Packing Flake?

Discussion in 'Need Pipe Smoking Advice? Ask an Old Fart!' started by Fbones24, Aug 23, 2012.

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  1. Fbones24

    Fbones24 Member

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    I am new here and I apologize in advance if this question has been answered. I have been smoking a pipe for approximately one year on and off. Only recently have I started smoking regularly (daily). I have gotten pretty proficient packing loose cut and ribbon tobacco using the three step method.

    Well, I purchased a tin of Macbaren Vanilla Flake and this stuff smells and tastes amazing! I am just having a problem keeping it lit. I have smoked 4 bowls and each time had to relight at least 10 times. This much fire just ruins the enjoyment and the flavor of the tobacco for me. I could live with 5 relights, but 10+ seems like a lot. I have used the fold and stuff method trying it different ways. Each time I have let the tobacco dry a little before packing and let it sit in the bowl for a while before smoking so I don't think it is too moist. I have yet to try the cannonball method or the rub it out method.

    I feel like rubbing out the flake is "cheating." Any advice with this would be greatly appreciated.
     


  2. Slow Tri

    Slow Tri Is it Friday yet?

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    There are several threads on here that speak to this. Mr Moo posted a great one not too long ago. Let me see if I can find it.
     
  3. Slow Tri

    Slow Tri Is it Friday yet?

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  4. Fbones24

    Fbones24 Member

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    Excellent, I will read that thread. Thank you for finding it for me.
     
  5. Capt

    Capt Active Member

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    Welcome aboard Fbones! Yes, that Flake-Takes thread is awesome, should teach you a lot.

    After you pack your flakes, take a bit of the broken flake in the tin and rub it out real fine. Add that to the top of your flakes before you light. This initial light will give the flakes time to heat up and dry a bit before they start burning. Good luck to you!
     
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  6. dmkerr

    dmkerr PG- free since '83! Moderator

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    Welcome! :toast:

    Yep, if you wanna know how to pack a flake, Moo's your guy. If you want to know about VaPer tobacco blends, you've already met Slow Tri. He did a Vaper Showdown that is near-biblical in its proportions and its influence. :appl:
     
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  7. Duke

    Duke Member

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    One reason I like flake tobaccos is they’re good for travel. Kept in the tin they retain some level of the maker’s packaged moisture content. Loose tobacco can dry out so fast it turns to powder in the pouch. A good week or two with flake in its tin and you have tobacco that smokes well. Flakes take up less room too. As for smoking flakes in near original form, no thank you. Unless you’re pipe smoking while riding your moped, or enjoying a victory bowl having reached K-2’s summit, what’s the use? I’ve always rubbed my flakes out. But, then again, I prefer to smoke my pipe effortlessly. Relights are a bore. My best smokes are not trained on the act of smoking, but the pleasure of smoking simultaneously with another joy of life- say reading or hiking. I don’t recall ever smoking my pipe while posing in front of a mirror honing my attempts to look dashing.
     
  8. MacNutz

    MacNutz Active Member

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    Nah, that is not cheating. There is no one correct way to do these things. I much prefer the fold and stuff method but there is absolutely nothing wrong with rubbing it out the way you want it. In fact, I think that a person new to flakes probably should rub them out, at first, because it takes a while to be able to keep a little glow going with the fold and stuff method. I smoke flakes when I have the time to sit and nurse it in a contemplative fashion. If not, I either rub it out or smoke something else.
     
  9. Fbones24

    Fbones24 Member

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    Just to update, tonight I smoked Macbaren Vanilla Flake. I let the flake sit out for an hour or so out of the tin and then rubbed it out so it looked like loose cut tobacco. Packed it into my stanwell using the "3 step" method that I usually use and everything felt good. It lit right up and stayed lit nice at first.

    The problem arose about 1/4 through my smoke. I noticed that the draw started increasing and finally got to the point where I almost could not pull gently on the pipe anymore. Strong pulls were required to get smoke. The bowl got extremely hot.

    I will experiment more, but is this common with all flake? Do I need to maybe start out with a looser pack to account for expansion?
     
  10. BradNTX

    BradNTX Well-Known Member

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    I smoke a lot of flake, use the fold & stuff method most of the time, and rarely have a relight unless I get on the phone or start up a conversation. There's nothing wrong with a couple of relights, but I know what you are saying about killing the flavor sometimes.

    I have some key things that help me keep a flake going.

    Folded flake is easier to get an uneven initial burn at light up. Rub out a small portion really fine, and top off the bowl for easier lighting. OR- char more than once, and tamp flat until the entire top of the bowl is lit. Starting out with an even burn is key to burning to the bottom with a folded flake.

    When you tamp a ribbon cut, you just tamp very lightly, depressing the ash only. You don't mash on the burning leaf, just the ash. With a flake, it becomes a little different. The folded portion of the flake gets a little stiff and sometimes even crispy halfway down the bowl. You have to get a feel for tamping a stuffed flake, and it often takes a little firmer hand than tamping a ribbon cut. Especially after the halfway point.

    Basically, if the smoke starts thinning out, I tamp. I go by "feel". If I tamp and there is not much ash to compress, but the smoke has thinned out, I will press a little harder. I stop when I feel the firmness of the flake, just past the initial crunch.

    It sounds complicated, but with practice, it become second nature, and you don't even think about it any more. That's kind of the deal with pipe smoking in general. Practice, experimentation, and reading up on techniques will go a long way towards improving the experience. I didn't invent any of this stuff, but picked most up from other members of PSF.
     
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  11. BradNTX

    BradNTX Well-Known Member

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    The bottom 1/3 of the bowl is the most important part of the fill. This needs to be fairly loose to allow for a smooth draw. The top 1/3 can be packed pretty firmly if you like.

    If you smoke rubbed out or ribbon cut, also remember not to tamp past the ash. If you tamp into the cherry, you can create too dense of a layer and restrict the draw. That's what the poker is for on your pipe tool.
     
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  12. Fbones24

    Fbones24 Member

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    Thanks for the advice Brand. The draw on my pipe tonight with the Vanilla Flake got very tight and I tried using the poker. It only made things worse. I had to actually stop my smoke 1/2 done. I have not had much luck with flake so far. I have never gotten past 1/2 the bowl and it always seems to burn too hot and get too tight.

    I will not give up though.
     
  13. BradNTX

    BradNTX Well-Known Member

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    That's the right attitude. If a poker does not help ease the draw, try running a pipe cleaner down the stem and into the bowl. If you tamp a little too hard or have filled the bottom 1/3 too tightly, sometimes the draft hold can get restricted. Combining a few strategically placed pokes with your tool with a pipe cleaner down the stem can often smooth things out. If not, dump and redo with a lighter fill in the bottom (ribbon or rubbed out).
     
  14. SouthBound

    SouthBound Active Member

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    I have a couple of pipes that seem to attract tiny pieces of tobacco into the airway. One is a Peterson 306, the other a Blakemar pot. Every time I load them, I have to clear the airway with a pipe cleaner before lighting. The Blakemar was easy to figure out. It passes a cleaner, no problem. The 306 was one of my first "nice" pipes. Being a bent Pete, it will not pass a cleaner. I set it aside in total frustration until I had enough experience to realize what was happening. Now I pack it normally, draw on it a few times unlit, remove the stem, and gently pack from underneath with a cleaner. Then, I replace the stem and enjoy my smoke. You might try clearing the airway before you start if the pipe won't pass a cleaner. You don't want to twist it off after it comes to temperature.

    Hope you figure it out soon. Happy smoking!
     
  15. Glenn

    Glenn Active Member

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    I almost always rub flakes out, especially the first couple bowls with a new to me flake. Some flakes I like to break up in small chunks or cut into cubes. A few I fold and stuff. That is one of the best things about flakes, all the options.

    If you pack a pipe and it ends up too tight another trick you can try is to let it go out and smack the top of the bowl downward against your palm a couple of times. Sometimes that will move the tobacco up off the bottom of the bowl just a bit and it'll draw fine. Sometimes you just have to chalk it up as a lesson learned and start over. Just remember, you can always tamp but sometimes you can't untamp, if that makes sense. Start looser than you think.
     
  16. Fbones24

    Fbones24 Member

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    Just to keep this thread updated for any others experiencing the same thing. Today I smoked a bowl of the Vanilla Flake again in the same pipe. This time, I cut off about 1/3 of the flake and then rubbed it out. I packed the bowl loose. I basically just dropped the tobacco in until it was over the rim of the bowl and then pressed it just below the rim.

    Lit it up and it was a much better experience. Bowl burned extremely hot right off the bat, but I think I was able to keep it under control. Only had to relight three times which was a big improvement. The downside was that the tobacco did not taste as good as my previous smokes with it. This I attribute to the looser pack and hotter burn. Maybe somewhere in the middle will get it right next time.

    Have others experienced this tobacco burns hot?
     
  17. BigJ

    BigJ Active Member

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    The best thing you can do with flake is to keep practicing and not get too frustrated. All the info everyone has been giving you is spot on. Just keep working on it and you'll get it.
     
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  18. Fbones24

    Fbones24 Member

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    Yeah, I am not one to get frustrated too easily. This is my first experience with flake and even though I am not having enjoyable smokes with the MB Vanilla yet, I can see the flake appeal. I need to get this right.

    I am trying to stay consistent using the same pipe so I am only able to give it a go every other day at minimum. Next smoke I am going to try the air pocket method with the rubbed out flake.
     
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  19. Snake

    Snake permanent ankle biter

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    Fbones, most tobies that have
    a topping (vanilla, etc.) tend
    to burn hotter, IMHO. Let it dry
    out a bit longer, and smoke it
    sloooooow.
     
  20. Fbones24

    Fbones24 Member

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    Yeah, I am going to start exploring non-aromatics. The MB Vanilla Flake started burning hot after the first puff on this last smoke. I tried smoking very, very slow, but not sure how slow is slow? :)
     
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