It’s a Wrap: Measuring Tobacco Powder for Cigar Binder and Cigar Wrapper Manufacturing

Homogenized Tobacco Leaf (HTL) is a paper-like material produced from finely ground tobacco. The inner and outer envelopes of machine-made cigars (termed binder and wrapper, respectively) often consist of HTL, as it displays greater mechanical resistance and uniformity than whole tobacco leaves. Here we measured the particle size of tobacco powders destined for HTL manufacturing of cigar binder and cigar wrapper using a PSA. Tobacco particles proved fragile and measurement parameters had to be adjusted tightly to limit mechanical stress. Measurements were performed both in dry and in liquid mode and showed excellent repeatability. The tobacco powder destined for wrapper manufacturing displayed slightly smaller particle sizes and a more homogeneous distribution than the binder, indicating that the resulting wrapper HTL could be of thinner and smoother quality than the binder HTL.

Traditional, hand-crafted cigars are made of 3 different qualities of dried and fermented tobacco leaves, termed filler, binder and wrapper. The filler consists of a bound bunch of tobacco leaves, and makes the bulk of the cigar. This filler is held together by a first layer of tobacco leaf called the binder. Binder leaf is typically harvested from the sun-drenched top part of the tobacco plant, giving it greater elasticity, thickness and resistance. The outermost layer of the cigar is the wrapper, a smooth, thin and supple leaf that has to be shade-grown and fermented separately, making it the most distinctive (as well as expensive) part of the cigar.

Since the 1950s, the popularization of cigar smoking has prompted manufacturers to develop cost-effective production processes. Machine-made cigars emulate the composition of hand-made cigars and also consist in filler, binder and wrapper. In that case the filler generally consists of chopped tobacco leaves, also termed short filler, which is cheaper than whole leaves and has the advantage of conveying more homogeneity to the finished product. Because whole tobacco leaves are generally too fragile for cigarmaking machines, both binder and wrapper are often made up of homogenized tobacco leaf (HTL).

HTL is produced from finely ground tobacco powder, which is mixed to a pulp with water and cellulose and then rolled into sheets. The enhanced resistance and uniformity of HTL makes it ideally suited for automatized cigar making. In addition, HTL helps control the burning rate of the cigar, an important criteria for consumer satisfaction.

Here we have investigated the particle size distribution of two tobacco powders destined for HTL manufacturing of cigar binder and cigar wrapper. 

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