The Art and Science of Smoking

Smoking a pipe is such a common custom today that we tend to forget it is both an art and a science developed over four centuries. It is an art in that a pipe is smoked for pleasure and pleasure only. It is a science in that the pipe bowl is a small furnace which, like any other furnace, must be properly fueled, fired, and cleaned in order to operate at its best. Unless these techniques are mas­tered, the smoker will find little joy in the use of his pipe. Smoking in its earliest days was recognized as an art, and no man was considered a gentleman until he could smoke properly. Tutors and professors of smoking appeared on the scene, who, for a price, would teach the novice the fundamentals and mysteries of the art. The complete course began with a history of smoking, and included the technique of inhaling through the nose. The course ended when the student had mastered the skill of blowing smoke rings in the air. The gentleman of fashion smoked at all times and at all places, in the theater as well as on the street. He carried in his pockets a complete smoking kit—a tobacco box, a pair of tongs for lighting his pipe with a burning coal, and a tobacco stopper for pressing the fired leaves firmly into his pipe bowl—all elaborately wrought of expensive materials. His pipe, however, was the same clay pipe smoked by common laborers and poor men in general. Perhaps the most interesting time for the avid pipe smoker came during the Victorian period. The nineteenth-century gen­tleman would have to retire to a special smoking-room, don a smoking-cap and jacket to protect his hair and clothes from the vile odor of tobacco, and puff away until interrupted by the ladies of the house. If there was no smoking-room, he would have to smoke secretly by his bedroom fireplace, surreptitiously blowing the smoke up the chimney so that no offensive odor would remain. Fortunately, the modern smoker can enjoy a pipeful either in private or in public. Moreover, he’ll always have a pleasant smoke if he is familiar with the art and science of smoking—-breaking in, filling, lighting up, and cleaning the pipe. Many a man who is attracted to pipe smoking gives up the practice after a few days because he finds little pleasure in his pipe. He finds that his tongue feels burned and is bitter-tasting, that the bowl becomes too hot to hold, or that the pipe will not stay lit. As a result, the would-be pipe smoker gives up in disgust, and the fraternity of pipe smokers has lost a friend. The fledgling smoker simply failed to realize that a pipe must be broken in and smoked properly before it will yield an enjoyable smoke. To derive maximum pleasure and satisfaction from a pipe, the new smoker should follow a few important but simple steps: The first step in breaking in a new pipe is Continue Reading