A Tobacco Shredder

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…

About Frank Davis

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17 Responses to A Tobacco Shredder

  1. waltc says:

    “There’s nothing to stop me from growing a carrot and eating it, or growing tobacco and smoking it.”

    Yet. But don’t bet on it. Here in the US we’ve got this nifty Constitution that, if followed, would/should protect us from being stopped from growing our own stuff but… google these Supreme Court Cases…In Wickard v Filburn (1942) the SC decided that a farmer could not grow wheat on his own land for consumption by his own cattle and family. In Gonzales v Raich (2005),it decided that a very sick woman could not grow provably helpful medical marijuana in her own backyard for her own sole consumption.

    In the first case, the rationale was that if the farmer grew his own wheat (a legal product) it meant he would not have to buy wheat in the general market and was therefore negatively affecting interstate commerce. In the second, the stretch went further. As I recall, her growing her own (illegal) weed was said to negatively effect the broader (illegal/ black/ untaxed) market. Double check me on the rationale for the last one, but whatever it was it was a totally irrational exercise in Power.

    IOW, where there’s a government will there’s a way. And if they ban tobacco (or carrots), you can’t grow your own.

    • harleyrider1978 says:

      Government an absolute experiment in KAOS! Provable beyond compare at every turn,

      From Dick Puddlecoat

      Having only seen three replies at the time, I guessed that there would be more to come, an assumption which was confirmed by Baker himself popping by to declare that “There will be further answers. We asked them all.”. True to his word, they are all now available.

      You may also remember that I was looking forward to how the Department of Health’s response would compare with that of all the others. So let’s boil them down, eh?

      Culture Media and Sport: Use of DCMS grants is also limited to the specific purpose for which each is given, and DCMS does not provide grants specifically for advocacy, lobbying or campaigning.
      Home Department: Providing a grant to any organisation for the purpose of political advocacy, lobbying or campaigning would not be in line with Home Office policy, and is expressly prohibited by the terms and conditions of the standard Home Office grant agreement.
      Justice: Grant agreements contain standard terms and conditions which prohibit using the grant to fund certain activities. These include activities which may be party-political in intention, use or presentation or general lobbying on behalf of the recipient.
      Education: Our policy is that grant funding may not be used, and is not granted for, the purposes of funding advocacy, lobbying or campaigning.
      International Development: As a matter of principle funding from DFID cannot be awarded to initiatives that involve direct lobbying of the UK Government or of international organisations of which the UK Government is a member.
      Communities and Local Government: Ministers believe that it is inappropriate for taxpayers’ money to subsidise such campaigning activity.
      Energy and Climate Change: The charities we engage take no position on policy issues and do not engage in advocacy, lobbying or campaigning.
      All pretty clear so far. In fact, only Transport were a trifle vague by pointing to this pdf document and referring to framework terms and conditions which we can’t possibly look into without FOI requests.

      The Department of Health, however, were uniquely unapologetic.

      The Department supports and recognises the role of charities and voluntary organisations to undertake advocacy, lobbying and campaigning where they are seeking to improve the health and well-being outcomes for the population of England.
      It’s kinda what we knew already, but I must admit that I truly believed they’d try to obscure it with flowery sentences. Government lobbying government, using your taxes, is not only acceptable to the DoH, but is positively encouraged.

      It’s why ASH, fake charities on foodie subjects, and – until very recently – Alcohol Concern – are shovelled millions of pounds of your cash to order you around.

      They’ve made their minds up. Your hard-earned is extremely welcome in the state’s coffers, but your personal choices can go hang.

      Stinks, doesn’t it?

  2. Junican says:

    Where did you get it from? The ones I looked where far more complex than I need. That shredder looks perfect.

  3. I did a piece on the taxation end of it here in the US. I know Audrey Silk out of New York is growing her own and many of us are considering doing the same.

  4. Messalina says:

    What an amazing device. I’ll probably get one myself. Right now, my tobacco plants, my “John Dallis’ as I call them are still at the seedling stage – they have been at that stage for a few weeks now. I’m new to growing tobacco. How long does it take before they get big enough to be transplanted into individual pots. Mine are growing, albeit slowly.

  5. Pingback: A Tobacco Shredder | Frank Davis | Pirate Ships

  6. I think that company ought to be patronised by the likes of us. After all, it seems one only pays VAT on whole leaf tobacco. No sin tax. (I have just taken my own advice.)

  7. Pingback: Measure and Mis-Measure | Frank Davis

  8. john parkin says:

    hi frank I
    is there another shredder that will cut as fine as golden verginia

  9. Davy.C says:

    Hi Frank, how is your shredder performing? Is it still working? The reason I ask is that I bought one about 3 weeks ago…and it broke! I don’t know if it was because the leaves weren’t dry enough (I’m a whole leaf newbie!), but it became impossible to turn, and eventually the handle snapped off!
    Anyhow, I’ve just ordered an electric shredder,
    and hopes it does the trick!
    I notice you were paying £8 for 50g. You may want to check out ‘Tobacco Leaf 4 U’…15 quid for 500g!

    • Frank Davis says:

      Yes it is still working. But I make sure to keep woody twigs out of it, and also over-damp tobacco. The former tend to jam between the rollers, and the latter tend to deposit sticky goo on the rollers. But I’m not using it very much at the moment.

      And I know about TL4U.

    • Lucy says:

      How did that tobacco shredder from ebay work out? Is it any good?
      Been using the roller shredder which does get sticky, I clean it with a wire brush but the clamp is wearing away the thread!

      • tamuswilson says:

        im on my second one, its always the clamp that goes Lucy, the metal is just to soft on the main frame., its a fine line to know how moist the leaf should be before shredding and always remove the stocks, all of them. sometimes the teeth on the shredder bars get pushed back a bit, this can be corrected by first cleaning all tobacco that stuck off the roller and then , with a small pointed object, to puch them back in so the touch the rollers.

  10. Bob Smith says:

    Here in Virginia (USA) our newly elected State members are considering a bill to limit (ban) home grown tobacco plants and supplies to produce roll your own cigarettes. They claim too many people are producing their own and the taxes are falling from the sale of manufactured cigarettes. Get them, hide them while you can folks. It is only a matter of time before your food is next!

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