How to load your pipe:
Although different types of tobacco are packed slightly differently, the general rule to packing a pipe is to do so in three stages. As you start to fill your pipe, think of a family of three — a father, a mother and a child.
1. Fill the bowl to the top and then press down on the tobacco lightly, as a child would.
2. Fill the bowl again and press down on the tobacco more firmly, as a mother might.
3. Then fill the bowl once again to the top and then press down on the tobacco very hard, as the father might do.
After the third fill and the father’s touch, the tobacco in the bowl should be springy.
How to light your pipe:
Like loading your pipe, you should light your pipe in three stages.
The first two lights, called “charring lights” or “false lights,” play an important role in how well your tobacco will burn and stay lit on your third light.
Use either a match or a butane lighter but do not use a torch lighter because it will scorch your bowl and rim quite quickly and ruin your pipe.
If you are using a match, let the sulfur burn off the match tip before lighting to prevent a sulfuric taste.
Basically it all comes down to personal preference as there are arguments both for and against using matches or lighters.
Take your match or pipe lighter (Soft Flame) and pass it very slowly and evenly over the top of the tobacco while puffing on your pipe. Once the top layer of tobacco is charred and has risen to the top of the bowl, stop and let the smoldering tobacco go out, then take your pipe tamper and tamp down the tobacco that has charred and risen.
Repeat this process one more time until there is a layer of charred tobacco completely covering the top of the bowl.
You are now ready for the third, and hopefully final, light. Slowly pass your match or lighter in a circular motion across the entire surface of the tobacco while gently puffing on your pipe. Once all of the tobacco on the top layer is again burning, set your match or lighter down, keep your tamper handy, sit back, relax and enjoy your pipe.
How to clean your pipe:
If not cleaned regularly, tobacco pipes can develop a sour taste. After you have smoked your pipe and knocked out all of the ash, use a pipe cleaner and run it gently through the stem, pushing it back-and-forth several times. Use as many pipe cleaners as you need until the last one comes out almost completely clean.
Then take a pipe cleaner, bend it in half and swab the inside of the bowl with it, making one complete revolution in order to avoid building up too much cake, the carbonized tobacco that’s stuck to the inside of the bowl.
Cake insulates the bowl and allows good air flow around the tobacco, promoting a clean, even burn. Cake also prevents bowl burn outs and keeps your pipe burning cool and dry.
Cake should be kept to a maximum of 1/16 of an inch thick, about the thickness of a dime. If the cake is thicker than that, it could expand while you are smoking the pipe and crack the bowl.
When the cake gets thicker than 1/16 of an inch, use a pipe reaming tool to scrape the cake back down to the desired thickness.
When knocking the tobacco ash from the bowl, be sure you handle the pipe by its bowl, and knock it gently against a surface. The best way to knock tobacco out of a pipe is to purchase a cork knocker from your local tobacco shop and place it inside your ashtray.
Don’t leave unsmoked tobacco inside your pipe. It tastes bad and can hold moisture in your pipe, which you do not want.
After smoking a pipe, wait a couple of hours to allow it to cool before separating the mouthpiece from the bowl. You may break your pipe if you remove the mouthpiece immediately after smoking.
Once in a while, it’s necessary to run pipe cleaners through the stem and shank of your pipe with some type of cleaning solvent in order to keep your pipe fresh and prevent it from absorbing the moisture that’s generated by smoking.
There are several good cleaning solvents available here at Cigar Club but you can also use alcohol that’s more than 90 proof.
Whatever you use, it should be able to break down tar and resins, sterilize your pipe, dry quickly, be high in alcohol content, non-toxic, have minimal taste and not affect the finish on your pipe.