Smoking pipes have been around for hundreds of years, and are a widely accepted aspect of the smoking pastime for any class and age group.
The pipe itself is made up of a chamber, or bowl, where the tobacco is placed. It also has a thin tube which ends in a mouth piece, to enable the pleasurable smoking experience. They can be made out of good-quality wood, clay or even from corncob.
Sometimes people prefer to have their devices carved out of minerals-these are often very detailed and beautiful. Tobacco pipes are very rarely made out of metal, as it distorts the distinct flavor. Sometimes pipes used for other purposes are composed of metal however.
In general, the stem of a device needs to have an unchanging channel all the way to the mouthpiece. Filters are an exception-the filter will vary the diameter of the channel. Some can be smoked with a varying diameter even if it does not have a filter, although it may be more difficult to pull the smoke through the channel.
Stems are usually made out of very pliable material, such as plastic. However, in the prime days of pipe smoking, the expensive and luxurious stems were created from pure amber. This is not seen very often in current times.
The tobacco for these items is very unlike that of any other device. Do not confuse or associate this past time with cigarettes. The tobacco used for cigarettes is low-grade and stuffed full of chemicals.
For these devices, there is a wide variety of exquisite blends available. They are often a combination of spice tobaccos and other natural varieties, selected and cured the same way that they have been for hundreds of years.
It tends to have a much stronger flavor that that used for cigarettes, and retains much more of its water content. It is also cut much more coarsely. Finely cut tobacco does not allow for air flow through the stem. When it is too dry, there is less flavor and a faster burn. For this reason, it has to be stored in a tin or sealed container to ensure that it retains moisture.
These items also require more preparation to use. The product comes in ropes or cakes, and must be cut up or rubbed between ones hands. It is very dense in the tin and needs to be made loose enough to use. However, the ropes can be folded and shoved into the bowl as well.
Packing takes practice, because the tobacco must be added in a way so that there is enough airflow through the stem. When done before the device is lit, it can be done by hand, but after it has been heated up, tools are usually used.
It may need to be relit several times while being used, because smoking pipes is something to be savored. Many people do it very slowly, which requires relighting very often. If it does not need to be relit, it is probably being done too quickly, which can ruin the flavor and experience.