If you enjoy cigars, you'll want to try rolling your own at one point or another. It's worth it for a few reasons:
1) You'll appreciate the work that goes into a good cigar more.
2) It's less expensive and can be tastier depending on how talented you become.
3) It's interesting and can be a fun hobby.
And a short disclaimer: Tobacco is bad for your health. Don't follow these instructions if using tobacco is illegal in your area, or directly illegal for you depending on your age.
- Tobacco Leaf
- Spray bottle to mist the leaves with water
- Rolling pin to smooth out the outer-layer leaf
- Scissors to cut the vein from the leaf
- Flour paste, clear pectin, or Tragacanth to seal the cigar
- Post-it notes to turn into cigar bands
I've published the step-by-step instructions here (in the classic Instructables style.) If you'd like to read some of the other, miscellaneous details from my own personal attempt, check out my blog post:
Step 1: Obtain the Leaves
The first hurdle in making a cigar is getting the unprocessed leaf. It should be easy as a buyer to find someone selling unprocessed leaf, but it isn't. Use the internet to find someone willing to sell unprocessed tobacco leaf. There are farmers and other technologically-literate people that are willing to mail you leaf to use. It's cheap too.
It'll depend on who sends it to you, but mine arrived in a dried-bundle. You can't use it in the immediate state without hydrating it.
Otherwise, plant and grow your own tobacco, then dry it out and possibly ferment it. Actually, I ordered seeds along with my leaf order and grew it last season. I'm waiting for my leaves to dry now, and plan on growing my own 100% NJ cigar this summer :)!
Step 2: Hydrate and Process the Leaves
Decide how many cigars you want to make. For your first time, grab 3 or 4 leaves from the bundle. You'll need to mist these leaves with water. Don't over-spray the leaves, just give them a light mist and let them rest for a minute or two. You should be able to use your hands to fan the leaves back out.
Once you've brought the leaves back to life, use scissors to cut the middle vein from the leaf. It's a very tough vein once dried and needs to be removed to make rolling easier. You'll have two halves of the leaf at this point. Pick which halves look the nicest and separate them to the side.
We're looking for three kinds of leaf, so make three piles. If you ordered the same variety of leaf, you'll need to pick them based on their quality. Otherwise, separate your leaves logically.
1) Filler. This can be leaves with holes in them, or the lesser of the leaves.
2) Binder. Nicer leaf. Minor imperfections, but good for wrapping the filler together.
3) Wrapper. The prettiest leaf you can find. Goes on the outside of the cigar.
Use a rolling pin to smooth out the wrapper leaf. It'll look more flat and make the final result prettier.
Step 3: Begin Rolling!
This part is mostly intuitive and takes a long time to perfect:
- Grab a clump of filler leaf and mush it into the shape of a small cigar.
- Use the binder leaf to wrap one or two layers around the clump of filler leaf.
- Use the wrapper leaf to cover the binder leaf up. You'll need flour paste, clear gelatin, or Tragacanth to glue the leaf on.
That's it! You'll learn with time whether or not you're rolling the cigar too tightly, or not tightly enough. Keep rolling the final product against a hard surface for a few days (until it dries out.) Once the cigar is dry (a week or two,) you're free to have at it.