One of the things this site is known for is men’s style and grooming. Also, last year someone posted an article on cigar smoking. While cigar smoking is a good way to enjoy tobacco, I personally prefer a good old fashioned pipe. I like to keep my hobbies as cheap as possible, so for the most part I prefer a corn cob pipe, made by Missouri Meerschaum. Why that particular brand? Quality. It’s not something you find very much these days. And while they are $10 or less, like that famous French pocketknife, they are well made. Most sites or other pipe smokers will tell you to get a $40 briar pipe to start with. Well, that’s all well and good, but I cringe at the thought of spending that much on something to start a hobby. If you wanted to learn guitar, you wouldn’t start off with a $2,000 Gibson Les Paul, would you? Corn cobs do have certain advantages over a briar or even a meerschaum pipe.
1. Price: They are much, much cheaper than a briar or meerschaum.
2. Cool-Smoking: While the bowl itself will burn hot, the smoke itself stays rather cool, unless of course you hotbox it.
3. No Cross-Over: If you smoke a briar, you have to dedicate it to one specific type of tobacco, i.e., Cherry, Captain Black, Borkum Riff. If you smoke Orlik Golden Sliced out of a briar dedicated to Boswell’s Christmas Cookie, it’s going to taste very bad. However, if you smoke Orlik then Boswell’s out of a corn cob, no cross-over, due to the cob being non-porous.
4. Great for Beginners: Like I mentioned, when you start a hobby, you don’t want to spend too much, because you’re not really sure if you’ll enjoy it. It’s better to be out $5 than $50 when starting a hobby.
There are also other elements to it as well. Take, for instance, the tobacco. Most pipe smokers tend to steer clear of “drugstore” brands, such as Prince Albert, Captain Black, Borkum Riff, Carter Hall, Walnut, and Mixture No. 79. I always liked the drugstore brands. One of the great things about pipe smoking is that there are SEVERAL different types of tobacco to try and experiment with. You will find a favorite. But the fun is trying other brands, other flavors, etc.
Pipe tobacco falls into three different categories: Aromatic, the stuff that smells great; Non-aromatic, basically the piper’s version of a cigarette; and English blends, the strongest tobacco available. There are also different cuts to become familiar with as well. You have coarse and fine cut, which looks like typical tobacco; flake, which resembles beef jerky: it’s one of my favorites, because it stays moist and burns slow; plug, which is basically a cake of pipe tobacco that you have to shave down to smoke. I use a Swiss Army Knife, which is sharp and sturdy. You really need a sharp, sturdy when dealing with plug and rope tobacco; and rope tobacco, which resembles a thick, braided rope. Using the sharp and sturdy knife, you cut off coin-sized pieces.
There is also the matter of how to light it and what pipe tools to use. I use a Bic lighter, which works extremely well. I tried matches at one point, but they will burn you if you’re not paying attention. And as far as pipe tools, I use either the 3-in-1 or Czech tools, as they include a tamper, pick, and reamer, and are usually $10 or less; however, you can get them free with certain offers. Pipesandcigars.com have great starter packs, which include a Czech tool, a pipe, tobacco, pipe cleaners, a cork knocker, and so on. They have a Corn in the USA sampler, which includes three Missouri Meerschaum pipes, 4 oz. of Hearth & Home tobacco. They also have pipe tools for good prices. As far as cleaners, you can get them at Walgreens or CVS, but Pipesandcigars.com also have a pipe cleaner sampler.
And the best way to build up your tobacco is to not only get the drugstore brands mentioned, but search for free samples. Sterlingtobaccoco.com has free samples of your choice, as does stglanepipe.com. You can also check with a local tobacconist, who may also have free samples for you to try.