In previous articles we have described what types of corns there are and how to choose the right one, and what tobaccos are available in our country and what distinguishes them.
Today we're going to talk about how to combine these two things together to achieve the right taste and strength, from the comfort of our own homes.
Before we get into descriptions and instructions, I must point out that everything described here is only my personal experience. Each person has his or her own specifics, whether it concerns taste or strength. So please take this article as an example of my personal preferences that you can bounce off of to start, and develop your own style over time.
Before we start our show, let's remind ourselves of one fact about the behavior of tobacco in different crowns. If you load tobacco into a phunnel type crown, the tobacco will release less nicotine, so you will get a stronger weaker pipe than if you use a classic type of crown, the turka, where there is a better air flow through the tobacco leaf, which allows you to get a stronger pipe. Now let's move on to the individual charges.
We have three basic charging styles. The first is fluff - crushed tobacco leaf, as if you were sprinkling it gently into the crown so that it is fluffy and the tobacco leaves are not unnecessarily oppressed. The second style is Semi-dense - this style is similar to fluff, but you subtly smush the tobacco into the crown. The last is Dense, which is charged by pressing the tobacco forcefully into the crown. Fluff is the most used, which is fine for both flavor and strength, or semi-dense, where we prevent air flow through the tobacco, and thus let less nicotine out. Dense is used on specialty corns like the Clay Alien, which needs this style of charging, as well as the Alpaca, however we'll get to that later.
We also have a strength scale that a lot of people like to use and we can say in general terms that 1-2 is a light pipe, 3-5 is medium (primarily a mix of light and black tobacco), 6-10 for a strong pipe. Personally, I don't like this usage, but when I do use it, I like to leave the light and medium pipes un-scaled because we don't get as much strength out of a given pipe as we are able to with black tobaccos. For that reason, for our purposes, I would only use it on the stronger (black) pipes.
A light pipe, or weak pipe, is characterised by the use of light tobacco, which contains less nicotine. If we want a really weak pipe, I recommend using a phunnel type crown, without glaze, semi-dense and under the rim of the crown. If something stronger, I would go for a classic. Of course there are tobaccos from the light ranges that need a glaze, or work better in a classic versus a phunnel, but that's for everyone to try for themselves, or ask around at your favorite pipe shop.
Medium pipes, or grey pipes, are actually half and half and are more common in Moravia than in Bohemia. You put half light and half black tobacco in the crown, making a medium strength pipe. If you want a weaker session, I would follow the instructions for using light tobacco, but mix the tobacco. If you want a stronger medium, put the light tobacco on the bottom and the black on top, as most black tobaccos can take more heat than light.
Now we get to more interesting things. As I mentioned, I'd like to apply a given scale of force here. I would like to mention here tobacco brands such as Sebero, Theo, Darkside, BlackBurn, Tangiers, and accessories such as Dokha. Dokha is a blend of tobacco solids, by adding it to the pipe we are able to increase the nicotine strength. If you want to try black tobacco for the first time, I would recommend the Sebero brand, which is very weak, so perfect for our 1 on the scale. I would use Darkside and Theo if the strength is 1-2 in phunnel, 3-5 in classic. BlackBurn is a bit stronger, so I would put it on the scale between 5 and 6. Tangiers is a very interesting tobacco that can be loaded for flavor, strength but also tobaccoiness depending on the crown used. Personally, I would use a classic phunnel for strength in the 5 to 6 range, somewhere between 6 and 7 in the classic, then 8 in the evil crown, which is a special crown suitable for strength due to its shape. If we want more strength, we have to use the evil crown and mix it with Dokha, which will give us more strength, probably somewhere between 8 and 10. Of course, everything that applies elsewhere applies here - phunnel and light semi-dense is better for flavour, stronger then for fluff and in the evil crown. We also have a special charge where we charge the Glina Alien crown to a lesser Dense and get more flavour from the tobacco, but when we charge it to a light semi-dense we get primarily strength from the tobacco. When you use a Glina Harmony crown, you can get the tobacco-ness. The other interesting thing is the Alpaca with Provost, the American style of charging Tangiers tobacco. You use a gentler dense in the crown, charge under the rim of the crown, use tinfoil and put provost on top of that, smaller embers and you can smoke for 2 hours and still have a very good tasting pipe. The disadvantage of this charging is the heating time of the pipe, which takes about 20 minutes to heat up the whole crown.
You can also charge black tobacco on the point, which means the tobacco is aligned with the edge of the crown and the HMS is in full contact with the tobacco. Overpack then means that you overcharge the crown above the edge of the crown. Previously, the tobacco was also
ironed, which gives us a higher strength for the Darkside tobacco charge on the overpack. Today, however, this method is no longer as feasible, as the structure of the tobacco has changed.
The last interesting thing is the Russian bomb or flower. It's nothing dangerous, of course, but it will give your lungs a workout. The classic is used, in which you put tobacco on the fluff, HMS on it, tinfoil on it and 6 embers. This is left to warm up for a while and then we can proceed to smoking. I recommend trying it out with more than one person, as this charge is not for everyone and is very strong, which can cause dizziness, nausea, or feelings of fainting.
Of course, there is a lot one can try. This, as I mentioned, is my personal experience with crowns and tobacco. But it is best to discover and explore for yourself what fits your hand and lungs best.