Lighting while breaking in a briar

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I just took up the pipe smoking hobby a few weeks ago. I like to do things the hard way, so I picked up an inexpensive briar pipe (Savinelli Natural Straight Billiard) and a few tins. I'm starting out with Davidoff Green Mixture, since I wanted something on the milder side, and want to avoid aromatics for now.

I'm trying to follow the consensus on breaking in the briar, so I'm barely packing a half bowl at a time for the first four or five smokes. I am getting a nice little cake on the bottom of the bowl. However, I'm having a very difficult time keeping it lit. I know from reading here that I will have to light frequently, but I'm having to use about 15-20 matches per smoke, since I'm trying to go about a minute between draws from the pipe so I don't get the pipe too hot. I use the tamper occasionally to keep the ember going, but 90% of the time, the pipe goes out between these puffs.

From this description, can anyone offer suggestions? Is this happening because I'm not packing a full bowl?

Related question: How do I know when the pipe is done? I'm not a cigarette or cigar smoker, so I don't have much experience with what burned tobacco looks like. All of the break-in instructions say to smoke the bowl to the bottom. By the time I get to the bottom, however, I get some ash coming through the stem. One time I even drew some lit sparks through the stem, since there was still some charred tobacco at the bottom of the bowl. Can anyone post a picture of what the bottom of a smoked pipe looks like, before you knock out any leftovers?

Thanks for any and all advice!


Active Member
Welcome to PSF!

Since you are smoking tinned tobacco, first I would recommend drying it out a good bit before you light it, try letting your bowl's worth of tobacco sit out for about an hour before you pack it. Secondly, I'm not sure that one puff a minute is often enough to keep a pipe lit, at least it is not for me. Worry more about how the bowl feels in your hand, it should be warm, but not too hot to hold comfortably.

If you are drawing ash and embers up the stem, you might be pulling a little hard when you draw on the pipe. Try a gentler "sip" instead of a big draw. Maybe smaller sips more often will also help you stay lit longer.

Best of luck!


Active Member
If you're waiting a full min in between draws on your pipe, as it seems from your post, that is why the pipe is going out. To keep your pipe from getting hot you just need to smoke slowly. I recomend what I learned here on this forum; light your pipe and smoke it, do not puff fast and/or hard, when you think you've slowed down enough, slow down more!!! That has worked for me, (that and smoking a pipe with a stinger), since I lheard it. As for knowing when a bowl is finished, for me personally it's done when it can't be relit, the best I can tell you. Good luck!
If you think its done, see if the ash falls out of the pipe. DO NOT start banging your pipe off of the ashtray, table, railing, or anything. Just give a gentle little tap on the :booty:

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Jussto gave you good advice, Joe. For me, I have no problem with having to relight once in a while during a bowl. There are other factors, of course, but if a bowl needs a relight I take it as an indicator that it is pretty good tobacco without a lot of chemical additives, or casing, that tend to keep the tobacco burning. Again, as Jussto said, some of the other factors are packing, pace and dryness of the tobacco. But, all in all having to do a few relights is not a bad thing.
Great advice, all; I didn't really consider drying the tobacco since it seems pretty dry straight out of the tin, but I'll give it a shot, and report back. I have started to tamp while puffing, Ridwaan, once I noticed a lot of Youtuber's do, which has definitely helped.
good stuff pal.. Keep at it.. You'll get it all right some time soon, and then you might not even realise that it's ''happened''.. Keep 'em puffing..
Update: Slowing down definitely helped. I also think switching from matches to a lighter (pipe Zippo) has really helped, too, because I notice that I don't feel like I have to "race" the match. I'm still breaking in the pipe, so I'm only packing it halfway, but even then, now that I'm getting the hang of the light/puff/tamp rhythm, I have to relight a lot less frequently (ie, only about five times, instead of using twenty matches). The pipe stays a lot cooler now, too, and there's definitely a little bit of cake forming, too.

Thanks for the advice, so far!
once you get a thin layer of cake on the pipe it will work like an oven and keep the pipe lit longer. Just watch the cake buildup, if it gets too thick it will expand at a different rate then the bowl and possibly crack the bowl. The cake should be just a thin layer on the walls of the pipe. I've heard tell, that if you clean out your bowl with a rolled up paper towl it helps to shape and limit carbon buildup.
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