By Bob Tate


If you store your pipe tobacco properly, it should not dry out. But I am sure that it has happened to us all at one time or another. We open a tin, pouch, or baggie to smoke some tobacco and place it back on the shelf and forget about it being open and it dries out. Don’t throw it away because it can be saved. Pipe tobacco is not like cigars, it can be rehydrated very easily. In this article, I will talk about some ways to rehydrate pipe tobacco if it gets too dry to handle.

First let me say that you don’t have to rehydrate and some people actually prefer their tobacco on the crispy side. There are certain tobaccos that I prefer on the really dry side. However, there are those who say that if the tobacco gets too dry, it loses some of its flavor and needs to be rehydrated so you can taste the ‘actual’ flavor. It’s all about personal preference.

I suggest that you try it both ways and choose for yourself whether you like it dry or moist. If you don’t like it dry, you can rehydrate it using one of the following procedures. Pipe tobacco is not delicate like cigars are, so you do not need to slowly rehydrate it.

1) Use A Humidifier Disc - You can purchase one of the coin humidifier disc from a B&M and wet it with distilled water and put it in with the tobacco in its container.

2) Sponge Method - Get a NEW and UNUSED foam sponge and cut a small square off of it. Dampen the piece of sponge and place it in with the tobacco like a coin humidifier disc.

3) Towel/Paper Towel Method - Put the tobacco in a glass bowl and take some clean paper towels or clean cloth towels and dampen them with distilled water. You can heat the water a little bit to get it warm or place the damp paper towel on a plate and put it in the microwave for a few seconds, as this might help a little with this method. Place the dampened paper towel over the bowl and very loosely cover that with some plastic wrap and let it sit for a few hours. The tobacco will absorb the moisture from the paper towel.

4) Spray It - Lay the tobacco out on a flat surface like a paper plate, cookie sheet, etc. and LIGHTLY spray or ‘spritz’ the tobacco using a CLEAN spray bottle filled with distilled water (DO NOT use a bottle that has previously contained some type of household cleaning agent or chemical. You can buy a new unused bottle at the store. If you smoke cigars you might already have one that you use for ‘spritzing’ your humidifiers). You want to barely dampen the tobacco not soak it. Carefully and gently toss it around a bit and put it back into the storage container and after a day or so it should be rehydrated.

Remember to always use only distilled water when rehydrating tobacco.

The proper RH of pipe tobacco is only around 10-14%. Only rehydrate tobacco if it is dry to the point of being crispy right before it gets to the crumbling into dust stage. If it is already moist and you add extra moisture it can start to mold. Remember that once the tobacco is rehydrated; remove the humidity device from it so it does not get over humidified.




16 Responses to “How to Rehydrate Pipe Tobacco - Rehydrating Pipe Tobacco”

  1. Kevin said:

    Thanks for a great informative post Bob. This is useful information that I know I will need to use on a few tins I have had sitting around for a while.

    This is a “bookmarker”.

  2. mate said:

    I always thought too moist would not be a problem

    Opssssss sorry wrong forum

  3. mate said:


    any method that gets the water in direct contact with the baccy, seems to encourage mould.

    I find the wet Paper Towel, with no direct contact best

  4. Ca Smoker said:

    I buy 1 pound bag pipe tobacco, & a friend showed me how to put a little piece of an orange rind/peel, in the bag, & it works better than spritzing water. You don’t TASTE the orange at all, at least we don’t. There are other friends who use orange peel as well! If you notice it is getting to moist, take out the peel, or if the peel gets dried out, put in another piece. Be sure to fluff (mix/shake) your tobacco.:)

  5. Bob said:

    The problem with using a food substance for hydration is that it could promote mold growth. Be sure to make sure that mold doesn’t start growing on your tobacco.

  6. firedragonx said:

    Recently a 25+ year old can of Borkum Riff Whiskey came into my collection of pipe tobacco, 14 oz. can and no UPC or Bar code on the can - at least 25 years old. Currently I have a small amount in a Comoy Pipe Tobacco Humidor with a Humistat vial in it. Any other suggestions as to how to attempt to bring this weed back to life. This is a little challenging.

  7. Bob said:


    If the tobacco is really dry (to the point of crumbling into dust), I would suggest the paper towel method as described above. Just be careful not to handle the tobacco too much to prevent turning it into dust.

  8. aydinay1 said:

    I bought a jar with two layers. I haven’t recieved it yet but the seller says,

    “tobacco should be put in inner cup, then cup will be placed inside the jar. Any liquid, like whiskey, cognac, water etc. must be put to space between two layers. then cap must be closed well. After several days tobacco become humid.”

    Does anyone has experience with such kind of jar? does it really works?

  9. Bob said:

    I have never heard of such a jar and have never used one like it. It sounds plausible because tobacco does absorb moisture. You just have to make sure that the tobacco is very dry when putting it in such a device because if it is too moist and there is too much humidity (which is caused by liquids), it will cause mold to start developing.

  10. Jack said:

    I find that some tobacco’s just smoke better when on the dry side, but how dry? The best method I have found to bring dry tobacco to the right humidty is to pack the bowl (obviously if the tobacco is to the point of turning to dust when touched, don’t use this method)then make a seal around the top of the bowl with thumb and forefinger, seal your lips on your fingers, and slowly exhale a full breath through the top of the bowl. If you’ve sealed it properly the breath will come out the mouthpiece. After you have done this test the tobacco by pressing on it with your finger. Usually it takes only one or two exhales and the tobacco comes back to life and springs up slightly after being pressed. This has worked for me without fail, hope it helps.

  11. ripon said:

    Many times I have found my infrequently used tobacco’s going too dry to smoke. As long as they aren’t to the point of turning to dust when you touch them, pack your pipe carefully, make a seal around the top of the bowl with forefinger and thumb, seal your lips to same, and exhale a breath slowly through your tobacco. Your breath should come out through the draft hole. After one or two breaths your tobacco should be nicely hydrated and spring back when when tamped. Light up and enjoy. It’s always worked for me.

  12. muntajab said:

    Do you think spraying it with whiskey would be good?

  13. cortezattic said:

    Let me chime in with my 2¢ worth — for the record. I use a large, shallow Tupperware style bowl with a sealable lid. Place a Pyrex bowl or measuring cup in the center, surrounded by the tobacco. Boil some water and carefully pour it into the center container. Seal it up for a steam bath.

    I have also used a vegetable steamer with good results. It’s very convenient since it has a plastic basket to hold the tobacco; and they usually have clear plastic bodies that let you see how things are progressing. (Some, like mine, have a method for infusing the steam with herbs, flavorings and oils, but I’ve never tried doing that.)

  14. muntajab said:

    thank you that was helpful

  15. Gary said:

    I just use a slice of potato or apple and put in bag with tobacco to moisten it. This has always worked fine for me and you do not taste the potato or apple.

  16. mrivney said:

    I have used the Paper Towel method a couple of times with good success. My variation is to use a clean cloth towel. And I didn’t know about heating the towel. Re-hydrated a tin of Rimboche A.B. a few weeks ago. The plastic lid was not on all the way. (It doesn’t snap on that easy. Now I make sure its on, all around the rim.)

    I’ve heard of using vinegar instead of distilled water with the Spray method. I glad I did do this method. I’ve smoked tabac that had vinegar and it bugged my throat.



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