Pipe Bowl Sizes and Their Effects on Tobacco

Millicent Fenwick, former U.S. rep.

UPDATED April 2, 2018

On the Dec. 19  edition of The Pipes Magazine Radio Show, host Brian Levine and guest co-host Shane Ireland of Smokingpipes.com agreed that wide-bowl pipes, such as pots, mellow out a tobacco blend. Their advice, then, was to use such pipes for stout blends and use narrower pipes for milder blends. The logic is that if you smoke a mild blend in a wide pipe, you may find it too mild, and if you smoke a stout blend in a narrow pipe, it might knock your socks off.

That made sense. I had not paid much attention to the effect of pipe diameter on the smoke. So I tried an experiment. I smoked Haunted Bookshop, which I find stout and nicotine-heavy, in a pot (an old Kaywoodie). I’ve been smoking HB in small bowls and have had some success in taming it, enjoying the richness while minimizing the nic kick. I hoped that smoking it in a pot would mellow it still more.

Boy, I was wrong! I enjoyed the rich flavor, but I got kicked in the you-know-what by the nicotine. Luckily, it was the last smoke of the night and I was ready for bed.

I plan to keep experimenting, but I’d like to hear other smokers’ experiences. Leave comments below.

UPDATE 1: Brian wrote me privately to suggest that with a high-nic blend, I should fill the pot to only about the two-thirds mark. The idea here is to get the smoother smoke from the larger surface but without so much nicotine. I tried this with Pegasus, a pretty stout and nic-heavy (for me) C&D burley blend. The results were good. Next, I’ll try Haunted Bookshop that way. We’ll see what happens.

UPDATE 2: Things are looking good. I smoked Haunted Bookshop, two-thirds of a bowl, in my father’s old GBD Granitan 9442 pot — a particularly squat form of the shape — with undiminished pleasure. I had no nic-hit from HB. This is great news indeed!

UPDATE 3: Things are not entirely smooth. I’m still getting nic-hits from the stout burley blends and even some vapers (Dunhill Navy Rolls, for instance). Brian suggested drinking lots of water during the smoke, which has definitely helped with Haunted Bookshop and Pegasus. Stay tuned.

7 thoughts on “Pipe Bowl Sizes and Their Effects on Tobacco

  1. Savinelli says that it’s balsa filters remove about 70% of nicotine. That was hard for me to believe. But since balsa “filters” are really intended to absorb moisture, and since nicotine is water soluble, perhaps a nicotine-water solution is soaked up by the balsa.

    Have you tried balsa filters for nicotine reduction? I plan to.


    1. I had not noticed a difference when using balsa filters, and I stopped using them. Perhaps I will give them another try. Thanks.


  2. Sheldon, this has long been a subject of interest to me. Anything from C&D pretty much keeps me buzzed all night resulting in insomnia. McClelland, on the other hand, has never, ever been a Vitamin N problem. I just landed some JF Germain Rich Dark Flake, which is absolutely amazing, but again, the Nic is too much. So I’m going to try your 2/3rd pot & water suggestion, as I’d really like to smoke some heavier blends. I’ve got a tin of 1792 that’s been on my shelf for 10 years because the last tin (which I loved) made me so dizzy I had to lay down!! LOL. And I won’t even go into the Gawith ropes, which just sit coiled in their mason jars.

    Liked by 1 person

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