So now you have a pipe and some tobacco but you still need a couple more basic essentials, not least something to light it!
As with virtually every other aspect of pipe smoking, one could write a dissertation on the pros and cons of matches versus the various types of lighter available. To keep it simple we advise either matches or a soft flame butane gas lighter. The classic Zippo (liquid fuel) lighters also have their fans, but they have downsides for the pipe smoker, namely the potential for ‘petrol’ fumes contaminating the smoke and their need for constant refilling. Butane lighters are easy to use and reliable, just make sure that you opt for a single soft flame, not a jet / torch flame which will burn the tobacco too harshly and likely damage your pipe. Specifically designed butane (and Zippo) lighters are available for pipe smoking. These have an angled flame to make it easier to light the tobacco without burning your thumb or the rim of the pipe bowl, and this is a useful advantage. However careful use of a standard butane lighter is also fine.
As noted, matches are a simple choice and many feel that they are the best fit for the relaxed pace of pipe smoking. Just note that as a beginner you will likely need to relight your pipe frequently, and it can be a little frustrating to smoke whilst building up a collection of spent matches beside you. For that reason we recommend that you consider starting with a simple butane lighter such as the ubiquitous and low cost Bic, though to prevent unnecessarily adding to the Earth's waste plastics problem, please consider getting a refillable version.
You should also acquire a tamper, used to gently compress the tobacco as you smoke. Some 'old-school' pipe smokers simply use their finger for this. One of our friends, Simon Lewis is frequently seen using his fingers as tampers, but unless you have asbestos hands, while it's clearly possible, there’s really no need, as a decent tamper can be bought very cheaply. Ideally find one which combines a tamper and a pick for gently removing residual traces of tobacco after your smoke. The ‘Czech tool’ is a very common and low cost example. Some pipe smokers even collect tampers and there are many to choose from depending on your personal taste, made from wood / silver / pewter / flat headed nails and even bullet casings. As with artisan made pipes, it is possible to find some makers of custom designed tampers.
The final essential item for getting started is some pipe cleaners. These are fortunately low cost and widely available, and when you’re starting out you’re unlikely to make a bad choice. After a while you might find that you prefer a particular brand but it isn’t a big talking point, even on the most active forums.
Rogers pipe tool and Peterson butane lighter
A pipe, tobacco, something to light it with, a tamper and some pipe cleaners … now you’re ready to go. Time to light her up!
Set aside some quiet time, put on some good music, get your feet up, relax.
Welcome to the wonderful world of tobacco pipe smoking.