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Breaking In A Pipe

One of the most important things to remember when you buy a new pipe is to smoke it slowly.  Try not to let it heat up too much so as to avoid burning the wood.  Smoke your pipe with short and gentle puffs.  If the bowl of your pipe is too hot for you to hold then you are burning the briar and your puffs are probably too long or too frequent.     

Also, try to smoke in a calm setting that is not too windy to avoid overheating the bowl.  Do this for at least the first six bowls, until you develop a carbon coating inside the bowl.

While you are breaking in your pipe, the burning tobacco is in direct contact with the briar.  This heat can cause the wood to release tannic acid that may cause your pipe to taste slightly bitter or acidic.  This taste will become less frequent as the cake inside your pipe begins to build up.

Packing Your Pipe

Pack you pipe with tobacco in “threes”.  Fill your pipe bowl to the top with tobacco, pack it down, and repeat this three times. You want to attempt to pack your pipe so it’s not too loose and not too tight.  Packing your pipe properly helps to ensure you get a good draw. Don’t worry if it takes a while to develop a feel for this. It is a slightly different process for each pipe. 

Lighting Your Pipe

Use wooden matches or a butane lighter.  (Do not use an oil burning lighter, like a Zippo.) 
Strike the match and place the flame in the middle of the bowl.  You want to light the tobacco evenly at the top of the bowl without burning the wood.  Take short puffs while lighting the tobacco with circular movements of the match. After the first light, tamp down the burnt surface of the tobacco with a pipe tool and light it a second time. This should ensure that your pipe burns smoothly and evenly for the duration of the bowl. 

Carbon Coating

After regular use, your pipe will begin to develop a carbon coating, or cake, inside the bowl.  This coating is an important part of your pipe: it will protect the briar from the flame of your burning tobacco. 

This coating should never be more than a 16th of an inch (about the thickness of a dime). Don’t allow it to become too thick.  When the carbon coating heats up it expands faster than the briar and can crack the bowl.  Never scrape the cake to the natural wood or it will need to be broken in again. 


Pipe Maintenance

Never take the mouthpiece off a warm pipe.
Only clean your pipe when it’s cool. 
Use a pipe cleaner and pipe freshener to clean out tar deposits.
Pipe polish can also be purchased to shine the bowl and mouthpiece.
Never leave tobacco in your pipe.  Always pick out any loose or burnt tobacco after you are finished smoking your pipe as this allows your pipe to dry more easily. 

Avid Pipe Smokers


If you are an avid pipe smoker it is best to buy more than one pipe so that you can allow your pipes to rest and dry out in between smoking them.  If you have at least two pipes you can alternate between pipes.  You can smoke your first pipe and then allow it to rest while you smoke the other pipe the next time.  This ensures a sweeter, drier smoke. If you have any questions, contact Goodfellas Cigar Shop.