Tobacco Mixtures

I’ve been building up a stock of dried tobacco leaves, mostly from around the base of my plants (which are still growing). When my tobacco shredder arrived a couple of days ago, I shredded all the dry ones I had, and also a few slightly damp ones. I’ve got about 30 gms of the resulting shredded tobacco, which has a light golden colour.

And I’ve been adding it to Cutters Choice and Old Holborn to roll my cigarettes. I suppose that they’ve only been 10% “Golden Shred”, but they’ve seemed no different from a cigarette made from just Cutters Choice, except they have a tendency to hiss a bit – which suggests that the “Golden Shred” is damper than I think it is.

Yesterday I tried rolling a cigarette using just “Golden Shred”. And it was almost perfectly smokeable, except that it left a slight unidentified “chemical” aftertaste. I suppose this is because the tobacco hasn’t been cured properly. But I was pleasantly surprised that it was as smokeable as it was.

Today I opened up one of my PureLeaf samples – the English Blend -, and shredded some of that. This was a bit tricky, because the leaves were fairly well fragmented, and there were several bits of stalk that needed to be removed before shredding (because they could damage the shredder’s rollers).

And then I rolled some of the English Shred into cigarettes. And they were perfectly smokeable as well, and left no chemical aftertaste. It was a stronger tobacco, perhaps, than Cutters Choice or Old Holborn. And perhaps with a slightly woody flavour.

The main problem I had with the English Shred was simply hand-rolling the cigarette. It took me about three times as long, and my full attention, as it does with Cutters Choice or any other manufactured tobacco. The problem was that the shredded tobacco was dry, and didn’t adhere to other tobacco easily, and was quite difficult to roll into an even cylinder. Manufactured tobacco is more finely shredded, and the individual shreds are curly, and easily adhere to adjacent tobacco to form even cylinders.

And then, when it was lit, it tended to go out fairly readily, probably because the tobacco shards were rather more widely spaced inside than in a cigarette made from much more finely-cut manufactured rolling tobacco.

So, while the end result was perfectly smokeable, it took quite a lot of concentration to roll the thing, and a fair bit of concentration to smoke it. And also, since bits of tobacco very readily fell out of it, I had to collect up quite a few bits of tobacco from the construction site floor.

Not sure what to do about this. It might help to shred the tobacco twice, to make it a bit finer. But I also think it might help if it was dampened slightly. So I’ve introduced a couple of slices of damp courgette in with the tobacco (an old trick to keep the tobacco moist – some people use potato).

Certainly if manufactured rolling tobacco becomes too dry, it becomes equally hard to roll cigarettes using it, and the resulting cigarettes produce very hot, cough-inducing smoke. I’ve occasionally resorted to speed-dampening dry rolling tobacco by putting it in a sieve over a boiling kettle spout for a few seconds.

And yet the tobacco in manufactured cigarettes seems to be very dry. So why don’t manufactured cigarettes produce hot smoke? And yet they don’t.

Anyway, I must soon go and study Junican’s authoritative treatise on curing and flavouring tobacco. This is obviously going to be the next stage.

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26 Responses to Tobacco Mixtures

  1. karlos says:

    Commercial cigs are made to smoke dry and full of added carcinogens to make it last a certain amount of time, you’ll get there in the end not to smoke manufactured stuff totally – IT IS POISON !

  2. margo says:

    Bit disappointing, your description of Pureleaf English blend, as I have just sent away for some of that and am waiting for it to arrive. Haven’t got a proper shredder, either – I intend to shred it in a parsley grinder someone found for me in a charity shop. I’ll let you know if it’s OK.

    • Frank Davis says:

      It was perfectly okay. I wasn’t disappointed. I think it would have had to be extraordinarily good (or bad) for me to have remarked on it.

      But I’ve just mixed my English Shred with some Old Holborn, to make it easier to roll, and to burn more consistently. It’s always been my plan to blend tobaccos anyway.

      • margo says:

        OK, thanks – good scheme. Looking forward to my package, which is a variety of the samples, including an interesting-sounding one called Oriental.
        Piece in today’s Independent on ‘the Million Women’ study, saying that women live ten years longer if they give up smoking. (Ten extra years in a geriatric home, sans teeth and most of the faculties? No thank you.) It claims that those born around 1940 were the first generation of women to smoke regularly. Not true, surely, as I think my mother’s lot were the first, born around 1920 – today’s problematic ‘living-forever’ batch.

  3. Junican says:

    Have I not said that we should not take issue with Zealots? Take the comment from ‘karlos’:

    Commercial cigs are made to smoke dry and full of added carcinogens“.

    Precisely what ‘carcinogens’ are added? Precisely what? And precisely how are they “made to smoke dry” and what does that mean?

    And how come that smokers have been smoking ‘manufactured stuff which is POISON’ and not dropping dead in the street and other places like flies?

    By commenting on karlos’s comment, I have broken the rule that I set myself. I could not help it. On the other hand, Frank’s blog is a smoker blog, therefore it is right and proper that anyone who ventures into Frank’s blog should expect a reasoned response.

    So, karlos, where did you learn that ‘ Commercial cigs are…… full of added carcinogens’? And what ‘carcinogens’ are they? In fact, how do you know anything about the constituents of cigarettes at all? Who told you? Why do you believe a word these people say?

    But perhaps karlos means well. In that case, it might be interesting to know more detail about his opinion.

    Over to you karlos.

  4. Junican says:

    Hi Frank.
    I’m glad that you have highlighted the “GROWING, CURING,,,,,,” article. I was inspired to write it simply because I could not find a simple definition of the word ‘cure’ in connection with tobacco. It took a long time for me to discover that the word ‘cure’ simply means ‘to cause to ferment’. Ferment, in this case, does not mean “turn sugars into alcohol” as is the case with beer and wine. In the case of fermenting tobacco, ‘cure’ means “turn starches into sugars”. Thus, cured tobacco has a sweetish taste. The nicotine in tobacco is not affected by curing – it is a natural constituent of the tobacco leaves and is neither created nor destroyed by curing.
    The importance of this knowledge is that the addition of flavourings is in addition to the natural sweetness created by curing. I have experimented a bit with orange peel, apple and banana skin! I intend to further the experiments with whisky soaked sponge!
    One is venturing into the unknown. I know, from last year, that my home-grown tobacco tastes ok but is very aromatic, even when mixed with commercial stuff. That does not bother me at all – maybe that is how things should be. Clearly, it is not in the interests of Tobacco Control to know anything about these things, nor is it in the interests of Tobacco Companies to advise us. We must work things out for ourselves with the help of those who sell seeds and tobacco plants. However, even those people have a problem. Pipe, cigar, cigarette, snus and chewing tobaccos are different and are cured in different ways. It is hard for them to cover all the bases.

    My article is solely about cigarette tobacco. Leaves can be picked, dried, fermented, flavoured and smoked within four weeks, at most, after picking. Why not?

    I try my best. The article needs to be revised and updated. Mainly, the predations of slugs and snails need to be described. Also, there are ways to stop leaves rotting in the towels using simple paper kitchen rolls.

    The wonderful thing is that there is little actual physical effort. The only real physical effort is in the preparation of outdoor plots. People have to decide for themselves. Given a good plot, the rest is easy (physically).

    If people want to give it a go, then they must be prepared for disappointment. But there is IMMENSE pleasure to be gained from the hobby of growing your own.

    • Some other Tom says:

      Ah… Turning starches into sugars! I’m a homebrewer and this is what is done to barley to turn it into something suitable for mashing. It’s malting, not fermenting in brewing that you’re referring to. But that’s extremely enlightening, as I’m beginning to experiment with growing my own too! Thanks for the proper description of the process!

    • Frank Davis says:

      It’s a very informative article, Junican, although I’ve skipped over the growing tobacco bit, because I’ve done that already.

  5. Walt says:

    I smoke Nat Sherman MCD’s which have a sweetish taste that someone told me came from their rolling in rice paper . FWIW, it’s a very smooth smoke and they add something else “natural” (as opposed to chemical or glued speed bumps) to pass the f’ing “fire-safe” test.

    On yesterday’s topic of “Do Something”/ “What?”– On an individual level: boycott. And write lucid, well-researched letters to editors (posting online comments, I’m convinced, isn’t enough; you need to be in print and to hit the original readers.) On a group level, smokers’ organizations (F2C, Forrest etc– and any other group–even of one– who can produce a impressive looking/ sounding letterhead) can start questioning anyone running for any office about their position on bans, taxes, and the blatant discrimination against smokers (in health care, housing, employment, adoption etc). The pols have to feel there’s something at stake for them personally and be made to know there’s a push-back and actual votes at stake. The Government writ large may ignore smokers’ interests, but individual pols don’t want to lose their jobs. The point, win or lose, is to never stop needling.

    The model for activism is Audrey Silk’s CLASH. She gets a lot of publicity and keeps the issues in the spotlight, invariably called by the press to comment on every new onslaught. She’s even had a few major successes– like stopping the NY State park and beach ban, though no one could stop Bloomberg in the city. But the point is to keep needling. Keep the issues alive. Let other smokers know, in the most public way, that they’re really not alone. That, to begin with, is a way to grow a movement.

    • harleyrider1978 says:

      As nannys arm flexes it creates even more allies!

      Mine enemy becomes my ally when my enemy gets attacked by the same foe!!!

      These Nazis learn nothing from history….dont fight a multiple front war against the world!

      They will lose everytime.

    • Frank Davis says:

      I entirely agree with all that, Walt. But it’s not enough. We also need to be exploring other enterprises.

      For example, there’s the ISIS survey (in which I’m the “head honcho”) which will produce some results about what’s happening to smokers as a consequence of smoking bans. And there’s Wiel Maessen’s Tobacco Control Tactics. And there’s Horecaclaim, with which Wiel is also associated. These are all quite different enterprises, sharing the same central goal. But we need more. We need ideas. And we are developing some ideas.

      Ideas can come from anywhere. Anyone can have an idea. So I would expect to see new ideas appear in all sorts of unlikely places. Which is one reason why I think the smokers’ movement should be a loose coalition rather than a centrally-managed top-down organisation.

  6. It’s an old-fashioned and rather homespun solution to very dry rolling tobacco, but storing it with some potato peelings (thinly peeled) produces a moister and hence easier to roll baccy without changing the flavour.

  7. Jack Bash says:


    You should try the shredder from Cuthof (Sweden).

    These shredders can cut tobacco think or thin (as in very thin), just like rolling tobacco.

    Tobacco is hard to roll with if its too dry, so a bit of moisture will help.

  8. Tony Barr says:

    I too have recently bought a shredder and various types of tobacco leaf from PureLeaf and I have to say I am very pleased with the results. Certainly better than my last crop of home grown tobacco (I really need to reread as much as possible on the curing process). I have also bought whole leaf from TobaccoLeaves and found them equally good and rather cheaper though they stock less variety.
    I have found the need to moisten some of the leaves before shredding. If they are too dry they tend to turn to powder (which is course eminently snuffable). I simply misted the leaved with water using a house plant misting spray bottle, placed them in a plastic bag for a few hours and they were fine. If they get too wet just leave them in the open for a while.
    Unless I am smoking the stuff in a pipe I usually put a sizeable portion of the shredded tobacco back through the shredder. This does make it a lot easier to roll by hand. Adding a small amount of a commercial hand rolling tobacco also helps.
    A good way of keeping the shredded tobacco at the right moisture level is to make a humidifying tin from a small empty snuff tin (the 10g aluminium ones from Toque Snuff are perfect). I punch a number of holes in the top, stuff it with cotton wool and add water. Placed on the top of the tobacco in a sealed container (tupperware style) it works a treat. Good for rehydrating snuff too!
    This is definitely the way forward for me.

    • Junican says:

      I use orange peel in a small gauze pouch. I put my tobacco in a small tupperware-type sealable container with the pouch. Then I leave it overnight. The next day, the baccy seems to have just about the right feeling of softness. If the first cig is a little difficult to pull, it is probably a little too moist. I leave the next one for a little while, and then it seems to be perfect.
      I only treat as much as a need on any specific occasion.

  9. harleyrider1978 says:

    Tobacco ban for Leeds shop flouting rules

    By Sophie Hazan
    Published on Saturday 27 October 2012 09:14

    A shopkeeper who had a ban slapped on his shop to stop the sale of cigarettes to children blamed foreign staff who were unable to tell the age of “white people”.

    Hari Amedi, 34, who owns the Monalisa international food store on Armley Town Street, told Leeds magistrates yesterday (Oct 26) he did not know how he could stop members of staff from selling tobacco to children.

  10. smokervoter says:

    Let me see if I’ve got this right. 8 British pounds is $12.81, which buys 50 grams, which is 1.76 ounces. Therefore, one pound of tobacco sells for $116 there!!?? And that is half price compared to Golden Virginia which therefore would cost $232 for a pound?

    Dear God, I’m feeling like a spoiled rotten ugly American right now, complaining about my $18 per pound (admittedly crap) ‘pipe tobacco’. The good stuff, which is probably not as good as your Golden Virginia sounds, costs about $41 per pound. Of course that is in California, God knows what it costs in New York.

    You hardly smoke at all, Frank, ten a day if my math is right. My favorite megaphone media doctor, Dr. Dean Edell, used to tell his listeners that 10 a day or less was well-nigh harmless.

    Dr. Dean Edell

    • Frank Davis says:

      Therefore, one pound of tobacco sells for $116 there!!?? And that is half price compared to Golden Virginia which therefore would cost $232 for a pound?

      Sounds about right, although I’ve never seen a whole pound of tobacco in my entire life. And they’ll raise the tax again next year. It never stops.

      You hardly smoke at all, Frank, ten a day if my math is right.

      Well, I roll my own, and I roll them pretty thin. So it’s a lot more than 10 roll-ups a day, although I’ve never managed to count.

      Until fairly recently, I smoked about half an ounce of Old Holborn a day.

      When we shifted over to metric, the half ounce packets became 12.5 gm. They still cost exactly the same, of course.

      I now find Old Holborn (one of the stronger UK tobaccos) a bit too hard on my lungs. Some people always did, and I understand them now. So I’ve dropped from 12.5 gm to 8 gm these days, smoking milder tobacco like Golden Virginia.

      • smokervoter says:

        When I first started stuffing my own with the machine I wanted to find out how much I was saving by doing so. So I did the math fairly meticulously and I came up with 0.0326 of an ounce per cigarette, which is 0.92 grams each. Eight grams divided by 0.92 is 8.69 cigarettes per day. However, half an ounce divided by 0.0326 comes out to 15.375 cigarettes per day. I’m now thoroughly confused.

        My brother and I had a long-distance phone conversation the other night and discussed Dogs the song (the final mix collaboration version). He genuinely likes it a lot and has showcased it to many more of his friends.

        I brought it up on the computer and gave it a listen or ten – it’s really a diamond in the rough. It’s good to put a musical piece away for a while and then give a fresh listen with new ears.

        Listened to it lately?

        • Frank Davis says:

          Listened to it lately?

          A fragment of it (the original, that is) is the ringtone on my mobile phone. But nobody’s phoned me for a while.

          It’s surprising to me that Dogs has won one or two fans. But, as I probably told you, not long after I made it, it was playing when a girl I knew dropped in to see me one day, and she said, “Hey, what’s that!” and asked to borrow the cassette.

          I’ve always liked it myself, even if it is a bit rough.

  11. harleyrider1978 says:

    I’m calling on the public health community to outlaw winter. Its cold weather causes billions a year in public health costs due to widespread flu outbreaks and lost revenues to the federal income tax. Then we have lives lost in the most precious part of our communities, the elderly. Their grand wisdom is lost to the generations because of death caused by cold weather.

    Our Elderly are further at risk to Frigid weather by being forced to go into the extreme cold to have a smoke. Then they must endure the same hazardous chemical components in the natural air as what’s in tobacco smoke, when they could have easily been safe from the cold had they not been criminalized and made to smoke outside in the frigid weather!

    Again I demand that the public health community OUTLAW WINTER and any cold weather from this point forward. If we can ban indoor smoking even if we guarantee the air has no greater concentrations of chemicals than it would have without smoking and extra ventilation then why cant we outlaw ”COLD WEATHER” since it’s actually proven to kill due to exposure and epidemics of flu and other viruses. They claim 50,000 deaths a year from second hand smoke yet they can’t find any actual bodies of the dead from it, but we can find millions dead from flu and extreme weather!

    Even the young are at risk from smoking bans

    Smokers losing limbs due to smoking bans from frostbite to extremities old or young it doesnt matter. This is concrete proof smoking bans cause real harm to people!

    CDC proved to us over the summer what smoking bans do to caring and law-abiding smokers from this past winters smoking ban toll!


    Brandon, a young man from North Dakota whose city had passed a ban last fall, had both his legs amputated this spring and in his early 20s as a result of SEVERE FROSTBITE, a condition that cuts off blood flow primarily to the hands and feet and is caused by extreme freezing conditions. His case is not unusual when smoking bans are enacted! … index.html

  12. mikef317 says:

    Re tobacco being too dry, I use a method similar to Tony Barr’s.

    I have a six inch square / two inch deep bowl in which I place enough loose tobacco for five to ten cigarettes. I have an old spray bottle of window cleaner which I rinsed and filled with water.

    If the tobacco is too dry, I give it a little spritz of water and mix the tobacco in the bowl with my fingers. (Only a small amount of water is needed.) It may take a few minutes for the dry tobacco shreds to absorb moisture from the dampened shreds. If the tobacco is still too dry, I add more water. If the tobacco gets too wet, I add more dry product.

    It takes some trial and error to get a “feel” for the proper moisture content, but it works for me.

  13. timbone says:

    Adding to the several comments already made about moistening or retaining the moisture in tobacco. Several years ago, an aquaintance told me that every night before they went to bed, they put a small carrot into their tobacco pouch, and put it into the fridge!

  14. yeap I think its all about moist. Here in Greece my mixture is with 4 different blends and now the result is great. Unfortunately Greek laws and legislation they do not give the right to sell it.

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