When the Door is Ajar - Opening Aging Blends

28th January, 2010: Posted by glpease in Tobacco, Science

The following question is paraphrased from one that was asked on one of the forums today. I suspect it’s a fairly commonly asked question, and figured it had a place here in the Chronicles, along with my response.

Does it ruin the aging process to open a jar once in a while to sample? Should I only open the jar when I’m ready to smoke the entire contents?

Ruin it? No. Change it? Absolutely.

The biological and organic reactions that are taking place in the tin/jar alter the little sealed environment. Gasses are being consumed (especially O2) and generated (CO2) by biological processes, and further organic reactions are taking place more slowly, depending on what’s present in that environment. The instant that seal is broken, there’s a rapid exchange of air with the surrounding environment, and everything — everything — that was going on before is going to change. Different reactions will begin — not necessarily bad ones, just different.

It will never be the same again. It cannot be. If you take two jars, age them for a year, open one and re-seal it, then come back in another year, you’ll find two different tobaccos. The will probably not be dramatically different, but they’ll certainly be noticeably different, and if you extend those times - five years and five years, for instance, the divergence of the two samples will be much more dramatic. Read more…»

Tobacco Reanimation - Bringing it Back to Life

14th May, 2008: Posted by glpease in Technique, Science

The other day, I was cleaning up part of my desk, when my eye fell on an opened tin of State Express London Mixture that had been hiding for a while. This tin dates to sometime in the 1980s, by my best reckoning, and I’d first opened a few months ago. I had smoked a few bowls, taken a few notes, and then had an out-of-sight, out-of-mind experience with it, as it found itself buried under a stack of papers and a few other tins of tobacco - also opened and drying out.

As I always do, or almost always, after I’d opened it, I’d put a double layer of foil over the open top, pressing the lid back in place. This works well for keeping the contents of these flat tins in good smoking condition for a week or three, and I’d fully intended to finish the tin within that time, but the best laid plans, and all that. Had I known I was going to forget about it, the tobacco would have been put into a jar for safe-keeping. On the other hand, I often forget to label these little jars, and once they get shuffled from place to place, usually separating themselves from the original tins on which they are sitting, with the tins ending up on one side of the office, and the jars on the other, I forget what they contain. Maybe it’s a blessing that I forgot to jar this one. But, how did it fare after several months of sitting? Read more…»

Those Pesky Non-polar Molecules

5th April, 2005: Posted by glpease in Tobacco, Science

I’ve occasionally written about the difference between keeping moisture contained with pipe tobacco, and keeping all those lovely volatile organic, non-polar molecules that are responsible for flavour and aroma locked up. Tins, glass jars, multi-layer, high-barrier foil bags and so on do an excellent job at both, while most plastics, including freezer bags, “Seal-a-Meal” type vacuum bags, will do a fine job of keeping moisture in, but will not support proper aging, as they are permeable, in varying degrees, to the “good stuff.” But, just how important is it to store the tobaccos you enjoy smoking in a tightly closed environment? Read more…»