What is the Right Way to Store Bulk Tobacco?

By: Eric Whitaker

The right way to store bulk tobacco and three reasons for storing tobacco in bulk storage:

1.)    Lower cost of purchasing in larger quantities.

2.)    Protecting the value of your tobacco from future cost increase in taxes and availability.

3.)    Maturation and Preservation of your favorite tobaccos.

What are the three factors that affect tobacco storage?

1.)    Humidity

2.)    Temperature

3.)    Oxidation

The proper humidity of tobacco should be around 70% relative humidity in a given volume of air, with a leaf moisture content not to exceed 30%. Tobacco will form mold if too moist. Metal containers may form rust, if the tobacco is too wet.

The proper temperature is around 65-70F.  You want to avoid excessive heat, to preserve the natural volatile oils of the leaf, and to avoid the casings in fragrant blends from going stale.

An airtight container is good to avoid deterioration from oxygen—and a vacuum container is ideal.

Most people do not have access to a vacuum apparatus to expel the oxygen, but some suppliers offer bulk tobacco in pressed, vacuum packaging.

Obtain some 1 gallon size thick polyethelene plastic ziplocks, transfer your tobacco into them, press out as much air as you can, seal them, and place a single tobacco in tight sealing plastic storage bins. Your tobacco should remain fresh for 1 year, in cool, constant temperature. It is important to note—make sure the tobacco you have purchased is fresh, because if it is dry—it cannot be returned to its original condition, because the evaporation and oxidation depletes the natural essential oils in the leaf. Return it for a refund or replacement.

Always start out with fresh tobacco. There is a little test you can accomplish with tobacco, before you buy it—grab a handful of tobacco and compress it. If it clumps up into a tight ball, it’s way too moist, or has too much casing. If the tobacco slowly expands after you open up your hand, it is good. If the tobacco crunches and you get a lot of dust—don’t buy it—it’s not fresh.

Never carry more tobacco with you, than you will smoke while away from home, and you won’t waste any. If you use a humidifier element in your pouch, avoid excessive moisture. Fruit, potato, etc. will cause mold. Any portable container that can conform to the contents within it, being airtight and holding moisture, is ideal for tobacco storage.

Tobacco will improve with age, under the right conditions. In the case of mixtures, the components of the mixture will harmonize, or “marry”. In the case of single types of tobacco (especially Dark Burley), conditioning over time will effect further slight fermentation, taking excess ammonias and chlorophylls from the leaf, greatly mellowing and improving it for smoking.

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