Repost from El Cannatorcedor Blog – Jan 2016
Word of the week : Chaveta – curved blade used in preparing the wrapper leaves for cigars, easily rolls across a table for cleaner cutting of leaves.
There is something regal about an old family of artisan craftsman applying a generationally-refined trade. Cigar making has a rich history. Families who have passed down their rich knowledge of growing, curing, preparation, and soil secrets, who have raised their own into mansions and have become the makers of an iconic symbol of success, celebration, and elegance. The history of the cigar goes back at least two millennia. The origins of the word ‘cigar’ and the cigar itself seem to have originated from sikar, the Mayan word for smoking. It is believed that the cigar has its origins within Central America, where smoking was practiced by the Mayans and later the Aztecs. They were known to have smoked tubes of loosely rolled tobacco leaves, similar to the present day cigars.
Cigars hundreds of years ago, and the methods of making them, aren’t that much different than those today. Some methods translate to cannabis, some do not. But I didn’t know this for a few weeks. There is not a lot on the internet about it. Endeavoring to experiment until I obtained a solid reproducible method, I have failed numerous times. This is an expense I had to mentally write off ahead of time as “R&D”. There are few guides to creating cannabis cigars, and most online videos are very poor end results. So I wanted to share a blog, and as time goes by I will document the steps it takes me to get there, and others can use or expand or share their knowledge. One thing common to everyone, regardless of method : learning can be expensive.
What makes this process expensive? Cannabis oil. Binding leaves requires a gum, and lots of it. It takes about 7 grams of flower to make 1 gram of oil, depending on extraction methods. For tobacco cigar makers, a vegetable gum is used – cheap and effective, and very little concern is paid to wasting it. Cannabis oil – the type I make, solvent-free, has a price higher than gold per gram. Imagine freely spreading this around and wasting it like children’s paint. This was my desk before structure and process started to assemble.
I’ve had the oil in my beard, eye lashes, face, in my nose, on my carpet, and on my cat. I failed short of a dozen times before I produced a single cigar that didn’t fall apart while wrapping. Those first few cigars that actually held shape before I lit them – they unraveled while smoking them.
My wraps are far tighter and more consistent now. They no longer fall apart or unravel, and they smoke smoothly all the way down. Ironing out details will take a year or two (the head caps), which wrapper leaf patternings work best for optimum oil coverage while minimizing un-even overlap of leaves and providing solid structural stability. The quest for the perfect cannabis cigar will rend many types, shapes, and sizes.
Once I achieved a solid method, and produced my first pleasurable end result, all the failures were worth it. I remember sparking that first cigar that actually remained in tact. I had taken it to a friends immediately I was so excited. It was exquisite. I posted a pic on facebook and the caption is very appropriate. I did feel a bit like Dr. Frankenstein witnessing the birth of his creation, watching a full-sized newborn, a cut-and-paste job of various parts holding together at the seams without dying prematurely, set ablaze. “It’s Alive!”
I’ve been experimenting since May of 2015, looking for methods that are solid, dependable, and easily reproduced on a larger scale. The Aficionado – it’s almost there. Close to nearing completion. And the feedback I have received from those who have tried them so far has been very helpful.
Well, I have a couple ounces of practice buds. Time to get wrapping!