5. Approaches to Cigarette Blending

The exact blend of any particular cigarette brand is truly a moving target. Well-recognized brands subtly alter their blend intentionally, from time to time. In addition, the crop years, sourcing of the leaf, location of the factory, and other factors contribute to considerable variation geographically as well as overtime. And similar variations will likewise influence your own blending results. While the massive scale of tobacco acquisition and use by a factory provides something of a buffer to noticeable change, the same is not the case for a home-roller, given the relatively minuscule scale of production by an individual roller.

Traditional European Style Cigarette blend from FmGrowit, of the Fair Trade Tobacco Forum and WLT.

  • 120 grams Bright Virginia
  • 40 grams Red Virginia
  • 40 grams Lemon Virginia
  • 90 grams Fire cured
  • 160 gams Maryland 609
  • A casing spray is often added.

Traditional American Style Cigarette blend from FmGrowit, of the Fair Trade Tobacco Forum and WLT.

  • 115 gams Bright Virginia
  • 115 gams Red Virginia
  • 160 grams Maryland
  • 90 grams Turkish
  • A casing spray is often added.

a. Strength
The apparent “strength” of a cigarette blend can be increased by a larger proportion of burley (or Maryland) leaf and decreased by a larger proportion of flue-cured. Increasing the flue-cured component will increase tip-of-the-tongue bite. An Oriental component may also be used to decrease the apparent strength, while not having as much impact on tongue bite as flue-cured. Increasing the burley component will increase what is described as “throat hit”. Adding a bit of perique to the blend will notably increase nicotine absorption by the body, but make the smoke harsher in the throat and trachea. Fire-cured tobacco will contribute both strength and smokiness. These are factors that a home-roller can adjust while attempting to identify an “ideal” blend for his or her taste.

b. Casings
WLT offers a number of different tobacco casings, shipped in a small spray bottle, for application to leaf after shredding. Each type is specifically crafted for use on particular categories of tobacco, such as air-cured, flue-cured, and more general blends of the leaf. After stemming and shredding, the casing is misted onto the shred, then allowed to dry down to a moisture level suitable for use, prior to storing or rolling it.

c. Tubes
Tobacco stuffing tubes, usually with a filter already attached, typically come in boxes of 200 tubes, some with menthol added, each with differing tip color and decoration.

d. Selecting and using WLT cigarette blend kits
WLT offers a variety of “whole leaf blends” for cigarettes. They range from very full-bodied American cigarette styles to milder ones, as well as a Virginia-forward blend. There are two Turkish-style blends, one of which mirrors some varietal blends manufactured in Turkey. A Balkan blend is also available.

If you want to see just how fine whole leaf tobacco can be, when made into home-rolled cigarettes, one or several of these blend kits will be a revelation. A one-pound bag of a blend should be stemmed, shredded, then thoroughly mixed, prior to rolling. If the casing is included, try it first on a small portion of the blended tobacco, to help you decide whether or not to use it on the remainder. One of the WLT Cigarette Blends Kits will yield approximately 2 cartons of cigarettes.

e. Storing Cigarette Tobacco
If you shred more cigarette tobacco than you plan to use immediately, it should be stored in a food-safe, vapor-proof container. Although polyethylene bags are not vapor-proof, using a “freezer” bag inside another “freezer” bag is reasonably effective. Single plastic bags can also be stored within a plastic tub with a good seal, or even in 5-gallon plastic buckets, with the lid snapped on.

Storing the tobacco in the bags in which the was received is a very good option for storing the tobacco, shredded or otherwise.

Shredded tobacco should not be stored in high case (anything near damp), or it will mold. If it is stored very dry, then mist it with non-chlorinated water, and allow it to relax, prior to use.