On smoking pipes, there is one conclusion in unison. It is an esteemed activity. Those who hate the odor of cigarettes and choke at the scent of a cigar tend to perk, nose skyward, and inhale deeply when the sweet smell of pipe tobacco wafts their way. There is something about the sweetness of smoking pipes that disarms even the most vehement opposition to addictive habits that cause cancer.

The famous C.S. Lewis was a pipe smoker. Tolkien of the Lord of the Rings also enjoyed a flavorful pipe. Norman Rockwell loved a smoke so much he most often portrayed himself, pipe in mouth, and it is doubtful if Sherlock Holmes would have ever solved a single mystery without the companionship of his U-boat shaped pipe.

People wonder what makes smoking pipes such a distinguished habit. It is still a variation of tobacco use that leads to calamity, but somehow it has been widely accepted as fine behavior. Maybe because smoking a pipe is most often a luxury activity, not like cigarettes, hurried and frantic. If so, then cigars should be met with similar acceptance, but that is explained away by the dim must that cigar smoke creates. Only pipes combine the sweet, inviting smell with the luxury of relaxation, and so, in all likelihood, even those who do not smoke them enjoy them. Anyone who shares the adulation for pipes and their smoking, new to the hobby, will do well to learn about the device and its mannerisms before taking a corncob stem or any other design into public. Smoking a pipe is an art that is easily botched by novices.

Smoking a tobacco pipe requires mastery of three unique skills. The first skill is to pack the pipe correctly. The second skill depends on the first and has a few other important keys; it is to keep the pipe lit and smoking. The third skill in some ways precedes the first two, but it also outlasts both other skills. Curing a pipe is the most difficult and important part of enjoying a smoke. Packing takes practice. Smokers need a tamp to correctly press the leaf. Focusing on getting the perfect balance between airflow and compact leaf is the key. Keeping the pipe lit then, has to do with continued tamping to allow the coal to sink into the bowl as the smoker draws.

Curing smoking pipes necessitates devotion. True smokers have a collection of pipes, one for each different leaf they enjoy. Mixing tobacco leaf in one pipe produces an indistinct cure; cure being the flavor the bowl itself takes on. When only one leaf is smoked from a bowl, that bowl takes on deeper and deeper notes of the leaf over the years. When tobaccos are mixed, false flavors (and usually bitter tastes) arise. New smokers do well to own at least one cheap pipe, to experiment with different leaves, until they find one that they enjoy above the rest. As they smoke, and clean the pipe, the cure will set into the stem, bowl, and walls, and as long as the smoker does not scratch the sides of the bowl when cleaning, the cure will settle in nicely after several dozen uses.

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