Freezing tobacco

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brudnod

Preferred Member
Aug 26, 2013
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Great Falls, VA
This has been bantered around in a rather circuitous fashion on other threads. What happens when you freeze tobacco? Not the accidental "Oops, I left my tobacco in the car and there was a hard freeze!" or "I just bought a new tin of Escudo and I want it to last forever in my household freezer.". What if you aged your tobacco to what you thought was "just right" and then stuck it in the freezer. Better yet, instead of sticking it in a home freezer at -20 degrees you stuck it in a commercial -70 degrees or lower (absolute zero)? Would the freezing do significant harm to the moisture in the tobacco or would it bring to a halt the aging process (no more bacteria) and you could keep it for years in suspended animation?

 

foolwiththefez

Senior Member
Sep 22, 2015
381
1
Sunny FL
Freezing will screw with the water content. When you freeze something the water solidifies into crystals. The size of these crystals depends on the speed with which you freeze something (the faster you do it the smaller the crystals), but no matter what these crystals will damage the cell walls in the tobacco so that when it is thawed the water leaks out.

 

cortezattic

Preferred Member
Nov 19, 2009
14,824
2,644
Chicago, IL
I think Fez nailed it:

From "Ask G.L. Pease" 2/26/13
From Bob: I realize this might be an oddity, but here goes: A very few tobacco blends that I love are actually better, to me, when they’re younger. Penzance, for example, has an oriental zing that disappears after a couple of years in the tin. But I’m a stockpiler. And I hate thinking that the qualities I love in some blends are going to simply vanish when I open some of my tins 10-20 years from now. So I’m wondering: Is there any way to dramatically slow the effects of aging on tinned blends? Since heat speeds the effect, would refrigeration slow them? And would screw-on/open-with-a-coin tins retain their seal if actually refrigerated over time? Thanks!
A: Cold storage will certainly slow down the chemical and organic processes that take place as a tobacco ages. It’s not likely to grind to a halt, but it’s probable that keeping tobacco close to, but above the freezing point, will cause it to retain some of its youthful attributes for a longer period. Freezing would slow things down still further, but the damage to the structure of the leaf might affect the its smoking characteristics in ways that we won’t like. Additionally, depending on what you prefer about these young tobaccos, you may find that storing with plenty of additional air space may be to your advantage. Regarding the seal on those tins, it’s hard to say. Cooler temperatures, of course, will increase the vacuum slightly, but it will also make the seal less pliable, and could result in early failure.
Unfortunately, there’s no way to stop the hands of time. Your best bet is to enjoy the young tobaccos for as long as they are available, and hope for the best with whatever you put into cold storage.
 

deathmetal

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Jul 21, 2015
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I do not advise freezing tobacco. It changes the flavor, and can change texture as well.

 

frozenchurchwarden

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Mar 1, 2014
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Ask me in thirty years. I keep 90% of my stash outside (Canadian winters)

I keep my tins inside multiple layers of insulation though, it stays quite cool in the summer and that usually works in reverse through the winter.

 

mustanggt

Preferred Member
Dec 6, 2012
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When I smoked nails I always had several cartons in the freezer. I thought they tasted better and didn't think I could hurt it. But that's not hard to do with cigarette tobacco, it is crap tobacco in comparison to premium pipe leaf.

 

phil67

Preferred Member
Dec 14, 2013
2,052
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They do freeze cigars, so it's not unheard of.
True, but that is only done on a short term basis with some cigars as a precautionary method to kill any possible tobacco beetles/larvae, or when you know that the problem exists. I believe that all cigars from Cuba are first frozen for about five days at -4 Fahrenheit and then slowly brought back to room temperature before shipping.

 

mso489

Preferred Member
Feb 21, 2013
27,067
1,891
I'm really dubious. Tobacco isn't a food product and doesn't grow any hazardous bacteria or viruses that I know about. I don't think freezing would have any benefit against mold, might even encourage it by concentrating the water -- in any case, it wouldn't prevent it. It's a worthy experiment; if someone tries it in a systematic way, I'd like to hear about it. I feel it is almost certain the tobacco industry has run this experiment more than once, and I don't hear of them freezing many or any products.

 

andrew

Preferred Member
Feb 13, 2013
2,883
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http://www.puff.com/forums/vb/general-pipe-forum/265787-storing-tobacco-freezer.html
Here is a thread about it on another forum, it sounds like if you jar it, there isn't a problem and it keeps it suspended in time. Personally my goal is aging tobacco, but my basement does get pretty cold in the winter, and I haven't noticed any adverse reaction when I've opened jars with 2 years of age that have gone from quite cold in the winter, to warm in the summer, back to the winter, etc.... I guess the only way to tell is to try it. I wouldn't freeze tins as metal shrinks with the cold which would most likely compromise the seal.

 

zitotczito

Preferred Member
Aug 12, 2014
1,087
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I have frozen cigars with no ill effect that I could notice, but for a short time and then back into the humidor. As for pipe tobacco tins, I could not see doing this. Considering the chance of the tin seal compromise, loss of moisture causing so called "freezer burn," my main concern with aging pipe tobacco has always been it drying out and loss of oils. There is a reason we use mason jars and check tins on a periodic basis.
Feel free to give it a try, I would be interested to see what really happens.

 

jitterbugdude

Preferred Member
Mar 25, 2014
994
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I make a lot of dip. It contains a lot more water than any commercial pipe tobacco. I freeze it and thaw it out as I need it. There have never been any "bad" changes to it. I agree that "some" tobaccos age well so we wouldn't want to freeze them but there are others that go flat, like Latakia. So freezing would be a very good option.
I am always amazed at how quick people are to judge! If you haven't frozen any tobacco to see if there are any side effects, then why recommend to others not to so it?
It's actually quite simple. Take a tin of tobacco, put it in a Ziploc bag, freeze it for a month, thaw it and smoke it.. Make your own decision based on your own experience.

 

brudnod

Preferred Member
Aug 26, 2013
938
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Great Falls, VA
I am going to do an experiment: One each of Lane MV-1000 and Villiger 1888 Late Night. I have plenty of each and will place each in room temperature, intermittently opened and in a -20 degree freezer in shrink wrapped bag. Probably will take 6-12 months to tell any difference. Depends on how patient I am...

 
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