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Old 03-08-2012, 06:15 AM   #1
Just in from the Storm
Join Date: Sep 2011
First Name: Richard
Location: Kansas City, MO
Posts: 14
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Default Hydrating Tobacco

I had some Stonehaven tobacco (stoved pressed flake) that was quite dry after several years. Because of the density of the pressed flake, it was much more difficult to hydrate than other tobacco, so I decided on a more extreme approach, which fortunately worked very well, and I believe it lost none of its character.

I used a pan with a steamer insert. I started the water out on High, boiling it. I placed the tobacco in a ceramic ramekin and placed it in the steamer insert, and placed the lid on the steamer insert, and I lowered the heat to low. I think it's important to start the water on boiling for two purposes. I looked up how long it takes to kill mold or fungus at certain temperatures, and re-hydrating tobacco could activate any latent spores or fungus that may have somehow gotten on or into the tobacco. With the stove pressed flake tobacco, I actually let the water remain at a boil for one minute before reducing heat to low. I think for ribbon cut tobacco, lowering the temp immediately would be fine.

It took a good long time (checking often) to hydrate the tobacco. I also had the challenge of placing the ramekin in just the right location because the glass lid to the steam insert had screws on the underside that would occasionally drip water. Hopefully you can use a lid that is angled and does not have screws on the underside to prevent any actual drops of water from dropping into the ramekin or onto the tobacco directly. I had to try it a few times to make sure the moisture had successfully soaked into the tobacco. The first time I took it out was too soon, it seemed moist, but turned out to be too dry still after evaporation. Also, while still slightly warm, I recommend putting the tobacco in a ziplock bag. This (to my surprise) did not make a wet mess inside the bag. After the initial steam off of moisture subsided within the bag, it turned out that the tobacco successfully soaked up any moisture, and turned out perfectly. The heat initially allows the tobacco to "let off steam", but the re-absorbing was a pleasant surprise.

I'd say give your tobacco at least 45 minutes in the steamer if it's a stoved pressed flake. I tried the same method with some ribbon cut tobacco, and it took half as long. After about 5 minutes cooling in the ziplock bag, shake the tobacco around to absorb any micro-droplets of water that were not immediately re-absorbed. Let the tobacco rest a few hours before opening the ziplock or changing storage containers. It allows the moisture and temperature to completely to equalize.

The character of the tobacco did not change from what I could tell, and was a very pleasant consistency very much like its original form. The stoved pressed flake rubbed out exactly like it was supposed to, and the smoke was very enjoyable.
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