Skip to main content

How to smoke a pipe like a gentleman (a complete beginner’s guide)

Discover the lost art of pipe smoking by learning how to smoke a pipe as if you've been doing it forever

Pipe smoking is the most aesthetically distinguished way to enjoy tobacco, but you lose the classy effect if you don’t know how to smoke a pipe properly. Smoking a pipe has become a lost art, and these days, most people who engage in pipe smoking do so to achieve a sense of nostalgia. Perhaps your grandfather enjoyed a puff now and again paired with a good stiff whiskey, or maybe your goal is to emulate a pipe-smoking artist. Whatever the case, if you intend to take up the time-honored tradition of unwinding with a pipe, you should learn how to smoke a pipe the right way.

There aren’t many tools required to smoke a pipe, but you do need these few essentials:



What You Need

  • Your pipe of choice

  • Tobacco

  • Wooden matches or a pipe lighter

  • Pipe tamper (optional, but it makes packing a bowl easier and more classy)

  • Pipe cleaners (because your pipe will clog over time)

When considering your pipe-smoking inventory, there isn't one best set of tools. Much of it is personal preference, and yours may even change over time. Pipes come in all varieties, from basic corncob pipes to simple wooden pipes to highly ornate carved pieces that border on works of art. Choosing which one is right for you has more to do with personal aesthetic tastes than anything else.

Selecting the right tobacco also depends on your experience and your personal tastes. If you’re new to smoking pipe tobacco, a mild blend is best to ease into the pipe-smoking experience. Ask your local tobacconist for recommendations.

Likewise, lighters (or wooden matches) are a matter of personal preference too. While a traditional Bic will work, it’s not the best tool for getting a flame into the bowl of your pipe. Using wooden matches or long pipe lighters are the easiest ways to get the job done.

So, how do you smoke a pipe without looking like an amateur? As with most endeavors, it all starts with a little know-how. Here are all the accouterment, tips, and skills you'll need to kickstart your pipe-smoking journey.

Close-up of a man smoking a pipe.
Image used with permission by copyright holder

How to smoke a pipe

Smoking is a leisurely activity in which you allow yourself time to slow down and enjoy the experience — unlike having a quick cigarette break at work. So carve out adequate time in your day to sit and enjoy a good pipe. Once you have set aside time to enjoy pipe smoking, follow these six steps to get started:

Step 1: Pack the bowl.

Fill the bowl with a loose pinch of tobacco, then press it down gently with the tamper. Fill it halfway. Top it off with another pinch, then tamp it down again. The bowl should be about two-thirds of the way full. Now add and tamp one more pinch of tobacco, leaving a tiny bit of space at the top of the bowl.

Step 2: Test draw.

Before lighting, give the pipe a few quick test puffs to make sure that air flows freely. If it doesn’t, repeat to step 1 and check your bowl. Consider repacking if necessary.

Step 3: Light up.

If you’re using matches, strike a match and allow a few seconds for the sulfur to burn off — otherwise, the sulfur will ruin the flavor of the tobacco. Apply the match or your pipe lighter flame to the bowl in a circular motion, drawing gently on the pipe at the same time. Usually, it will light first as a “false light.” Let this go out, then repeat the process again to achieve a “true light.”

Step 4: Puff, but don’t necessarily inhale.

Unlike smoking a cigarette, most people don’t inhale the smoke into their lungs when smoking a pipe. As with smoking a cigar, pipe tobacco tends to be rather strong, and the whole experience is about flavor. Enjoy taking little puffs of smoke into your mouth.

Step 5: Pace yourself.

Don’t smoke your pipe too fast, or else you may experience what pipe smokers call “tongue bite” — a burning, irritated sensation on the surface of your tongue. Puff slowly, and savor the richness and complexity of the tobacco. If your pipe goes, don’t worry. Relighting several times within a single smoking session is not uncommon.

Close-up of cropped hands cleaning tobacco out of a pipe.
Image used with permission by copyright holder

Step 6: Clean out your pipe when finished.

After your session, tap or scrape out leftover tobacco from the bowl. Allowing your pipe to sit for too long can make it difficult to clean later. If your pipe makes a gurgling sound or sensation, moisture has built up in the stem, and your pipe will require deeper cleaning. Regular cleaning is also important for ensuring that the taste of the tobacco isn’t tainted.

Step 7: That's it! Now you know how to smoke a pipe like a gentleman.

Consider these pipe-smoking tips

These tips will have you smoking a pipe like a boss:

  • Experiment with different tobaccos to find the one you like. If the first choice isn't to your liking, explore the wide range of tobacco blends available online or at your local smoke shop.
  • If your tobacco is moist, allow it to dry slightly, as excessive moisture can lead to a hot vapor in the smoke, causing "tongue bite" (mentioned above).
  • Avoid struggling to keep your pipe lit, as it only leads to frustration and potential burns. If the smoke tastes too hot, allow the pipe to cool down. If it goes out, tamp and relight, but take your time and be patient.
  • Developing a cadence that keeps the pipe lit without overheating the smoke takes time and experience. Each pipe smoker's cadence is unique, so avoid comparing and focus on finding what works best for you.
  • Remember, pipe smoking is about relaxation and savoring the moment.

Getting the most from your pipe-smoking experience is largely about your own personal experience. For some, pipe smoking is a great way to sit in solitude and reflect on the day in peace. For others, smoking a pipe is a social activity intended for good conversation. Whichever you choose, you now have another more sophisticated way to enjoy a good smoke.

Editors' Recommendations

Mike Richard
Mike Richard has traveled the world since 2008. He's kayaked in Antarctica, tracked endangered African wild dogs in South…
Disney Plus GroupWatch: What is it, and how does it work?
Watch a show or movie along with friends in real time
A Disney Plus screen preparing for GroupWatch.

One of the best features of Disney Plus is its Watch Party feature, also known as GroupWatch. It's a great way of joining together to watch all your favorite shows via the streaming service. Read on to learn more about how to use Disney Plus GroupWatch, or check out this list of the best movies on Disney Plus.

What is Disney Plus GroupWatch?
Launched in 2020 during the COVID-19 pandemic, Disney Plus GroupWatch allows you to watch a show or movie together with up to six other friends remotely. It allows for an entirely virtual watch party, where everyone can watch and react to the same thing in real time. The feature syncs Disney Plus playback across the group so that everyone is watching the same thing at the same time. While doing so, each user can pause, rewind, or fast-forward the content for the whole party, so no one ever falls behind. There is no "leader" of the GroupWatch. Everyone is equal and has the ability to control the viewing experience.

Read more
How to watch MLB and MLS games free all season long
This hack will mean you never miss your favorite sport
Baseball stadium at night


Earlier this year, T-Mobile offered its subscribers a chance to claim a free subscription to MLB.TV. It's an offer that may have lured many to switch providers, but the offer was only available for a brief period, so some people likely missed it. Thankfully, T-Mobile has now re-upped the offer, giving its customers another chance to access the service. The offer began in May, and T-Mobile will let you claim it through July 17 so you can watch as many MLB games under the new rules as you want. And that's not all — if you love MLS and soccer as much as you love baseball, you'll get access to those games, too.
MLB.TV is a must-have for baseball fanatics

Read more
10 great movies like Indiana Jones for you to stream next
Nicolas Cage and Johnny Depp give Harrison Ford a run for his money
movies like indiana jones the mummy

We know that if you're as excited for Indiana Jones and the Dial and Destiny as we are, you've probably already taken some precautionary liberties so as to percolate your patience for one of the best movies of the summer. You may have already binged the classic films in the franchise such as Raiders of the Lost Ark and The Temple of Doom, some of the true greats in Harrison Ford's catalogue. You may have even watched some Star Wars to compare the heroic theatrics of Indiana Jones versus Han Solo.

But even after enjoying all there is to offer from these legendary annals of Hollywood history, and seeing the just-released flick itself, you might be craving a bit more adventure. That's where the best movies like Indiana Jones come in! These films are all defined by their swashbuckling setting, historical aesthetic and backdrop, and masculine explorers who will hustle and tussle their way to the top.

Read more