Tobacco producers manufacture, and package, their product in humidity levels up to 70% RH, to meet the demands of their customers. We even see ‘re-sealable’ packaging used to preserve ’freshness’ once the package is opened. Tobacco freshness is actually judged by moisture levels, Dry = Stale!
Tobacco leaves, cut tobacco and paper are all extremely hygroscopic which means that they give up their moisture to the surrounding environment if the air is too dry. Dry air causes tobacco's properties to degrade resulting in shrinkage, weight loss, brittleness, flaking, splitting and tearing.
This causes tobacco to literally fall out of cigarettes, cigarette papers to misfeed on machines and cigar leaves to crack.
Maintaining the right level of ambient relative humidity prevents all these problems by ensuring that tobacco, paper and leaves retain moisture at the correct levels, so maintaining their quality and ensuring that production can proceed at full efficiency.
Tobacco leaves in the primary production areas will have a moisture content of 13-16% by weight that must be maintained. An ambient relative humidity of 60-68% RH is needed to maintain equilibrium between the air and the moisture in the tobacco.
If the air's humidity level is lower than 60% RH the tobacco leaves will start losing moisture, which will result in a weight loss and quality.
Cut Tobacco Storage
After the primary production processes, tobacco is normally bulked into large bins or silos. Smaller tobacco plants typically will use boxes in cut tobacco stores.
These areas must be maintained at 60-70%RH and 21-24°C in order to maintain product weight and quality.
Secondary ProductionMaintaining humidity levels around 60-70% RH is critical around the maker, catcher band and any other machine storage systems.
Cigarettes can be stored in a buffer for several hours or over a weekend and will lose moisture if the relative humidity is not maintained.
Recovery & Ripping Areas
Any loss in moisture will lead to poor recovery of tobacco in ripping rooms where production waste is broken up and re-used. These areas need to be maintained at 65%RH at 21°C.
PapersCigarette paper must also be kept in equilibrium with the environment. If the moisture content in the paper changes so will the dimension of the reel of paper along the exposed edges.
If the dimension of the reel of paper changes, this may cause issues such as tears and machine misfeeds once tension is added to the reel in a paper run. This can lead to machine download and product waste.