The tobacco leafs were first smoked in Mexico and Cuba. In Mexico the leafs were rolled in leafs of other plants or smoked in a pipe. In Cuba the cigar, rolling tobacco leafs in tobacco leafs, was invented.
Cigarettes originally were made from the remainders of cigars. Wanderers also wanted to smoke but had no money. By collecting the remainders of the tobacco and wrapping them in a piece of paper the first cigarettes originated.
The tobacco leafs are still picked manually. The first treatments of the leafs are also done manually. The cigarettes and cigars are usually completely automatically produced.
When the tobacco is smoked nicotine and tar are released. Nicotine and tar have a bad reputation due to health risks that are connected to these materials.
Production process of a cigarette
After 100 to 130 days of growth the plants are ready to be harvested. During its growth the top of the plant is removed a few times, which is called ‘topping’. This makes the plant grow faster. The leaves can be picked from the plants, but the entire plant can also be dug up. Next the leafs are picked from the plant.
In a barn near the plantations the leafs are dried. This drying
process gives the plant is specific smell and taste. The leafs are tied together and hung and can be dried in three ways. Drying can be done by means of hot air. The air
is heated outside and blown to the leafs. In this way, drying takes 4 to 8 weeks. A second method of drying by transporting smoke through tubes which give off heat. In this way the leafs are not in direct contact with the smoke. In this way, drying takes 4 to 6 days. Finally, the leafs can also be smoked above a fire. The leafs are now in direct contact with the smoke. First the leafs are dried with air for 3 to 5 days and afterwards 3 to 40 days with smoke. This also gives a specific taste.
Humidifying and tearing
In order to prevent cracks when the leafs are torn they are sprayed with water. Afterwards the leafs are torn. During this process the leafs are still sprayed with water. The leafs are torn in order to reduce them.
Sorting and transportation
Next the leafs are sorted by size, color and quality. Afterwards the leafs are transported to the cigarette factory.
Drying and humidifying
In the factory the leafs are dried and humidified for a second time. The goal of this process is to quicken the aging of the leafs while the taste is preserved.
Next the leafs are packed in vessels where the leafs age. This is a fermentation
process. After 1 to 3 years the leafs are aged enough. The aging process takes care of the development of flavor and aroma.
After the aging process the leafs are very dry. In order to prevent cracks the leafs are again humidified by spraying water
Next the stalks are removed from the leafs. The stalks are not wanted in cigarettes.
Different kinds of tobacco are mixed in order to create a specific taste. In this way, each brand has its own characteristic blend.
The leafs are strongly ground by transporting them through knives and plates. Possible additions, like menthol or fruit juice
, can now be added. A good mixture is very important so that no divergent cigarettes are produced.
In an automatic cigarette machine the tobacco is rolled in to paper wrap. The paper that is used for this purpose is especially developed for the production of cigarettes. A cigarette machine can produce 25-30 cigarettes per second.
In the same machine the cigarettes are also cut on the desired size.
Only after the cigarettes are cut in the right size a filter is inserted at one of the ends of the cigarette. A piece of paper with a different color is folded around it and ties the filter to the cigarette.
The cigarettes are ready to be packed in cellophane foil. This prevents the cigarettes from a strong decline in quality. The cigarettes in the foil are put in a cardboard box.
Production process of a cigar
The production process of a cigar is quite similar to the one of a cigarette. For a cigar more high quality ingredients are used. For the outside, for example, large whole leaves called wrappers are used. The way of harvesting the leaves is similar to harvesting leaves for cigarettes.
Apart from the tobacco leaves a vegetable
wax is used in the production process of cigars in order to stick the outside leaf.
After the leaves have been picked they are dried. In this process the chlorophyll, which gives the leaves their green color, is converted in carotene, which gives a brown color. Besides, in the drying process aromas
are formed that give the cigarette its specific smell and taste.
The leaves are bundled and hanged in a barn. The leaves may be dried in the air of a well ventilated barn when the whether is dry. When the whether is not so dry the barn is heated by direct or indirect burning of, for example, wood. The temperature
will be between the 32 and 77°C. It is important that the drying process does not happen too fast otherwise the leaves may crack.
The leaves are sorted after they have been dried enough. The large whole leaves are used as wrappers, outermost leaves. The broken or small leaves are used as fillers for the interior of the cigar.
The processing of fillers starts with the removal of the stalks. This happens like with the leaves for cigarettes.
Packing and fermentation
Afterwards, the leaves are bundled.
These bundles of leaves are ready to age. The aging process is a fermentation process with the micro-organisms of the own natural flora of the leaves. The leaves ferment for 6 months to 5 years. High quality leaves are obtained by a fermentation process of 2 to 5 years. In general, the leaves for cigars are fermented longer than the leaves for cigarettes. Fermentation gives the leaves more taste and aroma.
During the fermentation process the leaves dehydrate. In order to compensate this loss of moisture the leaves are steamed just before the cigars are made. The steam adds moisture to the leaves.
The leaves that are chosen to be used as wrappers are bundled. About 10 to 15 leaves are bundled together. It is important that the leaves are not damaged in this process.
Packing and fermentation
The bundles of leaves are packed in vessels.
The leaves are now left to age. As with the fillers, this is a fermentation process with micro-organisms of the own natural flora of the leaves. The leaves ferment for 6 months to 5 years. The longer the fermentation process the higher the quality. Also in this process the fermentation gives the leaves more taste and aroma.
After the fermentation process the leaves are pulled out of the vessels and the bundles are untied. The leaves are colored and sorted. Leaves that do not qualify for wrappers are added to the fillers.
From the fillers a roller is made. For that purpose some leaves or pieces of leaves are folded around each other. A very even distribution of the leaves is very important. If there is no even distribution the cigar does not burn even.
In the cutting
process the irregularities are cut off with a round blade. The ends of the cigar are now round and reasonably smooth.
Sticking the wrapper
Afterwards, some wrappers are folded around the fillers. The first leaf is folded diagonally around the fillers. This leaf gives solidity and keeps the fillers together. Next, another leaf is folded around the cigar. This one is fastened with vegetable wax.
Around each cigar a band is wrapped. This band, a ring of paper with the name of the cigar brand, makes the cigar identifiable. Also other information can be put on this band.
The cigars can be packed individually in cellophane foil but usually several cigars are packed together in a cardboard or wooden box. Inside the box there can be an interior packing of cellophane foil to keep a high quality.