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  1. #1
    Administrator deluxestogie's Avatar
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    "Containerless" Pressing of Pipe Tobacco

    Making a Crumble-Cake



    By placing a pipe blend into a (in this case, quart-size) freezer Ziploc bag, it can be pressed for general melding, or pressed into a crumble-cake between two planks, without devising a sturdier container for the pressing, or a complex press. Pressing between a counter top (or the floor) and a plank of wood, with weight on top (say, a 5 gallon bucket filled with water = 40 pounds) will work. But by using a wall-mounted lever arm, I could apply 65 pounds of weight using only a 1 gallon jug of water.



    If more moisture is added to the tobacco, a crumble-cake can be made into a solid plank, from which a chunk can be crumbled off, rubbed out, then smoked. The purpose of crumble-cake is to prevent smaller bits (like Latakia) from sorting to the bottom of a container of tobacco during handling or shipping. The Brazil nut effect tends to leave you with a pile of fines at the bottom of a tobacco tin or pouch. (Brazil nut effect: within a container of objects with equal surface friction, agitation causes the larger objects to "float" to the top.) The higher the Latakia percentage, the greater the benefit of storing it as a crumble-cake.

    In this demo, I did not add moisture to the tobacco blend (a Balkan Sobranie knockoff, with added Perique). With the tobacco in the lower half of the Ziploc, the bag was folded in half, with the top left unsealed. I pressed for 3 days under 65 pounds, spread over the area of the quart Ziploc folded in half. Surface area (4" x 7") is 28 in2, so the applied pressure was 2.3 psi. [psi = applied weight / surface area] The result is a soft crumble-cake that will not settle, if left alone, but readily rubs-out. I think this is adequate pressure to make a hard crumble-cake, provided that there is more moisture added to the blend, and it is pressed for a week or more.

    I built this wall-mounted press as a cheese press (for merging curds into a solid cheese, like cheddar) a number of years ago. I've posted about it before, but it's been a long time.

    It's simply a wood press arm on a wall-mounted pivot. The arm (poplar) has notches cut into the bottom at various distances from the wall, and its end extends beyond the kitchen counter surface, so that weights can be suspended from it. The suspended weights can be varied, and the press "piston" (just a pointed hunk of wood) distance from the wall can be varied. I determined the applied weight by placing a bathroom scale beneath the piston for each position and each weight jug.



    The mounting board is anchored into the wall with 4 heavy anchor screws.



    The pivot was purchased as a "Patio door roller" at Lowe's, for ~$7. (https://www.lowes.com/pd/National-2-...Roller/3034107) The wheel was replaced by my press arm, with a bronze bushing pressed into the pivot hole of the arm.



    Since the press lives on the wall immediately above my kitchen counter, I added a keeper hook to make sure it doesn't bonk me in the head unexpectedly.







    This modest amount of tobacco pressed to about 1/2" thick.





    I could probably double the quantity of tobacco in the folded Ziploc without difficulty. What is noteworthy is that the 2.3 psi did not burst the open freezer Ziploc bag.

    Bob

  2. #2
    Administrator deluxestogie's Avatar
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    Re: "Containerless" Pressing of Pipe Tobacco

    The drawing below (a freely available, shrunken version of the real drawing) shows the basic construction of a wall-mounted press. Although I ordered the full-size drawing, by the time it arrived, back in 2010 or so, I had already built my press from the one shown here.



    You can purchase the full size drawing for ~$5 here: https://www.cheesemaking.com/shop/ch...-the-wall.html

    Nothing about the measurements is particularly important, since you can easily determine the applied weight at various points along the arm by simply trial and error, then cut the notches where you want.

    [It turns out that the indicated distances for notches, and the resulting applied weights on the formal diagram are incorrect. The designer failed to account for the weight of the wooden press arm itself, which is significant, given its length.] Also, using a wooden follower at the foot of the piston is an icky thing to use on cheese.

    Bob

  3. #3
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    Re: "Containerless" Pressing of Pipe Tobacco

    Thanks for sharing
    The good point with this press is that you know exactly how much pressure you put on your tobacco, this way (when you are happy with the results) you can easily apply the same weight to another batch.
    The only drawback is that you may not be able to put a lot of pressure (but I don't know how much maximum pressure can be usefull for tobacco).

  4. #4
    Administrator deluxestogie's Avatar
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    Re: "Containerless" Pressing of Pipe Tobacco

    It's All About the Surface Area (or cross-section) of the container

    Familiar equations:
    For a rectangular cross-section, using length L and width W, the area A is computed as:
    A = L x W

    For a circular cross-section of radius r, the area A is computed as:
    A = πr2
    where π (pi) is ~3.14 [Tobacco blenders are given a special dispensation to use just 3 as the value of π.]

    My wall-mounted press, at its max load, can simultaneously suspend two 1 gallon jugs, which is ~16 pounds at the end of its 35" arm. At notch 1, which is the closest to the wall, that translates to over 134 pounds of applied weight at the "piston". Dividing that applied weight by the cross-section area gives me the pressure, psi.


    About 4 ounces of blended tobacco.

    Applied pressure from that 134 pounds can generate 134 psi if the cross-section of the pressed material (e.g. tobacco) is 1". Roughly 35 psi is sufficient to create Perique. So a container with a cross-section of 4 in2 would achieve that. Creating a firm press-cake of layered tobacco leaf can likely be achieved with less than 5 psi, so long as the tobacco is moistened, and the pressing sustained for a few days to a week or more.


    Bag squeezed by hand.


    Quickly compresses to ~1" thick.



    This round cross-section is about 4" across, or 2" in radius. A = πr2 = π x 4 =~12.5 psi.

    Findings:
    1. The quart-size freezer Ziploc is still intact at 12.5 psi (albeit a very brief trial)
    2. The wall-mounted press can easily generate 12.5 psi against a 4 ounce batch of tobacco

    For making soft or hard crumble-cake, as well as unshredded press-cake, this method using a freezer Ziploc bag can get the job done.

    To make Perique, a taller, cylindrical container, such as a fat, polycarbonate vitamin pill bottle with its shoulder sawed off should work well (using a slightly smaller polycarbonate pill bottle for the follower). This approach would not be quite as "containerless", but would only require readily available containers and a fine-tooth saw.



    Bob

    EDIT: Keep in mind that, with a wall-mounted press, whatever weight is applied to your tobacco is also being applied upward by the wall mounting, attempting to lift the wall from the counter. So there are limits.

  5. #5
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    Re: "Containerless" Pressing of Pipe Tobacco

    Interesting process. I've always wanted to press a cake into a puck shape that can be dropped into an 8 oz mason jar.

  6. #6
    Administrator deluxestogie's Avatar
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    Re: "Containerless" Pressing of Pipe Tobacco

    Bucket Press Trial for Making a Plug



    This project is to demonstrate if ~3.5 psi is sufficient to form a plug of tobacco. 5 gallons of water provides enough weight to generate that pressure onto a surface area of 12 in2. So leaf segments of the tobacco blend were cut to 2" x 6" rectangles, using a plastic template. It would have been less tedious if I had stacked the leaf, then cut out a stack all at once, but I didn't anticipate how slow a process cutting the rectangles would be.



    The Basma leaf was generally too small to provide a 2" x 6" rectangle, so assorted pieces were arranged for each Basma layer. The assemblage of fragments for each Basma layer were kept separate from each other by enclosing them into folds of baking parchment.



    No binding agent (glue, sugar, etc.) was used. The casing is just Seagram's VO Canadian Whiskey and distilled water (50:50). This may or may not have been a wise choice.



    The stacks of the 5 varieties of leaf rectangles were soaked in 8 ounces of casing mixture for 6 hours, in a 1 gallon Ziploc bag (resting within the sink).



    This plug consists of a total of 41 leaf layers. Probably two or three times that number would make a nicer plug, but my primary interest is in seeing if this method works at all.



    It seems thick enough now to make some decent flake, but after pressing, it will be like a piece of matza. The varieties are layered in a fancy sequence, with the single strip of burley red tip in the middle. Other than having a nice, bright leaf on the top and bottom surfaces of the plug, just for appearance, I don't think the sequence of the layering makes a bit of difference. I could have placed some Lemon VA stems lengthwise, to create birdseyes in the final flake, but I decided not to introduce yet another variable.





    This 1 quart freezer Ziploc bag is 7 inches wide, and the tobacco plug is 6 inches, but due to its thickness, it barely squeezes in.



    The pressing is performed between two wooden planks, resting on a cement floor. The bucket was filled by pouring water from 1 gallon jugs. I don't want to be hauling a full bucket.



    I'll leave this in the press for a month, then dry down the plug, slice it into flake, complete the drying, then see how well it holds together.

    I plan to remove the bucket by bailing it with a plastic bowl, until I can comfortably lift it (~half-full).

    Bob

  7. #7
    Senior Member ChinaVoodoo's Avatar
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    Re: "Containerless" Pressing of Pipe Tobacco

    Would you say the alcohol is essential in this process?
    This blanket is a necessity. It keeps me from cracking up. It may be regarded as a spiritual tourniquet. Without it, I'd be nothing, a ship without a rudder. - Linus

  8. #8
    Senior Member OldDinosaurWesH's Avatar
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    Re: "Containerless" Pressing of Pipe Tobacco

    How does the plastic of the bag interact with the alcohol?

  9. #9
    Administrator deluxestogie's Avatar
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    Re: "Containerless" Pressing of Pipe Tobacco

    The Seagram's VO is my attempt at adding a gentle background flavoring. It is definitely not an essential ingredient for the process. I should have used plain water, just to simplify the results.

    Ziploc bags are LDPE (low density polyethylene), and are rated as "suitable for prolonged or repeated contact" with ethanol (ethyl alcohol, i.e. booze).

    Two chemical reactivity charts:
    https://www.spilltech.com/wcsstore/S...LYETHYLENE.pdf
    http://www.cdf1.com/technical%20bull...ance_Chart.pdf

    Bob

  10. #10
    Senior Member ChinaVoodoo's Avatar
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    Re: "Containerless" Pressing of Pipe Tobacco

    It looks pretty wet. Water might be risky.
    This blanket is a necessity. It keeps me from cracking up. It may be regarded as a spiritual tourniquet. Without it, I'd be nothing, a ship without a rudder. - Linus

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