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I just bought a nice-looking smoking pipe for use as a character prop for LARPing. It's a working pipe and so I could use it for actually smoking tobacco in character, but I choose not to smoke, primarily for health reasons but also because (based on my experience of cigarettes) I don't like the smell or taste of burning tobacco (I am lacking experience of pipe tobacco, I am aware it is different).

The pipe is made of wood with a metal-lined bowl. It comes apart into two pieces - the mouthpiece and the bowl piece. Here are some images of the particular pipe I have, though I'm open to using other equipment if this one can't work:

Bottom of wooden pipe Side view of wooden pipe Side view of bowl and stem separated
(Click for larger images.)

Is there a way I could modify the pipe to make it seem like I'm really smoking it, rather than constantly walking around with an unfilled, unlit pipe?

The LARP venue allows smoking. There are already several players who smoke hand-rolled cigarettes to satisfy their RL addiction to nicotine, so second-hand smoke isn't an (additional) concern.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Reminder: Answers to this question must be based on cited subjective experience (your own or someone else's) of tried & tested techniques for simulating a smoking pipe at a LARP, or comparable similar experience. Given the health and safety implications, answers that have no cited experience of how they work out in practice are discouraged and may be removed. \$\endgroup\$ Jan 20 '19 at 16:52
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    \$\begingroup\$ Can you clarify if you don't smoke anything or if you would, for the sake of LARPing, smoke herbs that taste really nice and have little to no impact on your state of consciousness? \$\endgroup\$
    – lightcat
    Jan 20 '19 at 19:57
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    \$\begingroup\$ @lightcat That depends - what's said herbs' effect on one's health? \$\endgroup\$
    – RichardJ
    Jan 20 '19 at 21:50
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    \$\begingroup\$ There are three deleted answers already. Please don’t just post ideas. Post proven solutions you have experience with or that you can cite others’ experience with. Posts that lack support can/will be deleted until they’re edited to support their statements. (See doppelgreener’s comment above for details.) \$\endgroup\$ Jan 21 '19 at 0:31
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    \$\begingroup\$ Re the addition: pipe tobacco and cigarette tobacco are almost completely different substances regarding taste and smell (and often, the various chemical additives common in cigarettes). When you say “but also because I don't like the smell or taste of burning tobacco”, does that represent experience with pipe tobacco? I ask so that you can clarify and avoid getting pipe smokers “correcting” you if you're already familiar with it. \$\endgroup\$ Jan 21 '19 at 18:40
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Gently blow into your pipe instead of pulling smoke in

Meaning that you fill and prepare your pipe as you would for actual smoking and then light it.

  • Instead of pulling on the pipe and filling your mouth with smoke, you can simply blow gently into the mouth piece.
  • This results in the lit tobacco glowing nicely and also a puff of smoke.
  • Bonus: you get to meddle with your tobacco pouch and fire etc. to light your pipe like a pro. You can integrate this well into your characters quirks if you want to.

Discounting 2nd-hand inhalation there should be no ill side effects except for the smell. But as you're doing this only rarely at LARPs there should be no issues.

I normally just properly smoke a pipe on LARPs but I used the above technique successfully on occasion when I was not in the mood for doing so (I'm a non smoker outside LARPs).

Non-tobacco alternative

For people averse to tobaccos second hand effects (or the tobacco industry in general which they might not want to support) an alternative can be burning tea leaves - i.e. regular black or green tea that you could buy in any shop. I know people who mixed this into their cigarettes and it seemed to work out ok. You might have to pay attention not to buy the cheapest finest ground tea, as this will likely clog up your pipe, though.

Note that this will still produce smoke and second hand smoking effects - simply without the nicotine.


Small note, as this might be unclear: when actually smoking a pipe the smoke is not normally inhaled, but simply drawn into the mouth for the taste. This arguably makes it less _unhealthy than smoking cigarettes/shisha/... as it at least doesn't affect your lungs. You'll still get some nicotine effects (through absorption in your mouth), but not as much as when inhaling nicotine smoke.

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    \$\begingroup\$ I've chosen fgysin's answer because of their experience-based suggestion as well as the ready availability of tea (I live in England) as a replacement for the tobacco (as opposed to other answers' herbal replacement suggestions which would be harder to come by). \$\endgroup\$
    – RichardJ
    Jan 26 '19 at 13:10
  • \$\begingroup\$ The FDA warnings for pipes, cigars, and smokeless tobacco products include "not a safe alternative to cigarette smoking." While it may be true on a comparison basis, it's illegal for product manufacturers to advertise any tobacco product as "safer" than anything else. Reasoning here appears to be that nicotine addiction can follow, and will make the addict literally "do anything for a fix." IOW, any tobacco use is a gateway for all tobacco use. \$\endgroup\$
    – Zeiss Ikon
    Feb 26 at 13:01
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    \$\begingroup\$ Regarding “not getting a nicotine high”, this is false. Pipe smokers absorb the nicotine thru gums and inner cheeks when they keep the smoke in their mouth. \$\endgroup\$ Feb 27 at 1:55
  • \$\begingroup\$ @DetectiveChimp You are right, thanks, I fixed my answer accordingly. \$\endgroup\$
    – fgysin
    Mar 1 at 9:25
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I have seen two methods used on stage as a stagehand, not a larp but similar limitations.

Hollywood uses a substitute herb (herbal cigarette mix) that contains no nicotine. Though this stuff tends to taste foul. It also tends to smell like a different herb that might not go over well.

Prop smoking cigarettes exist, you may be able to put them in a pipe with a little prop making skill. I have used the cigarettes, modifying it to a pipe would be on you.

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    \$\begingroup\$ I'll edit to only include the ones I have seen used. \$\endgroup\$
    – John
    Jan 21 '19 at 20:59
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    \$\begingroup\$ Thanks for the edit. What's here now passes the minimum bar for support, although the last bit about modifying a prop cigarette is still marginal and could be better supported (or removed). \$\endgroup\$ Jan 21 '19 at 21:27
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Mugwort

I'm guessing you have legal/personal reasons for abstaining from the most obvious tobacco alternative (although it does have an ancient, LARP-friendly lore!), so here is another medieval-period appropriate suggestion: Mugwort.

Like you, I am not a fan of tobacco, however the few times I have tried mugwort have been very pleasant. This is a classic medieval smokable with a unique flavor, and I guarantee you will feel very Gandalf with this in your pipe. Supposedly, mugwort promotes cool dreams - not sure if this is true, but if you're already roleplaying I'm sure you won't mind a placebo! Either way, this is very easy to buy online, it won't cloud your head and ruin your RP, and it's not habit forming because it doesn't have any noticeable narcotic effect. Health-wise, I couldn't find any information to suggest that smoking mugwort is any less worse for your lungs than tobacco. Particulate matter is particulate matter, no matter what plant it comes from, and I could not find information about tar content, so for all I know it could be higher than tobacco. That said, I've never heard of a 2 pack a day mugwort smoker, so you're probably fine.

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Get a Pipe-style vape

There are vapes designed to look like pipes, which avoids all your issues with smoking tobacco. You can use 0% Nicotine juice and don't actually inhale. For some reason, Amazon is allergic to listing them, though regular vapes and supplies are all over the place. You can use 0% nicotine juice to avoid all the bad health effects of nicotine.

Sources: A bottle of vape juice that has 0% nicotine sitting on my desk.

Here is an amazon search for 0% (nicotine) Vape Juice

Here are some links to potential vape-pipes:

vaping360.com

ebay

I am not affiliated with any of the links in my answer. I just found them on google.

Health and Safety Note: Nothing foreign you inhale is entirely healthy, even a prescribed inhaler does some damage to the lungs. However, ejuice and vaping is concretely shown to be safer than smoking, even though it does have its own problems. However, secondhand smoke is also a safety concern, and if that was prohibitive, then OP would not be attending at all.

My own experience, being someone allergic to actual cigarette smoke (I lose feeling in my lips, my eyes burn and eventually cough up blood) is that vapor from ecigs and vapes is vastly better and it doesn't noticeably bother me. I even use my own vape w no issue.

For a less anecdotal answer, here is an excerpt from a webmd article on vaping. The article does cite health concerns, but like most official sites, they're allergic to doing a side-by-side comparison of vapes vs cigarettes, and they mostly focus on the cheap, convenience store varieties, due to the fact that these are less healthy and it makes a scarier story.

Here is the quote: (emphasis mine):

WebMD - Is Vaping Bad For You?

E-cigarettes aren't thought of as 100% safe, but most experts think they're less dangerous than cigarettes, says Neal Benowitz, MD, a nicotine researcher at the University of California at San Francisco. Cigarette smoking kills almost half a million people a year in the United States. Most of the harm comes from the thousands of chemicals that are burned and inhaled in the smoke, he explains.

E-cigs don't burn, so people aren't as exposed to those toxins. A 2015 expert review from Public Health England estimated e-cigs are 95% less harmful than the real thing.

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Damiana as alternative herb

Damiana is a mildly spicy herb that can be packed and smoked in a pipe. It has no psychactive properties, however some people say that it makes them feel at ease and a bit less anxious, which could also be attributed to the act of smoking. I live with a professional herbalist who does not smoke either of the big 2 (marijuana and tobacco) nor any other psychoactive herbs and regularly (once a day or less) smokes Damiana simply to enjoy and appreciate the act of smoking. I myself have not smoked anything in many years and I was at first reluctant to try damiana, concerned that it might trigger a desire to smoke tobacco. Recently I decided to try smoking some damiana. It was very nice and has not had the effect I was worried about, though I don't think I'll smoke it regularly just in case.

A bit of booj

Additionally my herbalist companion occasionally smokes a blend of dried lavender and rose which they describe as "very boojee, but absolutely delicious and satisfying." I haven't tried that particular blend but I must say, it makes any space they're in smell very pleasant.

Concerns about smoking

Smoking any plant matter will produce carbon monoxide and some level of tar. However occasionally smoking an herbal blend that is non-addictive will not cause any of the health problems associated with long term tobacco use. Smoking is of course a personal decision and should be made with care.

See your local herbalist

If you have a local herbalist they should be able to suggest and make a blend of herbs that will fit your needs and concerns. For example, if your concern is addiction, they can blend herbs that are not addictive. Likewise if your concern is health based, an issue of flavor/smell, the way smoking feels on your throat, or something else, they can create a blend that will address your concerns. If the OP would like a specific herbal smoke blend suggestion please comment what kind of flavor/scent you would prefer and I can provide you with a blend specific to your needs.

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    \$\begingroup\$ I've always spelled it "boujie, from "bourgeoisie". I'm glad someone else is familiar with it at all. The number of times I've had people say "what do you mean by that?"... \$\endgroup\$
    – goodguy5
    Jan 23 '19 at 18:49
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    \$\begingroup\$ I've seen it spelled many different ways. I don't know that it has an official spelling since it's slang based on the American usage of a French word, but let's not get all beourgiey about it. :) \$\endgroup\$
    – lightcat
    Jan 23 '19 at 19:25
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    \$\begingroup\$ @goodguy5: I usually see it spelled "bougie", with a G: en.wiktionary.org/wiki/bougie#English \$\endgroup\$
    – V2Blast
    Jan 24 '19 at 2:02
  • \$\begingroup\$ I think it's worth pointing out that the OP is asking about simulating smoking, not asking for potentially safer alternatives to tobacco. \$\endgroup\$
    – Rykara
    Feb 25 at 23:33
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Rykara, True and they also mention that the venue allows smoking and there is no concern for second hand smoke, and also they say they do not want to smoke tobacco specifically. It appears to me that smoking an herb other than tobacco is a valid response. Perhaps the question title should be edited. \$\endgroup\$
    – lightcat
    Mar 25 at 13:42
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Soap and water.

Rather than blowing smoke out of your pipe, blow bubbles out of it instead. Load it up with soap and water, and maybe try to draw a film across its opening. Then, rather than inhaling smoke from it, exhale air into to to blow a bunch of bubbles into the air!

You say that you're role-playing a wizard in this LARP, and having a bubble-blowing pipe would certainly add a touch of magical whimsy to your character.

Additionally, because you're not burning and inhaling anything, it's a far healthier option than burning herbs or vape fluid in your pipe, for both you and the people around you.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Why is there a delete vote? It answers the question, it's healthier than all the other options suggested in the other answers, and it's based on my personal experiences blowing bubbles using soap and water as a child. \$\endgroup\$
    – nick012000
    Feb 27 at 9:44
  • \$\begingroup\$ I didn't vote, but I suspect the, "don't make suggestions without experience to back it up" is coming into play. Personally I'm not a fan of this approach. In a movie, one can shift pipe bubbles to whimsical (rather than silly/childish) by filling them with smoke, using minor CGI effects, or otherwise ensuring that the bubbles don't behave quite like soap bubbles. In real life, the bubbles will look and behave like soap bubbles. I think this is worse for suspension of disbelief than pretending to smoke and not having anything come out of the pipe. \$\endgroup\$
    – Brian
    Mar 2 at 21:18
  • \$\begingroup\$ The air passage in a smoking pipe is at the bottom of the bowl, so this wouldn't create bubbles that float or look anything like smoke, rather just a mass of foam oozing out of the pipe bowl. \$\endgroup\$
    – RichardJ
    Mar 23 at 18:37

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