Storing tobacco is a subject of much debate in the world of smoking. There is a lot of misinformation floating around out there and I am here to clear away the fog. So, let’s tackle one of these little tidbits.

Freezing your tobacco is a fairly recent addition to the mythos of tobacco preservation. As a cigar smoker, the idea of freezing tobacco makes my skin crawl. You’ll destroy the leaves, dry them out and rip out the essential oils that make tobacco so tasty. All of the flavor components that I love about tobacco are quite volatile and will disappear into the freezer. Any tobacco product with the flavors of tobacco on the main stage should be kept far from the freezer.

But, what about modern style hookah tobacco? Surely the flavorings are more stable and you don’t have to worry about the tobacco itself.

Don’t do it! The flavoring that hookah tobacco companies apply to their leaves are designed to be fairly volatile so that they are easily released when the moassel is heated. We want these volatile oils and other compounds to stay in the tobacco and they will get sucked out along with the moisture.

Here’s a little science. When air gets cold, it condenses and the humidity drops. The sealed box that is the freezer wants to reach homeostasis, meaning that the dry air will suck moisture out of anything in the freezer to try and balance the humidity between the air and the items in contact with it. This is why meat that has been left in the freezer will seem to slowly burn and dry out. The same thing happens to your tobacco and the thought horrifies me.

Why would someone ever put their tobacco in the freezer? Well, this trend started relatively recently as a technique to correct the dreaded humidity shock that Tangiers is known for experiencing. Your only supposed to put your Tangiers in the freezer if it refuses to acclimate and, even then, only for an hour or so. Not long enough to do much real damage to the flavor.

Does it do anything? I have never seen any change that could not come from normal acclimation, but I have been fairly lucky. I only had one batch that refused to acclimate and now I live in Southern California where there is no need to acclimate my Tangiers.

I suggest you forget about the freezer and just seal your tobacco well in Ziploc bags or plastic storage containers and keep these packages at room temperature out of direct sunlight. This will treat you well enough and I have some tobacco that has been stored in this way for years that still tastes great.

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11 years ago

I’ve never thought about putting my tobacco into the freezer : there is no sense to do so.

9 years ago

What is your opinion on vacuum packing tobacco prior to freezing? preventing the acclimation process by sealing it in an air tight package? would this extend the life of a large batch for a casual smoker and prevent normal spoilage?

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