This time I blog about an extremely handy feature of some smoking paper brands. It’s extremely difficult to estimate how many papers there are left in a pack of rolling papers and when it is the time to buy a new pack. Some brands have found a solution to this problem. The eleventh-last paper of the pack is a special warning paper stating that there are only ten papers left. Unfortunately not all brands have these warning papers. Rizla has them, and if I remember correctly, Smoking has them. OCB does not have them, which is a pity.
Unfortunately, rolls do not have any kinds of warnings of running low. In principle you could look at the roll and try to see how much there is left, but at least I am not able to estimate it without unwinding the roll. The situation would be improved if the manufacturers printed on the roll every half a meter how many meters there are left. It is hard for me to imagine that one could not find an ink that did not taste.
The obvious solution to missing warnings would be to have always two packages of papers. One unopened and one that you are using. When the one you’re using runs out of paper, it is time to open the other one and buy a new “unopened” pack. Unfortunately, I am so lazy that I could not ever get this system work. In practice I would not bother go shopping until the last package was running low.
In the picture there is a cigarette of the optimal size, in a cigarette holder. Note that the cigarette goes a centimeter or so inside the holder. The paper used was a roll of Smoking Black. The paper is so thin that the tobacco can be seen through the paper. Standard Rizla paper pack is added for scale.
Unfortunately no-one manufactures ready-cut papers of the optimal size. All papers are either too short or too long. Hence, a roll, where you can cut the length of paper you want, is the best alternative.
I have tried a new rolling tobacco, Bonus Gold. It is supposed to be a milder version of Bonus Red, a rolling tobacco I use a lot, but it really does not taste milder at all. It has a very strong rolling tobacco taste that masks the aroma of pipe tobacco very effectively. In my cigarettes, the rolling tobacco is not meant to be tasted. I won’t be buying this one again.
As I have blogged before, the only thing that matters in a rolling paper is the size. The length obviously matters, but papers come also in different widths. You goal is the roll a cigarette of the same diameter regardless of the width of the paper, but it is easier to roll a cigarette with a wide paper. The actual rolling part of making a cigarette is easier with a wide paper, since there is more room for rolling, and hence, in particular, it is easier to make a tight cigarette with a wide paper. The actual rolling part determines the tightness of the cigarette. An experienced roller can make a tight cigarette with a narrow paper, but I recommend wide papers for novice rollers.
The standard short papers are narrow, whereas longer papers and rolls are usually wide. Since long papers are a bit difficult to manipulate, novices should select a roll for their first attempts.
Before I learnt how to roll a cigarette by hand, I used this rolling machine quite a lot. I never learnt how to roll a cigarette that is not too tight with the standard Rizla rolling machine, but I routinely made smokeable cigarettes with this machine. Back then I used rolling tobacco only, and I never could make it work with 50% pipe tobacco, though. Although the cigarettes it made were not as tight as with the Rizla machine, they were too tight for pipe tobacco.
The machine was quite cool, since in addition to being a rolling machine, it could store some tobacco and a pack of papers.
Here’s how the machine is supposed to work. You open up the lid.
You make a pouch out of the band in the lid and put some tobacco into the pouch. Then you lick the glue in the paper and place the paper against the band.
When you close the lid, the machine rolls the cigarette and ejects it through a hole in the lid.
Although I could use this machine to make smokeable cigarettes several years ago, I could not make the machine work properly now. Now all the cigarettes were too tight, and even reducing the amount of tobacco did not help. It just made a thinner cigarette of the same tightness. I really do not know whether the band has shrunk during storage or my standards for a cigarette have risen.
Anyway, even if the machine worked properly, the only advantage to hand-rolling it would offer would be that it requires no practice. An experienced roller can roll a good cigarette as fast by hand as by a machine, and all machines are tied to a certain size of a paper, but a hand-roller can use any size of a paper.
Verdict: Learn to roll by hand, but if you do not, you might want to try this one.
Nicotine chewing gum, a product that is intended as an aid to quit smoking, is a good alternative if you have to go several hours without a smoke. I use it for example in long train trips. (Trains in Finland used to have smoking cabins, but they were removed something like half a year ago. They seem to be restricting smoking in general in Finland with a heavy hand, and this blog is my modest effort to fight that phenomenon.)
Nicotine chewing gum comes in two strengths, and there is a variety of flavours. Since I am in Finland, the flavours include salmiakki (salty licorice). I, however, do not like salmiakki so much, and I like best the fruit-flavoured ones. Since the stronger alternative has the nicotine of four cigarettes, there’s a serious chance of nicotine overdose, if it is used more than the instructions tell. It is easy to have the nicotine of eight ordinary cigarettes in the mouth at the same time (just have two pieces of the stronger alternative). In my case, the overdose risk is mitigated by the fact that I do not chew it with the optimal technique. You are supposed to keep the gum against your cheek for extended periods of time, but I just chew it like any ordinary chewing gum. So I do not know how much of the effect really comes from nicotine, and how much is just placebo.
Pipe tobaccos are usually mixes of different tobaccos, with some non-tobacco flavouring agents. Since I am anyway mixing pipe tobacco with rolling tobacco myself, I would like to make my own mixes of pipe tobacco. So, I’d like to buy pure virginia, pure burley, pure black cavendish, pure latakia and so on, without flavouring agents. I usually do not like strongly flavoured pipe tobacco and want to taste the pure tobacco, so the absence of flavouring agents would be no problem. Unfortunately, I have not yet found a place where I could buy pure, unmixed and unflavoured pipe-style tobaccos.
Since I enjoy the taste of pipe tobacco, one might ask why I do not smoke pipe. There are three reasons:
(1) Cigarettes are smoked more often, and smoking one cigarette takes a shorter time. Pipe is smoked longer at a time, and at less frequent intervals. I prefer the pace of cigarette smoking. I like a short tobacco break, and I have no particular interest in smoking a full bowl with a pipe.
(2) Pipe is difficult to keep clean. Since I am extremely lazy with cleaning and such things, my pipe would be constantly extremely dirty.
(3) I inhale. Pipe tobacco is strong and not meant to be inhaled. I have an inhaling reflex and cannot suck smoke just to my mouth. Hence, I prefer the milder mix of 50% pipe tobacco and 50% rolling tobacco.
This time I blog about the thing that makes absolutely no difference to the taste of the cigarette, namely the rolling paper. The theory goes so that a thin paper leaves less taste to the cigarette than a thick paper, and is hence more desirable. In practice, the amount of paper is so small that you do not taste it in either case. I usually use either OCB Black or basic Rizla, depending on whether I buy the papers at a dedicated tobacco store or an ordinary grocery store. OBC Black is extremely thin, and hence theoretically more desirable than the thicker Rizla, but the difference is entirely psychological. Paradoxically, the OCB papers are a bit less expensive than Rizlas. In addition to ordinary rolling papers, there are also rolling papers made out of hemp in the market. Again, there is no noticeable difference in taste.
Even if the paper makes no difference to the taste, the size of the paper determines the size of the cigarette. My ideal size would be approximately 1.5 cm longer than the standard short paper. Unfortunately, there are no such rolling papers for sale in Finland. All papers are either too short or too long. The best format of paper is a roll, where the user can cut just the length of paper he wants. Rolls exist, but for some reason, none of the Finnish tobacco stores have them in their selection. Hence, I use the standard short rolling papers.
I smoke my cigarettes without a filter. There are two reasons for that. First, the cigarette tastes richer and better without a filter. Second, it’s easier to roll a cigarette without a filter.
An unfiltered cigarette does not feel good against your mouth. Because of this experience, unfiltered cigarettes are known as karvaperse, ”hairy arse” in Finnish. The solution, of course, is to use a cigarette holder. Since I use the holder as a convenience item, not as a fashion statement, I use short, 4 centimeters long holders. Furthermore, I use cheap, wooden holders costing 40 eurocents a piece. This way you do not need to clean the holder, but you can throw a dirty holder away and buy a new one.