Who’s afraid of chemistry? (by Paul) – Part 2.

Let’s get on to answering the question of part 1 why we don’t smell/taste during smoking what we smelled before in the tobacco pouch:

Boiling_pointWhen you look at the variety of additives for pipe tobacco, for example to search for those on Wikipedia, you find some difficult descriptions and properties of those additives. Either the natural thing or the artificial. The most important value for our answer is the boiling point of that molecule. If we look up vanilline, it says it has a boiling point of 285 °C (= 558 K [Kelvin] or 545 °F).

pipeNow, why is that Boiling Point so important? Well, a German friend has asked a chemical engineer to measure the temperature of smouldering tobacco in a pipe and found it to be approximately 500 °C (= 773 K or 932 °F). When we take a puff at our pipe, the temperature of the smouldering tobacco quickly rises to about 700 °C (= 973 K or 1292 °F) and then drops right back to 500 °C if we stop puffing. And that is a big part of our answer: the used additives in pipe tobacco are already evaporated. This because their boiling point is way below the temperature of our smouldering tobacco. As you will find out by searching the boiling points of other aroma molecules, whether fruits or drinks or whatever, most of these molecules have a boiling point between 190 °C and 300 °C (= 463 K – 573 K or 374 °F – 572 °F) and will evaporate during smoking. So we don’t smell the aromas.

That’s the main reason, in my humble and not-scientific approach, that we don’t recognize the aroma from the pouch during the smoking of the tobacco. But there are some aroma’s which seem to be recognizable while puffing at our pipe. Why is that?

Carbon atom

Carbon atom

Well, this takes us to another chemistry thing: how many carbon atoms are present in the molecule of such an aroma? Because carbon has a boiling point of 4554 °C (= 4827 K or 8229 °F), these carbon atoms will not evaporate. Instead they will burn or at least heat up. This will be detectable during smoking by our nose and it smells like “burning coal”, often described as “just warm air”. In short, the more carbon atoms an aroma has, the better you can recognize it.

Furthermore aroma molecules which are pentose or hexose molecules (respectively five or six carbon atoms in the molecule) or more, like vanilline with eight carbon atoms, are harder to evaporate. Because of the high boiling point of the bigger share of high temperature carbon atoms, they might be easier escaping our pipe-bowl before being evaporated. So, an aroma molecule with just three or four carbon atoms evaporates easier than a molecule with more carbon atoms.

Super-sweet BiBo tobacco

Super-sweet BiBo tobacco

There are examples of tobacco brands (like the super-sweet BiBo with oranges and chocolate aroma, Mediterraneo with peach-aroma and Memories of Tuscany with grape-aroma, all from DTM in Germany) which keep their aroma during smoking, down to the last ashes of our pipe. This is possible by using additives which contain more carbon atoms in the molecules. Or use can be made of alternative aroma additives which smell like (in the case of BiBo) oranges and chocolate, but have another molecular structure than the original orange or chocolate molecules.

Then there is another thing: the room-note. Why do people in the room smell more sweetness from our smoking then us, the pipe-smokers? Or why do we get the smell too, when we go out of the room for a little while and then return?

I think that’s because, although the smoking temperature is that high, some aromas will come out off our pipe bowl. This because they are connected to condensed water; air holds moisture and condenses while cooling down after being heated in our smouldering tobacco. So a small part of the aroma molecules “lifts along” with the moisture in the airflow which leaves our pipe between our smoke. And this might cause the nice room-note.

2769777dThe fact that the pipe-smoker doesn’t detect that room-note so intense as the other people in the room is also because his nose is right above the pipe. The smoke he takes in his mouth and nose is closer to the high temperature of the smouldering tobacco than someone who is present in the room but farther away from the hot tobacco.

Keep also in mind that we humans get easily used to an aroma. When you enter a cattle barn, you might find the aroma of cattle dung very much in your face. But after a few minutes you get used to it and you don’t experience it that strong as when you just entered the barn.

All this explains why we appreciate a tobacco much more when it is smoked very calmly. Smoking too quickly makes our tobacco burn too hot which evaporates aroma molecules. This also explains why some tobaccos change taste and aroma during smoking. The heat alters some molecular structures which brings out other aromas.

Enjoy your smoke,
Paul.

Candy Cavendish

Black cavendish tobacco

Black cavendish tobacco

If perique is the pepper of the tobacco world, if latakia is the salt, then cavendish is the sugar. Often it is used in aromatics and it is a good tobacco for beginning pipe smokers.

Almost all types of pipe tobacco in general belong to one of two groups: those used as the “base” of a mixture (like burley and Virginia) and those used for adding flavour, taste and aroma to a blend (such as latakia, perique and orientals. But cavendish can be used both as a base and as a flavouring agent.

Cavendish is a description of a type of pipe tobacco and a manner in which tobacco is cut.  It is not a type of tobacco plant. It rather is a process by which tobaccos are prepared. So there is no tobacco grown anywhere in the world that is known as a cavendish tobacco.

Sir Thomas Cavendish

Sir Thomas Cavendish

Now some history. In 1585 a visit to the English colony of Virginia was made by Admiral Sir Richard Grenville and Sir Thomas Cavendish at the request of Queen Elizabeth. The native people of the area presented tobacco to the colonists and Sir Thomas wished to bring it back to England for promotion and selling. On the return voyage he infused his personal supply with dark rum. Thus preventing it from drying out and to sweeten the smoke. He then rolled the leaves (common practice of the sailors back then) and bound them tightly together with sail canvas and twine. After a few weeks the tobacco was cut in little slices and smoked. Remarkably the flavour had improved, the tobacco was sweeter, more mellow and it demonstrated an aromatic fragrance. That all pleased Sir Thomas and others who tried it.

Steaming cavendish tobacco © Right Click Media, LLC

Steaming cavendish tobacco © Right Click Media, LLC

So cavendish tobacco simply is a product of “double” fermentation. This process uses (already one-time fermented) air-cured or flue-cured tobaccos like Virginia, burley, Maryland or any combination of these three types. These can be infused with substances that are high in sugar like: rum, maple, sugar, chocolate, licorice, honey, fruit, vanilla, bourbon and a few more. After the infusion the tobacco is compressed, steamed, heated, fermented and aged for a period of time. This results in a compressed “cake” of tobacco that is sliced and/or rubbed-out. For example, untreated, bright leaf (Virginia) tends to burn very hot and fast with a light, sharp flavour. The cavendish process makes this a more pleasant product. The tobacco is aged longer, burns slower, has a better taste and important, the ladies love the smell.

In the ol’ days the creation of cavendish tobacco varied from country to country and from manufacturer to manufacturer. Nowadays the whole process is more standardized and it doesn’t matter that much from which country cavendish comes. There are even manufacturers who don’t make their own cavendish any more because of the long process and just buy it ready-made. The countries which originally produced the most widely known cavendish tobaccos were: The United States, The United Kingdom, Denmark and last but not least The Netherlands. And they all had different production methods:

Cavendish manufactured in the United States
In order to get the tobacco to accept the required amount of casings it may be dipped (especially the burleys) into a casing sauce or heavily sprayed with flavouring sauces. The tobacco was then allowed to rest for a period of time. This way the tobacco and casings were wedded after which it may be subjected to pressure. It could take weeks or months until the blend had properly accepted the casing materials. The colour of the processed cavendish ranged from a light brown to black, depending on the leaf and casings used.

Cavendish Manufactured in the United Kingdom
The English manufactured their cavendish only with a heavier grade of Virginia. The tobacco was placed in molds and subjected to heavy pressure for three to four days. The pressure on the tobacco caused the natural oils to rise. Because of the heavy natural sugar content of the Virginia leaf the tobacco developed a sweet taste.

Sail: typical Dutch cavendish

Sail Regular: typical Dutch cavendish

Cavendish Manufactured in Denmark and The Netherlands
We Dutch and the Danes employed a slow manufacturing method. First steaming the tobacco to open the pores and then casing it very heavily. It was then placed in molds and subjected to pressure until a cake was formed which could be cut into bars an then into smaller pieces.

Black Cavendish
Then we also have the so called “black cavendish”. The two important steps employed in all manufacturing of black cavendish are:
1. The dipping of the tobacco into various casing, flavouring sauces (usually licorice) and
2. The steaming of the tobacco which turns it black.
For the rest the process is the same as with regular cavendish.

Black cavendish tobaccos can be manufactured from either Burley or Virginia leaf. Usually, the heavier and darker leaf grades are used. Since this tobacco is heavily impregnated with flavourings, the taste is naturally influenced by those.

The British also made black cavendish. The only difference is the restricted use of additives which made the taste more natural. So the usual method of processing this tobacco is to “sweat” and steam it. Which causes it to turn black. The tobacco is then placed in a mold and subjected to pressure for one to several days until a cake is formed. During this phase, additional steam may be applied.

As I said above cavendish also is a manner in which tobacco is cut. The term “cavendish cut” simply means a type of cut that is between a long or ribbon cut and a heavy fine cut.

Blending Pipe tobaccoMany smokers prefer to smoke straight cavendish. But it is often blended with other tobaccos such as burleys and Virginias. If you are making your own blend, start by mixing equal amounts of unflavoured cavendish and burley. This will give you some idea of the use of cavendish as a base. If you wish you can keep adding it until it makes up as much as 90% of the mixture. What you can also do is to take plain white burley. Then add for example about 25%  cavendish flavoured with honey (or another flavour) to the blend. This way you will get a mild smoke with very lit­tle aroma. When you use cavendish together with latakia and orientals (an English or Balkan mixture) about 15% is the max.

There are many, many, many blends that use cavendish. This are the most recommended ones:
– Amphora: Full Aroma*
– Borkum Riff: Cherry Cavendish*
– Cornell & Diehl: Autumn Evening
– DTM: BiBo, Blue Note, Memories of Tuscany
– Just For Him: Shortcut to Mushrooms
– HU Tobacco: Geniet Moment
– Lane Ltd.: Captain Black White, 1-Q
– Mac Baren: 7 Seas Regular Blend*, 7 Seas Royal Blend*
Neptune*
– Planta: Danish Black Vanilla Flake, Pergamon
– Poul Winslow: Harlekin*, No. 1*
– Sail: Regular*
– Samuel Gawith: Black Cherry, Celtic Talisman
– Sillem’s: Black
– Stanwell: Melange*
– Troost: Aromatic Cavendish*, Black Cavendish*, Special Cavendish*
– WO Larsen: Black Diamond, Mellow Mixture*, Sweet Aromatic*

* Available in The Netherlands

EDIT: I see there is some confusion between English pressed Virginia flakes, cavendish and black cavendish.
– English cavendish is made without the steaming under high pressure in 3 to 4 days.
– English black cavendish is made with steaming the tobacco under high pressure in 1 to 2 days.
– An English pressed Virginia flake, like Samuel Gawith’s Full Virginia Flake, gets about 4.5 hours of steam pressure, then slowly cools in the press overnight. In the morning they take it out. It is still warm then but it has slow-cooled for 12 hours. Golden Glow gets about 2.5 hours of steam pressing before cooling overnight.
So the process of pressed English Virgina flakes is in essence the same as with cavendish. Only the time is much, much shorter.

♪ Got a pipe smoking woman ♪

Anneke van Giersbergen (ex-The Gathering) with a pipe

Anneke van Giersbergen (ex-The Gathering) with a pipe

When thinking about what to write I was listening to the well known Santana hit. But in my mind it soon became the title of this post. Actually, I don’t have a pipe smoking woman. My girlfriend Ellen tolerates me puffing away indoors but that’s it. However, I do like women who smoke the noble briar (or meerschaum, or clay, or morta etc. You know what I mean).

So yes, there are women pipe smokers, but they are rare. Hell, people look strange when I walk the streets puffing away. Imagine how they would look when a woman walked in my place. For me it demonstrates an independent mind, thoughtfulness and an excellent “I do what I want and I don’t care” attitude when a woman smokes a pipe. Lots of respect for them. Nowadays we men are sometimes having a difficult time but a pipe smoking woman really has to swim against the tide. But that was not always the case..

Marquise de Pompadour, the favourite mistress of Louis XV, was a passionate smoker and owned more than 300 pipes!!!

Marquise de Pompadour, the favourite mistress of Louis XV, was a passionate smoker and owned more than 300 pipes!!!

Female smoking was very popular in the 17th and 18th centuries. Respectable, upper class women were commonly seen smoking pipes in public. Many famous paintings exist of noble women in that period puffing away from a clay pipe. The middle classes were also eager to enjoy this new pastime as well.

So Dutch, French and English women all enjoyed the so called “Indian Weed”. Of course in the then fashionable clay pipes which for centuries were the favourite way of enjoying tobacco. Such pipes were usually white, with small bowls and long stems. An elegant pipe for elegant women. Sadly around the 1850’s (when pipe smoking in general became associated with the working class) female smoking began to decline, at least in public. The acceptance of female smokers seemed to vary between regions at this time. Especially in Victorian England with its puritan views female pipe smoking was not done. But it is believed that many women kept their old habits. It is more than likely it was done in secret while they outwardly treated the act as a disgrace..

Woman working and smoking

Woman working and smoking

However, in rural areas such as the Highlands of Scotland and in Ireland women smoked without shame. Women in the Hebrides smoked well into the 1930’s due to the cultural isolation just as Appalachian women in the USA did. They did not know better because they lived in societies without contact with urban centres.

A Butz Choquin Lady Pipe

A Butz Choquin Lady Pipe

In the 1960’s and 1970’s women pipe smoking was promoted as can be seen in this short film. Also pipes were made especially for women, see the picture on the left. But it never took off. Cigarettes and an occasional small cigar became the choice for smoking women. This while I believe the pipe to be a feminine object. The smoothness, the fine curves.. It is probably more feminine and civilized than the mini penis represented by cigarettes or the phallic cigar.

There are (of course) also women pipe makers. From which Anne Julie and Manduela are the most well known. And recently I received some information that German tobacco manufacturer Planta has a female master blender! Talking about tobacco, Samuel Gawith made a flake especially for women: Firedance Flake.

For all the people who would like to see pictures of pipe smoking women I have 2 links to websites:
Pipe Lovin’ Ladies
Pipe Babes

Monique (nickname MilleLuci)

Monique (forum nickname MilleLuci)

On the Dutch pipe smokers forum we have one active pipe smoking woman: Monique. She is a strong, independent and creative woman (a gold and silver-smith). Despite setbacks in her life she keeps on going with a fierce determination. I asked her some questions:

How long do you smoke pipe?
Almost a year and before that I smoked little cigars for years.

How did you began smoking the pipe and did you have pipe smoking examples/inspirations?
I began because of my son Floris (forum nickname Godewinus). He showed me the videoclips (fellow forum-member) Janneman made. I was instantly fascinated, I tried it immediately and got touched by the beautiful briar pieces of art and wonderful tobaccos! Besides that it was delicious and it gave me some kind of peace. Making time to enjoy a nice tobacco. Also because for centuries tobacco is consumed this way. Since then a beautiful world opened up for me. I can even combine it with my passion as a gold and silver-smith.

What are your favourite pipe shapes?
That is a very broad interest. I am being touched by “out of the box” designs. Like those of Roger Wallenstein and Elie. For me it is a feeling of holding the pipe, touching it and seeing it. Of course it also appeals to me if a pipe has nice silver-work. I guess some kind of a ladies blingbling thing hehehe. Because of that I also like Italian pipes like Ser Jacopo. They have the great Leonardo pipe with a double-walled bowl and the Picta series containing wonderful silver-work. The same goes for L’ Anatra.
I also went on my own to the Inter-Tabac fair in Dortmund, Germany, to look at all the pipes, tobaccos and silver-work. Very inspiring! I talked to Poul Winslow and got a tin Winslow 2 from him. I had a great day over there!

What are your favourite tobaccos?
DTM Memories of Tuscany
Peterson Holiday Season 2011 and 2012
Winslow 1 and 2
Winslow Harlekin
W.O. Larsen Classic
W.O. Larsen Golden Dream
W.O. Larsen Indigo

Do you get a lot of comments when smoking in your direct environment or on the streets?
Oh yes! A lot and with lots of disbelief! Many people do not understand that you smoke pipe being a woman. But after a while it gets normal. And besides, I really don’t care. Strange looks, important? Not!
I don’t really smoke on the streets. I smoke in company, at home or on meetings. But still at meetings people look strange to me. The “out of the box” thinkers understand it.

Also I am not a girly-girl. I used to climb in trees and did not play with dolls. I have got more male friends then female friends and I prefer working with men. Women often have a terrible tendency to nag and whine.. So I think that the more “though” woman dares to smoke pipe. The Dutch forum is absolutely really nice and gives me beautiful friendships and lots of inspiration.

So to all the women out there I would like to use the words of Monique: Think out of the box.

Latakia Lover

Latakia

Latakia tobacco

Yes I admit.. I am a lover of the dark leaf that many pipe smokers love and even more wives and girlfriends hate: latakia. But I did not always like it..

fire_curedFirst something about latakia. What is NOT used in the process of making it is camel dung.. Many people think that because of the odour it gives when it is burned. Also latakia is not a ready tobacco. It is an oriental from which the leaves are hung above a smouldering fire so long that the leaves go from a light colour to dark brown or even black. Hence the name, the dark leaf.

Part of the Latakia port in 1935

Part of the Latakia port in 1935

Like so many things the discovery of latakia was unintentionally. Somewhere in the 1800’s in the northern part of Syria near the port city Latakia a bumper crop of tobacco was left in the storage attic of a house for many months where it was exposed to household fires and smoke. The following spring the unique flavouring and taste of the left behind tobacco was discovered. At the beginning of the 20th century latakia was used to spice up the then popular Turkish cigarettes. Later when ordinary domestic cigarettes rose in popularity the use of the dark leaf declined. Now it is only found in pipe tobacco blends.

There are 2 kinds of latakia: Syrian and Cyprian.

Shekk-el-bint leaves drying

Shekk-el-bint leaves drying

Syrian latakia is derived from a tobacco leaf known as “shekk-el-bint.” When it is harvest time the plant is cut and the leaves and flowers are laid on the ground to dry in the sun. When they have dried they are taken to storehouses, where they are smoked for a period of 13 to 15 weeks. The smoke is made by primarily using nearby hardwoods and pines, probably from the Baer forest, such as Aleppo pine, Turkey oak and Valonia oak. Also lesser amounts of other aromatic species like Lebanon cedar and Greek Juniper were used. When all is ready the tobacco is known as latakia and is referred to by the Syrians as “Abourihm,” which translates as “king of flavour”. Regarding taste Syrian latakia has a mellow, wine-like, wood-like character. Famous writer Charles Dickens was a big fan of Syrian latakia: “Syria provided the finest tobacco  in the world, the Latakia, in the neighbourhood of the ancient and renowned port of Laodicea (Latakia) at the foot of Mount Lebanon. And as Syria provides the finest tobacco in the world, the Prince of Syria, the Emir Bekir, had the reputation one most deservedly, of furnishing to his guests a pipe of tobacco far more complete than any which could be furnished by any rival potentate in the East.

Prime example of a blend with Cyprian latakia: Penzance

Prime example of a blend with Cyprian latakia: Penzance

Cyprian latakia comes from a Smyrna or Izmir-type tobacco plant that is known as “Yellow Cyprus.” The Yellow Cyprus leaves are harvested by de-stalking them and are made on long poles to be hung in a tobacco shed. The leaves are then smoked over open smouldering fires. These fires are made from hardwoods, some pine and aromatic shrubs and woods such as prickly cedar and myrtle. It has been reported that the Mastic shrub is primarily used in the smoke generation for Cyprian latakia. The following formula may approximate the shrubs and woods used for the fire/smoke-curing process: Mastic 90%, Myrtle 4%, Stone pine (this one or this one) 4%, Cypress 1%, Other 1%. The taste of Cyprian latakia is more assertive, sweet and leathery.

blendingWhen you mix latakia with other tobaccos you have to be careful. Although some others like to smoke it almost pure.. With percentages around 3% to 5% you just start to notice latakia. The sweetness of the Cyprian variant comes alive around 10%. The wine-like character of the Syrian variant begins to emerge at 10% to 12% until it dominates the blend around 30% to 35%. The maximum of Cyprian latakia is around 40% to 50%. However, higher percentages (60%) are possible but then a very skilful blending hand is needed.

Peterson Old Dublin

Peterson Old Dublin

I first read about latakia in Janneman’s Pijpenboek. I was growing a bit tired of all the aromatic tobaccos I was smoking. I wanted to taste something new. And I got just that.. My first choice of a mixture with latakia was Peterson Old Dublin simply because it was the only one that the Rokado tobacconist had in stock. At home I anxiously opened the tin and smelled the contents. Whooaahh!!! My nose went open instantaneously. What the……. “Does anyone smoke this??” I thought.. “Wel ok, let’s give it a try.” I picked a Peterson (how fitting), filled it up and lit it. Whooaahh again!! Like smoking wood from a fireplace! I did not really enjoy that first bowl but I was intrigued. After a couple of pipes I liked it a bit more but I still had some reservations. On a visit in Germany I bought a tin of Dunhill Nightcap. “Let’s try that one, maybe it is better.” Well, it was not.. Way too much nicotine for me at that point. I got sick and put the latakia mixture tins aside.

PS_BSA couple of months later a pipe of me was fixed by a fellow pipe-smoker from Belgium. As a payment he wanted tobacco in stead of money. I knew he liked latakia and I wanted to give him something special. So for the first time I ordered some blends from The States. Peter Stokkebye Balkan Supreme and McClelland 3 Oaks Syrian to be precise. Balkan Supreme came in a zip-lock bag which I put on a shelf in the kitchen. One evening I sat in the living room and suddenly I smelled something very nice. “What is that??” I wondered. I followed my nose to… The zip-lock bag with Balkan Supreme. Of course I could not smoke it, it was the payment for the fixed pipe. But when I visited the fellow pipe-smoker I asked if I could try the tobacco. And luckily I could. It was di-vine! Quickly I ordered a bag of Balkan Supreme for myself.

Old tin of Balkan Sobranie

Old tin of Balkan Sobranie

From then on my love of the dark leaf and the search for new (and vintage) latakia mixtures began. In the time that followed I was able to smoke classic vintage mixtures like Balkan Sobranie Original Mixture, Balkan Sobranie Mixture 759, State Express London Mixture, De Graaff Kegelbaan, Smoker’s Haven Exotique and many more.

Nowadays recommended latakia mixtures are:
– 4noggins: Britt’s Balkan
– Ashton: Artisan’s Blend*, Consummate Gentleman*
Balkan Sobranie Original Smoking Mixture (by J.F. Germain)
– Charles Faimorn: Lancer’s Slices
– Cornell & Diehl: Star of the East flake, Red Odessa
– DTM: Midnight Ride, Bill Bailey’s Balkan Blend, Old Ironsides
– Dunhill: Nightcap*, Early Morning Pipe*, Standard Mixture Mellow*, My Mixture 965*, London Mixture*
– Esoterica Tobacciana: Penzance, Margate
– GL Pease: Abingdon, Lagonda, Westminster, Odyssee, Samarra, Ashbury
– Hearth & Home: Magnum Opus
– HU Tobacco: Brullende Leeuw, Balkan Passion, My Special One, Olaf’s Favourite English, Khoisaan, Masai, Tuarekh, Tigray, Zulu
MacBaren HH Vintage Syrian
– McClelland: Frog Morton, Blue Mountain, Wilderness, Old Dog
Peterson Old Dublin*
– Peter Stokkebye: Balkan Sasieni, Balkan Supreme
Presbyterian Mixture
– Rattray: Black Mallory*, Red Rapparee*
– Robert McConnell: Scottish Blend*
– Samuel Gawith: Squadron Leader, Skiff Mixture, Perfection*
Sillem’s Black (one of the only aromatic latakia mixtures)
Solani Blend 779 Gold*

* Available in The Netherlands

UPDATE 15-06-2017:

IMG_0762

Cyprian pipe maker Yiannos Kokkinos and my friend

Recently a good friend of mine went on holiday to Cyprus. Amongst other things he wanted to score some Cyprian latakia. After a visit to pipe-maker Yiannos Kokkinos he was directed to the West of the island to a village called Neo Chorio. Because there, in the Akamas region between Neo Chorio and the town of Polis were the tobacco fields where the Yellow Cyprus was grown. WAS grown yes. Several locals said in interviews (my friend had an interpreter with him) that 10 to 15 years ago tobacco production stopped in Cyprus. According to them nowadays the “Cyprian” latakia is produced in the Izmir region of Turkey. Afterwards it is shipped to the Turkish part of Cyprus where it is sold to tobacco brokers as Cyprian latakia. Luckily the quality has not been compromised because of this, I mean, I have not hear anyone complaining that their Cyprian latakia blends tasted worse than before. This story has been confirmed by Per Jensen of MacBaren.