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.