The Beginner’s Guide to Smoking Pipe Tobacco

The Beginner’s Guide to Smoking Pipe Tobacco

Unlike cigarettes and vapes, pipes have been around for thousands of years. In fact, pipes go back to the ancient times where indigenous peoples of North and South America used them for special ceremonies. In areas such as Mexico, pipe tobacco was used for religious ceremonies, while Native Americans used it as a peace pipe in their tribal ceremonies. Pipes were originally made from clay, marble, and corncob. Now, pipes are made from various types of wood. They show up in countless forms of media, from Sherlock Holmes to mentions in Downton Abbey, and even if you’ve never smoked one, you definitely know what they are. 

If you are interested in pipes but have no idea where to start, this guide is for you. There’s a lot to know about pipes before you start smoking them. In this article, we will discuss the parts of a pipe, how to clean your pipe, and most importantly, how to smoke it. Read on to check out our beginner’s guide to smoking pipe tobacco.

What Parts Make Up a Pipe?

If you want to know how to smoke a pipe, then you need to know the names and functions of the parts that the pipe is made of. To start, you should know that a pipe comes in two pieces that connect to each other. The mouthpiece is called a stem, while the end piece where the tobacco goes is called the stummel. Here’s some more information on each piece:

A Pipe Stem

The stem is made up of three parts called the button, bit, and tenon. The button is where you put your mouth when taking a puff of your pipe. The tenon is the part that connects into the stummel; it is inserted and clicks into place. The bit is the top half of the stem.

A Pipe Stummel

The stummel is made up of five parts called the bowl, chamber, shank, mortise, and draught hole. The chamber is where you pack the tobacco into the pipe and where it sits while being smoked. The bowl is the name for the rounded end of the pipe that holds the chamber inside. The mortise allows the stummel to be connected to the stem. The shank is the distance between the bowl and where the stem connects.  

Do I Need to Clean My Pipe?

We can’t stress enough how much you definitely do. Since you’re consistently reusing your pipe and putting your mouth on it, it is essential to clean your pipe for sanitary reasons. Also, a buildup of tobacco and dirt can affect the way your tobacco tastes when you are puffing on it. This will make for a not-so-pleasant smoking experience and can leave a burnt and sour taste in your mouth—and who wants that? 

You will need a few tools to help you clean your pipe, most of which you’ll probably already have laying around at home, so there is no need to rush off to the store and buy a bunch of supplies. Here is what you’ll need: Q-Tips, paper towels, alcohol, shot glass, and pipe cleaners. 

For daily cleaning (or cleaning after whenever you use the pipe), follow these three simple steps. It shouldn’t take you more than five to ten minutes, depending on how dirty the pipe is. 

  1. Clean the rim: For this first step, you need alcohol and q-tips. Dip the q-tips into the alcohol until they are thoroughly soaked. Then, firmly wipe the rip of the pipe. You should see dirt and dried tobacco come off onto the q-tip. 
  2. Clean the shank and stem: For the second step, you need your pipe cleaners. These will help to scrub away anything caked on the shank and stem. Soak the pipe cleaner in alcohol the same way you did the q-tips. Then, start scrubbing the interior of the shank and stem until all residue is removed.  
  3. Clean the pipe bowl: Remove all of the ash and buildup from the bowl. Dump the ash out, and then scrub the interior of the bowl to make sure nothing is left behind. 

What Kinds of Pipes Are There?

If you are new to smoking, you might not realize just how many kinds of pipes there are. A lot of people tend to just think of the standard brown pipe with a full bowl. This is definitely the most popular variety, but it’s not representative of all the options you have. 

It comes down to preference and aesthetics when you are deciding which pipe you want to use. There are not necessarily pros and cons for each one because they are all essentially the same but with slightly different shapes. 

There are at least nine different pipe families that each have several designs within the specific family. Some pipe families are specific to different areas and countries, such as Canada, Ireland, and England. There are also some more artsy designs, which enthusiasts love to have for their collections, but don’t necessarily smoke out of. Below, we have compiled a list of the nine pipe families: 

  • Apple pipes: These pipes are known for having a rounded bowl, hence the name. Some varieties include the Egg, the Author, the Diplomat, and the Prince.
  • Billiard pipes: This is the standard pipe shape that most people think of if they don’t know much about pipes. Some varieties include the Brandy, the Chimney, and the Panel.  
  • Bulldog pipes: Bulldog pipes have bowls with sharp angles and grooves. Each member of the family is unique. Some examples include the Bull-Moose and the Ukelele. 
  • Calabash pipes: Ever wonder what kind of pipe Sherlock Holmes smokes? That would be the Calabash pipe. The other type is called the Gourd Calabash.
  • Canadian pipes: This pipe family consists of four different pipes that all have long shanks. These include the Canadian, the Liverpool, the Lovat, and the Lumberman. 
  • Dublin pipes: These pipes are recognizable thanks to their conical bowls. Some varieties include the Acorn, the Cutty, and the Skater. 
  • Freehand pipes: These pipes are made by artisans who make each piece unique and one of a kind. Some types of pipes that are used include the Ramses, the Nautilus, and the Tomahawk.  
  • Sitter pipes: Sitter pipes are freestanding thanks to their design, making them easy to use. A few varieties include the Cherrywood, the Poker, and the Tankard.  
  • Curiosity pipes: These are pipes that have shapes too unique to be placed in any of the aforementioned pipe families. These include the Cavalier, the Vest Pocket, and the Falcon.  

How Do I Smoke a Pipe?

Now that you know everything there is to know about a pipe, it’s time to learn how you actually smoke it. You will need the following items before you start smoking: 

  • a pipe
  • a lighter
  • a tamper
  • loose tobacco. 

Once you have your supplies, it’s time to pack your pipe. Fill the pipe almost all the way full with tobacco. Next, you’ll need your tamper.

Take the tamper and start to press down on the tobacco. Keep working it until the tobacco starts to become packed together snugly (but not so dense that you can’t smoke it). Then, test it to see if the tobacco is too tight or just right. 

If it feels like you are sucking through a straw that nothing is coming through, it is too loose and needs more tobacco. If it feels like you are sucking on a straw that is sucking up a milkshake or something thick, it is packed too tight. Poke a hole down the middle of the tobacco.

Now, it’s time to light your pipe and smoke it. Take the lighter and move it in a circular motion around the top of the tobacco, taking several puffs. Then, hold the flame on top while you take a few more puffs. It should be fully lit by now and ready for you to smoke. 


After reading this article, you should be able to start smoking and cleaning your pipe. There are specialty tobacco stores that sell pipes ranging from around $10 to $500. If you become a pipe aficionado, you can invest in or collect specialty pipes that cost far more than $500. If you’re just starting out, just choose the one you like that’s in your price range. 

If pipes aren’t your thing, but you are still a tobacco user, you can get everything you need from Saucey. We’ve got cigars, cigarettes, vapes, chewing tobacco, loose tobacco (which you can use for your pipe), and accessories such as lighters and rolling papers. And don’t worry about driving to the store- we come to you. We will deliver everything you need right to your door!

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