Smoking pressed tobacco - flakes plugs twists and kakes

Sir Saartan

The Tan Saarlander
#62
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).
This something I haven't spoken about yet: tamp lightly.

Sometimes, especially if you draw too hard, there will be some unburnt tobacco left on the sides of your chamber.
For now, don't worry about it. you can tamp that down a little and relight, but many times when you're trying that
you'll end up jamming that on top of what's left on the bottom of your bowl. At that point, especially if your tobacco
was a little moist, you're done. The draw will be so restricted you won't be able to smoke any more of that.

If you end up with a really restricted draw, dumping it is your best choice.

I know it sounds horrible, but it won't happen a lot. if you listen to your pipe, you won't jam it up many times.
flakes are sensitive: they let you know about every little bit of too hard tamping, too much tobacco, too much moisture.
listen and react. And slow down, relax. you're never in a hurry when smoking a pipe. tamp a little, take a couple sips,
and tamp again if you feel it wasn't enough. you can always tamp again, but you can't "untamp"
you can always relight a pipe if it goes out. especially with flakes, the flavor is at the brink of it going out.

there is no shame in relighting. it's actually a sign that you're getting there, if you have to relight several times.
if you never have the need to relight, your ember is probably too big most of the time.

also: most flakes (like a lot of other tobacco) don't produce huge plumes of smoke. if they do, you'll
probably get more flavor and less moisture by slowing down.

And I repeat that: even if you think this is a great smoke, it can still be a lot better most of the times
if you slow down. I have been smoking flakes for years, and enjoyed them a lot. Someone on this forum
suggested to smoke crispy dry flakes, and those will quickly produce a huge ember if overpuffed.
So these flakes tought me to slow down even more... and after finishing the dried out tin I found in
a drawer, I got used to slowing down even more than I had previously done.

guess what: I got used to the slow pace, and now switching to all the flakes I had previously enjoyed, they were now
so full of flavor, I couldn't believe it. Especially the sweetness in a blend is enhanced a lot when you
sipp as slowly as you possibly can. Sure, the number of relights has since gone up a little... but who cares?
would you rather enjoy a great smoke, or have a mediocre one but be able to bragg about not having to relight?
 

Sir Saartan

The Tan Saarlander
#63
I know I haven't actually said a lot about smoking and/ or preparing pressed tobaccos
yet. The reason is that I am planning on including a lot more pictures, which I need time
for.

So a step by step for preparing flakes/ cubes/ curleys will follow soon. Not today though,
because we're celebrating our son's 4th birthday.
After I'm done, there will be room for you guys to chime in and comment a lot more on
my suggestions.
 

Sir Saartan

The Tan Saarlander
#64
the ember would sometimes funnel its way down, either down the center or tending towards the draught hole, leaving a good bit of uncombusted tobacco behind. Again, a careful consistent tamper may not experience this, but I tend to clench and sip and - so long as smoke comes out with each sip - not tamp as often as I probably should. So it may come down to tamping style. The cut of tobacco (crumbs funnel more than ribbon) and diameter of the bowl come into play, as well.
I copied this from another thread because I believe it should be mentionned here:

we're often talking about sipping on our pipes. While that's what we should do, you'll often find yourself in
a mood where you end up drawing too hard on your pipes. A flake tobacco will let you know you're doing that.

Unlike ribbon cuts, that are bunched up in no particular direction, flakes usually lay lined up in your pipe. at least once you
start the fold and stuff method. If you gently roll it over your fingers like I've shown earlier, this isn't as obvious, but it's still
the case. If you use a chimney pipe like I often do, this is exagerated.

this leads to 2 things:
a) the spread of the ember on top of your bowl is much slower
b) there's a clear pathway for the air you draw through your pipes past your flakes

if you don't dry your tobacco enough, the spread of your ember across the top surface will be even slower.
I will keep talking about "too much moisture" a lot in this thread. And I urge you to try something, which will
teach you quickly what I am talking about:
dry a single flake for 2 days. yes that is way too long, and you'll end up with overly dry tobacco that will break
apart when you're trying to fold it.

take 2 similar pipes.
break (fold) and stuff pipe 1 with the dead dry tobacco
take a wet fresh flake from your tin, fold it and carefully feed it into pipe 2

now light pipe 1 and give it 2 hard puffs. then watch your ember spread. it might take a couple more
carefull sipps to encourage it, but if you set this pipe down it won't go out. it will slowly burn until
1/2 of the tobacco is burnt, sometimes the pipe will even smoke itself to finish.

now light pipe 2. give it a couple hard puffs. then set it down. the ember will die down quickly, but if
you look closely you'll see where most of the air was going through. you'll have much more burnt tobacco there,
with the tobacco to the side of the chamber almost untouched.

what I want to show you with this experiment is simple: if you want to smoke a flake
"folded and stuffed" it needs to be MUCH DRIER than you expect. A flake - especially the thick cut ones -
will dry on the surface, but inside the moisture keeps much longer. It looks and feels dry, but it's not.

To me, the perfect moisture is when the flake is just flexible enough to fold in half and roll over my
fingertips without breaking apart.

If your ember funnels through the tobacco, there are 3 main reasons:
a) least important because easiest to fix: if you set a flake up flat against the outside wall of
your tobacco chamber, the top part might have a hard time catching the ember at first light.
if you sip slowly on well dried tobacco, this problem fixes itself during the smoke. if you're
concerned, a slight tamp will fix it.
b) if you draw hard on your pipe, the ember will quickly follow the main airflow, leaving the tobacco
to its sides untouched. This will also happen quickly with overly dry tobacco IF you draw too hard.
if you are not certain if you draw too hard, smoking flakes that break instead of bending when folded
will quickly teach you.
c) too much moisture. yes, again. by the time this thread is finished, you'll be sick of hearing this.
overly moist tobacco will force you to draw too hard to keep it lit. So now take a look at point b)...

the perfect pipe tobacco smoke needs you to allow the ember to slowly spread across the top of your tobacco
by itself. your slight sips will assist the ember but if you tamp slightly every once in a while to keep the ash from
shielding the air from the ember, it should for the most part spread on top of your tobacco without
you needing to assist it constantly.
 

Sir Saartan

The Tan Saarlander
#65
I would like to remind everyone who's reading this of one thing:

Smoking pressed tobacco isn't hard.

In fact, it's easier than most other tobacco, especially for a novice pipe smoker.
I know many will disagree, but when I first started smoking pipes, I made an observation:

I was one of several people out of a group of friends that started to smoke a pipe at the
same time. I was the only one who discovered flake tobacco as his favorite. Everybody
told me to start with ribbon cuts, and I wouldn't listen.

Then I joined the old PSF, and I followed a thread closely that was called
"my pipe won't stay lit". I was kind of wondering about what was going on there:
every newby pipe smoker seemed to have the same issues, and every time it took
several days until the FOG figured out the issue.

With my friends it was the same: some of them who admittedly smoke a pipe less
regularly than I do still have these problems years later. I am wondering if they never
really stuck with the pipe because of that.

As a flake smoker, I certainly had just as many issues as the others had. But I
rarely had difficulties identifying my mistakes. I did make them over and over,
until I adjusted, paid more attention and fixed them. But I knew what I did wrong
usually about 1-5 minutes after lighting the pipe.

I tried to adjust mid smoke, which obviously doesn't work too well. But I knew
what went wrong.

I keep repeating myself, and I'll do it again:
if you listen to your flake, it will tell you all you need to know. That's why smoking
flakes - in my opinion - is a good start for a new pipe smoker. Once you've accepted
you need to be patient when it comes to drying your tobacco, you'll learn to slow down
your cadence and adjust the strength of the sips you take from your pipes.

If you switch to ribbon cuts after you've been able to consistently smoke a flake
to 1/3 of the bowl down without having a wall of tobacco still standing around the walls
of the tobacco chamber, you're pretty much set. You've got the basics down and the rest will
come with experience.

I admit it's frustrating for the first 2-3 weeks if you've never smoked a pipe, but
like I said: it's easy to identify your mistakes. My frustration was over making the same
mistake again. It wasn't about a mysterious problem that prevented me from enjoying my
tobacco. It wasn't about being unable to figure out the problem. it was
about feeling stupid for failing to adjust quickly even though I knew better.

slowing down your cadence and softening your draw takes time, because it needs
repetitions until you do it without having to think about it.
 

PipeInTheD

Well-known member
#67
So... i personally don't "tamp" at all when smoking folded flakes. You really don't want to compress it at all. What I do before relighting is very gently move the ash towards the center from all around the bowl in order to ensure that the edges get lit. I do this with the poker of a pipe tool, just lightly moving it around the edges.

Once I'm half way through the bowl, I might "tamp" to crush some ash, but not in the same way that I would occasionally tamp a ribbon or rubbed out blend.

Not sure if that makes sense, but since we are getting pretty deep and granular in this thread I thought I'd mention it.
 

Sir Saartan

The Tan Saarlander
#68
This is very important with flakes. Just enough pressure to tamp that ash. The weight of the tamper is usually enough. If you are concerned you might over tamp puff while you tamp.
The main reason to tamp is to flatten the ash to allow oxygen to get to the ember.

Every once in a while, you will have a little bit of a flake standing flat against the wall of your tobacco chamber.
that's the only time where you use the tamper for anything else.

Remember: flake tobacco likes very small embers, so even the weight of the tamper or having it stand on the ember
for 2 seconds can put out your pipe. Don't worry. Just relight it.

A word regarding relights: If your flake is properly dried, unlike the first light where it takes a little bit
longer than a ribbon cut to take the flame, the relights are pretty much instantaneous. so don't
repeat your extensive first light. a touch with the flame and a short sip and you're back on track.
If you've got a huge red cherry going in your flake pipe: set the tamper on it for 2-3 seconds and set the pipe down for a couple of minutes.
then carefully relight again.
 

Sir Saartan

The Tan Saarlander
#69
So... i personally don't "tamp" at all when smoking folded flakes. You really don't want to compress it at all.
yes, do not compress it.

even when trying to put out that cherry ember: don't press. just set it on top an wait for a couple of seconds.
compressing your flake can easily mess up your draw. when that happens, there's no easy fix.

tamping is just softly flattening the ash.

that being said: you need to flatten the ash every once in a while. Call it tamping or
gently touching the ash with your finger. especially in tall narrow chambers that's absolutely necessary.
maybe that's the reason why many people prefer a pot for flakes: wide flat chambers.
you won't need to tamp (a lot) so less chances to mess it up.
 

Sir Saartan

The Tan Saarlander
#70
Once I'm half way through the bowl, I might "tamp" to crush some ash, but not in the same way that I would occasionally tamp a ribbon or rubbed out blend.
I actually don't ever tamp a ribbon in any way different to lightly touching the ash either.

like I said before: the effects of bad habits are a lot more noticeable with a flake,
but you should apply that to your ribbons as well. A bad tamp can mess up your
smoking experience with any cut, a flake will just let you know instantly.

At this point I want to say a word about cube cuts:
hard tamping will mess up your smoking with cubes even more, because those suckers will move.
a flake will sometimes resist the pressure. cubes - especially when cut really small -
have a tendency of plugging up airways and restricting the draw. anything more forcefull than
a touch will have negative effects almost certainly.

If you're trying to learn proper tamping: smoke something like danish dice or
belle epoque. those will teach you quickly.
 

FrankHall

Won't Curse You
Sales
#76
I keep repeating myself, and I'll do it again:
if you listen to your flake, it will tell you all you need to know. That's why smoking
flakes - in my opinion - is a good start for a new pipe smoker. Once you've accepted
you need to be patient when it comes to drying your tobacco, you'll learn to slow down
your cadence and adjust the strength of the sips you take from your pipes.
Good words. I used to always rub my flakes well before smoking. As I expanded to untried flakes and plugs, I learned that very few flakes smoke the same way right out of the tin. My HH Old Dark Fired flakes are a perfect example. I split one flake straight down the middle, roll it up and stick it in a small bowl pipe. Takes about three lights and it's on its way. St Bruno, on the other hand, is a little drier. I take one flake, fold it and stick it in a large bowl pipe. Other flakes I rub and let sit in the pipe a while before lighting. 1792 is kind of an enigma, which I will try again to tame in a moment.

Carry on - great thread and I'm learning a lot. Much appreciated.
 

Sir Saartan

The Tan Saarlander
#77
Carry on - great thread and I'm learning a lot. Much appreciated.
Thank you.

I haven’t highlighted it, but one Mr. Moo‘s main points was to stick with a certain flake for a while until you learn how to treat it.

I don’t recommend rolling a flake because it increases two problems:
a) the tobacco pressed to the wall of the bowl will take a while to catch fire.
b) there is bound to be a hole in the middle where you suck air.

If you’re drawing really soft you won’t have a problem. Most people will however draw too strongly, so they‘ll burn the center with a lot of unburnt tobacco left on the sides.

Also the light breakup I do by rolling the tobacco over my finger tips isn’t easy to do.
It does look neat but doesn’t have any advantage over what I have shown. Only the disadvantages I have just mentioned.
Also flakes that have a tendency of breaking apart won’t let you roll them up.

If you’re used to just slowly sipping relatively dry flakes you can do that, but that’s just having fun with flakes for experienced flake guys. I have done it several times because I just wanted to, but I’m trying to get people who aren’t experienced with flakes to get an easy start here.

Again: goofing around is fun sometimes. If you’re trying to get comfortable with flakes you’re going to do it the easy way.
 

FrankHall

Won't Curse You
Sales
#79
Thank you.

I don’t recommend rolling a flake because it increases two problems:
a) the tobacco pressed to the wall of the bowl will take a while to catch fire.
b) there is bound to be a hole in the middle where you suck air.

... but I’m trying to get people who aren’t experienced with flakes to get an easy start here.
Those are great points that I had not thought of. I will change my tactics.

Awesome on that second point. I remember my first flake, and it was frustrating (Erinmore - 1980's). Not having great resources such as yourself to 'draw' from <=== heh, heh - I just rubbed it out. :eek:.

...time to apply the Sir Saartan method to a flake.