Skip to comments.Prepper question - Storing tobacco
Posted on 06/22/2012 7:31:14 PM PDT by djf
One of the local smoke shops has recently started selling bulk pipe tobacco in large plastic bags. Bu "bulk" I mean 5 pound bags, which amounts to about a cubic foot.
Being a smoker for too long (I know! I know!) and being somewhat into the prepper/survivalist mentality, I bought one.
My question is about what I can do to keep it at the proper humidity. Thinking about transferring it to large airtight plastic containers and putting in like a moist paper towel inside a plastic sandwich bag, that sort of thing.
Also, does anyone know if tobacco is light-sensitive?
Ideas and suggestions would be appreciated, especially personal experience, like folks who store cigars, etc.
Airtight glass jars are recommended for anything longer than a couple of months.
Of course, any good prepper would also consider this.
I have doubts about long term storage of tobacco. Seeds are cheap. Or just buy tobacco leaves every three years and store them the best you can. They have the advantage of not being taxed as a finished product.
Roll it all into cigars. Put them into a cedar box, and keep them at 70/70. ...and that’s all I know.
I read some pipe smoker boards where they store the tobacco in canning jars to age it. They had a good seal and kept it in a cool dark location.
My legal mind altering drug of choice is coffee and my SHTF plan is to be content to chew a few stale whole beans in the AM.
Bear in mind, of course, that the day will come when the last shred is gone.
There's a plan.. that's a plan.
Even if you don’t smoke, tobacco could prove useful for barter. I stock extra toilet paper for barter and hope I never have to use it for that. If not, I’ve got a lifetime supply :)
Glass jars would be costly because of the money involved, the weight, and the number I would need to store it all.
I already filled one plastic container (abt 1 1/2 gallons) and am through about a third of the bag, so we’re talking some serious volume.
After the apocalypse?
A pack of smokes will cost you a gallon of gas!
If the container is airtight, it will retain existing moisture and not dry out. Adding moisture would likely induce rot, especially if you used unsterile water. I think a good container would be glass canning jars with new lids.
A pack of smokes already costs about 2.5 gallons. They will be more expensive than that.
Nicotine is also a powerful, powerful insecticide. Soak it in water, then strain it.
That water will kill just about any bug there is!
You are probably right. Especially, given the stress of a SHTF scenario, smokes would be an ultra-premium item!
But gas supplies would dwindle rapidly (think Road Warrior) so it would depend on supply and demand, I guess.
In general, I think post-SHTF, driving anywhere might be a very dangerous proposition.
Glass works well but can break, if that’s an issue for your situation.
If you want transportability/ruggedness, plastic is ok.
For temp, 70 F.
For humidity, the “always works” gauge, your experienced hands will never fail.
To calibrate your hands, make a point of noticing the feel prior to smoking, and remember how well it smoked in terms of smoking damp (swells, tight draw) all the way to smoking dry (burns too hot, too fast). Way too dry will crack in your hands as you handle it. Just right burns cool and even.
IMHO, yes, tobacco is a high value commodity in both good and bad times.
Dry tobacco can be gradually brought back to the right humidity over 1-3 weeks. (Dry cigars must be introduced to humidity gradually or the wrapper will crack, i.e., it will break up in slow motion.
Tobacco lasts forever if not damaged.
You can tell that we are far removed from early America, when tobacco was commonly known to be a fine substitute for money.
Do you know is it illegal to import tobacco? I one time researched trying to get some real Turkish tobacco without success.
The best stuff I’ve found so far is pretty pricey, I LUV the Drum Halfzware Shag.
Cigar fans store 100% tobacco for months or years with do-it-yourself projects:
Cigar shops do sell products to humidify the box or bag or whatever you’re using if need be (if the tobacco starts to dry out). Some of them look like tubes of gel. I sometimes use these in my cigar humidifier. My guess is that if you keep it air tight you’ll be fine. Keep it in a dark cool place.
Get a mason jar or other clear air tight container. Get a good hygrometer to check humidity, obviously not battery powered. And lastly, get some treated humidor pads and some desiccant.
Place tobacco and hygrometer in the container at room temperature. Wait one day and check. Place desiccant or humidor pad inside. Check once a day until humidity is at proper level. Remove pad or desiccant and seal container. Check to make sure the humidity stays stable every few days. Then just keep the jar at a stable room temperature. It should last at least 10 years.
Proper humidity for short term storage of tobacco you want to smoke is 60-70%. For long term, around 12-17%. You should moisten stored tobacco with humidor pads before smoking.
I like to hear from people who’ve done this kind of thing before.
Just like any other activity. The point of driving would be to put some distance between you and the people who want your stuff. Perhaps you can even cross the border with Canada.
If right now 50% of the population want your money (and get it,) you can expect that number to rise sharply after the SHTF. In absence of law enforcement (or laws,) living among people would be scarier than petting grizzlies in Alaska. The solution to that is in forming communities of like-minded people, with their own laws and the sheriff and the mutual defense force. But you may need to get there on your own. It would be very bad for your health to remain in or close to any city with a large percentage of criminals, whoever they are. Those guys have no option left to them except to rob you and everyone else of everything you have. They can't produce anything; they only can take what other people produced.
The best solution is to grow tobacco.
Virginia got it’s big jump that way. Not hard.
Won’t be what you’re used to but with work it should do. It did before.
Get a Food Saver and vacuum pack the tobacco. You can leave it in the bag it is already in, and just seal over it.
Yup. Store airtight at a natural moisture level. Adding more is just gonna foster molds ==>> funky smoke.
Food savers work with canning jars...so you don’t crush the leaves.
I saw a pop chart once, wish I saved the URL.
600 people/square mile where I live.
But I’m only about 20 miles east of Tacoma.
Fair number of like-minded people around me, including some vets and current/ex law enforcement.
If/when SHTF, it’s gonna be rough no matter where you are.
Keeping tobacco for a long period of time isn’t going to be easy. It might still be smokeable after a few years, but it will eventually go stale and not taste very good. I’d guess a root cellar would be your best option in a prepper scenario, to keep the temperature and humidity variations to a minimum.
Just to be clear, putting cured tobacco in airtight containers will only work if the tobacco is sterile, which it isn’t. That’s why tobacco humidors use propylene glycol and distilled water.
Having smoked 55 years, I have stored Two 5 gal pails with mylar bags and O2 absorbers... Just at 5# of tobacco in each. (it is a tight fit, but works)
I also store 25 cartons of tubes and a couple of injection machines... as long as they stay dry, they are good... 2 1/2 cartons per pound works out just about right.
Since I was finally able to quit 3 months ago,(vapor ecigs did the trick and am now down to 0% on nicotine too)
I figure tobacco is better than gold as barter, and it will keep for many years under a no oxygen, partial vacuum, away light storage. (I had a bag that was 5 years old that I had sealed with the FoodSaver machine... couldn’t tell it from fresh, except it had a richer, smoother, more mellow flavor.)
Anybody who ever used a cloth bag of Bull Durham knows that even though it may be super dry, it is still a good smoke when you don’t have anything else... LOL
I also have a supply of the Claritin knock-offs that you can buy dirt cheap right now, even though I have no allergies. They take up almost no space and would be worth their weight if all a sudden like the shelves were empty...
Having made the switch to e-cigs after 40 years of smoking, my SHTF supply consist of 2 liters of 100mg nicotine juice for making smoke juice.
It don’t matter. If it comes to that, you’ll be happy to smoke whatever you have.
Before Michigan added a 25 dollar tax per pound on loose cigrettes, I picked up over 25/ 1 pound bags and kept them in the freezer. They stayed fresh, but once you open a bag to roll your own, make sure you close it tightly. If it tends to dry out, I finger flick some water on each side of the bag, close it and put it in the refrigerator...you don’t flick a lot of water, just wet your 5 fingers and flick on the side of the bag, not on the tobacco....been doing it for years. good luck. My kids would open my freezer and just laugh...
Don’t know about pipe tobacco, but several years ago, before cigs went up by 20 bucks a carton I bought about a year’s worth of cartons, and kept them in a deep freeze at 20 below zero. They were fine.
And it was so handy to just go get a carton out of the deep freeze.
Thanks. Good suggestions.
I still have four 1 lb bags of Cigarette tobacco (whichever class that is) that I bought before the Federal Excise tax went through the roof.
Buy it by the plug or twist. It will store much longer.
raising your own tobacco from seed gives you a great looking plant but to prepare tobacco for cigatettes takes a lot more that just leaves, they need to dried and hung and I think humidity takes a part in dryingout the leaves...But the plant is great in a garden. Has flowers also. My girlfriend was able to raise 1 tobacco plant (an annual, and in Michigan) Lovely if you can get one to germinate...
I would suggest you put them in the freezer....
It should last a good while - depending on the bag and seal.
I like to keep a 6 month stock of tobacco in advance even now - I’ve smoked bagged tobacco that was bought a year before and it was fine. I have tinned pre-SCHIP cig tobacco from ‘09 that’s still good.
5lbs straight may be an issue if/when the SHTF as you’ll need to deal with it then when you crack open the bag. I’d stick to 1/2 and 1lb bags/portions for long storage and use when needed for trade or smoking.
When all else fails you can always rehydrate the tobacco - keep a write up of how to do that with the tobacco, but I would rotate stock anyways and use that up now - the trick is keeping it fresh - 5 lbs is over 12 cartons worth-that will take a long time.
Break it down into manageable quantities - say, half a pound - and then seal it in those heavy plastic food bags with the little plastic sliders.
Then fold the top over two or three times and tape over the whole top/slider area with heavy duty duct tape.
I’ve kept tobacco for one to two years that way, and it stays moist.
I have used a damp paper towel, place in the bottom of one of those vacuum sealed bags, add the leaf. Oxygen is also your enemy so drop in an oxy absorber. Then vacuum seal the bag. Keeps a really long time.
Store bought cigarettes are a very refined product, a well preserved pack in a post collapse world would be very elegant and prestigious indeed, high quality bargaining.
I had a few packs of luckys that were at least 20 years old and may have been much older ( I think they were much older) and at 2:00am when they had had a few drinks and were out of smokes, not a single guest ever commented on them as old or stale, a couple of people when prodded could detect that they seemed a little less than fresh but they had no complaints.
Tobacco does have its limits age-wise, as many a smoker of pre-Embargo Cuban cigars has discovered.
(Not always, though...years ago I had a chance to sample a 1905 Partagas. A remarkable experience.)
Use glass canning jars; they are not expensive and you can get them in different sizes, from half pint to gallon size.
Just pretreat the jars the same way you would for canning peaches or pears; drop in one of those oxygen absorbing packets that are used for dehydrated foods and seeds. Slap on the lid while the gum is still soft, tighten the ring and store in a cool dry place. I keep peaches, pears, sliced apples and all manner of preserved fruit and vegetables for years like this. Tastes as good as the day it went into the jars and I ain’t dead yet. Been canning my own harvest for several years now and love it. Only use the oxygen absorbent packets on dry goods; wouldn’t work to well on apple sauce or canned peaches now would it. I would recommend every body learn how to can and pickle, its not difficult, its a lot of fun (hard work to sometimes) and you get to eat it when you want to.
Been there, done that. But it is hell to roll in a high wind.
Again with the Cubans; I gave up on them years ago. People are so fixated on them, which is why 90% are fake and yet they sell to enthusiastic buyers.
Like everything that is manufactured - especially handmade things - quality of Cuban-manufactured cigars and Cuban tobacco can vary.
There is the very best, the pretty good, the ok and “everything else”.
Just because a Cigar is made from pre-embargo Cuban tobacco that was found in a warehouse and somehow acquired, IMHO there is no guarantee the resulting cigars will be the best of the best. I’ve had a few “pre-embargo” and they were nothing to write home about.
Like any product that is aged, the quality after aging is first limited by the quality of the raw material before aging. In the same way that JFK made sure that he had stocked up prior signing the embargo, if that “mystery” tobacco had been of superior quality, it would have somehow “disappeared” at the outset and been made into cigars. IMHO, only lower quality tobacco would be abandoned in the face of a coming embargo, especially if there was a large quantity.
IMHO, the best Cubans are in a class by themselves but they’re a very rare treat.
On the topic of aging, regarding non-Cubans, starting at about 2-3 years properly kept in an Elie Bleu humidor even a rather standard cigar will have a dramatically better taste compared to the day it went in. Aging really brings out the best of tobacco. There are some smokers who smoke long-aged cigars exclusively. But even the Elie Bleu can not make a bad-tasting tobacco taste good.
Thanks to all the FReepers for their recommendations!
What I did was this:
I have a bunch of large, sealable plastic bags that smaller quantities of the tobacco come in. So I took four of those, put about 12 ozs. in each, then took the four and put them (sealed, of course) back into the large plastic bag the original came in. But before I sealed it, I took a paper towel, wet it and smushed it up, wrapped it in aluminum foil, and put it in the bag.
The remaining amount was enough to fill a 1 1/2 gallon plastic jug, so it went in there with it’s own towel/foil thingie.
I will check it on occasion just to make sure it’s not getting moldy or whatever, but I very, very much doubt there is enough water in there to make it damp. Just enough to keep it from drying out and getting brittle.
Smoke em if you got em!!
“Found in a warehouse” = guaranteed bogus. I’ve tried a few genuine Cuban-rolled pre-Embargos and wasn’t impressed. As with my prior post, the point is that not everything ages well, and to be aware of that.