How to Pack Your Pipe

The number one problem with pipe smoking is how to pack a pipe! Uncle Bob is constantly reinforcing the proper procedures to all his customers who have all found this method efficient and easy to use.

If you are experiencing "tongue bite" or "dottle" at the bottom of your pipe, chances are you are packing your pipe too tightly. Even if you never smoke all the tobacco in the pipe, it probably isn't the pipe but the packing!

Uncle Bob says that these procedures are proven and effective. Try them in your worst smoking pipe with your hottest blend and see if it doesn't make a big difference!


Although differing qualities of pipes and tobaccos will make a difference, you can take any pipe and smoke any tobacco in that pipe if you pack it right. It is true that better pipes and tobaccos smoke better, but if you have a pipe that is not varnished but has a carnauba wax on the finish and a tobacco that has no chemicals added then you are ready to go!

One thing about pipe smoking is to remember that a pipe is basically a filter! The pipe absorbs the moisture and disperses the heat; it affects the flavor and clarity of the tobacco. The tobacco is best enjoyed when moist and chemical free. That means no drug store tobacco! But the pipe is most important to enjoyment and a good or better smoke.

Having said all that, let's get to it! Pipe packing is basically a three step process.Step #1:Sprinkle the tobacco loosely into the pipe until it fills up to the brim. Note that I said sprinkleloosely and not pinch and put! This is one of the biggest problems with even guys who know how to pack their pipes! Sprinkle loosely until full and then poke it down until the bowl is half full. If you have a tapered bowl then you may wish to make it more like two-thirds. If you were to draw on the pipe there would be little if any resistance.

Step #2: Sprinkle loosely again until the bowl is full. Poke it down evenly until the bowl is three-fourths full. If you were to draw on the pipe there would be a little resistance; say less than a cigarette.

Step #3: Sprinkle loosely until the bowl is full and then round up the top so that a little mound of tobacco rests over the bowl. The mound should be less than a half inch tall and nicely rounded. Then poke it down flat and even with the brim of the bowl. If you were to draw though the pipe it would seem slightly less resistance than a cigarette. The pipe should be ready for the lighting!


There are three other elements of pipe smoking that are very important to enjoying or fighting through a pipeful: lighting, tamping, and cleaning. All three of these principals affect the over all pipe event and must be mastered to really explore the full enjoyment of this wonderful hobby.

Lighting: Now I know that many of you out there are now going, "Hmphf! Why is he bothering me with this?" But this art is often lost in today's hustle and bustle light up a quick cigarette world. If you have problems keeping your pipe lit even after packing correctly then try this: take five or six puffs as you walk the flame around the whole bowl charring the entire area of the tobacco. Then tamp the ashes flat and even and relight using another five or six good puffs and you are ready to go!

Tamping: Many pipe smokers will pack and light their pipes correctly and still have problems keeping the pipe lit or smoking the entire pipeful. The reason is that they are tamping too hard! When you tamp your pipe you should only be crushing the ashes flat and even; not pushing down tobacco! You may tamp as much as you like, but just push down the burning ashes onto the unburning tobacco. Keep it even and keep the draw consistent.

Cleaning: If your pipe is smelling badly or tasting spoiled, it may be because you haven't been cleaning it regularly. As a rule, you should run a pipe cleaner through the stem and shank every time you smoke the pipe. Uncle Bob says that you should never pull the pipe apart while warm so he always cleans it before he next smokes that pipe. Also make sure all the bits of tobacco are out of the bowl as this can lead to hot spots that will cause a burn out. Remember that because a pipe is a filter, it should be smoked only once a day. If you smoke three times a day you need three pipes. If you smoke it more than this, the moisture can build and spoil resulting bad aroma and flavor. If this happens, take some whiskey (around only for medicinal purposes of course) that is at least 80 proof and pour it into the bowl. Let it set for 10 minutes or so, dump out the liquid, and swab out with a paper towel. Then let it sit for 24 hours and it should taste better!

Uncle Bob

I hope these tips will help your enjoyment of tobacco and pipes! If you have any questions, don't hesitate to give Uncle Bob a call at (800) 626-2971 or drop him a line via email.