Effects of humidity in tobacco while smoking

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mithridate

New member
Jun 12, 2018
24
0
I'm a bit confused about a matter of humidity in tobacco, so I post this to get clearance, though I have noticed there exists as many clearances as smokers among pipe people. ;)
I searched threads concerning effects of humidity to smoking and found some. I have read that tobacco should be rather humid. I have read that dried tobacco will cause bite. But now I got impression it's vice versa, and in fact it's the humidity in tobacco that causes the bite. Having burnt one bowl of quite humid tobacco less than thirty minutes ago I would agree. So is it really so that drier the tobacco cooler the smoke. I suppose too much is still too much and really very dry tobacco is not good either. I'm sorry to set up a new thread about this, but the matter interests me, so I'd be looking forward to hear your experiences.
I've also got the impression people usually are bothering themselves keeping their tobacco humid by all costs, yet someone gave advice to even dry it purposefully. So it makes me wonder a little...

 

warren

Preferred Member
Sep 13, 2013
7,459
251
Experience and personal preference are the determiners. Each point can be debated over and over, witness this forum. In the end, it's what gives you a satisfying experience and not what satisfies me or the o9ther members.

 

jpmcwjr

Preferred Member
May 12, 2015
13,993
1,047
Monterey Peninsula
So is it really so that drier the tobacco cooler the smoke. I suppose too much is still too much and really very dry tobacco is not good either.
Yes, it can be overdone. Overly dry and it will smoke hot and quickly.
Most tobaccos are packed and shipped at moisture levels that are higher than what's optimum for smoking. Some will swear that blend X or Y are perfect out of the tin, and if it's so for them, it is so for them. Opinions run strong on this subject!

 

ignaciojn

Member
Aug 19, 2016
204
0
Press a small wad with your fingers, strongly. If it keeps clumped when you release it, it's too wet. If it unravels, you're OK. If it turns to dust, it's too dry.
In the OK range, the dryness level is up to personal preference.

 

mithridate

New member
Jun 12, 2018
24
0
Thank you.

I just thought there must be some untebatable physical facts that rely on scientific evidence, like that too humid tobacco causes bite. Of course I understand it's also a matter of preference.

Thanks to the excellent test presented above, I know now I have much too humid tobacco. I thought it was too dry before, but now I see it wasn't. Of course testing and trying are the ways to success, but no need to bang your head to a wall too long... Especially where there are wise people within virtual reach.

 

ignaciojn

Member
Aug 19, 2016
204
0
This is a good read on the subject, from this very site.
http://pipesmagazine.com/blog/out-of-the-ashes/dust-in-the-wind-a-primer-on-tobacco-moisture/

 

olkofri

Preferred Member
Sep 9, 2017
2,344
214
Yes, it would be nice to have academic articles on the topic, but with the present attitudes towards tobacco I don't think we'll see any in the near future.
You've to keep in mind that there are several other factors affecting the burn process besides toby moisture. Take tobacco type for instance: leaf with higher sugar content, such as virginias, will burn hotter than leaf with lower sugar; conversely, leaf with higher oil content, such as latakia, will tend to burn cooler. (Maybe this is why so many on this forum prefer English blends over aromatics. Who knows?) That's just natural sugar content; I'm assuming that blends that get even more sugar because of the casings (I'm looking at you aromatics) will burn even hotter.
Also, I'd assume as well that your environment's humidity levels play a part too.
Regarding how much to let it dry, well, you have to consider again the type of tobacco/blend. Aromatics will lose flavor if dried past a certain point; ergo, these are best to smoke rather 'humid', which will of course make them burn hotter, but I think you can control the heat and prevent bite through smoking technique, i.e. smoke them slower.

 

maker

Junior Member
Mar 22, 2018
96
0
If you have a lot of moisture in the tobacco the bottom of the bowl while smoking will start bubbling and form a hard plug. The tobacco will also be hard to light and keep lit.

Its better to keep tobacco at the correct moisture level while aging to maximize the benefits. Dry tobacco will become bland faster as the oils evaporate. A wet tobacco can form Mold.

Smoking a dry tobacco will irritate the mouth and throat and taste more acrid as it is burning too hot and fast. A moist tobacco is not good if you are getting liquid coming through the stem that is full of the tars, acids and ash from the sidewalls.

It is a difficult balance to achieve. All tobaccos look different and feel different so it is sometimes hard to tell if it is too wet or too dry until you have smoked a bowl. An old flake can be dry on the outside and wet on the inside. An aromatic can feel wet to the touch from the topping but the tobacco can be dry.

 

olkofri

Preferred Member
Sep 9, 2017
2,344
214
Please take this cum magno grano salis: ever since I started smoking a pipe at the end of last year's August, I have had tongue bite 99% of the time, no matter what techniques I've tried in terms of packing, drying, lighting/relighting, &c. Yet, a few weeks ago I was kinda forced to smoke this aromatic blend right out of the tin; I would pack the pipe in the morning, put it in my backpack and smoke it ~5 hours later, after dinner; a couple of times I packed the pipe with the toby right out of the tin and smoked it presently—no drying time at all. Well, I NEVER got bite, not even a single time, in spite of constant relights (it was indeed a wee bit moist) and puffing on the pipe as if it were a cigar.
Now, I haven't had time to revisit the blend under my normal conditions. I want to, to see if the I get bitten, and to see if the moisture level of the blend right out of the tin was the optimal. Right out the tin the tobacco felt moist but not overly so —definitely not the goopy mess you get with some blends.
YMMV.

 

mithridate

New member
Jun 12, 2018
24
0
Well! That was a good article of the matter. And I think I got what I wanted for your instructive replies. The thing is, as I should have guessed - and believe it or not, in fact I did - more complex than one might think. Nevertheless, one thing is certain - I need to dry my tobacco a bit. During short while I've been smoking, I haven't had painful bites in my mouth, exept today.

But practice makes perfect, so I'll keep doing and going.

 

olkofri

Preferred Member
Sep 9, 2017
2,344
214
Yup, practice, practice, practice.
It takes 10,000 hours of doing something to become a master at it. I dunno how many bowls 10,000 hours would be, though.

 

ignaciojn

Member
Aug 19, 2016
204
0
I dunno how many bowls 10,000 hours would be
With an average of 45' per bowl, it's a cool 13334 bowls.

Smoking 5 bowls a day, it would take you 7 years and change.
Half if you breath smoke flakes. :wink:

 

ignaciojn

Member
Aug 19, 2016
204
0
Yes you will, since you'll outlive us all... According to the smoking-kills geniuses. :roll:

 

sablebrush52

Preferred Member
Jun 15, 2013
9,745
439
When a tobacco blend completely dries out there can be a loss of flavor, especially toppings, that no amount of rehydration will restore. But moisture for smoking is a different matter than moisture for storing.
I generally smoke outdoors, rarely indoors-like at a pipe show or pipe club meeting, and I smoke for flavor. So what I taste is the result of what I've drawn into my mouth and what I release thru my schnoz. I can't rely on getting the flavor by sitting in a cloud of smoke in an enclosed space and smelling the blend while inhaling it.
I've put a lot of time into experimenting with the moisture content of the different blends that I like to smoke, and the biggest effect of too much moisture in the tobacco is that the flavors are diluted, muted, and masked. Perhaps some smokers like their blends to be muted in flavor, so they smoke moist tobacco, but I like to get all of what a blend has to offer. The vast majority of the time that means very dry tobacco, not crackly dry, but dry to the touch, dry when squeezed twixt thumb and forefinger, no feel of moisture rising in the tobacco when squeezed, but still pliant. When I get the moisture at about the level described, most of the blends I like to smoke deliver pronounced flavors. If the tobacco is dried out, flavors are lost. If the tobacco is moister than described, flavors are weaker. Smoking indoors is much more forgiving. English blends are much more forgiving than Virginias.
Having the tobacco at the proper level of dryness also offers me other benefits. It's generally easier to keep the tobacco just barely simmering between sips, which also increases the level of flavor released. The flavor comes from the tobacco simmering around the glowing cherry and is carried in the steamy smoke I sip. It's like making a sauce, too much water and the sauce is diluted, properly reduced, the flavor of the sauce in intensified. I never experience tongue bite. Keeping a bowl going doesn't take a lot of effort. I've found what works consistently for me, both indoors and outdoors.

 

jpmcwjr

Preferred Member
May 12, 2015
13,993
1,047
Monterey Peninsula
For those without the experience and discerning hands and mind of sablebrush, a guy can buy a small hygrometer for about five bucks. This will tell you at what level of moisture your tobacco is. Makes it easy to adjust drying or hydrating. Easy to be consistent. A new blend doesn't have to go through a trial period before you know the right level for good smoking.

 

cortezattic

Preferred Member
Nov 19, 2009
14,590
896
Chicago, IL
I Googled schnoz and found 9 other threads in the forums...
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... beats keeping the blends simmering at the verge of going out, while slowly taking in a sip and letting it gently waft out through my schnoz.

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That harshness disappeared when I smoked it slowly in small sips and exhaled very slowly through my schnoz. It delivered a very pleasant cool ...

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Exhaling out the schnoz allows me to get a lot more of the flavor notes in all of the blends, particularly since I only smoke outdoors. It is better to ...

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No static smoke cloud to inhale through my schnoz. And even on those few occasions when I do smoke indoors, my experience of the flavors in ...
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