Posted on Leave a comment

Why FlatCap Molds?

FlatCaps were designed with one thing in mind : using tips or filters.

The flat end of FlatCap style mold allows for you to put the wooden tip (like Organitips) into the mold, then then pack down into it.   The flat end keeps the tip straight because the tip has a flat surface to back up to.   If you try this method with a RoundCap or Torpedo mold, the curvature of the endcap will sometimes allow the tip to sit crookedly.    That can still work, but it is not ideal.   Thus, FlatCap molds were made to be tailored for that process.

I show an example of this method in one of my YouTube videos here, but I am using my standard 1X1 mold, not a FlatCap.   I include the video here just so you can get a good idea of the method itself.

There are three primary methods for using tips.

The first method is what I just mentioned and show in the above video.   Packing the mold with the tip pre-inserted.   This creates a flower core body that is perfectly even with the tip, and then you wrap your cigar with the wrapper material overlapping the tip slightly.   Another example of this can be seen in the example on the far right of the image I have used for this blog post.   You can see that the leaf wrapping overlaps the tip.

The second method is where you created a finished / wrapped cannagar, usually a RoundCap or Torpedo mold, and then slide the finished cannagar into the tip.   Most tips have a curved interior, so this is the use-case where RoundCap molds are totally compatible with tips.  In this method, you pack your flower core, take it out of the mold, wrap it, and then slide the tip over the finished and wrapped gar.   I call this the “black and mild” method, because just like Black and Milds, the tip covers the end of the body and holds it.

The third method involves making a wrapper shell using a wrapper mold, then sliding that empty wrapper shell into a tip, OR by overlapping the tip when making your empty shell.

The main image for this blog post is actually taken from a photo by Hamilton Cannagar (https://cannagarshells.com) – who uses the third method and makes their own empty shells to be filled as desired.   They make one of the first premium shell wrappers on the market that ship to their customers empty, ready to be filled.    Check them out!   I’ve personally tried their product and it’s pretty awesome.

Another maker of shells is Jean Carlos Magar.   https://www.facebook.com/JeanCarlosMagars2.0/

Jean also creates premium empty hemp leaf shells and ships them nationwide.

You can fill their empty shells with ground flower easily using a custom Cannagar Tools Pre-Roll Loader made to fit their shells, or use Cannagar Tools Cannagar Press to make a solid core – and slide the solid core into their pre-made shells.  You can also make your own wrapper shells in house if you desire by using Cannagar Tools Wrapper Molds.

Each method creates a different smoking experience, and what you desire is a matter of preference.

Empty shells filled with ground flower will smoke more like a blunt and do not have as long of a burn time as a solid core cannagar, but some prefer the taste with that method because it is more like a standard pre-roll, only fatter.

The solid core cannagar method burns longer and requires a smoke channel to be created in the center of the flower core by using a skewer or my steel rods.    The solid core cannagar can smoke out an entire bus and only be half way consumed after a couple hours of passing it around.   I know, we did that in Denver with Made in Xiaolin’s founder Christopher Wallance Louise and it was fucking amazing.

Personally speaking, there is a time and place for each kind of smoking experience.   Sometimes I want a shorter duration smoke that burns more like a pre-roll or a blunt, sometimes I want my gar to last all day.   When I go fishing, I take a 40 gauge solid-core cannagar.   I light it in the morning, and it’s still burning when I pack up in the afternoon, usually less than halfway consumed.

So many options!    I hope this blog helps some of you who are getting your start in the cannagar world.

If you would like more information or a tutorial, schedule a consulting call with me and ill be happy to help you out!   Just click on the Consulting link in the main menu and schedule a session.   Enjoy making cannagars!

– Chris Morton (Cannagar Aficionado / Shop owner)

 

 

Posted on Leave a comment

Clean Leaves – A Commercial Challenge

One of the things that has surprised me – how hard it can be to get clean leaves and use them in a state licensed business.

And what I mean is …….  for the ideal cannagar, you want leaves that have not come in contact with pesticides or other sprays, especially the common types used to prevent mites, stop rot, kill bugs, etc.  Not all growers who want to make cannagars can provide such leaves.   It’s difficult to predict how a chemical presence in a leaf will effect organic decomposition during curing.   I have seen some odd decomposition that seemed to be directly attributable to pesticide use.   And who wants to inhale pesticides?   No one.  The problem – the foliage takes the brunt of all sprays.

I was helping someone who turned out to be using Eagle 20 (and NO ONE should use that stuff), their leaves started to look like Predator skin from the Schwarzenegger movie – mottled, spotted, yellow/green/brown/black.   Looked fine for a week after plucking, then nose dived, unexpectedly.  They had several large batches completely fail and go bad, and after switching to something new, the problem stopped.    And they kept switching.   New problems happened.

I prefer taking leaves during flower – both because the leaves are typically lighter, and because growers will often stop spraying once the buds begin to form.  However, flower is when the leaves usually start to become less abundant, and when many growers will start pulling foliage off.

I’ve had several clients whose rooms for selecting leaves would change schedules often, switch brands without notice, foliar nutrient overload where the nutrients burn leaves, mega-lolipopping (trimming everything off), etc.    All surprises during the middle of cannagar production.   Expect the unexpected with a large operation.

Smaller niche growers with attention to detail and a solid plan, you can really take the cannagar market.    Not only will you have the edge and the story, like a craft brew, but the overall attention to your product and ability to control it is going to win.   Believe me.   Even if you arent pulling in money now, keep going.   If you love what you are doing, keep perfecting your art.

The big growers can afford to do what it takes, so its oxymoronic in a way.   With all the resources, the amount of people interfacing can make the entire process burdened and harder to manage.

Boutique craft growers whose main focus in top shelf will to be the gardens that can really put everything together on site and knock out a quality cannagar – and the key will be marketing it right.

If you have a business that wants to make cannagars, and you have no access to clean leaves – it was a real pain for the few producer processors I have worked with to transfer leaves from other grows.  Paperwork, driving, the leaves had to be transported in the same secure van as the rest of the deliveries, which was a cost added to the leaves, and time, etc etc etc.    If you are going 100% by the laws.   It really doesn’t seem like it needs to be that difficult.  Maybe it’s just a Washington thing.

I wanted to get hemp leaves last year for a client that was having trouble getting clean leaves.  Hemp seemed like a perfect idea, abundant and I could get possibly get insane amounts of leaves, but …..it’s not allowed.   Cannabis producer processors cannot accept or sell any hemp product, and vice versa, and the most strict will want to account for where the leaves came from.  Ok.   So just tell people that the leaves came from <X> hemp farm.    They cant.  It’s against the regulations. . It was amusing.  I get it, hemp and cannabis – for flower + extract – they have to totally be separate markets.    Leaves too apparently.   lol.

Growing leaves at home is easy to grow without pesticides – the challenge is that anything you grow at home cannot be used in a retail product.   So, my leaves remain for my personals, and my own event service rolling, but I cant bring them to any consulting client for use with anything destined for a retail shelf.

People get weird about those rules man.

How hard is it to get leaves onto retail cannagars where you live?

Posted on Leave a comment

End of a year, sad but happy

It’s been a year since I contracted with EH farms to help them launch a cigar product line.    It’s been a fast year and a great learning experience.   I’ve had the opportunity to work on a fulls scale commercial cannabis farm and be involved with every aspect of it – not just my product.    

I have trained their team to make my solid-core blunts and we made enough blunts to last through the holidays.   It’s time for me to shove off and move onto other things.   EH will be focusing on wraps/blunts and budget discount cannabis instead of premium products.  So, for all those who loved Bad Ass Cigars – they are now limited quantity wherever you can find them.   Once sold, these Clear Oil based premium cigars will be gone.   

For EH, it’s a matter of cost vs profitability in the Washington market.   They are a tier 2, very limited budget and penetration.  I’ve spoken with the owner several times to obtain permission to take over marketing of the cigars, but it hasn’t been granted.  Without being able to assist with marketing or driving product demand, its hard to continue.  The price point they are asking for the blunts is not sufficient to grow my company, as was the original plan.   Time to move on.

Happy New Years Cannatorcedores!    

Onward, Upward.  

Posted on Leave a comment

The Bearer of Trial and Error

Reposted from El Cannatorcedor Blog / March 2016

Word (phrase) of the week :   Moment of Inertia.   “Mathematically, the maximum stress a rod or cylindrical object can withstand directly depends on the polar moment of inertia.  Polar moment of inertia is mass times the distance squared from the polar axis. Since all the mass of a hollow shaft is far away from the polar axis it has a higher polar moment of inertia and is much stronger than a solid rod of the same mass”

Whole wet-bud compression mold curing test results. Stamp : FAIL. 

Wet-bud has stuck to the skewer with all 5 of them, very hard to remove and was too tight to smoke (yes even the one I thought would be just right). There are still flaws in using whole-buds that I am not satisfied with. Wet-bud cures, both thai-stick and pressure molded, have a tendency to form cracks and gaps in the body. This is hard to avoid due to the way a solid bud condenses as it dries out. No matter how tight I pack the wet-bud, as it dries, this will happen. I am just not satisfied with that. It will definitely make the smoking experience less predictable. Also – due to the lack of oxygen and moisture, mildew and mold is a possibility that I am not comfortable with. Too much trouble. I have returned my attention solely to the crushed flower cannabis cigar.   Why did I ever leave her you ask?   I didn’t think it was going to work out.   I was wrong.

Luckily, I planned for the event of failure, and so I loaded two tubes in my shaping mold with crushed flower, packed tight. They have been curing at the same time, so I was able to test in the case that the wet flower cure went awry. They came out lovely. 

When I was testing hemp-rope curing – I had no success with ground flower for obvious reasons – so I used a hemp sheath to bind it. It was the only way to keep it solid. This is not true for my new compression molds. They apply even pressure, lots of it – and tighten up the cigar nicely. 

Even more, I realized something very important about the skewer hole. It has a dual function.   When it came time to finish the cigars, I had to remove the skewer and fashion an end cap. I was worried that intense pressure from the finishing mold might have collapsed the ground flower. That was not the case. The donut shape produced by the skewer produces an even more stable body than without.  The finishing mold made it even stronger.   The same self-supporting principle that functions in physics – that a cylinder of equal mass is can handle more stress than a solid rod of the same mass, makes the ground flower stronger than expected.   

Next, my old method of applying leaves would not work for crushed flower, so I had to come up with something new.  The old method was warming up my oil and brush-stroking it on to the surface of a hemp sheath, then applying leaves. That is not ideal for crushed flower using no sheath – too much potential for damage and flaking, pulling away flower with sticky oil on my tools.

So I purchased a cheap hot plate, and a no-stick mat.    It immediately went too hot and vaporized the oil right off of the pad.  Live and learn.  Cheaply made things DO NOT operate at the temperatures they advertise on the box.  With temps lowered, I assume around 90-100 – the oil is malleable and able to spread into a rectangular area, and then I roll the flower mold across it, covering the mold evenly, quickly, and painlessly.   What used to be messy, and take over 20 minutes, is now complete in 30 seconds.   That is a major improvement for production time.

I had experimented with crushed flower before, but not with a compression mold, and I had almost given up.   I found that a single layer of leaves would not suffice, and that a self-reinforcing leaf structural pattern was required to make the cigar solid so that it does not fall apart when it gets warmer and a tad softer when smoking. This likely wont be a problem any more, but I have come to really appreciate the diagonal cross hatch pattern.    The combination of the self-reinforcing hollow shape, and a specially developed leaf application pattern will mean my cigars will stand the test of time. 

I smoked a bit of an Aficionado last night, and it held up well.  Taste is getting there, has a nice weight.  Now I am going to store one of them for a few weeks, subjecting it to average handling and abuse (holding it firmly, rolling in between fingers, bumping it against objects, dropping it on the table, ground, etc).   The end result must be stable, pleasurable, structurally sound, and easy enough to reproduce that I will not need an apprenticeship program to scale my methods. 

Posted on Leave a comment

In Tha House!

Reposted from El Cannatorcedor Blog / Jun 2016

 

In-House Production of Cigar Making Tools!      

I’ve been busy making things.   In the past 6 months Ive been working with a carpenter to design cigar molds and tailor them to a process I have been refining week by week.     On the first day I made them available, I received an order for a pair of Corona sized molds!   Shortly after, I received more inquiries.   I can already tell that I will need to be able to cut my time and cost without cutting quality.   That is always the challenge, right?   

While the maplewood molds are excellent, we haven’t been able to nail consistency.   Wood has a natural variation that is unavoidable.  Getting the guides right with the alignment of the channels has been too hard.    In the old world, a really good set of tobacco molds carved by hand could be as expensive as a finely tuned musical instrument.  This is because it really does take a precision and care and lots of work.   Today, most industrial molds are plastic.   As with many things, it’s a matter of cost and time, and for plastics – the added durability.   

I have purchased some start up manufacturing gear, and I am now designing my own molds, learning new 3-d software, improving on the designs made in the past 6 months.  Soon – I am going to release something very cool.    I have found sources of earth friendly hemp-based plastics, and carbon fiber made with biodegradable plant based plastic, and the cost will be far less, and it will be more sustainable for larger quantities and faster production, and the earth.    Accuracy will be very precise, and able to achieve consistency that is simply harder with wood.

I didn’t quite intend to be a producer of cigar tools when this whole thing started.  I only wanted to make cannabis cigars.   Yet, no one was making the tools I needed.  Not quite.      I want to make cannabis cigar rolling as easy and approachable as blunt rolling – both for myself, and others, and I now feel this is key to the proliferation of cannabis cigar culture.   My long range plan includes empowering others to run with it.   

When I wander into a premium cigar shop with an amazing selection from dozens if not hundreds of producers – that is what I desire to see for cannabis.

Yes, it would be cool to say “We were the first”, but I don’t need to own that.   (We might just market that statement though, since our trademark date will actually place us in a good standing to be among “the first”)   My vision of retailers with a giant walk in humidor selection of cannabis cigars from all over the place – that will take many of us, working together.   Many of us, making cigars and developing our own little niches, for the love of the Arte.  

Onward Canna-Torcedores.   

Posted on Leave a comment

Mission Accomplished

Reposted from El Cannatorcedor Blog / May 2016

 

My task began in January.   Smoke 30 tobacco cigars in 30 days, different varieties, different sizes.  Goal : Absorb cigar culture, marketing, packaging, and delivery.   

Timescale failed.  One cigar a day was too much.    Fast forward 5 months later, I have enjoyed 1-2 cigars per week approx.   My cigar dossier has four pages of entries and my palette has developed a bit.   

My findings : The enjoyment of a cigar is greatly dependent upon the same type of pleasure circuit as the smell of a campfire, burning sage, or hickory / mesquite smoke.   You have to enjoy the scent, the burning smell.   So much richer than cigarette smoke, and thicker.   Cigars are best paired with a drink, and their flavor will be impacted after a meal.     Strong coffee being my choice for pairing with a Maduro, and in social settings like a casino, or any other occasion for a cigar, a nice brandy or jack & coke pairs well with a camaroon or a connecticut.   The natural flavor will be stronger on an empty stomach, without any pairing.   If you want to really taste a cigar, smoke it during a period when you haven’t had food in a few hours.   

I prefer medium body and sweet cigars over strong and intense.   I prefer Connecticut, Nicaraguan, and Cameroon wrappers.   Not so much a fan of the full flavored cigars, the exception being Partagas Black Label.   That is my maduro of choice.   I enjoy a spicy/woody element, I am not very tolerant of strong tobaccos.   Ligero heavy blends tend to be too strong for my taste, overpowering any drink.    

Favorite size : Robusto – 4.5-5″ 52 gauge   

Favorite Sticks : 

1) Acid Kuba Kuba

2) Oliva G Serie Double Robusto

3) Partagas Black Label Bravo

4) Hoyo De Monterrey 

Tobacco is restored back to it’s proper spirit in my experiential spectrum – to taste and relish in the experience and flavor; an experience lacking the quick-fix of cigarettes or even vapes.  Cigars are meant to be savored.  Enjoyed.   Aftertastes explored.   

Cigar marketing and concepts need no change……  Limited edition boxes, seasonal varieties, reserve edition boxes, custom rolled cigar blends for high end clientele, the simple elegance of it all only need to be imported into the cannabis world and tailored for cannabis.  Cannabis has a much wider and richer flavor spectrum.   Fresh buds, terpenes, and oils make for flavor profiles that span from skunky to a hint of fruity bubblegum.   

The difference is that cannabis terpenes mimic scents/flavors in a more pronounced way.   Tobacco cigars will often carry descriptors like “hints of cinnamon” or “cocoa overtones”, etc.   However, in my view, if tobacco has not been specially cured in the presence of cocoa beans or cinnamon – this description is mostly subtle and subjective.  It is not very likely I would smoke a normally cured tobacco stick and detect cocoa, at all.  Cannabis terpenes actually do mimic many brighter flavors, and these flavors pop out.   

I will enjoy a premium tobacco stick now and again, no doubt, but tobacco is not something I will maintain as a regularity.    The time has come to say farewell to weekly testing of tobacco cigars, and focus on my primary goal.   My objective here is complete. I have absorbed enough of the culture.  I have learned a few core methods.  Stocked a few favorites.   

Taste acquired.   Onward.   

Posted on Leave a comment

Made in Xiaolin

The next generation of cannagar has arrived.   The Xiaolin Godfather.    Truly a Cannagar for the 1%.     

I’ve been onsite with the crew at Xiaolins Creative Rolling Facility this week in Colorado and I am blown away.    The craftsmanship, quality, and ideas, all top notch.   Take a look at some of what they have been doing.     This is what I am talking about!        

If you are interested in trying the most creative and luxurious form of infused flower product on the market – add them to your friends list, and ad them on instagram to be kept up to date on where/when their products will be available.    https://www.instagram.com/madeinxiaolin/

Very happy to have inspired them to get started, and look forward to a future of amazing products from this team.  

Posted on Leave a comment

10 Mile Hike – durability, check

Reposted from El Cannatorcedor Blog / May 2016

 

10 miles.  Steep jagged path.  Mostly worn footpath on roots and rocks.  I brought a cannagar with me in a glass tube.  It was jostled and banged around hard in my cargo pocket for 10 miles on the trail to Mink Lake near the Sol Duc Hot Spring.    I am proud to report that it arrived in perfect shape, smoked well, continued to provide random enjoyment for the next 4 days and is still about 2.5 inches long.   Temperature range : 38 degrees to 60.   Durability : check.   

(creases in cigar in the image below were present before the hike.   It was creased in my first cigar mold without guide rails.)

Posted on Leave a comment

Many Sessions

Reposted from El Cannatorcedor Blog / April 2016

The Cannagar is a bit different from a tobacco cigar, or even a joint.   Both the joint, and the tobacco cigar will go stale fairly quickly after the first session.  The second day and each after are less and less pleasurable.  Both of these are usually meant to be consumed in total during one or two sessions.  This is not the case for the solid-core cannagar.   

These can and should be smoked over the course of the normal amount of time it would take to consume the same weight of naked flower and oil, especially if consuming alone.   My newest cannagar is infused on its outer rim with clear concentrate, which preserves the flower well, and multiple sessions can be enjoyed without worry of drastic changes in flavor.  And because I use solvent-less low temp extracted oils, the flavor of the flower is maintained.   I didn’t want these to taste like the typical BHO-infused joint.     

Some of the wider gars I have planned will weigh up to an ounce, and this would not be consumed in one session by a single person.   These can be treated as they are; an OUNCE.

As with traditional stogies, lighting these is best accomplished with a torch lighter.   A typical bic will have the tendency to burn unevenly and take quite a while to light the entire head of larger gauges.   Some swear by the roast and toast method, I prefer the mini torch lighter.    I love my Ronson.   

Cannagars should be rotated while consuming to help create a smooth even burn.   

Basic etiquette.

Posted on Leave a comment

Testing concentrates as glues

Reposted from El Cannatorcedor Blog / May 2016

 

I have been testing different types of concentrate.   Today I brought home some ultra clear oil.   Steam processed, ultra refined – this is very expensive concentrate retail, upwards of $60 per gram.   Not realistic for actual use in cigars, but I wanted to test anyway knowing that soon will be cheaper to produce.   Before I attempted to apply leaves I determined it is not at all usable for cigars – not enough stickiness.   Very pure – 80% THC.   Too strong for my tastes as well, and way too strong for use in cigars.   No flavor either.   That may be useful

Rosin is a thicker oil, containing many plant oils and rich in terpenes.   It has the consistency of caramel and dries into a hash like consistency.   While this is not the easiest to work with, it is the most reliable and sets like glue over time.   For now, I will continue with my hot plate and no stick mat.   Eventually, I will design something more efficient…..