Before the dawn of the
computer age, at least the one where we all have a shot at using them, my college
molecular chemistry class had to use the "calculation" department at Cal State
Fullerton to crunch numbers. This room was filled with mechanical calculators, huge
machines that had lots of spinning gears, cogs, and rods that would eventually spit out an answer on a odometer-like read-out dial. Of course
this was still better than the trusty slide rule but time on these machines was limited
and each class had to rush to get all of their solutions in the short time allotted. This
was in 1969, the year of the first moon landing. Even the most robust of these machines
could do only a fraction of what a small $20 handheld calculator could a decade or
so later. IBM mainframes existed but took up entire rooms and were wildly expensive
machines with spinning reels of tape and were anything but mechanically smooth or
At the same time I was introduced to the Triple-Beam Balance scale used in the Chem lab for conducting experiments requiring precise measurements of compounds. Most had a sliding metal piece on the number slide for fine tuning of the measurements after one had placed appropriate combinations of weights on the pan of the scale to get close to the balance point. Toward the end of my studies we actually got triple beams with digital (LED) readouts - WOW. Some of these were accurate to within a milligram (one thousandths of a gram) but these were encased in Plexiglas. They had to be operated by putting your hands in gloves that would reach inside the machine to avoid air currents which could easily make the readings inaccurate. Even today blowing on any gram accurate scale will produce about five grams of pressure so a controlled environment was and still is necessary. The typical scientifically accurate triple beam for college lab use cost from $500-$1000 and that was in 1969 dollars.
Fast forward to the present and we find ourselves awash in small wonders of technology called digital scales. Of course there are still triple beams but they are much cheaper than before. Well I am no longer a chem student so what do I need a scale for anyway? The fact is I use scales daily at the RYO Store for creating various blends of tobacco (i.e. 20% Bali Red, 20% McClintock Gold, 10% Gauloises/Amsterdam Shag, 20% Samson Gold, and 30% Ramback Turkish). And our customers buy scales to do the same kinds of mixing. It is important to note that precise measurements of various tobaccos are necessary to consistently make and reproduce reliably blends that have now become your favorites. It is almost impossible to "eyeball" amounts of different tobacco as each brand has much different densities. For instance, one quarter ounce of Bali Red may look a lot larger than the same weight of Ramback.
Now many folks look at scales as drug paraphernalia and the scales that are accurate to less than one gram do initially raise an eyebrow or two. But that is until one realizes that many MYO enthusiasts, myself included, create one cigarette at a time and only when they are ready for a smoke. Since it takes less than one gram of tobacco to make an MYO stick, the higher sensitivity scales do indeed have legitimate use. Still, for most folks, the one gram accuracy should be more than sufficient and these scales are far less sensitive to external forces than the more finely graduated ones. Also, with few a exceptions, most less than one gram accurate scales are the pretty small palm sized type and are not as useful for when one needs to weigh out a significant amount of tobacco - to make a cigarette case full of smokes for instance. We have little doubt that the future will see a very large portion of the smoking public taking control over the contents of their smoking materials as well as their method of manufacture. And there clearly are a number of tools that can and will be used to aid to the efficiency and enjoyment of the experience. Consequently, we find that it would be short-sighted at best to discount the efficacy of accurate, dependable, and sturdy scales or that ultimately the connoiseur smoker will take the time for precise measurement.
One of the best scales we saw during this review was the MyWeigh 3001T, and the more robust 6001T. These scales are gram accurate and weigh in tenths of an ounce as well (28 grams/ounce so using grams is 2.8 times as accurate). What is so remarkable about these scales, in addition to their nearly 6" square weighing platform and beauty, is their ruggedness. In fact we use the 3001T in our experimental store all the time and last year we had a break in. The thief (it was really more a case of vandalism than a professional heist) evidently threw the scale around quite a bit as there were scratches all over the plastic bed and sides and a number of deep dings and gouges indicative of dropping the scale or banging it against a hard, sharp surface. To our amazement when they caught the creep and our scale was returned, the thing still functioned perfectly. We tested it from calibrated one gram weights all the way up to its limit of 3000 grams (6 lbs.) and it was right on. Another design feature that we really appreciated was its use of a nine volt battery. Often these kinds of scales use AAA size which are rarely found on sale and do not last particularly long. The 6001T is a 6000 gram version of the 3001T. It is identical in dimension and is gram accurate but will hold nearly 12 pounds. It is important to note here that in addition to dropping sensitive albeit sturdy instruments like these, the worse thing you can do to any digital scale is to exceed its load. So when one says 500 grams maximum you better follow that guideline or you will break it.
Speaking of 500 gram scales, the i500 from MYWeigh is our favorite tenth of a gram accurate scale. The one we got for testing was clear acrylic (you could see all of its innards - mostly the circuit board) and the line has a backlit screen which is much easier to read in varying light conditions than the typical LCD display. This great scale is even a little larger than the 3001T family and is VERY accurate. It has a calibration scheme to account for differences in altitude, which, is necessary as scales this sensitive are affected by atmospheric pressure and gravity differentials as well as temperature changes. It use AAA batteries which are not our favorite but seemed to do well for a long time anyway.
All of the scales we tested were from MYWeigh which is a subsidiary of HBI (the huge rolling paper folks - www.hbiinternational.com - and while there are a couple of other manufacturers out there (Tanita & Ohaus, even Royal) we found the MYWeigh line to be superior in variety, accuracy, price, durability, and availability. Ohaus and Tanita make some great, reasonably priced kitchen and postal scales but few have the degree of accuracy (small measurements) that would make them useful for the tobacco connoisseur.
And when it comes to variety, it is time to enter that world that teeters on the edge of the questionable use for tobacco we mentioned above. The PointScale 250 is one outstanding little scale. It folds up to wallet size and is accurate to a tenth of a gram. You even get a 100 gram calibration weight with the unit. The small circular open space allows one to weigh material without opening the scale but we found it too small unopened for tobacco use (great for gems/diamonds though). Once opened however, the 3"x4" weighing platform was great for small amounts (a few sticks) worth of tobacco. Many of these small pocket scales are widely used in the gem/precious stones market and are quite clearly labeled as jeweler's scales. They not only do ounces and grams but DWT (dram weight) and some will even do carats. It seems the smaller the scale the more costly though judging from the wholesale price of the entire line of MyWeigh products, most of these scales (useful for tobacco) should retail at between $75 and $100 at most. Unfortunately we have seen them at much higher prices than that but as the buying public becomes aware of more competitive pricing and more of the scales are produced, the price should stabilize around or below those figures. We find that those who are making excessive profits on these items do the whole industry a dis-service as more profit on fewer quantities can spell disaster for the manufacturer and cause an otherwise great product to cease its existence. There is also a PointScale 500 and with a 500 gram capacity and one-tenth gram accuracy, it is a fine scale as well. These scales are not as durable as the 3001T above but with reasonable care, they are more than tough enough to last for many years. One thing to note about all scales is that they leave the factory pre-tested and should leave the retailer only after they are tested under the supervision of the purchaser. This procedure is important as no retailer we know of will replace a broken scale and while the manufacturer puts a pretty good warranty on them, (from 1-5 years), it is pretty easy to determine when a scale has been abused or over-stressed and the warranty is voided in such cases.
There are a large number of MyWeigh scales at their website (http://www.goodscales.com). One of the most striking is the newly designed and improved OneScale 2000. It comes in a wide range of colors including the truly beautiful Titanium one shown below right. Reminiscent of something out of Lost In Space, this unit will do .01 ounces and one gram up to 2000 grams. It uses AAA batteries but the round heavy glass weighing platform is perhaps the easiest to use within the line. Older versions of this product had some problems, mostly due to poor packing techniques after testing at the shipping level, but the new ones are outstanding. They look good enough to leave out as decorations or right on the well equipped rolling table and they are now quite durable and very accurate.
We sincerely believe in the usefulness of these scales and use them at both our office and in the store. They also represent yet another item that tobacco merchants can make a decent profit on without gouging their customers. In high tobacco tax states especially, retailers would do well to begin carrying these products. If you are worried about their usefulness in weighing out illicit substance, do what we do at the store. Only sell them to established tobacco customers. And remember that all scales as well as any other tobacco related products are for those over 18 at minimum. In most states it is illegal to sell a minor even a book of matches and scales carry the same obligation for the retailer.
The folks at MYWeigh have done an outstanding job in bringing products of exceptional quality at a reasonable price and we feel that there is a potentially huge legitimate market for these devices for people who want to accurately quantify their cigarette and pipe smoking mixtures.
|EDITOR'S NOTE: These reviews are solely for the convenience of people of legal age who already smoke, are trying to cut down on smoking, wish to spend less money on their smoking, want to roll their own cigarettes from high quality tobacco, and, in general, wish to have a far more satisfying, and economical smoking experience when compared with smoking pre-manufactured cigarettes. We, in no way, encourage people to smoke. Further, we prescribe to a sane, more logical approach to smoking that involves common sense as to quantity coupled with a strong desire to manage the habit until it becomes an occasional, freely chosen, diversion, that can be fully enjoyed with minimal health risks. Finally, we strongly encourage those who do smoke to take it outdoors, or to appropriate environments where tobacco can be enjoyed away from those who do not smoke, most especially children. We do not sell tobacco or related products from this site; We distribute information about our perceptions of the quality of what is available and where it can be obtained. If you are under 18, it is illegal to buy tobacco and you should immediately exit this site. If you do not smoke, it would seem illogical to start.|
A Publication of
The Andromedan Design Company