Drying vs not drying

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aquadoc

Preferred Member
Feb 15, 2017
1,478
60
United States
Most arguments are for drying most tobaccos out of the tin. But many reviewers say you lose flavor by drying and that the blender packed it at the right amount of moisture for smoking. Where is the truth? Is it different for each tobacco type or blend?

 

aldecaker

Preferred Member
Feb 13, 2015
4,412
3
Depends. If you have a leathery, callused tongue, the hot steam delivered from wet tobacco probably perks up your taste buds so you can actually taste something. Even if that taste is "smoky pain flavor".

 

bluegrassbrian

Preferred Member
Aug 27, 2016
1,992
402
You just have to find out for yourself.

Keep notes on blends..
I like my FVF brittle, but my Mcclelland Red and Black aired out but still pliable.

 

cosmicfolklore

Preferred Member
Aug 9, 2013
18,105
441
There is no one ultimate truth. It's subjective, and this has never been as big an issue as it is in our current stock of members. We have one member who thinks we should all have scientific messing devices to gauge our tobacco before smoking, and one who thinks we are all bonkers for drying at all.

In the past we've always been a "if you enjoy it, you must be doing something right" mentality. It's only been lately that folks have been getting dogmatic about dryness. I get more flavor from dry, sometimes crunchy bone dry... dogmatic jerks be damned. If someone likes theirs less dry, great for them. But, not all taste buds, body chemistry, and smoking techniques are the same. Even I sometimes will smoke rather wet blends. I still play around with the dryness, because some days I feel like smoking something differently.

 

deathmetal

Preferred Member
Jul 21, 2015
7,723
1
But many reviewers say you lose flavor by drying and that the blender packed it at the right amount of moisture for smoking. Where is the truth?
In my experience, it varies. Blenders often pack a bit wet because they figure that the tin will hang out in your pocket for a few days while you smoke through it and lose moisture during that time. Also, your personal chemistry comes into play here.
When Cosmic says that this is "subjective," he is alluding to the fact that we all approach this from different places. In addition to what he mentions above, some people prefer the dry "taste" sort of like some like "dry" wines. I find that sometimes just a little drying works wonders.
For example, I love The Beast. It is one of the greatest blends for Perique freaks ever created. It has a pleasant topping, but out of the tin, might be a bit much. Mix it with some Five Brothers and the moisture transfers somewhat, making the Burley taste "pop" a bit more and pushing the topping and Perique slightly to the background.
Full drying would probably not be as efficacious, but it does result in less moisture in the pipe and easier burning, which is important for when one is smoking, for example, Brown Twist Sliced, an oily mess of slithering strands that gets tamed by thirty minutes in a dark, dry corner.

 

warren

Preferred Member
Sep 13, 2013
7,422
146
There is nothing so dogmatic as a pipe smoker who firmly believes "his way to smoke is the only way to smoke." Your palate and tasting apparatus are unique from all others. Some blends do indeed need drying, in my opinion, to meet my expectations. Others? May be perfect right from the tin.
Learning to load a pipe and how to draw are the easy steps of the learning curve as there is immediate feedback. Finding the blends and the moisture level you prefer is the steeper part of the curve. A new blend, for me, needs possibilities in the first bowl. Then I will experiment with moisture levels and packing styles. I'm not the most discerning of smokers but, I am willing to muck around to see if I can "round out" a new blend as long as I taste "possibilities." I've discovered some favorites and discarded more than a few barely touched tins and pouches.
So, in the end, there is no "one truth." Other smokers can only, in reality, relate what works for them, their smoking style, their palate and mouth.

 

deathmetal

Preferred Member
Jul 21, 2015
7,723
1
Your palate and tasting apparatus are unique from all others.
Also: experience level, needs, frequency, relative humidity, personal pH, what you're watching on television, how much fiber you eat, etc.

 

sablebrush52

Preferred Member
Jun 15, 2013
9,704
342
Most arguments are for drying most tobaccos out of the tin. But many reviewers say you lose flavor by drying and that the blender packed it at the right amount of moisture for smoking. Where is the truth? Is it different for each tobacco type or blend?
In my own experience, drying tobacco to it's moisture sweet spot INCREASES the flavor. Extra moisture DECREASES flavor. That sweet spot varies from blend to blend. Most of the blends I smoke offer their most concentrated flavors when smoked quite dry.
But the conditions under which I enjoy my pipes are different from most smokers. I limit myself to only smoking outdoors. This means that I don't have a cloud of smoke in an enclosed room, by means of which I can smell the flavors as I breathe. I get the flavors through taste and retrohale. So I experiment with each blend to find what level of moisture gives me the most intense flavors from the blend. I always know when I've missed the mark by not hitting that blend's sweet spot because the flavors are dull and/or some flavor notes aren't present in the smoke. No cloud of smoke to deliver the flavors to me because I'm not smoking indoors.
As for moisture levels in tinned tobacco, I wouldn't give anyone who says it's all tinned at correct moisture levels much credence for knowledge. Gawith blends are sopping wet and frankly taste like crap to me until they're dried enough to let the constituents shine through. But Russ' blends are generally good right out of the tin because he tins at much lower moisture levels. Extra moisture might have some effect on improving aging, though that's all speculation and there's no proof one way or another. But extra moisture can keep the contents from drying out longer, since tins aren't an absolute seal, and water is cheaper than tobacco by weight.
Ultimately it doesn't matter what I, or anyone else has to say about this. There's no substitute for experimenting with the blends you like to smoke and figuring out what works best for you.

 

hawky454

Preferred Member
Feb 11, 2016
3,041
279
I agree with Sablebrush52. I find that smoking a tobacco that is moist is akin to drinking a soda pop with melted ice cubes, so in other words, moist tobacco doesn't yield as much flavor in my experience and tastes like it's been diluted. Once I dry the tobacco the flavors tend to be more concentrated. I smoke outside as well.

 

toobfreak

Preferred Member
Dec 19, 2016
1,365
0
My own experience is that most blends benefit from some drying. No drying of many blends = difficult lighting and burning. Too wet is seldom better than too dry. When you get comfortable enough to judge where the optimal dryness is, which is usually dry enough to burn well, but not crumbly, is where you will get both your best burn and flavor.
I used to think makers packed the stuff so wet to pad the tin; more wetness means you are paying for water, but I'm convinced now that for a lot of blends, that wetness is vital to the normal storage and aging process.

 

aquadoc

Preferred Member
Feb 15, 2017
1,478
60
United States
Thanks everyone. I have been doing it as suggested, in other words, I have been doing most blends before smoking. I am too ignorant if tobacco at this point to venture too far of the ranch. Yet. It is nice to see a consensus, more or less.

 

darthcider

Preferred Member
Jan 24, 2014
719
1
Wales
Not sure if there is a correct answer.

Although dryer seems to be the general consensus, you need to experiment and find what works for you and each individual tobacco.

 

mso489

Preferred Member
Feb 21, 2013
26,209
404
An overnight drying seldom diminishes a blend, in my experience. But if the tobacco feels a little moist, you can easily try a char light, and the relight, and see what happens. Then if you need to dry it, just leave the packed pipe overnight and smoke another blend in a different pipe. I'm currently smoking a tin of Frog Morton Cellar which feels slightly moist to the touch, but it lights up fine and stays lit, and I don't bother with drying it. On the other hand, I sometimes collect the last of two blends in a bowl and smoke them in my rotation, letting them dry out sometimes for days, and they do fine. Use a little judgement; usually blends are more forgiving than you'd think.

 

cosmicfolklore

Preferred Member
Aug 9, 2013
18,105
441
Try it lots of different ways, and smoke it at the level that you like it. I like mine semi dry to crunchy depending on what it is. I like my pure Virginias way more dry than my VaPers. And some... I am still trying to find the perfect level. If you like it, then you're at the perfect level.

 

cosmicfolklore

Preferred Member
Aug 9, 2013
18,105
441
Heck, I left a whole tin of SG Brown Sugar Flake out for two weeks, and it was still wet. I have yet to find a perfect level for it, but so far it's pretty good.

 

tinsel

Preferred Member
Oct 23, 2015
531
0
Where is the truth? Is it different for each tobacco type or blend?
I would imagine the "truth" is different for every blend, and every person.
Personally, I almost never dry any of my tobacco. I have a couple blends that are "occasional" smokes for me that I will sometimes let dry a bit, but it's rare.
For me personally ($.02) if I can't enjoy a blend without drying it out forever, I don't buy it anymore. I smoke them how they come out of the tin, and if it isn't good, I don't come back to it. I'm sure that I am missing out on some great smokes by having the attitude, but I just don't have the patience to be drying out my bowls for hours on end before I can smoke. I like tobaccos that I can crack the tin, load up the pipe, and smoke them :D

 

toobfreak

Preferred Member
Dec 19, 2016
1,365
0
I usually put my tobacco out while I'm eating dinner. By the time I get to it, it is dry. Though I'm not a fan of it, if you microwave it 10 seconds, that kinda works in a pinch.
If I have more than the pipe can fit, I put the extra in a little plastic thing. It dries further in there without becoming over-dry. Then it can be used next smoke.
I have even packed bowls and left them dry that way. They have sat overnight with no harm. If 20 minutes before a smoke, you pick out your weed and lay it on a plate, chances are it will be good to go when you are. You could pack a bowl a few hours before you intend to smoke it. That way, you will always have a pre-packed bowl ready to smoke while another is drying.

 

frozenchurchwarden

Preferred Member
Mar 1, 2014
1,977
28
My experience is that almost nothing tastes right if it's too dry, and smoking something fresh almost never makes it worse, you just have to deal with the issues of keeping it lit.
At the same time, some flakes (and especially Ropes) seem to burn poorly no matter how much I dry them, so at this point I've just come to the conclusion that I can't smoke flakes at all unless I have a torch.
And then there are the "goopy" aromatics that are almost physically impossible to dry out (the PG solution is designed to prevent drying) and still burn incredibly well while still sopping wet. 1Q being a good example, it already burns too quickly when it's fresh.

 

toobfreak

Preferred Member
Dec 19, 2016
1,365
0
On the matter of drying, I set out some aromatic late last night and an hour later stuffed it into a cob. It smoked wonderful. It is my own blend so I know it well--- a mixture of a number of things including some RLP-6, McC 715 Raspberry & Cream, Sutliff Creme Brulee, Rum Raisin, and Strawberry Delight, and a little Blood Red Moon. Drying makes for a cooler smoke as you eliminate unnecessary steam in the smoke and moisture in the bowl. A dry smoke transmits more flavor to the tongue as less flavor is captured and held in the water droplets within the pipe.
Ropes I have found smoke best cut thin and a couple coins layered between some ribbon cut above and below to support air around them. If that does not work, cube cut it.
Flakes as well require proper drying and if you fold and stuff them with the fold at top and with a twist to crack the flake and press it into place with good contact between layers, you may find it smokes better. Others have good results with the cube cut.

 

bluegrasspipe

Preferred Member
Jan 13, 2017
598
3
That's a lot of good information fellas. I wish I had found this information when I got back into pipe smoking a few years back.
When I was younger, I smoked cigarettes, and I smoked an aromatic pipe blend mostly. Back then, I never really had a problem with my tongue, it may have been more "leather" then. But in recent years, when I started experimenting with VaPers, Virginias, english blends etc, after quitting smoking for some years. I felt like my tongue was always a little sore, most noticeably in the morning. Some of it may have been my rhythm, but I think I was actually steaming my tongue with moist tobacco a lot of the time, and it wasn't than a tongue bite thing. Drying really helped to stop this.
Now, I almost always use a dry time, usually about twenty minutes, and I use the pinch method, if it sticks together when you pinch and drop it, it's probably in need of some drying. Some blends I have, really need it, while others, (Dunhill ribbon for example) are usually perfect.
MSO489, your point
"But if the tobacco feels a little moist, you can easily try a char light, and the relight, and see what happens. Then if you need to dry it, just leave the packed pipe overnight and smoke another blend in a different pipe".

This is in my opinion great advice, with wet blends in need of drying that aren't burning great, I find they surprisingly taste and smoke wonderful sometimes, if I let them sit after overnight and come back to them.