Lighting a PipeThe most common way of packing your pipe is to add tobacco to the bowl of the pipe in several batches, then each each is pressed down until there is a uniform density to the mixture that optimizes airflow. This method is difficult to gauge without quite a bit of practice. To pack the tobacco you can use either your finger or thumb, however, if your tobacco needs repacking later whilst still burning, a tamper on a pipe tool is the best choice. If the opposite applies and the tobacco needs to be loosened, a reamer or similar long pin can be used.

A more traditional method of packing your pipe is to fill the bowl, then pack gently to around a third full, again fill it and pack slightly more firmly to around two thirds full, then finally pack more firmly still to the top. There is an alternate packing technique known as the Frank method which does not use this layering approach. Firstly, tobacco is lightly dropped in and then a large plug of tobacco is gingerly pushed into the bowl all at once.

Now that you have packed your tobacco in to your pipe you need to light it. Usually, matches are preferred to using a pipe lighter. Smokers have complained that a lighter gives an inappropriate taste to their tobacco. There is also the problem that a lighter needs to be be held sideways, thus placing your fingers closer to the flame, making lighter harder to use with smoking pipes than matches are. On the plus side, there are pipe lighters available specially made for pipes, eliminating these problems.

If you choose to use a match, allow it to burn for a few seconds to remove the sulphur and produce a fuller flame. You then move the flame in circles above your tobacco whilst puffing on your pipe, drawing the flame into the tobacco. A lot of pipe smokers will follow this lighting with tamping down of the initial, charring light, followed with a relight. If your tobacco actually catches fire during the lighting, you can be put out, as your goal is to have and evenly smouldering surface.