Since High Desert Heirloom LLC will soon be selling whole leaf tobacco via the site ‘HighDesertTobacco.com’ in the near future, I felt it would be good to help prospective customers know how to actually use the stuff!
This is a fairly involved post and a bit lengthy. I’m trying to convey all the important points clearly.
Firstly, perhaps we should talk about why to use whole leaf tobacco to make your own cigarettes with.
- Cost. The average pack of Marlboro or other brand name cigarettes cost well over $5. Using whole leaf tobacco will drop that cost to under $1 per pack!
- Health. Now, every government agency and every doctor and everyone against smoking will say that using whole leaf tobacco is not any better for you than using manufactured tobacco products. It is MY opinion though, that whole leaf is healthier! Here is why:
- No added chemicals! The tobacco industry does several things to tobacco that goes into the standard cigarette they sell. One of those things is to take all the stems and pieces and turn it into the same sort of pulp that paper would be made from. In fact, other than not bleaching it, the process is the same and they end up with a product called ‘reconstituted tobacco’ and they use that in their cigarette blends. In addition to the ‘reconstituted tobacco’ crap, they add other chemicals to alter taste and nicotine levels.
- Satisfaction. Using whole leaf tobacco, you can easily make your own custom blend that has the taste and level of strength (From very mild to super strong) that you like best and duplicate that as much as you like. You could have several blends to use through the day. You might have blends for your morning smokes, another for mid day, and another for that relaxing evening smoke before bed.
- Entertainment. What? Cigarettes for entertainment? Well, the process of shredding and blending your own batch of tobacco can be quite entertaining and many people make a hobby of experimenting just to see what they end up with.
“Hey, I can get bags of tobacco for cheap and I don’t have to do all that shredding and blending stuff!” Yep, you can buy blended pipe tobacco pretty cheaply for sure! But, you’re getting the blend the manufacturer dictates AND you’re still getting chemical additives! They add chemicals to alter flavors, burning characteristics, and o preserve the moist tobacco.
When you buy whole leaf tobacco, whether from us at HighDesertTobacco.com or from another retailer of whole leaf, you get plain straight tobacco as it comes from the grower. Nothing added, nothing taken away. All the leaf is checked to ensure it’s in good condition and it arrives at your door, or mail box, ready to shred! It looks a lot like this:
So, let’s get on with how to find the blend you like best and how to duplicate it!
At HighDesertTobacco.com, we’ll be selling a ‘blend pack’ consisting of about 11.2oz of flue cured Virginia brightleaf, 2.5oz of Tennessee Burley, and 2.5oz of Turkish Izmir tobaccos. That closely corresponds to the common blend used in manufactured cigarettes and is plenty for experimentation! 1 ounce of tobacco will easily make a full pack of cigarettes… actually, two or more.
There are a couple of ways to experiment and find a blend you like. A very low tech method is demonstrated in the video below but, consistency suffers a bit using that method:
You can see that the technique above is a rough “guestimation” sort of thing at best. It works, after a fashion, but is not the best method. There are better ways!
The best method is by using a small digital scale that will weigh your tobacco down to 0.01 ounces. Those are fairly inexpensive and pretty darned accurate! HighDesertTobacco.com will be selling scales but we don’t have any in stock just yet. Many retailers sell them and you may find one that works at your local Walmart, Target, Sears, or other shops. Pawn shops often have them and sometimes, they show up at Goodwill stores.
The reason for this is that you’ll be blending your tobacco according to percentages or absolute weights and want to be able to keep track of how much of each tobacco type you are using.
After shredding a small amount of each of your tobacco types, we’ll cover that process at another time, you can get started with your experiments of blending.
First of all, I suggest you simply roll a cigarette of all Virginia brightleaf and try it out! You’ll find that it’s sort of ‘middle of the road’ in body. Not super mild nor super strong tasting. Many people prefer it.
Next, you might try putting 0.08 ounces of Virginia brightleaf with 0.02 ounces of Turkish Izmir and try that. Make sure to mix the two tobaccos completely so that the Turkish is distributed throughout the Virginia tobacco so the taste is consistent through the whole cigarette. I think you’ll find that this gives you a milder smoke.
If that mix was too mild, try going to 0.09 ounces of Virginia tobacco with 0.01 ounces of the Turkish.
Perhaps that was “OK” but not fulfilling. Now might be a good time to add the Tennessee Burley to the mix. Try 0.08 ounces of Virginia, 0.01 ounces of Tennessee Burley, and 0.01 ounces of Turkish and see how that tastes.
If it’s too strong, try cutting down the Virginia a little, maybe to 0.06 ounces, and increasing the Turkish to 0.03 ounces. If it was too light, cut the Virginia tobacco to 0.06 ounces, increase the Burley to 0.02 ounces, and keep the Turkish at 0.02 ounces.
Write down the weights each time you change the mix and notate how you liked each one! When you find ‘the right mix’ for your personal taste, you now have the proportions you need to make that blend!
For example, if you found that 0.06 ounces of Virginia blended with .0.02 ounces of Burley and 0.02 ounces of Turkish was just right, then you now know that your blend is 60% Virginia, 20% Burley, and 20% Turkish.
Using that formula, you can now blend up a few ounces! Six ounces will make about a full carton of cigarettes so, you would blend 3.6 ounces of Virginia with 1.2 ounces of Burley and 1.2 ounces of Turkish. That formula is: 6X0.6 = 3.6, 6X0.2 = 1.2. (3.6+1.2+1.2 = 6)
Part of the fun is the discovery of what each tobacco does to the cigarette! Don’t be afraid to try things out. With a one pound “Blend pack”, you’ll have enough tobacco to try dozens of different mixes and still be able to settle on the one you like best. from that point on, you know how much of each individual tobacco to order for the future.
I hope this was informative!