Most seasoned tobacco pipe smokers learn how to smoke through trial and error. They may discover their own little techniques on how to maximize the enjoyment of their tobacco. However, trying to use a tobacco pipe for the first time can seem like a daunting task. It's not as simple as placing a lighter or match to the bowl and taking a draw. Sure, this may yield a mouthful of delicious, aromatic tobacco smoke, but it doesn't allow you to take full advantage of everything your pipe has to offer.
Clean Your Pipe
I've said it before and I'll say it again: you must clean your tobacco pipe on a regular basis to prevent buildups of tar and soot. Allowing this stuff to buildup inside the mouthpiece will only increase the draw resistance. It's not something that happens overnight, but your pipe will gradually develop a thick layer of gunk inside the mouthpiece from months of use without cleaning. This gunk will prevent the clean tobacco smoke from traveling freely from the bowl to your mouth, so try to get into the habit of cleaning it at least once a week (if not more often).
You can read through some of our previous blog posts for more tips on how clean and maintain your tobacco pipe, but the general idea is to run a pipe cleaner through the mouthpiece to pull out any tar and soot. I wouldn't worry too much about soot buildup in the bowl part of your pipe, as it can be easily scraped away with a pipe tool.
One of the most common mistakes first-time pipe smokers make is overpacking their tobacco. If you don't pack enough tobacco into the bowl, you won't get enough smoke upon drawing. On the other hand, overpacking the bowl will prevent proper airflow, which makes it nearly impossible to achieve a normal draw. There's a fine line between adding enough tobacco to create a solid mouthful of smoke and overpacking.
Invest In a Pipe Tool
Pipe tools are like the Swiss-army knives for tobacco pipe smokers. While there are dozens of different types of available, most of them feature a narrow pick for clearing debris from the shank, a reamer for scraping ash and soot from the bowl, and a tamper for packing tobacco into the bowl. Sure, you can probably do all of these things with a pocket knife, but a pipe tools is specially designed for pipes.