Rolling Tobacco Blues

Every rolling tobacco smoker has a favorite “go to brand” and/or a back up blend. Some will make some finite number of cigarettes using your favorite or second tier selection of rolling tobacco and then toss one or the other on a shelf or into a closet and forget about it. 

Then, you are running out of one blend or another and remember you have a back up rolling tobacco in location and you go to retrieve it and realize the rolling tobacco is dried out and it’s not going to roll well in a cigarette machine. 

Don’t sweat it – help is at hand. You can restore your rolling tobacco if you follow these steps. 

Try a disc humidifier – purchase a simple coin humidifier (used in cigar humidors frequently) add some distilled water to it and insert the disc humidifier into your rolling tobacco. The good news is rolling tobacco is not as sensitive as cigars so you don’t need to rehydrate your rolling tobacco over time. 

The sponge method will work too: get a small piece of a new sponge (nothing used), cut a small piece off and moisten it with distilled water and add it to your sealed tobacco container and let it sit for 12-24 hours. Try a test smoke of your rolling tobacco as time passes. 

How to use a moist paper towel or cloth place your tobacco in a glass bowl and take a clean paper towel or a cloth and dampen it with distilled water and place it over the top of the glass container holding your tobacco. You can also slightly heat the water to speed up the process. Let this sit for a few hours and your rolling tobacco should absorb the moisture via the paper towel or cloth. 


Spry the tobacco: use a flat surface, a paper plate or cookie sheet and lay your tobacco out on it and spread it evenly. Then, spritz the tobacco with distilled water and use a bottle that is clean and never used a bottle or container that has held cleaning materials. Tobacco is very sensitive and if the container has any chemicals that have leached into the surface your tobacco is not going to taste good. You want to just dampen the tobacco and don’t soak it; after you have done this put the tobacco in a container and let it sit for 12-24 hours.

Things to Never Do When Rehydrating Rolling Tobacco 

  • Plain sink water is not a good thing to use when rehydrating rolling tobaco; always use distilled water, it’s more pure, cleaner and will not impart any artificial taste to your rolling tobacco. 
  • Avoid using the refriegartor for rehydration under any circumstances; even low humidity sealed drawers in a fridge won’t do anything but ruin your rolling tobacco. #never
  • The time of the process is always critical; any period longer than 12-24 hours is probably not going to be beneficial. 
  • Know the proper RH balance of rolling tobacco is around 10-15% and no more. You want crisp tobacco that’s going to roll and smoke well, not a soggy mess. 
  • Once you have any moisturizing element in your tobacco be mindful again of the time; never leave your tobacco in any container with a moisturizing element or product for more than 12-24 hours and nothing wrong with taking the lid off during the process and feeling the texture of the tobacco to understand if the process is working. 
  • If your rolling tobacco has a slight must smell it’s probably time to toss it – it won’t smoke well and will probably gum up your cigarette machine.

You may want to click and play our Video about Rehydrating Rolling Tobacco 

How to Identify Good Quality Rolling Pipe Tobacco 

You will see  a”Virginia tobacco” designation with many rolling tobacco brands and this usually indicative of a good smoking rolling tobacco and you can expect a sweet tasting tobacco too. 

Some cheaper brands we don’t carry here at Windy City Cigars use a designation of “Virginia tobaccos” but they are sourcing tobacco if from Virginia at all a lower quality tobacco leaf. So, know the quality of the manufacturer is critical to the taste of the rolling tobacco, not just the Virginia tobacco designation. 

Burly tobacco is lighter air cured tobacco in many cases grown in Kentucky – about 70% of Burley tobacco comes form this state and many think it imparts a nice nutty taste to the rolling tobacco. It’s frequently used in rolling tobacco blends. 

Oriental blends usually have some kind of an exoctic taste that can be attributed to the manufacturer; in most cases there is no single type of attributed applied to this designation other than it’s “telling” you the rolling tobacco is going to have some kind of an exoctic taste. In many cases the rolling tobacco manufacturer is going to add flavoring agents that give you a unique taste that can be again attributed to the whims of the rolling tobacco manufacturer.

Aromatic blends are like “Oriental” the taste can be all over the “taste map.” These can be infused with any number of exoctic flavors: cherry, vanilla, chocolate and even caramel. An aromatic blend of pipe tobacco is by its very nature going to be something you want to think about carefully and/or by a small amount. 

The taste will vary tremendously; so experiment carefully – buying a 5lb bag is not going to be a good idea. Buy a sampler that has a number of rolling tobacco blends. 

We hope this post on rolling tobacco has been informative – if you have questions please contact us, we have ten years of helping customers select rolling tobacco.