The following section is merely informational for those who prefer pipe smoking. It is no way intended as any form of incitement to anyone to take up or start smoking.
This account is not intended as a comprehensive guide to pipe smoking. It is meant to give an overview of how to smoke a Falcon pipe effectively, and how to get the best from it, although the general principles may be applied to pipes generally.
The well-known aluminium stemmed Falcon makes a good impression when smoked well, and it is comparatively easy to obtain. However, some smokers can form a maligned opinion about Falcons prematurely, without giving them a decent chance.
These highly distinctive and rugged looking pipes seem to have been designed with an art deco feel, and the straight or bent versions may be obtained with standard, multipurpose or dental mouthpieces. A multipurpose mouthpiece has grooves already molded into it for the teeth to hold; a dental one actually hooks behind the teeth.
Pipe smoking in general is a complex hobby, and methods of smoking will vary from pipeman to pipeman. A new pipe smoker will soon find his own individual style, e.g. where the pipe feels most comfortable in his mouth and how often he puffs, but even that will alter from pipe to pipe, and this also holds true with Falcons. It is best NOT to inhale (remember that any pipe smoke is heavier than cigarette smoke) – just relax and draw, savour the flavour and puff the smoke out in the most comfortable way. Experienced pipemen will puff rhythmically every few seconds without giving it a moment’s thought.
Here are some more facts about Falcons, which can appear a little daunting at first to a novice pipe smoker. Now that I’ve mastered the technique, I find these pipes most enjoyable.
Falcons are not always suitable for total beginners as they allow more air to pass through than wooden briar pipes, and hence they burn a little faster. That is why they can generate a dense volume of smoke with a comparatively small bowl. If puffed on too rapidly, the tobacco glows brightly and overheats the bowl – so it is not advisable to smoke too quickly when a Falcon is burning well. A new Falcon smoker will very quickly make himself sick if puffing too quickly, and there will be a risk of burns from the aluminium! Experienced pipe smokers will have no difficulty in reducing the time between draws.
Some pipemen consider that the size of Falcon bowls can be inadequate to ensure a long enough smoking time; I can empathise with that view, but the bowls are interchangeable. The normal standard size ‘Algiers’ bowl (shaped like a miniature beer glass, with its top a wider diameter than its base) would be classed as medium on any other pipe, with the ‘Apple’ and ‘Bulldog’ shapes being classed as small.
Those who like a longer smoke can buy a ‘hyper-bole’ – a larger version of the ‘Algiers’. Also available from time to time is a tall meerschaum lined bowl, which gives an easy, dry smoke, and a meerschaum block bowl (100% meerschaum).
Regarding general usage and maintenance, special dry rings, which fit underneath the tobacco bowl, will absorb most of the tobacco juice from one or two smokes. The unique thin Falcon pipe cleaners can be run along the aluminium smoke tube to remove any tar or moisture, but ordinary pipe cleaners should not be used as they can split the stem.
To keep any pipe going for a reasonable time, it is necessary to use a tamping tool, and know when to tap out the ash: I read a helpful tip in one of the pipe magazines – it said that you should treat a pipeful of tobacco in the same way as you’d treat a coal fire (for those of us who remember them) – seriously! Basically, any pipe needs to be stoked occasionally to keep it burning well. Sometimes, the old ash needs to be scraped off the top, and the remaining tobacco needs to be pressed down and re-lit, or sometimes just pressing all the burning tobacco down gently while smoking will work well. If the tobacco is not glowing very well, carefully put fingers over the top of the bowl, and draw a few times until a decent amount of smoke flows through. (Again, that procedure is rather like putting a newspaper over the front of a coal fire, if anyone can remember doing that!) There are no hard and fast rules – just do whatever is most comfortable.
A hint for topping up mid-smoke – empty the pipe out somewhere safe, and place the new tobacco at the bottom of the bowl, before replacing the old.
Wishing everyone many happy hours of enjoyable smoking!
We have been contacted by ‘Terry’ (Terry@TobaccoPipes.com) who would like us to link to their website content telling about all the Falcon shapes, we are more than happy to bow to greater knowledge folks:
….. and for pipe smoking generally:
The Pied Piper