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Mould Problem: HELP Please.

(60 posts)
  • Started 2 years ago by mawnansmiff
  • Latest reply from fitzy
  1. mawnansmiff

    mawnansmiff

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    Hi folks, I have read of instances where members have found mould in their tobacco, most usually in newly opened tins from certain manufacturers but until yesterday I had never seen any mould on any of my blends.

    I buy my tobacco mainly in tins and do one of two things...I put some away for future smoking and I put some in jars so as I can decant from the jars into 50g tins for immediate smoking. This I have done with no ill effects since 2015.

    It is one of these jars (roughly one pint bail top type) that was holding Brown Sugar Flake (made for The Danish Pipe Shop by Samuel Gawith) that is showing mould. About a week ago I just flipped the lid to check that it wasn't drying out (it wasn't) and did my normal thing of sticking my nose in there. The smell in that jar was quite sublime...vinous and fruity, absolutely glorious. I clipped the lid back on with a smile, knowing good things were happening in that jar containing roughly 150g of one of my favourite blends.

    However, yesterday I opened up the jar to decant some of the baccy into my tin. First thing I did was sniff it and again it was delightful...until I actually looked in the jar. There is an area of about one square inch that is mouldy...fruiting body mouldy. I shall later try to gently scoop it out with a fork and inspect it under the microscope but I have two questions.

    One, why has this happened? It is one of about 15 jars that are holding blends, all kept in the same room and to which no moisture has been added. I would guess it has been in the jar some five months and is already rubbed out.

    Two, is the rest of the baccy still good to smoke assuming I can scoop all of the mould out? I would be heartbroken to have to ditch the remainder as BSF is pretty hard to get hold of.

    I'm now of course wondering if that delightful smell was actually the mould. It sort of reminded me of a well matured bale of silage which has to be smelled to be appreciated.

    Any advice here would be most welcome.

    Regards,

    Jay.

    ...take up thy stethoscope and walk...
    Posted 2 years ago #
  2. papipeguy

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    Here are a couple of pictures of mold forming on a piece of Temple Bar. You could be seeing sugar crystals forming.

    Blowin' smoke since 1970.
    Posted 2 years ago #
  3. prairiedruid

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    Could be the mold spores were already on/in the tobacco before you even got it. Mold spores are everywhere and can be inactive for long periods of time before "waking up". As to smoking it......since it was fruiting it means you'll be smoking mold spores; not usually a good thing. Some people scrape off or cut away the effected tobacco and smoke it anyways. Up to you how to weigh the risk vs. reward on this.

    Posted 2 years ago #
  4. fitzy

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    We need pictures.

    "These are ghosts that are more at home in a girdle-filled drawer than one of my pipes." Quote by Neil Archer Roan on lakeland ghosts
    Posted 2 years ago #
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    aldecaker

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    If I were a man with lung problems, I wouldn't take any chances with smoking mold spores.

    A man who serves his country is a patriot. A man who serves his government is an employee. The two are not always the same thing.
    Posted 2 years ago #
  6. samcoffeeman

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    That is definitely a problem. You could have tainted it yourself when you opened it. I never open my jars unless I am going to smoke out of it. Opening releases all the goodness that is happening inside for the aging process. Always wash your hands and be sure your jars are clean before jarring. Best practice is to keep a bottle of high proof(90%) alcohol handy. I'll wipe the inside of my jar and lid and my hands before jarring my tobacco. Just give it a minute to dry and it'll be sterilized.

    Posted 2 years ago #
  7. madox07

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    Hmmm ... mold usually comes up with moisture. Perhaps you washed the jar and din't properly dry it out? It may very have looked dry when you put the tobacco in it, but given the fact that pipe tobacco does contain some water ... the mold might have thrived on that tobacco moisture, as the jar was already contaminated. Although ... glass is usually a sterile medium for mold. Pictures would help, yes.

    Sea Wolf Pipers

    "Like the mariners of old, a loner is acceptable but a pipe is best enjoyed in a pack"
    Posted 2 years ago #
  8. cortezattic

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    My one experience with mold was with a resealed tin that had been thoughtlessly placed atop a source of low-level heat (an idling cable TV converter). The smell was so rank that I tossed the whole tin.

    Your tobacco may be salvageable. Consider, if you will, that whatever spores did germinate were already ensconced in the blend; and that when we smoke, we're exposing ourselves to dormant spores anyway. (Hell, what's the sense of having an immune system if you don't use it!)

    IMO, if the tobacco has a proper smell (and taste), then you're probably in the clear. Too, consider that the smoke itself is carcinogenic, and probably placing you at a greater health risk than the dormant mold spores.

    I find myself sitting idly on the line dividing past and future,
    as if I could kill time without injuring eternity. -- Thoreau
    Posted 2 years ago #
  9. mawnansmiff

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    WOW chaps, I just got the shock of my life! I took a fork to the mouldy patch and lifted it...only to find that the mould went right to the bottom of the jar pretty much in a vertical line.

    There was a 'chimney' of mouldy tobacco and though it was right at the edge of the jar I couldn't see through the glass due to the sticker I had applied.

    With deft work with tweezers and the fact that it seemed to be well adhered to itself I managed to get the lot out...a fair few bowls at least!

    The remainder I have put in a tin and will air it until it's smokeable then work through it pretty damned quick though I shall be checking it daily

    The jar was brand new (though I never cleaned it afore use) so now what to do to thoroughly cleanse the jar? Boiling water is out...perhaps very hot soapy water, rinse, dry then a wipe down with 99% alcohol?

    Physical fitness allowing I shall attempt posting pictures on the morrow.

    I'm very sad...to lose any baccy is bad but to lose BSF is terrible

    Regards,

    Jay.

    Posted 2 years ago #
  10. cortezattic

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    After that experience, I wouldn't blame you for becoming completely anal about cleanliness (excuse the oxymoron). But this whole incident may be a one-time happenstance. Your previous habits seemed to have worked just fine to this point, so I wouldn't change too much.

    Posted 2 years ago #
  11. cosmicfolklore

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    Jars usually come cleaner than if you cleaned them. We had a member years ago who had the capacity to test them, and they come very sterile, the Mason/Ball Jars do anyways.

    Michael
    Posted 2 years ago #
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    oldgeezersmoker

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    I don't want to upset anybody, but from its description Brown Sugar Flake sounds like an ideal medium for culturing mold. I have ordered two 250g packages of G & H in recent months, Balkan Flake and St.James Flake. Sopping wet on arrival.

    Posted 2 years ago #
  13. madox07

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    I wouldn't smoke that mate ... just throw it away, mold is very bad for your lungs. Also I have read that mold can be really bad if you have certain allergies.. as in to the point of anaphylactic shock.

    Posted 2 years ago #
  14. toobfreak

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    Funny how tobacco lays and hangs around for months in factories, in piles on old wooden carts, handled by all kinds of people, deveined, treated and processed, squashed, pressed, cooked, sprayed, then we get it at our homes and need to treat it with kid gloves under sterile conditions!

    To Master Po: Is it not being able to see that makes you tire of life?
    Master Po: No! It is being able to hear!
    Posted 2 years ago #
  15. woodsroad

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    Two step process here:

    1. Confirm that it is indeed mold.

    2. Throw it out, jar and all. Just seal it up quick and toss it. Removing any of the jar's contents will only spread more mold spores around your house.

    Posted 2 years ago #
  16. cosmicfolklore

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    Woods, I could have sworn that you had once posted that mold spores are everywhere already, and it is just when conditions become right that they start to grow. I'm confused. Is there new information?

    Posted 2 years ago #
  17. mothernaturewilleatusallforbreakfast

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    What woodsroad said. I get it though... you think it's just like bread, right? Tear off the moldy bit and eat the rest. The only thing is that some molds inhaled into the lungs can be a very very bad thing. I wouldn't want to take the risk, but you should be okay.

    Posted 2 years ago #
  18. woodsroad

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    No new information, Michael.

    Mold spores are everywhere. But not in the concentration found in a fruiting batch of tobacco. If you have a pile of tobacco that is blooming with mold of a variety that obviously thrives there, then you have a veritable spray nozzle of trouble.

    Posted 2 years ago #
  19. woodsroad

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    Best practice is to keep a bottle of high proof(90%) alcohol handy. I'll wipe the inside of my jar and lid and my hands before jarring my tobacco. Just give it a minute to dry and it'll be sterilized.

    I'm not a microbiologist, but it is my understanding that wiping a jar with alcohol will not kill mold spores. The spores would need to soak in alcohol for an extended period in order to be killed.

    There's a lot of good info out there on the web about the difference between clean, sanitized and sterilized.

    Posted 2 years ago #
  20. philobeddoe

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    Toss the whole jar. The cost of a new jar isn't worth the potential loss of another tin.

    "So it goes." - K.V.
    Posted 2 years ago #
  21. madox07

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    I'm with philobeddoe

    Posted 2 years ago #
  22. toobfreak

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    Unless you are willing to clean the jar (and treat the tobacco) with the likes of (in decreasing effectiveness) liquid chlorine (about 8 oz. / gal. water), borax solution (1 cup / gal.), straight vinegar, or hydrogen peroxide 3%, you are not killing anything. Throw it away.

    Posted 2 years ago #
  23. buroak

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    I have seen a lot of sugar crystals on even fresh Sam Gawith and Gawith Hoggarth tobaccos, but what you are describing certainly sounds like mold. Others' advice to pitch the tobacco AND jar is the advice I would take. You have a mold that will survive the presumably excellent anti-mold treatment SG uses, and I would not want that around my other tobaccos.

    Life contains a particle of risk. - Allardyce T. Meriweather in Little Big Man
    Posted 2 years ago #
  24. buroak

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    Funny how tobacco lays and hangs around for months in factories, in piles on old wooden carts, handled by all kinds of people, deveined, treated and processed, squashed, pressed, cooked, sprayed, then we get it at our homes and need to treat it with kid gloves under sterile conditions!

    Toobfreak, I often think the same thing as I go through my procedures for jarring tobacco. I figure any outbreak of mold in our cellared tobacco is most likely down to bad luck. There are those rare bad batches, but mostly tobacco endures its long, dirty journey to our pipes without ever growing a sweater.

    Posted 2 years ago #
  25. yaddy306

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    I've never heard of a mold infestation that smelled "delightful".

    Posted 2 years ago #
  26. sablebrush52

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    I remember the C&D Carolina Red disaster from last year. Bottom line is ditch the whole thing. Do not smoke, nor hope that any portion of the tobacco is viable for smoking. It isn't.

    It is better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to open one's mouth and remove all doubt. - Mark Twain

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    Posted 2 years ago #
  27. theloniousmonkfish

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    Don't smoke that stuff! The whole thing is contaminated, bag and toss it. Mold spores and other harmful things are everywhere but if it's fuzzy it's fruiting and those concentrations are the harmful ones. Don't mess with your lungs, you already smoke, it was a loss. Crap happens. Please don't smoke mold, it's bad, mmm'kay?

    Posted 2 years ago #
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    pipeman7

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    don't want to upset anybody, but from its description Brown Sugar Flake sounds like an ideal medium for culturing mold. I have ordered two 250g packages of G & H in recent months, Balkan Flake and St.James Flake. Sopping wet on arrival.

    Neither of those blends are made by Gawith Hoggarth.

    manmansniff, throw away the whole jar.

    Posted 2 years ago #
  29. tennsmoker

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    I'm with Sablebrush and Thelonious: Take your losses and toss jar and all.

    Too risky to smoke. Besides, if I recall my biology, you may get all the spores you see, but miss the ones that are in the baccy, but you can't see!


    The past is never dead. It's not even past--Requiem for a Nun
    Posted 2 years ago #
  30. theloniousmonkfish

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    "Besides, if I recall my biology, you may get all the spores you see, but miss the ones that are in the baccy, but you can't see!"

    Exactly, the human eye is not a microscope. When you pull the "bad" part off a piece of bread all you do is rip off the fruit of the mold, which is just the tip. It's not dirt, you can't scrape it off or wash it.

    Posted 2 years ago #
  31. cortezattic

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    I contend that we're smoking tobacco that is infected with spores all the time. Occasionally, poor storage conditions cause the spores to "sprout" -- or whatever the technical term is germinate. Go ahead and smoke the stuff -- but let us know if your pee-pee falls off.

    Posted 2 years ago #
  32. theloniousmonkfish

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    "I contend that we're smoking tobacco that is infected with spores all the time."

    Absolutely, the air is full of crap we don't want to breath at high concentrations, it's everywhere but minute. It's when the conditions are right and the unnoticeable crap that's always there becomes dominant that health is a concern. Mold is a clear indicator that the level of crap is too high in something, it may have always been there but now it's a problem.

    Posted 2 years ago #
  33. woodsroad

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    Also, nearly all of the tobacco we smoke has been treated with something to retard spore growth. So if you see mold, something went wrong, somewhere, and chances are good that you are now dealing with an exponentially higher number of spores than you would find in your average tin of Prince Granger Deluxe Marine Rolls.




    Scanning electron microscope image showing spores of Aspergillus. Aspergillus species are common contaminants of starchy foods (such as bread and potatoes), and grow in or on many plants and trees.

    Posted 2 years ago #
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    oldgeezersmoker

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    SG, G&H, same factory, same wet as hell product,per another thread on Cabbies Mixture seems like they can't keep things straight themselves. Sorry that I can't either.

    Posted 2 years ago #
  35. jpmcwjr

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    Looks a bit like a cross between artichokes and leaf lettuce. Yummm!

    My macro lens doesn't quite get down that far....

    I know that you believe you understood what you think I said, but I'm not sure you realize that what you heard is not what I meant.
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  36. wyfbane

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    Agree with the toss it out crowd.

    Condolences on the loss of a jar of tobacco. =(

    Posted 2 years ago #
  37. mawnansmiff

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    "I've never heard of a mold infestation that smelled "delightful"."

    Yaddy, with all due respect the silage (fermented grass) we used to feed the cattle in winter with was absolutely caked in mould spores but the only way to know a good bale from a bad bale was by smell...and the best silage smelled glorious. Again, very winey, stewed fruit smell.

    I looked at some samples tonight under the microscope and saw large mats of white with a scattering of white dust about. Absolutely no question it is mould.

    I shall take pictures in the morning. To attach my camera to the third ocular of my microscope takes quite a while to set up so shall use my super macro set up in stead.

    Thanks ever so much chaps for your thoughts and suggestions, much appreciated

    Regards,

    Jay.

    Posted 2 years ago #
  38. woodsroad

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    You have a third eye?

    Posted 2 years ago #
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    aldecaker

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    That one's blind.

    Posted 2 years ago #
  40. woodsroad

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    In the land of the blind, the one-eyed man is king.

    Posted 2 years ago #
  41. jefff

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    He doesn't even need to wear clothes.

    Posted 2 years ago #
  42. deathmetal

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    1. Fill jar with napalm.
    2. Throw into back yard, ignite.
    3. Draw in smoke through empty pipe.

    "My own experience has been that the tools I need for my trade are paper, tobacco, food, and a little whiskey." -- William Faulkner

    The Metal Mixtures
    Posted 2 years ago #
  43. jefff

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    And Homemade Napalm is EASY!

    Posted 2 years ago #
  44. johnbarleycorn

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    I had the same think happen to me once. It was a jar of capstan blue Flake. It was under identical conditions as all my other jarred tobaccos. It was all on one corner of the flakes so I assume it was the result of some sort of contamination durimg my handling of the flakes. I threw the entire contents away and it has never happened again. I do take a little more precaution when transferring blends to jar now. Good luck with the rest of your brown sugar Flake.

    And little Sir John and the nut brown bowl proved the strongest man at last
    Posted 2 years ago #
  45. toobfreak

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    To be honest, I've never had a mold issue. I've left stuff in jars for years with no special care. I use the same jars for coffee beans and tobacco. If I go to use a jar and it has dust in it from one or the other, or a smell from previous contents, I wipe it clean. Rarely, I will wash and dry it. If you are going to have a mold, I don't think it is from lack of sterilization under UV light and ozone, I think is is something with the baccy you put in it, perhaps multiplied by some real bad storage conditions maybe. I think if you use reasonable care and reasonable storage, you'll be alright 99% of the time.

    Posted 2 years ago #
  46. mawnansmiff

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    Well folks here we are, prepare yourselves for some nasty pictures!

    The first is the bulk of the tainted tobacco....now flushed down the toilet (saved some in a sealed petri dish for future examination under the biological microscope). The following are close up shots, each of which is about 4mm across...spores aplenty I would say

    I'm inclined to agree with Cortez and Toob inasmuch as this is a one off...I sincerely hope it is. How it happened I cannot say but clearly something got into the jar when I was loading it with baccy. It wasn't the first time that jar had been filled with Brown Sugar Flake so I must have introduced some nasties when I last filled it up.

    I cannot think of anything I can do to prevent this happening again so fingers crossed this is a first and last time for me.

    Regards,

    Jay.

    Posted 2 years ago #
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    bigpond

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    Hmm, that's exactly what C&D refer to as "well aged"!

    Were that a plug I would have thought you may have snuck in and snapped up my 8 oz tin of Jack knife.

    I don't smoke mold often but when I do, I make sure it C&D mold!

    Posted 2 years ago #
  48. jvnshr

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    Sorry for the baccy but those pictures are great. We should keep them for the future references.

    @bigpond

    Javan
    Posted 2 years ago #
  49. shaintiques

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    I have over 100 jars in my cellar, but no mold. All jarred straight out of the tin and into a fresh jar. AI open them, smell them, get tobacco out. Never had an issue. Also only 2 of the blends are C&D. And they were very aged when I opened them. Not sure why you have the mold growth, I think this happens when a sample comes contaminated from the factory if the jar is indeed brand new.

    I know what I need, smoke, I can't recall the last time I tasted it....Gandalf in the mines of Moria.

    "we shall have to share pipes, as good friends must at a pinch'....'I keep a treasure or two near my skin, as precious as rings to me. Here's one: my old wooden pipe. And here's another an unused one...He held up a small pipe with a wide flattened bowl, and handed it to Gimli. 'Does that settle the score between us', said Merry. 'Most noble hobbit, it leaves me deep in your debt."
    Posted 2 years ago #
  50. toobfreak

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    Well clearly, certain conditions must be met. Mold spores are everywhere, in the air, on the tobacco, the problem is what takes them from being dormant? They need a food source--- obviously the tobacco, but if you keep the RH down, below 70% and keep the storage area cooler, the sixties are nice, you greatly improve your chances of staying mold free, that is, inactive.

    Other than that, if a particular tobacco gets moldy, chances are good that something happened to it early in life. It did not have good ventilation while drying or was subjected to excessive dampness, and so already had an active colony when you got it.

    Posted 2 years ago #
  51. jpmcwjr

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    Jay- Was that tobacco pretty moist when you jarred it?

    Toob- Very few tobaccos come with an RH as low as your preferred 70%, so drying would be required before jarring.

    Posted 2 years ago #
  52. cosmicfolklore

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    Brown Sugar Flake is very moist and takes a long time to dry, IMO. Maybe the moisture and sugars override their mold inhibitors and provide a feast for the mold spores.

    Posted 2 years ago #
  53. mawnansmiff

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    "Mold spores are everywhere, in the air, on the tobacco"

    Absolutely true Toob but there are mould spores and there are mould spores...likely zillions of different types and of course they are everywhere. Evidently some particular tobacco loving mould spores were hanging around either when it was packed at the factory or here when I jarred it up. I'm leaning toward the latter.

    "Jay- Was that tobacco pretty moist when you jarred it?"

    Yes John, it's a Gawith blend afterall and they are not known for selling dry tobacco

    When I can be bothered I'll dig out my more powerful biological 'scope and attempt to identify which family of moulds this is. That said, I am no mycologist but it's clearly a saprotrophic fungus given the growing medium.

    We shall see!

    Regards,

    Jay.

    Posted 2 years ago #
  54. woodsroad

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    The tobacco grew mold because it wasn't treated properly with anti mold agents.

    Posted 2 years ago #
  55. toobfreak

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    Mold free here!

    Just came up from my cellar to inspect everything for the first time in about 8-9 months and all is OK. The cellar stays in the 60's and is very dry. If it is not in a tin, I keep it in a glass mason jar. First, I took all of my square tins and wrapped them with tape. Been meaning to do that. One by one I went through the jars and it is funny the stuff you find you forgot you had.

    Kinda hard not to open stuff and sniff it or take some back up but I have plenty to smoke upstairs. Lots of ropes, plugs, cakes, flakes and coins. All looking dandy. What I found interesting was that the only places I could get a sense of tobacco smell were the tubs that had tins stored in them!

    Some nice plume on some G&H Brown Flake.

    Considering what tobacco goes through drying, processing and storing, I think it unlikely that all tobacco doesn't have spores in it. Being super clean about hands, jars etc., doesn't hurt but unless they are filthy, I'm not sure it is a huge factor. The kicker is keeping it inactive. Don't give mold the conditions it wants. Cool temps, refrigeration even if you must, and pack tightly, keep the air away. If the stuff is overly moist, you might want to let it dry some in a clean area.

    As to that smell, I guess the next time I dig the stuff out, I will probably put a tape seal on the round tins next.

    Posted 2 years ago #
  56. mawnansmiff

    mawnansmiff

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    "Hmm, that's exactly what C&D refer to as "well aged"!"

    Bigpond, whether you said that in jest or not I don't know, but looking back to a forum post of five years ago where a member contacted that company regarding a mould issue here is the supposed response from the company...

    The answer from C&D follows. I include it in it's entirety, rather than paraphrase:

    Mr. X,
    Absolutely nothing wromg[sic] with the tobacco. What you have is tobacco that has picked up yeast. This is a good thing. The yeast ages the tobacco. Enjoy a full mature smoke.
    Regards,
    Chris.

    If that is a genuine response to a mould query I have to say I am somewhat astonished to say the least

    "The kicker is keeping it inactive. Don't give mold the conditions it wants. Cool temps, refrigeration even if you must, and pack tightly, keep the air away. If the stuff is overly moist, you might want to let it dry some in a clean area."

    Toob, I have read elsewhere that that is not a good thing, particularly if the baccy is moist in the first place as one is only making it more so by compacting it in a tighter space. That said, I do tend to pack tight, really tight once I have rubbed it out.

    Perhaps in the future I ought just jar the flakes as they come, then take them out as and when for smoking.

    Regards,

    Jay.

    Posted 2 years ago #
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    pipeman7

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    The tobacco grew mold because it wasn't treated properly with anti mold agents.

    I don't know, I've got tons and tons jars of Sam Gawith no mold.

    Manmansniff, I always wash my hands really well before jarring tobacco. Bleach wipe the whole surface of the table I use, and use a clean piece of paper. Use new mason jars, don't wash em and dry em, no problem reusing them when I blend runs out either. But don't wash them. It could be SG, or it could be you, but atleast do what you can do prevent it on your end

    Posted 2 years ago #
  58. toobfreak

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    Perhaps in the future I ought just jar the flakes as they come, then take them out as and when for smoking.

    That is what I do. I leave everything in whole form. I pack as tight as I can in many cases leaving little air. Some of the blends come shredded and chipped, soft and what I consider wet aros packed to the nines. No mold.

    Any reading I've done on mold says that keeping air away helps. I think that if the stuff is on the moist side, if you are not going to dry it, at least press out all the air.

    Those pictures you show look like a raging mold infection. I'll forego the yeast theory.

    I would call whoever you bought the stuff from and ask them. These dealers have tons of tobacco laying around in bulk--- how do they deal with it?

    Posted 2 years ago #
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    pipeman7

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    Perhaps in the future I ought just jar the flakes as they come, then take them out as and when for smoking.

    That's what I suggested when you made the thread on jarring up 250 boxes. You definitely don't want to let the tobacco dry at all before jarring.

    Posted 2 years ago #
  60. fitzy

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    Damn that sucks.

    Posted 2 years ago #

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