• Please read the rules before posting or replying here -- no banter, no off-topic replies please. Link to the rules: Old Codger Rules.

To Tamp or Not to Tamp - that is the question

Seelife

Well-known member
#1
Hi Folks. OK, I have noted that some "codgers" just light up and tamp, others just chug away after lighting up, not tamping as much.
Previously, I have always tamped after the false light, especially with my more "refined" tobaccos. Now the last couple of months out of laziyness and joy, I have been hammering my Falcon, not bothering to rotate to one of my other pipes as usual. I usually smoke maybe a bowl a day most days. The Falcon being so easy to clean and rotate a bowl makes life easy.
I have been working my way through a tin of DerPeifenLaden#41, a ribbon cut light latakia blend, prior to that I was going through the end of my Father Dempsey, depressed at the non delivery to Croatia of my SP order.... enough of that. Now the FD was pretty dry, not mummy dust but dry and had been brocken quite a bit by being carted around in my rollup, you get the idea.
But it was the FD that I noticed that not tamping actually seemed to be "OK".

Anyway this mostly came about when I had a break on a hike and sat for a pipe. I lit up and just forgot to tamp.... the tobacco swelled a bit but that was OK, I normally only 3/4 fill anyway.
As I kept smoking, pondering the view and resting my aging knees, I noticed the flavours were far more evident. As usual, about half way through, I teased the tobacco on the sides into the center a little with a Czek tool and carried on smoking almost to the end, the flavours were less "dottle-ish" which I don't enjoy - and I didn't need to ditch until the very bottom. Anyways, next day I did much the same with my PL 41 (which was also getting "drysh") and I found much the same. No tamp and a bit of teasing resulted in a pleasant smoke.
So here's the thing, does tamping or tamping too hard screw with how hot the thing burns? Or, is it a factor of the Falcons chamber dynamics. Or, is it just that the tobacco is so dry it does'nt fluff as much and basically stays lit easier and doesn't overheat.... Love to hear from those familiar with Falcons and dry baccy-non tamping experiences......
I have to say - the Falcon is a godsend in the bush, easy to keep under control and not having to worry about breaking an expensive pipe - a step up from my "bushwalk Cob"
Stay well and safe folks.
 

Thepipehunter

Well-known member
#3
Whatever brings you enjoyment from your pipe is the answer. If it works for you, then you’re good to go.

I think many people start off over tamping their pipes. It makes the draw too tight, you start puffing harder, and you get tongue bite. Also, the tobacco is too tightly packed from over tamping and goes out. I find it better to tamp using just the body weight of the tamper and not applying any force. It’s better for your pipe to be packed too loose and under tamped then the other way around.
 

Peacock

There is no spoon.
#4
Whatever brings you enjoyment from your pipe is the answer. If it works for you, then you’re good to go.

I think many people start off over tamping their pipes. It makes the draw too tight, you start puffing harder, and you get tongue bite. Also, the tobacco is too tightly packed from over tamping and goes out. I find it better to tamp using just the body weight of the tamper and not applying any force. It’s better for your pipe to be packed too loose and under tamped then the other way around.
Agreed. This is great advice.
 

Mikewood

Well-known member
#5
Very good advice.

I draw or puff as I tamp. I think tamping knocks/compresses embers into the next layer of tobacco it can cause more to burn but tamping too much snuffs them out. Puffing helps stoke embers and let’s them and heat heat gently migrate down the bowl as you tamp. I am also better gauge cause and effect and feel for tightness or difficulty.
 

gnossos

the pineapple on your pizza
Patron
#8
I tamp at the start. I think the "codger blends" were more cube cut burleys that didn't "bloom" as much during the initial light. At the beginning, the ember needs to be pushed into the bowl to make sure it gets going well for, say, ribbons or flakes.

After that, I typically touch it as little as possible and do find the best flavor coming after the first quarter of a bowl where things are loosening up. I nurse that till I need to get the ember back into more tobacco.

Also I also think it finally dawned on me that DGT isn't just putting a bowl down halfway, which I've never found better than before, but putting it down after the initial light / pushing ember into the bowl and coming back to that. I've been doing that without thinking about it for awhile because it makes the whole bowl taste better. I think the initial light sends a bunch of burnt sugars at your tongue or something.
 

Ray Mackessy

Well-known member
#11
I smoke Falcons everyday and I always tamp after first light to pack down the tobacco slightly. I use the weight of the tamper to push down the tobacco so as not to pack the tobacco too tight. I haven't noticed that tamping causes the tobacco to burn hotter. If it burns hot it's because of my puffing cadence.
 

Seelife

Well-known member
#12
Hi Folks, thanks for the input. I have to say that until the dry FD smoke, I tamped as well. But I am concidering that I may have been tamping too hard,
But with my limited experience I have come to what works (for me) and that may be somewhat different for a Falcon compared to my briars. Dry the tobacco more that you think you need to, fill the pipe with less and not as tight as you think, tamp less that you think, tease the sides a little, apply flame gently and smoke slower and softer that you ever think - unless your "p..sed off". Oh- and don't sweat that the baccy in that rollup on the shelf is too dry or broken.... :whistling:
Anyways, the wind is blowing a gale here and even with the sun out, it's brass monkeys (1degree C). The sea is "boiling" - the wind is so strong it whips the spray off the tops of the waves that are pretty much blown flat. Looking out, there are great walls of sea "steam" 20 feet high racing across the chanel. Sea devils are twisting across in the distance.... a wild sea.
I will try and find a spot out of the wind, rug up and watch the spectacle over a pipe in a bit after the sun cones up a bit more. The photo does not do it justice as the spray races so fast.
Glad I'm not out in that....
Stay safe all

spray3.jpg
 

snake

permanent ankle biter
Sales
Patron
#13
Naturally, I’m going to say
that tamping is a must!


ETA:
I also use the weight of the
tamper to justify how much pressure
to put on the ash layer. I used
to tamp fanatically in the early
years. Now, it is only when it’s
needed.
 
Last edited:

Russ H.

Mr. Fruity Pebbles
#15
I fully admit I always have a tamper with pick handy when I smoke.
I've smoked a pipe for a long time, but every now, and again when I fill a pipe I don't always get it right to my liking.
What I do is fill the pipe, light it, and a light tamp, and smoke it. However a pipe that has a deep chamber requires a little tamping as you go. When I find the draw really opens up after some smoking I use only the weight of the tamper, and continue smoking.
Now--the pick. There are times I will get the tobacco packed a little to tight. So--what to do. I can either dig it loose, dump it out, and start over, or I will take the pick, and gently push it down through the center of the tobacco forming a small hole right to the bottom of the bowl--note--I said gently. Then I light the pipe, and continue smoking it. The pick also serves the purpose of gently removing any crumbs that become kind of stubborn, and will stick to the bowl.
Tamping is one of those things that after a while you just get the hang of when, and if you really need to do it, or not.
Certain blends, and people like to pack their pipes very loose, and a tamper comes in handy to gently push the ember down, and tighten up the tobacco as it burns down in the bowl.
 

RedScot

Well-known member
#16
My opinion is that a tamp's main role is to keep the ash layer compact, not to compress the tobacco beneath...at least that's true mid-bowl between lights. The "perfect" ash has the right ratio of particulates to air pockets to insulate and keep the ember cozy. Too much air and the ember goes cold; too little and it goes out completely.
The tamp between false and true lights, and the tamp before a relight serves a different purpose: to help even out the surface so as to aid in creating an ember that covers the entire bowl.
The two separate purposes require two different tamp techniques. Keeping the ash compact requires almost no pressure at all, so the weight of the tamp is more than enough to get the job done, and only the lightest of touches is required. The tamp should also be flat when this is done, i.e. parallel to the top of the bowl. When the tamp is being used to even out the top of the tobacco a little more pressure may be required, and the tamp must often meet the top of the tobacco at an angle so as to redistribute things.
There is a third use of a tamp in restoring an ember that's nearly dead. Technique here is simple: just set the tamp down on top of the ash and leave it in place while puffing gently. If the ember can be saved the results will quickly be obvious. It is this third use of the tamp that can make it seem almost magical, but it's the same principle as the choke on a carburetor.
If this sounds complicated at all, it's not. If you have occasion to smoke and focus solely on the pipe, count yourself as blessed. It is in such moments that muscle memory can be built, so that your tamping will become instinctive, and useful in moments when life is more distracted.
I'll freely admit that I still tamp too vigorously; it only becomes apparent while smoking flakes. But when the draw gets loose or the smoke gets thin, a tamp can be your best friend.
 

N80

Meetings: None of us is a dumb as all of us.
Sales
#18
I have to admit that I never think about any of this. I tamp if it seems like it will help. The most frequent tamp I use is my middle finger. If things seem too compacted and I’m indoors I tap the pipe on something. If I’m outside I use a stick.

I suspect I am a Philistine.
 

headrott

Well-known member
#19
Being as I own about 25 @snake tampers, That is not the only reason I say this, however. I will say tamping is a must. I will say, it’s a matter of timing and pressure, though. Too soon, or too much pressure is detrimental to a smoke. Tamping at the “correct time”, and with appropriate pressure leads to a wonderful smoke.👍That is my experience.