a plug. Its whole leaf, pressed similarly, just in a round form. Not twisted or spun like many ropes.
Exactly. They use layers of very thin plugs, roll this and press it again while heating it.
In my mind it’s more of a plug because it’s not spun like ropes.

The cut version would be something like Peterson navy rolls.


Well-known member
One last special:
Ribbon cut tobacco wrapped in a whole leaf.
This you just break apart to smoke. Looks cool though and not just a gimmick: it’s a really nice oriental forward blend. View attachment 66110
these look like ancient Chinese firework loads. Veeeeery intriguing. Are they particularly strong? I know that ropes have a reputation for being strong.

Also, I seriously need to up my plug knife game.


Well-known member
This a great info for someone new to Flakes. I smoke flakes more than other cut, along with plugs.

One thing that works great for me when folding a stuffing ( my preferred method for consistent well cut flakes in the MacB or F&T, etc. type style )...

I will fold and stuff the flake when its still fairly moist so that its easier to work with. But... then I dont smoke that bowl of folded and stuffed flake for at least 12 hours, up to about 48 hours. The tobacco will dry more slowly when already in the bowl and I prefer my tobacco on the drier side.

If I pre dry the flake before loading its more difficult to get it properly folded and packed.

Sir Saartan

The Tan Saarlander
Great thread.:appl:

I'm so used to flakes that I sometimes have issues loading ribbons. They don't expand like flakes so my smokes end up being shorter.:imstupid:
I had the same problems. I tend to roll a wad of ribbon on my fingers like I do with the flakes.
Because I know how much I need with flakes, I usually end up with the same amount of tobacco.
Feed it into the pipe like I do with flakes tobacco and I get pretty much the same. A little less because
I don't press it, but it works. I think most people smoking mainly ribbon cuts would roll their eyes
when they watch me load a pipe, but it works perfectly for me.

Sir Saartan

The Tan Saarlander
it's now time to repost Mr. Moo's main post about smoking flake tobacco.

later in this thread, I will post pictures and my own thoughts to each point he mentionnes.

For new pipe smokers my general flake-take is this:

1. Get a few ounces of one certain flake and stick with it until you figure it out.

2. Smoke some half-bowls fill until you figure out expansion. Some flakes will swell up quite a bit a few minutes after lighting and most require the gentlest of tamps to prevent plugging up the works.
If you plug up a bowl with a flake best you just empty it and start again. A lot of pointy-pipe-tool airhole-drilling into flake-plugs just isn't going to further your education at the get go or probably ever.
Like the pilots say, "If it's wrong on the ground it only gets worse in the air.

3. Consider flakes can be:
quite moist (they bend 90* but don't really break - they're chewy like);
less moist (they bend and then tend to break somewhat); and
dry-ish (when folded the bend tends to break cleanly).

More moist can mean more swelling in the bowl along with the usual dribbles, gurgles and tendency to a hot smoke. Take care with moist flakes as they may bite and/or plug up your pipe. Less moist is mostly good. Dry-ish makes for easy rubbing and, sometimes, a tastier smoke. Try a flake at different moisture levels to see where flavor and ease of smoking is best for you.

4. Most flakes can be reduced (rubbed out) to shreds before filling. The texture, after rubbing out, is stringy or shag-like and fine to smoke. Some flakes (like Krumble Kake/Penzance) tend to crumble rather than shred. If suitably suitably dry most flakes can be folded and stuffed or screwed in a bowl.

5. When you just can't get a stuffed/screwed flake to light there is a lot to be said for sprinkling some if it, finely crumbled, atop the bowl and trying a relight. This method often get a flake burning easily AND evenly.

Knowing how to smoke flake tobak is one of those things you need to experience - there's terrific stuff out there in Flakeville. Go slow, learn the nuances and don't mess yourself up by having a bunch of different flakes all going at the same time
Flake tobacco is compressed and, since everything really is physics, it must somehow come uncompressed.; When you light it and warm it up and moisture finds its way through the bowl of tobacco the stuff is going to expand. Fill or tamp a flake poorly and your pipe will be plugged tighter than Dick's hatband and better than all the gulf BP engineers could ever arrange. Plug a bowl with flake and forget messing with a pick - you need to put it out, empty the bowl and start over. You cannot smoke an airtight wad of tobacco with a single hole down the middle - it won't happen.

If you are unfamiliar with a given flake tobacco and start out by rolling and stuffing it into your pipe I believe you will probably have an unrewarding experience. Each flake type is like a stranger, maybe an important stranger, that you need to get to know slowly so as not to hurt anyone’s feelings by doing the wrong thing.

Learn a flake by breaking it up thoroughly, adding enough to fill the bowl and compressing down to halfway, approx; you're looking for a light load (about half) and an even top plus an very open draw. If you can manage to light the bowl across the top enough for a char, tamp it WAY GENTLY, leaving the draw slightly restricted, and relight. Have at it but never over compress the bowl or you end up but a non-combustible airtight wad (which, by the way, you will fry your tongue and suck your cheeks off trying to relight and smoke).

Flakes. I love flakes and they are all my best tabak buddies but each one took a little investment of time to get to know. Flakes have much to reveal to the patient puffer; producers have taken generations to get their flake the way they want it - secrets will not be given up instantly to the brash. There are hard flakes, soft flakes, dry flakes, wet flakes, crumbling flakes, leathery flakes, easy flakes and damn-near-impossible flakes. Some come too wet and need a little drying - some get too dry a day after the tin is cracked and like a little moisture. At any given moment they may break, fold, roll, splinter, rip, roll or bend, light easily, refuse to light or fire right up.

Find a flake and take your time - I'm talking a few days here, not years - crumble it up and get to know it damp, middling and dry. Try short fills and don't over compress.

Flame on!

Sir Saartan

The Tan Saarlander
1. Get a few ounces of one certain flake and stick with it until you figure it out.
That's something I was already indicating: knowing your tobacco will make the preparation not only
easier, but way faster as well. Obviously, that's something you'll be familiar with ribbon cuts already,
but to a different extent.

Any particular blend will usually come to you in a very similar condition when bought fresh.
So while there are several things you will need to figure out when first smoking the blend,
you'll know how to handle that once you're familiar with it.
the main things in regard to flakes are:
1. the drying time
2. the amount by which that particular flake expands upon lighting it up

When it comes to plugs and ropes, you'll also have to consider:
3. slice it or cube cut it?
4. How thick to slice the flakes or cubes