I ordered a tobacco shredder from PureLeaf a few days ago, and it arrived today. I promptly used it to shred the growing stack of small dried leaves from my plants. It went through 10 – 20 leaves in 5 minutes.
It’s a very simple device, with twin toothed 3 inch rollers offset against each other. The leaf (minus stalk) is fed in from the top, and comes out shredded from the bottom, once the handle is cranked. It doesn’t shred as fine as a hand rolling tobacco like Golden Virginia, but it’s fine enough to put in roll-ups.
And it’s a lot quicker, and produces a much more consistent result, than any of my attempts using scissors.
I bought it because I’ve got about 40 tobacco plants right now, each with anything from 15 to 30 or more leaves on each one – totalling somewhere around 800 leaves -, and I didn’t relish the prospect of spending a week hand-shredding them with scissors. Also I’m planning to grow more tobacco next year.
And the shredder came with some free tobacco whole leaf samples, which will also need to be shredded.
I spent a while today trying to estimate how much dry tobacco I’d end up producing this year. I haven’t harvested my crop yet, and my stack of small dried leaves have come from around the base of the plants. My two estimates were wildly different from each other. According to one estimate, I’d produce about 300 gms of dry tobacco. And according to the other, I’d produce about 3000 gms. The first estimate seemed a bit pessimistic since I’ve already got 30 gms of dry tobacco just from small leaves drying on the plants. The second estimate seemed over-optimistic, given just 40 plants. So my current guess is that, with luck, I’ll produce about about a kilo of dry tobacco this year.
It really depends how much water there is in a tobacco leaf. Last year I picked a very large leaf of some unknown species that I found while out walking, and dried it, and found it lost 95% of its mass while drying. So today I picked one of my largest (10 inches long, 7 inches wide) tobacco leaves and weighed it. It came in at 6 gms. Over the next week or two I’ll dry it, and record here what it weighs (if I can measure it). Scanned image at right.
I think that, when I do harvest my crop, I’ll weigh it. And then weigh the dried end product, and figure out the water content from that.
I estimate that I smoke about 8 gms of tobacco every day, so if I manage to produce a kilo of tobacco, that’ll be 125 days smoking, about one third of a year. PureLeaf’s whole leaf tobacco costs about £8 for 50 gms, which is about half the price of Golden Virginia in the UK, so maybe another 100 days can go on that (although I haven’t tried smoking any of the samples I got today, but will report on it soon). If the rest can be got from imported tobacco/black market tobacco, I’ll end up with an interesting blend of homegrown/wholeleaf/manufactured tobacco. And the Revenue will get next to nothing out of me.
It’s one of the big advantages of rolling your own cigarettes, whether by hand or using a rolling machine. You’re not tied to to the over-taxed tobacco companies’ products. You’re infinitely more flexible. And if you can’t get tobacco, you can smoke dried herbs (I’ve tried it a few times, and it’s not bad). I belong to the Lauren Colby school which says that the active ingredient in smoking is smoke.
And I was thinking today that, with more and more people starting to grow their own tobacco, there’s quite likely to be a lot of homegrown around in a few years time, with a small trade going on between gardeners using payment-in-kind (e.g. tobacco for carrots). And there’ll be all sorts of different sorts of tobacco, made in all sorts of different ways, and with all sorts of added ingredients.
It’s essentially not different than cooking your own food. I do that all the time. If you can’t cook or don’t have something to cook with, then you’re restricted to eating at restaurants or take-aways. And the government can step in there and tax and regulate. And of course they do. They’re a bunch of thieves. And a self-righteous bunch of thieves at that. But the government can’t tax and regulate what I produce and consume myself. Not yet anyway. There’s nothing to stop me from growing a carrot and eating it, or growing tobacco and smoking it.
Government feeds off the choke points in the economy. It’s like a pirate ship that patrols a narrow strait used by many ships, and stops them and confiscates all or part of their cargoes. That’s harder to do out on the high seas, where ships sail on different courses in all directions. The choke points in the economy are licensed businesses like pubs and restaurants, anchored to one geographic location. So it’s easy for governments to tax and regulate them. And it’s why government gets bigger and bigger.
The ‘war’ on smoking, in many ways, is just another tax grab. So is the ‘war’ on alcohol. And food. They provide a fig-leaf to cover predatory tax hikes. It’s why outfits like ASH are quasi-governmental organisations. They exist in order to boost tax revenues. They just generate pseudo-scientific/medical justifications for doing so.
The inevitable result, however, is that the rising burden of taxation and regulation must gradually choke the underlying economy, and bring about a fall in tax revenues. And that happens not just when more and more goods get smuggled and sold on the black market, but when people start rolling their own and cooking their own, and the choke points in the economy start to vanish.
Anyway, I recommend buying PureLeaf’s tobacco shredder, particularly if they throw in a free sample or two of whole leaf tobacco. If you’re not growing your own, but only rolling your own, whole leaf tobacco plus shredder may be a good path to take. And I don’t see any reason why the shredder shouldn’t be used to shred just tobacco. I never buy things like cabbage or spinach. But shredded cabbage and spinach sounds interesting. It might make a nice rich soup, along with shredded onions and carrots. Hmmm…